Oscar Scandals: Cinematographers Response to Academy’s New Strategy

Responding to the Academy’s decision to present four Oscar categories–cinematography, film editing, live-action shorts and makeup and hairstyling–during commercial breaks at the 91st Oscars broadcast, the American Society of Cinematographers president Kees van Oostrum sent a letter to the 380 members in which he called the move “most unfortunate,” adding, “We cannot quietly condone this decision without protest.”

In his letter, van Oostrum argued, “We consider filmmaking to be a collaborative effort where the responsibilities of the director, cinematographer, editor and other crafts often intersect. This decision could be perceived as a separation and division of this creative process, thus minimizing our fundamental creative contributions.”

In an email to the membership on Monday, Academy president John Bailey, who belongs to the cinematographers branch and is an ASC member, laid out the plan for this year’s show, which was initially announced last year but without details.

He emphasized that the Academy is “still honoring the achievements of all 24 awards on the Oscars.” In the case of the four categories that will be announced during commercial breaks, the winners’ speeches will air later in the broadcast, he said.

There will be a rotation each year, that is, at least four different categories would use this format in 2020.