Unless you happen to be one of the 7,258 members of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Science, there's a good chance you'll have never seen an Oscar screener - legally, anyway.
The system has been in use since 1985, and the whole thing came out of an act of desperation. John Boorman, who's lived in Annamoe in Co. Wicklow for much of his career, was desperate to get his film, The Emerald Forest, to voters and offered a unique incentive - a free videocassette of the film they could watch in their own time.
Here's a press clipping from the LA Times from 1986, which details the then-unusual system.
We found in our archives the 1986 article in which Boorman outlined his gambit. We called it “one of the oddest offers in the annals of Oscar campaigning." But as screeners proliferated, people seem to have forgotten the backstory. Here’s the original piece: pic.twitter.com/BXp1pTaD1c
— Daniel Miller (@DanielNMiller) March 1, 2018
As Boorman told the LA Times in an interview on the topic, the idea "was just a rather desperate act of trying to get some recognition for the picture," and admitted that he "was aware that it hadn't been done before."
The system was almost upended by Jack Valenti and the MPAA, who in 2003, ordered the curtailment of screeners to Academy members over fears of copyright infringement. It eventually took a court case to have them reinstated, and within a year, one of the most notorious incidents in Academy history took place. Carmine Caridi, a member of AMPAS, was found to have been sending at least 60 screeners a year to a contact.
Caridi became the first person ever to be expelled from AMPAS over it, with the second being Harvey Weinstein.
You can read the full article here on screeners here.
Via LA Times