Academy Sound Branch Governors Brief Members on Consolidation of Editing, Mixing Oscars (Exclusive)

The move "into one unified award" reduces the number of Oscar categories presented on the telecast from 24 to 23, but the same number number of sound editors and mixers as before are eligible for recognition (up to six).
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Mark Taylor (left) and Stuart Wilson of '1917' accept the last Oscars that will be presented for best sound mixing.

Among the major rule changes implemented Tuesday by the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is one that has no connection to the ongoing pandemic: the consolidation of the best sound editing and best sound mixing Oscar categories into one best sound category, which is likeliest to be the most divisive alteration of them all.

Shortly before the Academy changes broke publicly, the organization's three sound branch governors, Kevin Collier, Teri Dorman and Scott Millan, emailed the members of their branch to give them a heads-up about what was coming — a communication that The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively obtained.

The trio went to great pains to celebrate the move "into one unified award," which reduces the number of Oscar categories presented on the telecast from 24 to 23, but will recognize the same number of sound editors and mixers as before (up to six), saying that they were "very pleased to share" news of the change, which came "after years of debate and months of collecting feedback."

They reported that the change had the support of the branch, based on outreach they made on Dec. 4 and Feb. 6: "A majority of the responses indicated that, as a whole, our branch felt it was time to take this significant step." They also added that subsequent to that, "This was the unanimous decision reached by a joint meeting of the Sound Branch Executive committee and its Rules Committee."

In summation, they suggested, "Combining our awards under one banner will give us more unity as a community. Understand that this consolidation in no way eliminates the number of potential statuettes that the Sound branch will receive, and will in no way diminish the contribution of any member to the soundtrack. Instead, it will unify us into the 'team' we represent."

The full text of the email appears below.

* * *

Fellow Sound Branch members,

We sincerely hope this letter finds you all in good health.

Though these are uncertain times, normal life will resume and we would be remiss if we did not look down the road. That said, after years of debate and months of collecting feedback, we’d like to update you prior to this news being publicly announced.

We are very pleased to share that commencing with the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, the Sound Branch will combine our Sound Editing and Sound Mixing awards into one unified award. This was the unanimous decision reached by a joint meeting of the Sound Branch Executive committee and its Rules Committee.

On December 4th and February 6th, emails were sent polling the entire branch for opinions regarding whether our awards should be merged. A majority of the responses indicated that, as a whole, our branch felt it was time to take this significant step.

Changes in the way we work and the evolution of our roles through the use of digital technology have advanced this change. Our leading principle in the discussion has always been keeping recognition for both disciplines of sound editing and sound mixing. Combining our awards under one banner will give us more unity as a community. Understand that this consolidation in no way eliminates the number of potential statuettes that the Sound branch will receive, and will in no way diminish the contribution of any member to the soundtrack. Instead, it will unify us into the "team" we represent. No one individual can do their job without the total collaboration of the team. We do our best work when we work together, and now our award will actively reflect that.

If there are any questions please feel free to reach out. Questions or comments can be sent to us via [redacted email address]. We will also be setting up a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on the members-only section of the Academy’s website. The combining of our awards finally acknowledges the magnitude of our collective contributions, and we are genuinely excited about our future, together.

Sincerely,

Kevin Collier, Teri Dorman & Scott Millan