Femme Award Strategists Steer Oscar Campaigns

Lupita Nyong'o Oscar Fashion Best and

Among the many women with major accomplishments this year, there is one group that is consistently impressive but unsung: awards strategists.

These are the people who work hard to get awards voters to see their films. (And yes, a studio can spend energy and money to draw attention to its films, but no, nobody can make industry members vote for a film they don’t love.) Strategists are a combination publicist, therapist, decision-maker and guerrilla fighter.

There were several alpha females who scored major points this year.

The Fox Searchlight team triumphed in more ways than one. They steered “12 Years a Slave” to nine Oscar noms and three wins, including the all-important best picture.

For six months, they maintained buzz on the film and successfully countered the claim that “12 Years” was “hard to watch.” The film earned a healthy $56 million at the domestic box office. Its North American impact paved the way for global success, with the film earning $131 million overseas (where it was handled by Lionsgate).

That success helped dispel the longstanding misperception that films about the black experience don’t do well overseas. So the Searchlight folks, under Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula, have helped open the overseas market to many new films — an achievement as important as those Oscars.

But the women (and men) of Searchlight weren’t the only winners at the Academy Awards. The Warner Bros. group, under Sue Kroll, helped nab seven trophies for “Gravity,” plus an original screenplay win for Spike Jonze and “Her.”

And the Focus Features gang worked hard with its inhouse team, under Adriene Bowles, scoring three Oscar wins (out of six noms) for “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Awards strategists hate the spotlight (“write about my movie, not about me!”). But in general, they fall into three categories.

1. Inhouse. A few distributors rely on inhouse staff to handle PR on their releases year-round — and oversee awards strategies. Aside from Searchlight, the list includes 20th Century Fox, Disney, Lionsgate and, this year, the Weinstein Co.

2. Independents who work as outside consultants to a studio. That list includes Michelle Robertson (who worked with WB) and Karen Fried (who worked with Focus).

3. PR firms. Many of the biz’s best-known companies have big staffs who work for a wide range of clients. But each one also has a core team of publicists who specialize in helping individuals or films during awards season. If you’ve heard of the company, they have an awards wing.

All of these strategists must balance the needs of studio execs, filmmakers, media members, personal publicists and, crucially, voters.

So when you’re talking about the hardest-working women in showbiz, this is a group For Your Consideration.

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  1. From the time that Spike Lee’s Mars Blackmon mentioned Michael Jordan’s shoes were the main reason he dominates to the basketball court in Nike ads, the world’s passion for sneakers has turned into obsession. And now, one New York City teenager is cashing in our passion for kicks.

    Chase Reed, 16, has accessed the lucrative potential of shoe culture by opening the world’s first sneaker’s only pawnshop in Harlem. Sneaker Pawn permits people to promote their high-end collectible shoes for money. The most expensive pair of shoes, a pair of Lebron Crown Jewels, goes for $1,400.

    I used to ask dad for money for sneakers, and he would request me for something in return, Chase said. ” I was generally pawning my old sneakers to my father, and it started to click before long.His $30,000 shoe collection was what helped bankroll the main one of a kind store.

    Troy Reed, Chase’s dad, declared that his son has always loved sneakers and fashion. “So, I sat him down 1 day and told him that it was time to turn his passion into money”, his father said.

    The two said the shop has quickly become a neighborhood spot for teens to come and hang out after basketball practice or school.

    We’re enjoying themselves, said Chase, between telephone calls and haggling with customers.

    Sneaker Pawn works like any pawnshop. They inform you how much the shoes are worth, supply the cash to you on loan and then the customer has 30 days to repay them. The shoes must be mint condition or lightly used. The most coveted would be the Crown Jewels or vintage Air Jordans. Sneaker Pawn also refurbishes and customizes sneakers.

    Reed said that there are a number of reasons that people want to pawn their shoes. ?¡ãTeenagers came in to pawn their sneakers for prom, he explained. “We’ve had people come in who don’t know what to do with a dead relative’s sneaker collection, but need money for any funeral.”

