The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loves to make noise at the end of the summer. Two years ago, they announced the intent to create a Popular Film category for the Oscars that died in a public and industry backlash. This year, they have announced new inclusion standards for Best Best Picture beginning with the 96th Academy Awards in 2024. And, like many of the AMPAS’ best efforts, they haven’t exactly nailed down all the details beforehand.

In a statement, Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson noted, “The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality. We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

Based on a template inspired by the British Film Institute and in consultation with the Producers Guild of America (which must make the other branches, the DGA, WGA and SAG, thrilled), the following inclusion standards will be required for a film to qualify for the 2024 Best Picture race.

For the 96th Oscars (2024), a film must meet TWO out of FOUR of the following standards to be deemed eligible:

STANDARD A:  ON-SCREEN REPRESENTATION, THEMES AND NARRATIVES
To achieve Standard A, the film must meet ONE of the following criteria:

A1. Lead or significant supporting actors

At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.

• Asian
• Hispanic/Latinx
• Black/African American
• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
• Middle Eastern/North African
• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity


A2. General ensemble cast

At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of the following underrepresented groups:

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing


A3. Main storyline/subject matter

The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing


STANDARD B: CREATIVE LEADERSHIP AND PROJECT TEAM
To achieve Standard B, the film must meet ONE of the criteria below:

B1. Creative leadership and department heads 

At least two of the following creative leadership positions and department heads—Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer—are from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

At least one of those positions must belong to the following underrepresented racial or ethnic group:

• Asian
• Hispanic/Latinx
• Black/African American
• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
• Middle Eastern/North African
• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

B2. Other key roles

At least six other crew/team and technical positions (excluding Production Assistants) are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. These positions include but are not limited to First AD, Gaffer, Script Supervisor, etc. 

B3. Overall crew composition

At least 30% of the film’s crew is from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing


STANDARD C:  INDUSTRY ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITIES
To achieve Standard C, the film must meet BOTH criteria below:

C1. Paid apprenticeship and internship opportunities

The film’s distribution or financing company has paid apprenticeships or internships that are from the following underrepresented groups and satisfy the criteria below:

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

The major studios/distributors are required to have substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups (must also include racial or ethnic groups) in most of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity. 

The mini-major or independent studios/distributors must have a minimum of two apprentices/interns from the above underrepresented groups (at least one from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group) in at least one of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

C2. Training opportunities and skills development (crew) 

The film’s production, distribution and/or financing company offers training and/or work opportunities for below-the-line skill development to people from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing


STANDARD D: AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT
To achieve Standard D, the film must meet the criterion below:

D1. Representation in marketing, publicity, and distribution

The studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from among the following underrepresented groups (must include individuals from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups) on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.

• Women
• Racial or ethnic group:

·        Asian

·        Hispanic/Latinx

·        Black/African American

·        Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native

·        Middle Eastern/North African

·        Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

·        Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

Additionally, the Academy noted, “All categories other than Best Picture will be held to their current eligibility requirements.” That should mean that if a performance or work in a film that doesn’t qualify for Best Picture, it can still be submitted in the appropriate category.

AMPAS also noted, “Films in the specialty feature categories (Animated Feature Film, Documentary Feature, International Feature Film) submitted for Best Picture/General Entry consideration will be addressed separately.” So, that seems to indicate that if you made an international film it can qualify for that category, but if it doesn’t meet the other standards it can’t qualify for Best Picture (and, if that is the case, you can expect some pushback).

To many, this will seem like a lot. And it is a drastic change intended to “shock” the industry into making much needed changes. By just making one of the mandates, it would have been easy for studios and financiers to get around many of the qualifiers. For example, most studios and even independent distributors have women in multiple senior distribution and marketing roles (and considering there are not enough women at the top of development and running studios, it’s a needed qualifier). Two of these mandates change the game.

If you’re curious, yes, Best Picture winner “Green Book” qualifies as does every Best Picture winner for the past decade (Yes, “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist” qualify).

For 2022 and 2023, the 94th and 95th Oscars, submissions will be required to fill out the new inclusion requirement form, but will not be held to it. The Academy is basically giving the industry two years to get its act and pipeline together. If not, they won’t make the cut.