PR agen­cies spend­ing big on Os­car as­pi­rants

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE in Los An­ge­les

For Hol­ly­wood ac­tors and their teams seek­ing an Os­car, the work of pro­mot­ing the film can be as ex­haust­ing as ac­tu­ally shoot­ing it.

At­ten­tion plebes of the world: It hardly sounds gru­el­ing but for th­ese peo­ple, it means lots of smil­ing for the cam­eras, posh lun­cheons, pri­vate film view­ings and trips here and there.

Bot­tom line: You have got to charm the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences.

It can be as tir­ing as an elec­tion cam­paign. And yes, at all cost, dodge any hint of con­tro­versy.

“You just can’t sit back and let the movie do the work for you. It’s one of the nec­es­sary evils of be­ing nom­i­nated,” says Tom Nu­nan, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of Crash, which­won­the Os­car for best movie in 2006.

In­deed, one must get out there and fight for votes.

And that is what ac­tors old and new and their en­tourages are do­ing, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, vy­ing for his first Os­car for his work in the Old West sur­vival epic The Revenant.

Movie stu­dios de­ploy an army of pub­li­cists and mar­ket­ing ex­perts tasked with fash­ion­ing the most ex­haus­tive, high-im­pact strate­gies.

The stud­ies spend be­tween $3 mil­lion and $10 mil­lion per movie on mak­ing their nom­i­nees avail­able at a mo­ment’s no­tice, ac­cord­ing to Va­ri­ety mag­a­zine.

Smaller pro­duc­ers have less money to spend, but use so­cial me­dia to plug their can­di­dates.

“So­cial me­dia can def­i­nitely help spread the word. So I think it’s an es­sen­tial tool for any award cam­paign and reg­u­lar movie re­lease cam­paign,” says a pub­li­cist who de­clined to be named as the Os­car race is com­ing to a cli­max on Sun­day.

The goal is none other than to win over the 6,261 mem­bers of the Academy.

The most pop­u­lar and eas­i­est way to con­nect with them is to send them a copy of the movie.

Nu­nan re­calls that with Crash, the stu­dio Lion­s­gate was the first to ac­tu­ally send a disc of the movie to mem­bers of the academy. He called this “a game-changer”.

But the big­gest im­pact comes from pri­vate screen­ings that fea­ture a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion so mem­bers of the academy can get to know ac­tors and oth­ers in­volved in the mak­ing of the film.

“It may seem silly, but if you have seen Bird­man and liked it, and then you meet Michael Keaton and you like him, when it comes time to vote, you sup­port him,” says Al­var Car­retero de la Fuente of the PR agency JJPR, cit­ing the film that was the big win­ner last year.

A few­days ago, the agency hosted a lun­cheon in Los An­ge­les for some 200 academy mem­bers to chat with Matt Da­mon, nom­i­nated for the best-ac­tor hon­ors in The Mar­tian.

Ac­tors who are up for a tro­phy tend to work hard to win over votes, al­though stu­dios take no chances and pay them to lobby.

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