Awards are always a great event to look forward to. No matter the industry a person belongs to, people who distinguish themselves look forward to being awarded at such events. It’s a moment of glitz and glamor when winners shine and losers live to win another day. The goal of awards, of course, is primarily to honor persons who have distinguished themselves from their peers. A person is awarded for a deed done.
The motion picture industry all over the world holds awards to reward the darlings of the screen who keep us smiling with spectacular performance. Such awards often keep individuals glued to their TV sets to see if their stars will pick a statue. Some of these awards are prestigious and rightly so because they are credible and very transparent. For such awards, there is a strong structure on ground, there are rules as to how people are nominated and voted. That is why they say if you have been nominated, you are already a winner.
The question then is: what process is followed in prestigious awards to ensure that they are credible and transparent? This is important because no one would want to pick an award that is not worth the wood it is carved out of. Indeed, what good is an award, if the people in your industry would send you the traditional ‘yimu’ after you have picked it?
The Oscars is a prestigious award. It has been held yearly since 1929. Oscar night is a big deal all over the world as networks jostle to get rights to broadcast live to those so unfortunate as not to be there to witness the event. The red carpet reads like the who is who in Hollywood and everyone that is in the motion picture industry and who cares about Hollywood would definitely clear their schedules to be there whether they are nominated for awards or not.
The Oscars generates such a huge buzz in the media. The 84th academy awards had a whooping 37 million viewers worldwide and millions more joined in conversations about the Oscars through social media such as Twitter.
You would agree with me that The Oscars is a transparently run award but not everyone has always agreed with this. It is on record that George C. Scott and Marlon Brando rejected Oscar Awards for transparency reasons in 1970 and 1972 respectively. The response from The Oscars board was to make the awards less ‘racist’ and the process more inclusive. Of course in the show biz industry image and perception is everything.
The rules for entry into the Oscars are clearly stated and sometimes modified in order to make the process more transparent. You can find entry qualification into the Oscars here. http:/www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/about/voting.html.
Of course every award has a right to set its own rules and standards, but when you want to start off something new, you tend to do an analysis of existing trends to see how to better them. I shall now dwell on some features of The Oscars rules for entry and voting that makes the process more transparent.
The first is that any entry into the Oscars must be publicly exhibited. Even foreign films are given a window to exhibit in a cinema for at least seven days. How does this help transparency? For starters, as any creative writer knows the process of creative writing does not end until you have published it. You can not claim you have completed production if you have not exhibited your production in public domain. A private screening where you invite your friends is not an exhibition, as what this basically yields is a critique of your production in case you need to go do some more work on it. This would best qualify as part of the editing process. Plus, as any mass communicator would tell you, the communication process is not complete until you get feedback from your audience.
The second is the number of persons that make up the academy. The Oscars has about 6,000 persons that make up the academy. These 6,000 represent the 15 different categories of individuals involved in the process of film making. This includes actors, directors, editors, screenwriters and so on. In fact, each of these categories get to nominate who wins awards in each of their areas of influence, so directors nominate directors and so on and at the end of the day the jurors sit to analyze and select the top nominees and then the members of the academy again vote for winners and the winner of course is known to only 2 persons until the announcement is made.
The process of exhibiting publicly and then having such a large number involved in the process of nomination goes a long way to give transparency and credibility to the entire process. If you do not win, it simply means that your friends in the industry after viewing your work felt that the work of your other friend is better and so you have no choice but to accept the decision of the majority.
I must repeat that EVERY award body has the right to set its own rules. The use of the Oscars as a case study is just to show how far some bodies have gone to make the process transparent. While 10 people can sit and decide who wins what, you will readily agree that not many would feel that the process is transparent enough.
I sincerely hope that anyone interested in running transparent awards in Nigeria and beyond would take a cue from the Oscars so that when we hear ‘and the winner is…’ we will all rise and give the winner a standing ovation for a win well deserved.