Oscar-winning Indian sound designer Resul Pookutty along with over 80 sound artists, has signed a petition opposing the Academy’s decision to exclude eight categories from the live telecast of the award show, on March 27. They will now wear their guild badges upside down, in a silent protest.
“This weekend, the Oscars may be turned upside down as we may see winners from all categories accept their Oscars upside down in a silent show of solidarity with the eight affected categories. We are all filmmakers of equal importance,” Karol Urban, President of the Cinema Audio Society, told Variety.
The letter is addressed to the Academy President, David Rubin, and the Oscars’ broadcaster ABC.
“As a community of sound artists, we respectfully disagree and are opposed to the changes that are being made for the broadcast of the 94th Oscars ceremony,” it stated, and added that the focus should be on “what we contribute in common, not what divides us.”
The list of undersignatories also includes Ian Tapp, who received the Oscar alongside Pookutty for their work on Slumdog Millionaire, Michael Hedges (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), Myron Nettinga (Black Hawk Down), Dane Davis (The Matrix), Tim Cavagin (Bohemian Rhapsody), Jeffrey Perkins (Dances With Wolves), and Carlos Cortes and Jamie Baksht (Sound of Metal), among others.
In February, the Academy announced that eight categories, namely Documentary (Short Subject), Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Short Film (Animated), Short Film (Live Action), and Sound, were to be cut from the live telecast scheduled to be conducted at the Dolby Theatre.
“Instead, the in-person ceremony at the Dolby Theatre will begin one hour earlier, to present eight awards categories before the live telecast starts. Those presentations will then be edited by our creative and production teams and will be folded seamlessly into the live televised show,” Rubin had stated, after the Academy’s decision received criticism from industry members and netizens alike.
The step comes in as the Academy pushes to tackle the Oscars’ declining viewership rates since 2014. That year’s broadcast was viewed by 43.7 million. In contrast, the last edition, which included Nomadland’s historic win, was viewed by an average of only 10.4 million viewers, which marks a 56% drop.