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Set Decorators Blast Academy’s Decision to Cut Eight Categories From Live Oscars Show



The Set Decorators Society of America has blasted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and its leadership following the shocking decision to cut eight categories from the live Oscars broadcast coming up on March 27.

The SDSA Board of Directors sent its missive to Academy President David Rubin, CEO Dawn Hudson, the AMPAS Board Executive Committee, and the AMPAS Awards Committee, as they all played a part in the frustrating decision, which was also poorly communicated to members, adding further insult to injury.

“The outstanding films of today cannot be made without the talent, skill & collaboration of all of the branches. It is with sincere hope that proper recognition will be given,” the Board said in a statement.

The full letter from the SDSA Board can be found below:

Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences
David Rubin, President
Dawn Hudson, CEO
AMPAS Board Executive Committee
AMPAS Awards Committee

In a climate of great cultural and political division, the Academy has elected to demote eight branches from equal recognition at the Academy Awards: Production Design, Documentary Short, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Animated Short, Live Action Short, and Sound. The SDSA takes this as a tremendous blow to the ideal of equality among the Academy’s branches. The Oscar for Outstanding Production Design is presented to the Production Designer and Set Decorator.

The diminution of these specific awards, which you declare to be “the fat in need of trimming” from the broadcast in order to make it more entertaining, is punitive not only to the individual artists singled out for this treatment, but to entire industries represented by each one, who take enormous pride in their part in the creation of each nominated and winning film in the Academy competition. We are all diminished by this action, and infuriated by it.

The demotion of the Academy Award for Production Design in the eyes of the world and among our peers in the workplace is a material blow and an unnecessary one.

The Academy has been the gold standard of fostering collaboration among the arts of filmmaking. But by this action you are sowing divisiveness: anyone looking at the list of those demoted to the prerecorded portion of the broadcast can only react with strong dismay at the lack of respect given to these art forms.

The relegation of certain film crafts to a lesser tier feels like confirmation of a bias antithetical to the spirit traditionally honored by the Academy.

One of the great events preceding the Awards Ceremony is the Oscars Luncheon, where the nominees are gathered in blended groups at their tables. Costume Designers sit side-by-side with Supporting Actor Nominees and Sound Mixers. A Set Decorator passes bread to a Director, who clinks glasses with a Special Effects Supervisor. And finally comes the class photo: all the nominees are called out one-by-one, and summoned to the dais, where they stand together in great equanimity and pride.

This event sets a tone of generosity and fraternity that carries over to the Awards Ceremony. It is a glorious celebration of professional achievement and unity.

It is this spirit that feels diminished by the recent announcement.

The Set Decorators Society of America expresses its extreme disappointment with this decision. We hope a different avenue can be found to maintain the audience’s interest, and one which truly celebrates the art of filmmaking and holds to the true values of the Academy.


Gene Serdena
SDSA President

Chase Helzer
SDSA Board Chairman

Gene Cane
SDSA Executive Director

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