June 15, 2011 4:26pm PT by Jonathan Handel
Academy Votes Against Creating Oscar Category for Stunt Coordinators
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences declined Tuesday to create an Oscar category for stunt coordinators, a group that’s been trying for 20 years to achieve such recognition.
Stunt coordinator Jack Gill, who has been leading that effort, told The Hollywood Reporter that the Academy informed him that it appreciates the work coordinators put into movies but will not add any new categories, even if the coordinators agreed to be in a non-telecast pre-Oscars ceremony.
In an e-mail, Gill said, “I will try again next year and gather more and more support.”
He also said that the Academy declined to reveal the number of votes for or against the proposal.
At the same meeting, the Academy’s Board of Governors revised the rules relating to the best picture award, to allow for anywhere from five to 10 nominees in the category.
In a statement to THR, an Academy spokeswoman said “Stunt coordinators play an important role in many movie productions and the Academy currently honors those at the very top of their craft by inviting them to become Academy members. While the Board recognizes that stunt coordinators make unique contributions to filmmaking, it voted against instituting a new annual category.”
Stunt coordinators can become members of the Academy, but in the At-Large branch (which also includes casting directors). Only 19 are, however, and at most two are admitted per year. At-Large members have all the privileges of branch membership, an Academy spokesperson previously told THR, except for representation on the board.
One stunt performer (not coordinator) has actually won an award from the Academy, Yakima Canutt, but his 1966 statue was an honorary award -- "for achievements as a stunt man and for developing safety devices to protect stunt men everywhere -- rather than an award in a specified category.
Stunt coordinators design the complex stunts seen in movies and TV shows -- car chases, fight scenes, fiery explosions, underwater work, high dives and more. The stunts are then executed by stunt performers (stuntmen and -women), or occasionally by principal performers.
In a separate development, SAG (which represents stunt performers and coordinators) will be hosting an evening with stuntman Hal Needham on Wednesday. The event, which is for members and guests only, will include a discussion of Needham’s new book, Stuntman! and is already at capacity.