How to Watch the Academy Awards Like an Insider

Lily Cedarbaum

Lily Cedarbaum

As a college student in NYC, I quickly got sucked into the world of television internships and became addicted to it right away. Starting off in Corporate Communications at NBC Universal, I eventually networked my way into internships at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Joy Behar, The New York Television Festival, Doctor Oz, and Saturday Night Live. While I loved my internships at high-profile networks and festivals, I was excited to branch out and try something off-beat after graduation. To shake things up, I spent a few months living in Los Angeles, where I spent time freelancing and meeting with contacts before finding my way back to New York for a job at MindSmack TV.

The entertainment industry is a hard field to navigate, and I am excited to be a part of The Media Chronicles to assist others along the way!
Lily Cedarbaum

My increased knowledge about the industry has indeed made me jaded about the ostentatious ceremony; yet, it brings a sense of usefulness to an otherwise fluffy special.

Growing up, the Oscars used to be my favorite night of the year. I’d dress over the top in a “gown” of velour or some equally tacky fabric, eat my favorite takeout with whatever family friends were present, and choose to support actors whose movies I wasn’t even allowed to see. Being restricted to only the pre-iceberg VHS, I nonetheless rooted the loudest for Titanic. I admired the dress of the leading actress of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, silently wondering what the title really meant. And the act of a crazy Italian I’d never seen before, Roberto Benigni’s chair-climb to the stage is still present in my mind. Both because it was so glamorous and so unknown, the Oscars of my childhood were magic.

Fast forward 15 years later, and the magic of the event is gone. In its place, to quote an Oscar-winning picture, “is a horse of a different color.” Last year I was excited about one of the nominated films because I had sat through an interview with one of its unknown leads, and the stories of the shoot and funding interested me. This time around, I am wary of rooting for any film funded by a certain production company where I know displeased production assistants. My increased knowledge about the industry has indeed made me jaded about the ostentatious ceremony; yet, it brings a sense of usefulness to an otherwise fluffy special. The best way to watch the Oscars Ceremony if you are interested in pursuing a career in the film industry, is to actually view it with the mindset of a networker. Here are several aspects to consider:

Production Companies
Pay attention to the production companies associated with all of the feature and short films nominated this year and see if they ring any bells. You might just have connections that can get you an interview at one of these now coveted locations! Your first reaction may be to dismiss this thought as ridiculous, but a quick glance at LinkedIn may prove otherwise.

A few years ago I met a woman at a television event who mentioned passively that she was entry-level at Annapurna Pictures. I had to ask her to repeat the name several times, and then I compartmentalized it in the back of my head. Today it is a continuously expanding company with four Oscar nominated pictures in two years (The Master, Zero Dark Thirty, Her, and American Hustle). And like with all other film companies that attain accolades, this group will only continue to grow in coming years! Try making a list of the smallest companies on independent films, and see where your treasure/job hunt leads! Perhaps the connections you share will endear your potential company referral to you.

Consider ALL of the Categories
If you are entry-level and still don’t have your career path fully etched out, the Oscars’ categories serve as a convenient reminder of the multitude of departments involved in the making of film! Write down the names of any position title you don’t explicitly know, and research the details of each position. Additionally, don’t forget the Scientific and Technical Awards listed in minimal detail after the fact; they’re not as snazzy, but they certainly have jobs that are in high demand!

As you learn more about each unknown position, ask yourself if the strengths you have line up. In this case, it may help to read in-depth interviews (found right here) of people in these careers, to understand what a typical day may be for them while working on a film. If their description appeals to you, find out how they got there and follow their lead.

The Thank You’s
The film agent is a rare breed of human. However, if this is your calling, listening to actors’ speeches can be incredibly rewarding. That is, if you can stay awake through them. Winners have forgotten their boyfriends, their children, their wives and husbands, but they never forget the most tenacious family member: their agent.

Pay attention to the agencies and agents that are listed in each speech, and examine whether there are any correlations between actors you love and the companies that represent them. Not only could this knowledge help you in interviews down the line, it could also help you discover a smaller boutique agency that is a bit under the radar to average applicants.

This year I have chosen to spend Oscars night flying, completely disconnected from even the possibility of learning who wins. However, I do plan on reading all the articles covering the winners next week. The truth is, as you get more entrenched in this industry, the magic of the Oscars fades and you realize the people who win do so because they had the ego to put themselves out there and push onward. Still, if you harness this knowledge as inspiration and start viewing as a constituent of the industry and not just a spectator, a refined value to the Oscars will take shape.

Lily Cedarbaum

As a college student in NYC, I quickly got sucked into the world of television internships and became addicted to it right away. Starting off in Corporate Communications at NBC Universal, I eventually networked my way into internships at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Joy Behar, The New York Television Festival, Doctor Oz, and Saturday Night Live. While I loved my internships at high-profile networks and festivals, I was excited to branch out and try something off-beat after graduation. To shake things up, I spent a few months living in Los Angeles, where I spent time freelancing and meeting with contacts before finding my way back to New York for a job at MindSmack TV. The entertainment industry is a hard field to navigate, and I am excited to be a part of The Media Chronicles to assist others along the way!

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