Pictured: Cinematographer John Bailey serves as the current President of the Academy. His long career includes films as diverse as Groundhog Day, As Good As It Gets, Ordinary People, American Graffiti and The Big Chill.
The Academy’s Branches
The Academy is divided into 17 branches, with three additional classifications for At Large Members (who get to vote for the Oscars), and Associate and Retired Members (who do NOT get to vote on the Oscars).
While the total number of Academy member is 8,298, most news organizations assume that the general public is only interested in members who can vote for the Oscars, and so they leave out the Retired and Associate members. This is why you will often see it reported that there are 7,258 voting members from the 17 branches and the At-Large members.
While much Oscar punditry focuses on the actors branch, this can sometimes be misleading. For the general public who is already accustomed to associating films primarily with their actors, it is perhaps too easy to lose sight of the potential impact of the smaller branches. Yes, actors make up the largest single branch, but they are still only 16.8% of the voting membership. They may be the most public face of the Academy, but only 1 out of 6 Oscar voters are people whose faces have appeared “on the screen”.
To keep myself from falling into the trap of associating the academy only with the famous, I have begun imagining the branches in clusters. For example, if you combine the producers, executives and public relations branches, they collectively make up a larger voting bloc than the actors do, lest I forget that the movie industry is as much about business as it is about art. Similarly, while the technical and craft artists may be broken up into different branches, they constitute a greater proportion of the Academy than the famous directors that get labeled as auteurs. And while documentarians, animators and musicians may not have that much in common, it would be foolish to disregard the number of Oscar votes they carry.
(Numbers retrieved from The Wrap 12/21/2017)
Actors Branch: 1218 Members.
Casting Directors Branch: 113 Members
Cinematographers Branch: 246 Members.
Costume Designers Branch: 128 Members.
Designers Branch: 308 Members. Includes art directors, production designers and set decorators.
Directors Branch: 512 Members.
Documentary Branch: 320 Members.
Executives Branch: 499 Members.
Film Editors Branch: 298 Members.
Makeup Artists And Hairstylists Branch: 183 Members.
Music Branch: 305 Members.
Producers Branch: 524 Members.
Public Relations Branch: 416 Members.
Short Films And Feature Animation Branch: 565 Members.
Sound Branch: 487 Members.
Visual Effects Branch: 450 Members.
Writers Branch: 422 Members.
At Large Members: 264 Members. Includes stunt coordinators and production managers.
Associate Members: 196 Members. Includes talent agents and those who have contributed to the movie industry or the Academy in ways that don’t fit into the branches above. (Note that these members do not vote on the Oscars)
Retired Members: 844 Members. (Note that these members do not vote on the Oscars)
Learn about the development of the Academy’s Branch History.
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