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An artist and scholar’s perspective could change the Academy

This week the Academy has elected 75-year-old John Bailey as its new president. Bailey is a cinematographer and film scholar who has worked on a wide variety of films ranging from Groundhog Day to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Throughout the Academy’s history, presidents have typically been directors, producers, or executives. Could the election of a technical artist to the seat mean big changes for the industry?

Other cinematographers and academy members speak to the benefits of having a fellow craftsperson as president. Mandy Walker (Hidden Figures) says his vast experience “puts him in a very good position to look after the values, education, preservation and ongoing celebration of filmmaking”.

Another industry source told Variety, “He’s going to be a very strong advocate for preservation and archival standards.”

When asked his opinion on the appointment of Bailey, Declan Quinn (Leaving Las Vegas) called him “an intellectual and film historian – an important voice in preservation” and a “nice man”.

There is a lot of talk about preservation, but preservation doesn’t always sound good, especially when the industry notoriously lacks diversity. However, the sentiment is appropriate coming from cinematographers, whose careers in the past decade have gone through drastic changes due to visual effects technology.

Hopefully by electing Bailey we aren’t reliving the same day over and over again, making the same films with the same perspectives; perhaps the preservation of the craft and artistry of filmmaking will mean more opportunity for new voices in film.

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