Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone has suggested five rules to follow if you’re trying to launch a grassroots/word-of-mouth Oscar nomination talking campaign. So I’ve come up with a few arguments, counter-suggestions and “oh, yeah?”s.
Stone Rule #1: “Never strong-arm people into voting for someone or something. People hate to be told what to do in general. No one wants to be thought of as stupid or out of touch.”
Wells response: Yeah, except the majority of people out there are out of touch (or at least not as in touch as they should be). It’s also a pretty safe bet that the main reason they’re out of touch is that they live with certain levels of timidity and hesitancy. They tend to like the same things over and over in films and they don’t particularly like to be challenged or provoked. It’s also a fairly safe bet that deep down they know this about themselves. In short, most film industry people are walking around with the mentality of sophisticated, self-aware sheep. There’s only way to respond to this, which is to treat them the way a shepherd treats his flock. Use your shepherd’s staff and goad them along. Do it politely or sternly, but tell them what to do. Because deep down they want to be led. It’s easier to follow a strong leader than make semi-nervy, semi-bold decisions on your lonesome.
Stone Rule #2: “Make them think it’s their idea. Present all of the reasons a film or person is worthy without ever falling into the trap of saying ‘nominate them now because they deserve it!'”
Wells response: I agree with this, but how provincial and donkey-stupid do you have to be to dig in your heels and decide to not see or admire a film or not vote for one of the people who helped make it, because you resent the manner of a person (or persons) telling you how great or at least worthwhile it is? When someone urgently tells me I need to put a film or filmmaker into the Oscar Balloon I never reject them out of hand. I always reconsider my thinking and/or my original reactions to the film in question.
Stone Rule #3: “Reverse psychology – it works quite well. The old ‘this is the best film of the year but no way will the Academy nominate it…it’s the best film to come along in ten years but it’s too small, too dark, the genre isn’t right…no way will the Academy go for it.’ That works ten times better than ‘of course they’ll nominate it…there is no way they can’t nominate it.'”
Wells response: Of course — very wise thinking. But if the Academy doesn’t nominate The Hurt Locker for Best Picture there’ll be blood on the floor. Sometimes reverse psychology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Because sometimes the wrong film or filmmaker wins no matter what psychological strategy is in play. People like what they like while realizing deep down that they’re a little bit lazy and Zelig-ish in their thinking. They secretly want to be led, driven, pushed, admonished, browbeaten. (See Stone Rule #1.)
Stone Rules #4 and #5 are okay with me.