UPDATED: Deadline obtained a copy of Bill Mechanics letter to the Academy Board which you can read below.
Theres a moment when if you fail to make an impact, the right thing to do is make for the exits. After Saturdays meeting, Im at that moment and I respectfully must resign from the Board of Governors.
I have a great love and respect for the Academy. I grew up loving movies and watching the Academy Awards, never dreaming of being a nominee, producing the show, and certainly not becoming a Governor. Eventually all of these things actually came to pass and it was exciting when I was originally elected to the Board, serving with so many distinguished legends side-by-side in a non-hierarchical environment.
I left the Board after one term, but decided to run again a couple of years ago when many of the decisions of the Board seemed to me to be reactive rather than considered. I felt I could help provide some perspective and guidance.
But its exceedingly clear to me since returning to the Board that things have changed and there is now a fractured environment which does not allow for a unified, strategically sound, vision. I havent had any real impact, so now its time to leave.
I feel I have failed the organization. I feel we have failed the organization.
We have settled on numeric answers to the problem of inclusion, barely recognizing that this is the Industrys problem far, far more than it is the Academys. Instead we react to pressure. One Governor even went as far as suggesting we dont admit a single white male to the Academy, regardless of merit!
We have failed to the move the Oscars into the modern age, despite decades of increased competition and declining ratings. Instead we have kept to the same number of awards, which inherently means a long and boring show, and over the past decade we have nominated so many smaller independent films that the Oscars feel like they should be handed out in a tent. Big is not inherently bad and small is not inherently good. Moving into the modern age does not mean competing with the Emmys for non-theatrical features.
We have failed to solve the problems of the Museum, which is ridiculously over its initial budget and way past its original opening date. Despite having the best of the best inside the Academy membership, we have ignored the input of our Governors and our members.
We have failed our employees. Over the past seven years, we have watched dedicated employees of the Academy be driven out or leave out of frustration. Certainly, some freshening of an organization is a good thing, but that doesnt seem the case here; this seems more like a “purge” to stifle debate and support management as opposed to the needs of the Academy.
We have failed to provide leadership. Yes, that includes the Presidency, which with a one year term creates instability, but moreover the CEO role has become much broader and far-reaching, and the results are erratic at best. It also includes 54 Board of Governors, which is so large it makes decision-making difficult and makes it way too easy for the silent majority to stay silent.
Many of the problems Im talking about come not from malfeasance but rather from the silence of too many Governors. A vocal few people are insistent that the problems are not really problems or would be too damaging to the Academy to admit. Not facing your problems means you are not addressing those issues and, guess what, problems dont go away — they simmer under the surface and, if anything, get worse.
You cant hide the drainage of employees, the cataclysmic decline in the Oscar ratings, the fact that no popular film has won in over a decade; that we decided to play Moral Police and most probably someone inside the Academy leaked confidential information in order to compromise the President; that the Board doesnt feel their voice is being heard with regard to the Museum; that we have allowed the Academy to be blamed for things way beyond our control and then try to do things which are not in our purview (sexual harassment, discrimination in the Industry).
Perhaps Im wrong about all of this and if so my resignation will simply make things better. If thats the case, so be it. If its not, then I truly hope the majority of Governors will take action. Check in with our membership and get their input. If they respond as many have with me, then change the leadership of the Academy and put the Academys interests above any personal likes or dislikes.
EARLIER, 12:48 PM: Bill Mechanic, the producer and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board of governors, has exited the AMPAS post. An Academy spokesperson confirmed his exit just now: “The Academy thanks William Mechanic for his five years of service on the Board of Governors, where he represented the members of the Executives Branch.”
The well-wishing is fine, but theres an incendiary backstory, as well as a letter Mechanic wrote to the board. Sources said part of the ire was directed toward the sudden bullishness of the Academy over #MeToo issues and plans to punish for indiscretions, and also in the way that an inappropriate behavior allegation leveled at AMPAS president John Bailey was leaked internally to press. The Academy later found the complaint to be unsubstantiated and its president was cleared, but the damage was done. The delay in the Academy museum and the unwillingness to change the slow pace and structure of the annual Oscars was another gripe.
The Hacksaw Ridge producer and former Fox chief was pointed in a December Vanity Fair article over the Academys actions to adjust in the face of the #MeToo movement in Hollywood. “This should be left to the companies people work for and to the police,” he told the magazine. “Six months ago, all the moral police were silent. Was it wrong for people to be silent six months ago? Yes. Is it wrong to go overboard now? Yes. What you want is rationality to the process.”
Deadlines sister publication Variety first reported news of Mechanics exit.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.