Campaigning for Oscar

Tip to nominee hopefuls: Have some fun

There is no convincing evidence that any of this works, but kudos strategists follow one mantra: “Look, it couldn’t hurt.” Tech/craft contenders, as well as makers of short subjects, docus, etc., seem to enjoy awards season the most.

The demands on them are limited, because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is one of the few orgs that salute these branches.

With fewer events, they are less exhausted and these contenders, who are used to being overlooked, are delighted by the attention.

They seem to know the first rule of awards campaigning: It doesn’t happen often, so have fun with it.

For other first-timers, this process can be a little overwhelming, so here are a few helpful hints.

• Stop feeling guilty about “selling yourself.” You’re trying to get people to see the movie, remind them why they liked it, to help them appreciate aspects they might have overlooked. You can feel like a piece of meat being exploited, or you can feel like the King/Queen of the Prom. It’s easier to go with the latter.

• It’s all guess work. There is no way to tell if you gained even a single vote by being interviewed on “Good Day L.A.” or by having a one-on-one with some blogger you’ve never heard of. With only 6,000 Oscar voters, every vote counts. So strategists are increasingly booking contenders for an infinite number of events. However (read the next item carefully):

• Don’t believe the predictions. For some reasons, many pundits begin Oscar forecasts without having seen a foot of film, and they constantly update their guesses. Why do they do it? I have no idea. To me, it’s like making predictions in August about who will win the January Super Bowl. Still, as a nominee, you have two choices: Go to the ceremonies presuming you will win, or go presuming you won’t win. In the former case, you will enjoy the feeling of unconditional love you never received as a child (and, deep down, isn’t that what we are all secretly wishing for?). In the latter case, you will realize you have 1-in-5 chance of winning, so won’t be disappointed. But either way, prepare a speech.

During awards season, contenders fly all over the globe to shake hands, to see and be seen at a wide array of parties, Q&A’s, lunches, dinners and kudocasts. For an observer, this is one of showbiz’s most fascinating rituals. But for directors, writers and especially actors (since they are the most in-demand), it’s an ordeal, a marathon of charm. Do all of these personal appearances work? Let’s put it this way: A few years ago, “The Pianist’s” Adrien Brody was everywhere, being friendly and likeable at endless functions — and he won. For the same film, Roman Polanski was, believe me, at no U.S. events — and he won too.

And throughout the six months, remember Brody and Polanski. In other words, don’t take it too seriously. And have fun.

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