We’re Activating an Oscars Category, and You Can Join Us!
Updated: Jun 22, 2019
It was a cold and rainy March afternoon in Atlanta, Georgia. Two college students sat hunched over a computer, the voices of Nick Bafia and Julia Stamey from UNC Chapel Hill ringing in their ears...
“If we make [a film] of our own, and nine other schools do, we have a chance of winning an Oscar.”
Now, you may be asking yourself: What Oscar could a couple of college kids possibly win? Sure, it sounds far-fetched. Making a film is expensive and requires an immense amount of hard work. But this award category currently stands dormant, waiting to be opened if only enough submissions were to get through to the Academy.
The Academy Award for Best Original Musical!
Inspired by a class guest lecture on this very award, Nick and Julia from UNC had formed a production company and set out to recruit teams to join the movement for more movie musicals. They reached out to our two college students, none other than Georgia Tech’s Bryce Irvin and Lina Zikas, due to their prior experience in musical film.
So Bryce and Lina sat down on that rainy afternoon and researched the award...
The Academy Award for Best Original Musical has been on the books since 2000—you’ve probably never heard of it since the Academy has never given it out. Why? Because there have never been enough qualifying films to warrant activation.
The eligibility requirements are as follows:
"An original musical consists of not fewer than five original songs by the same writer or team of writers, either used as voiceovers or visually performed. Each of these songs must be substantively rendered, clearly audible, intelligible, and must further the storyline of the motion picture. An arbitrary group of songs unessential to the storyline will not be considered eligible."
And in the award's current form, the rules state:
"The category of Original Musical may be activated only by special request of the Music Branch Executive Committee to the Board of Governors in a year when the field of eligible submissions is determined to be of sufficient quantity and quality to justify award competition."
However… "If there are nine or fewer qualifying works submitted in any category, the Executive Committee may recommend to the Board of Governors that no award be given in that category for the current Awards year."
Bryce and Lina knew this meant there should be at least ten qualifying musical films in a year to guarantee the activation of the category--no small undertaking. But this also meant that even low-budget films run by ambitious, hungry young filmmakers had a shot at the big time.
They looked at each other, smiles slowly spreading across both their faces. Lina looked over at Bryce. “We can do this.”
Bryce nodded. “I have an idea... It’s about a DVD player... named DaViD.”
Lina looked at Bryce, waiting for him to elaborate.
“That’s it. That’s the whole idea.”
And thus production for DaViD: The Movie Musical began.
They began assembling a team. Talented and proven musical-film director Jackson Vance, who had worked with Bryce and Lina before as the director for Start Over, enthusiastically signed-on. Once the idea was fleshed out a bit more, writer Davis Williams was recruited, finalizing the writing team. Lina, Bryce and Davis began writing the original songs, excitedly playing the MIDI demos to each other from cell-phones and laptop speakers.
A budget was drawn. An enthusiastic marketing team was assembled. Hand-drawn graphics were made and the crowdfunding campaign was launched. And now, this team of relentlessly hardworking recent graduates and students with a dream is closer than ever to being a part of the silver screen’s biggest event of the year.
There are 2 major ways you can get involved and join of this group of future Oscar-winners.
Donate to the Kickstarter campaign! A “low-budget” movie can have a budget anywhere from several thousand to several million dollars.. We’re making ours for the bargain price of $10,000. How? Through hard work, utilizing our connections, borrowing, DIYing, and our own ingenuity, we are going to shock you with production value that seems above and beyond our budget’s capability. But first, we need to raise the $10k. You can check out exactly what the money will be used for at www.tinyurl.com/davidmoviemusical
Join the movement for #MoreMovieMusicals and make your very own film! To get to the Oscars, we need you to make a film in 2020 for the 2021 Oscars! We’ve done all the planning, pre-production and budgeting and have learned a lot about ultra-low budget filmmaking, so we’d be more than happy to help you out with your films! Send us a message here https://www.davidmoviemusical.com/contact-us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But why #MoreMovieMusicals?
The short answer: Because we're absolutely in love with them!
Now for the slightly longer answer...
Movie musicals exploded onto the scene with the advent of sound for film in The Jazz Singer (1927) and continued prospering into the early 40's. After that, the number of movie musicals released per year sharply decreased and has been consistently low ever since. It's important to note that the above graph isn't exclusive to Academy Award eligible films—the list includes adaptations, musical shorts, foreign films, and television films, none of which fit the bill for Best Original Musical. When you take a look at just those numbers, the genre looks like it's all but dead.
But all is not lost! Original musical films like La La Land (2016) and The Greatest Showman (2017) are inspiring a generation of filmmakers to go forth and bring more movie musicals into this world, and we are among them! We believe a major event like the activation of The Academy Award for Best Original Musical could be just what the industry needs to catapult movie musicals back into the spotlight.
And we're not alone. Nick and Julia's musical Fix and our musical DaViD are parts of the whole. There are several other films in development we believe may be eligible for the 2021 award, including Lin-Manuel Miranda's Vivo, DreamWorks Animation's Trolls World Tour, and Trey Edward Shults' Waves. And your film could join us!
We may never reach the height of movie musicals attained in the 1930's—the world has changed in many ways since then. But we believe there are still people out there who are just like us. People who light up when they see song and dance on the big screen. People who know the one-of-a-kind way musical films can tell beautiful stories. People who can't wait to see more of those stories.
And those are the people we're doing this for.
FADE TO BLACK.