    Entering just his junior year of high school at Fredrick Douglass Academy this fall, Chase has already made one dream come true. He hopes they can keep that trend going when high school is over.

    “I want to go to Howard University or UCLA. I really like the Cali lifestyle”, he said.

  2. Kenny Farr has worked as an equipment manager only at Oregon, and without another program for comparison he acknowledges his sense of normalcy have been warped like a rubber sole. Last season Oregon football chose its uniforms from a pool of eight jerseys, eight pants, six helmets, seven cleats and six socks. Then add helmet decals and gloves. Finally, multiply that by about 100 players. Farr, now responsible for solely football, is a master of spreadsheets.

    “I guess I love the organized chaos of it,” he said, “If you only had one helmet it seems like it might be kind of … boring.”

    It wasn’t always like this. He didn’t always have a row of NFL helmets on his shelf signed by everyone from Ducks in the pros to Ray Lewis and Howie Long. Cornerback Darrelle Revis – who played at the University of Pittsburgh — once shipped a New York Jets helmet west in thanks for receiving one of many “care packages” Oregon sends its alums who make an active NFL roster, as well as special VIPs.

    Farr came to Eugene from Grants Pass in 1997 and found his way into the equipment room as a student manager. It was only one year earlier that Knight asked his famous question of football coach Mike Bellotti: “What do we need to go to the next level?” It was only three seasons after Oregon wore a mix of Riddell and Nike uniforms en route to its first Rose Bowl berth in 37 years.

    Knight and Oregon ultimately reshaped this program with glass, steel, speed and the spread offense. But with rubber, leather and air cushioning, the Ducks have gone a step further, creeping to the forefront from the imagination of sneaker collectors around the globe, some of whom have likely never watched a single Ducks game.

    Looking beyond Bowerman’s waffle trainers and the typical, retail sneakers Nike has co-opted into Duck colors, Oregon’s the recent past of customized player-edition Nikes began in 2003. Home white and road green versions of LeBron James’ second signature shoe were instant hits.

    “That kind of exploded,” DePaula says.

    It wasn’t until 2009, however, that Nike’s Air Jordan model, its flagship shoe, met Oregon, its flagship school.

    The idea’s genesis is hazy but what’s clear is Knight, former head coach Chip Kelly and Tinker Hatfield — Nike’s VP of Creative Concepts, an original Jordan designer and a former letter-winning Duck pole vaulter — were the driving forces. Now, Hatfield designs the Oregon Jordans largely by himself.
    Although the designs for every Jordan were created at least two decades ago, the updated colors and accents made them unlike any previous iteration. Each time the sneakers are revealed to the players, two things happen: They go wild and Farr’s popularity skyrockets.

    “My phone blows up those days with (Ducks) in the NFL, ‘How could we get some?'” Farr says. “For the right people and former players we want to take care of them but there are a lot of calls from people who are friends of guys and it’s like, I can not do that. It’s nothing personal against them but it’s not my stuff to give you. There needs to be a line drawn.”

    The Oregon Jordans will most likely never be released at retail and with such limited supply comes delirious demand. DePaula says he’s seen pairs of recent Oregon-edition Foamposite Ones that retail for $250 selling for $700, and they are available in select stores. For a rare UO Jordan, price can stretch into the thousands. Ten Oregon Jordans were recently listed on eBay with asking prices exceeding $3,000.

    Oregon’s amount of security over its Jordans stockpile can seem to be akin to a government’s supervision over a valuable arsenal. To minimize players’ temptation to sell, the Ducks issue Jordans sometimes only for a certain game before requiring the shoes checked in until Nike and Oregon would like them worn again. Shoes also have identifying details for example a player’s number often sewn in, though motivated sellers may easily cover the marks with tape, for example, when advertising them online.
    Also the Jordans that celebrities and special Nike athletes receive are often logged.

  3. AlbertoEl says:


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