BAFTA Los Angeles is working to ensure that its film voters are still in the industry.
An April 15 letter to members, signed by BAFTA Los Angeles chairman Kieran Breen, said the organization has a cap on the number of film-voting members, and the org has reached that cap. As a result, some potential new members (and some current ones) are unable to vote on film awards, so the L.A. branch hopes to figure out which voters are no longer in the business.
Worldwide, BAFTA has 6,500 voters, with about 25% of them based in the U.S. (The org also has an additional 1,000 non-voting members.) Members vote in their respective sectors: film, TV or games. The cap is on the number of members who vote in film; BAFTA LA is asking members to vote on the board proposal about establishing criteria for voting.
The boards of both BAFTA London and BAFTA New York have already adopted this course of action. Breen said the BAFTA LA board could have passed the measure, but “it is our preference to submit this for member consultation. Other professional guilds in our business have done the same or are pursuing similar changes.”
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According to Breen’s letter: “During the renewals procedure, we will be contacting certain members for whom we have missing or incomplete career details to ask for updated information to ensure that all existing members who vote for the awards meet the membership criteria. Broadly speaking, we are simply looking to confirm that our voting membership have either had relevant work experience during the last five years, or have amassed at least 20 years of total relevant career experience.”
Voting closes April 22 at noon PT.
BAFTA is headquartered in London, with branches in L.A., New York, Scotland, Wales and Asia.
The move is similar the the actions announced in January by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, moving some longtime members into emeritus (i.e., non-voting) status if they are no longer in the industry.
As with AMPAS, the org is working to reassure members that this isn’t solely about numbers-crunching and that many factors will be taken into account: “The procedure will not affect any member who is currently working in a relevant role within the film, television or games industry. Also, there will be provisions for career breaks (for example, due to illness or to start a family), and this will also not affect retired members who have had significant careers in the industries. So, in practice, we expect only a very small number might not meet this broad criteria, namely those who had perhaps worked in our industry for a short time some years ago, before taking a different career path.”
Breen said the voting cap “is in place for practical reasons, but also to ensure the threshold for membership remains high and supports the relevant and aspirational nature of BAFTA LA membership.”
There will be an appeals process for members who feel they have been incorrectly reclassified.