Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Academy

It's time we dedicate a moment of attention to the Institution that gives away the annual awards. Founded on May 11, 1927 in Los Angeles, California, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is a professional honorary organization ostensibly dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures.

The Academy is composed of over 6,000 motion picture professionals. While the great majority of its members are based in the United States, membership is open to qualified filmmakers around the world.

All members must be invited to join. Invitation comes from the Board of Governors. Membership eligibility may be achieved by a competitive nomination or a member may submit a name based on other significant contribution to the field of motion pictures. New membership proposals are considered annually. The Academy does not publicly disclose its membership, although past press releases have announced the names of those who have been invited to join. Academy membership is divided into 15 branches, representing different disciplines in motion pictures. Members may not belong to more than one branch. Members whose work does not fall within one of the branches may belong to a group known as "Members At Large."

The academy's branches are:

Art Directors
Film Editors
Public Relations
Short Films and Feature Animation
Visual Effects

Presidents are elected for one-year terms and may not be elected for more than four consecutive terms. The current president of the Academy is Sid Ganis, an American motion picture executive and producer who has produced such films as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Big Daddy, Mr. Deeds, The Master of Disguise and Akeelah and the Bee. On August 23, 2005 he was elected President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Ganis began his film career in marketing and publicity at several studios, eventually joining Lucasfilm, where he served as Senior Vice President of the company for several years. He later became President of Paramount Pictures during the 1980s, and then Vice President, and president of marketing and distribution, at Columbia Pictures.

Former Presidents: Douglas Fairbanks Sr. was the first president. Others presidents include William de Mille, M.C. Levee, Conrad Nagel, J. Theodore Reed, Frank Lloyd, Frank Capra, Walter Wanger, Bette Davis, Jean Hersholt, Charles Brackett, George Seaton, George Stevens, B.B. Kahane, Valentine Davies, Wendell Corey, Arthur Freed, Gregory Peck, Daniel Taradash, Walter Mirisch, Howard W. Koch, Fay Kanin, Gene Allen, Robert E. Wise, Richard Kahn, Karl Malden, Arthur Hiller, Robert Rehme, Frank Pierson and Sid Ganis, who has been president since August 2005.
From its founding until 1946, when it moved into a building at 9038 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, the Academy occupied a number of rented offices. In December of 1975, the Academy dedicated a seven-story headquarters at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For the first time in the organization’s history, its administrative offices, the Academy Players Directory, the Margaret Herrick Library, the Samuel Goldwyn Theater and other facilities were all located under one roof. Within a decade, however, the rapid growth of the holdings of both the Herrick Library and the Academy Film Archive necessitated the search for a new, separate facility. In 1988 a 55-year lease was arranged with the City of Beverly Hills for the conversion of its historic Waterworks building in La Cienega Park into the new home of the Academy’s library and film archive, to be called the Center for Motion Picture Study. The library and film archive occupied the structure in 1991, but by 1997 the crush of growing collections resulted once more in the need for additional off-site storage. In May of 2001 the Academy bought the former Don Lee-Mutual Broadcasting studios on Vine Street in Hollywood and began converting them into the new home of the Academy Film Archive and the Academy Players Directory. In 2006 the Academy Players Directory published its final edition, and the Directory was sold to a private concern. The building currently houses offices for the Academy Film Archive, the Academy’s Science and Technology Council, the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting program, and the planning staff for the proposed Academy museum, as well as four temperature- and humidity-controlled vaults (three for film, one for photos and documents) and the 286-seat Linwood Dunn Theater.

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