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Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study building on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California
Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in the Hollywood, district.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures.

The Academy is composed of over 6,000 motion picture professionals. While the great majority of its members are based in the United States, membership is open to qualified filmmakers around the world. As of 2004, the Academy roster included theatrical filmmakers from 36 countries.

The Academy is known around the world for its annual Academy Awards, informally known as the "Oscars". In addition, the Academy gives Student Academy Awards annually to filmmakers at the undergraduate and graduate level; awards up to five Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting annually; and operates the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, Californiamarker and the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, Los Angeles, Californiamarker, which will expand to include The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, to open as a tourist attraction by 2012.

The current president of the Academy is Tom Sherak.


The notion of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) began with Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). He wanted to create an organization that would mediate labor disputes and improve the industry’s image. So, on a Sunday evening, Mayer and three other studio big-wigs - actor Conrad Nagel, director Fred Niblo, and the head of the Association of Motion Picture Producers, Fred Beetson - sat down and discussed these matters. The idea of this elite club having an annual banquet was tossed around, but there was no mention of awards just yet. They also established that a membership into the organization would only be open to people involved in one of the five branches of the industry: actors, directors, writers, technicians, and producers.

After their brief meeting, Mayer gathered up a group of thirty-six people involved in the film industry and invited them to a formal banquet at the Ambassador Hotelmarker in Los Angeles on January 11, 1927. That evening Mayer presented to those guests what he called the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and it was open to those who had contributed to the motion picture industry. Everyone in the room that evening became a founder of the Academy. It wasn’t until later, when Mayer’s lawyers wrote up the charter, did the name change to "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences".

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. was elected as the first president of the Academy. As one of his first acts, he added an activity of bestowing “awards of merit for distinctive achievement.” No one back then saw it as more than just an award. However, they were on the brink of forming something historical. A year later the voting system for the Awards was established, and the nomination and selection process began. This "award of merit for distinctive achievement" is what we know now as the Academy Award.

In 1929, the Academy in a joint venture with the University of Southern Californiamarker created America's first film school to further the art and science of moving pictures. The School’s founding faculty included Fairbanks (President of the Academy), D. W. Griffith, William C. DeMille, Ernst Lubitsch, Irving Thalberg, and Darryl Zanuck.

Galleries & Theaters

The Academy's main building in Beverly Hillsmarker houses two galleries that are open free to the public. The Grand Lobby Gallery and the Academy Gallery on the fourth floor offer changing exhibits related to films, film-making and film personalities.

The Samuel Goldwyn Theater seats 1,012, and was designed to present films at maximum technical accuracy, with state-of-the-art projection equipment and sound system. The theater is located in the main building. The Linwood Dunn Theater is located at the Academy’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study and seats 286 people.


All members must be invited to join. Invitation comes from the Board of Governors. Membership eligibility may be achieved by a competitive nomination or a member may submit a name based on other significant contribution to the field of motion pictures.

New membership proposals are considered annually. The Academy does not publicly disclose its membership, although past press releases have announced the names of those who have been invited to join.

Academy membership is divided into 15 branches, representing different disciplines in motion pictures. Members may not belong to more than one branch. Members whose work does not fall within one of the branches may belong to a group known as "Members At Large."

Academy Branches

Original 36 founders of the Academy







Presidents of the Academy

Presidents are elected for one-year terms and may not be elected for more than four consecutive terms.

Current administration of the Academy

Academy Officers 2009-2010

Board of Governors 2009-2010

By Branch

Annette Benning
Henry Winkler
Tom Hanks

Art Directors
Rosemary Brandenburg
Jeffrey Kurland
James D. Bissell

Vilmos Zsigmond
Owen Roizman
Caleb Deschanel

Martha Coolidge
Curtis Hanson
Edward Zwick

Richard Pearce
Lynne Littman
Rob Epstein

Jim Gianopulos
Robert Rehme
Tom Sherak

Film Editors
Dede Allen
Donn Cambern
Mark Goldblatt

Leonard Engelman

Charles Fox
Bruce Broughton
Arthur Hamilton

Hawk Koch
Mark Johnson
Kathleen Kennedy

Public Relations
Marvin Levy
Sid Ganis
Robert G. Friedman

Short Films and Feature Animation
Carl Bell
John Lasseter
Bill Kroyer

Curt Behlmer
Don Hall
Kevin O'Connell

Visual Effects
Richard Edlund
Craig Barron
Bill Taylor

Frank R. Pierson
James L. Brooks
Phil Alden Robinson

See also

Not to be confused with...

Notes and references

  1. The Museum of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  2. Tom Sherak Elected President of AMPAS
  3. Wiley, Mason, and Damien Bona. Inside Oscar. New York: Ballantine Books, 1986 pg. 2
  4. Levy, Emanuel. And The Winner Is.... New York: Ungar Publishing, 1987 pg. 1
  5. Wiley, Mason, and Damien Bona. Inside Oscar. New York: Ballantine Books, 1986 pg. 3

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