How Understanding the Oscars Can Benefit Your Film Career

Posted on: Feb 29, 2024

Photo Credit: Jaguar PS // Shutterstock

By Benjamin Hickson

With the 96th Academy Awards approaching, it got me thinking about how the Oscars heavily influenced my love for the industry and my appreciation for all the different roles that contribute to these great films. When I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the film industry, I began a mission to watch as many Oscar-nominated films as possible. What I learned was that these awards, while often heavily criticized for their lack of diversity and controversial decisions, have a very heavy influence on how the industry operates as a whole. Watching these films can provide great inspiration to those of us who are passionate about the industry.

A Brief Overview

 As the annual ceremony hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Oscars bring together the industry’s top talents, honoring outstanding achievements in various categories. This prestigious event not only serves as a glamorous spectacle, but also holds significant implications for the film industry. Oscar-nominated films influence trends, careers and the collective imagination of cinema enthusiasts worldwide. For aspiring filmmakers and industry beginners, studying the Oscars can provide valuable insights into the intricacies of filmmaking. They can also reveal the different pathways to success in this competitive field.

Established in 1929, the Oscars have grown into an iconic event that recognizes successes in filmmaking across various categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress, among others. The awards are determined by the Academy’s voting membership that is made up of industry experts in a wide array of fields. For many in the film industry, winning an Oscar is considered one of the highest honors and can help elevate one’s career to new heights.

Shaping Trends

When I was just starting to learn about the Oscars, I was enamored by just how important this ceremony is in shaping industry trends and setting standards for cinema excellence. The films and individuals honored often reflect important and cultural themes as well as unique and groundbreaking styles. Oscar films showcase never-before-seen technical achievements that have the power to influence the broader landscape of filmmaking. I have personally used the awards as an opportunity to gain new insights into the qualities valued by industry professionals and to guide my creative ideas.

Studying the Oscars allows individuals starting in the industry to identify key players, understand industry dynamics and establish connections that can open doors for collaboration and mentorship. By analyzing winning films and dissecting the elements that contributed to their success, amateur filmmakers can gain insights into storytelling techniques, cinematography, editing and other aspects of filmmaking. This will inspire them to hone their craft, possibly making it to the Oscars themselves.

Serving as Inspiration

The Academy Awards serve as a huge source of inspiration and motivation for me, and for many other creatives. By watching and understanding how and why a film received its recognition, beginner filmmakers can use that information to better produce their projects. I personally like to go through the nominations and watch as many as possible, as it helps give me a wide array of different perspectives on storytelling. Those differing perspectives then help me when working on my own projects, because what I create is influenced by so many different aspects of creativity.

While studying the nominations and winners of the awards will certainly help in understanding the industry and storytelling process, another avenue is to look at and be aware of the films that were passed up for the awards. Many amazing stories and films have been passed up for recognition for various reasons. Regardless of whatever the reason may be, it’s still important to look at the conversations surrounding that.

For example, I first became aware of the Oscars during the #OscarsSoWhite movement in 2015 for the 87th annual Academy Awards. This movement was a compilation of decades’ worth of racial neglect and exclusion that finally erupted during that awards season. I feel I learned more from that movement as it helped me understand a lot about this industry and how it works. Listening and understanding the stories of those snubbed helped me see how diversity is what makes storytelling so special.

The Oscars stand as a beacon of excellence and aspiration. The impact on the film industry is exceptionally profound. An awards show with such a big hand in shaping trends, influencing careers and providing a roadmap for success is certainly unheard of in many other industries.

For those embarking on a career in the film industry, studying the Oscars is a strategic investment in understanding the dynamics of an industry where creativity, talent and industry knowledge converge to create some of the best pieces of cinema in history. By watching and studying the intricacies of these Oscar-winning films, beginner filmmakers can acquire valuable insights, hone their craft and ultimately position themselves for a future where their names may one day be etched upon the golden Oscar statuette.

Benjamin Hickson is an aspiring producer and production coordinator who has 4+ years experience working on various Film and TV projects. He has a background in Public Relations and served for six years in the military. He also has passion for travel and aims to increase LGBTQ+ representation in the entertainment industry.

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