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Academy Gives Casting Directors Their Own Branch

Decision brings number of branches on the AMPAS Board of Governors to 17

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday announced the creation of the Casting Directors Branch.

Casting directors began to be invited to Academy membership more than 30 years ago, many of them admitted as Members-at-Large.

Casting directors who are already in the Academy will be able to move to the new branch, which will elect three governors at a special election this fall. Additional members will then be added to the branch annually.

Also read: Cheryl Boone Isaacs Elected Academy's First African-American President

The decision was approved at the regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday. It doesn't mean that there will be an Oscar awarded for casting direction, though it would certainly pave the way for the creation of that award if the Academy ever chooses to expand the number of categories.

"Casting directors play an essential role in the filmmaking process," Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said. "Their inclusion on our board will only broaden our perspective and help ensure that the Academy continues to accurately reflect the state of filmmaking today."

Also read: Casting Directors: When Will Oscars Recognize the Impact We Have on Films?

The Casting Directors Branch brings the Academy to 17 branches, with three members representing each branch on the Board of Governors.

In a statement released after the AMPAS announcement, Richard Hicks, president of the Casting Society of America, said, “The Casting Society of America (CSA) is tremendously grateful to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for acknowledging the vital contributions made by casting directors to film. To be recognized with the creation of a Casting Branch is something the CSA has long worked for, and to be seen on a par with the other filmmaking crafts is both humbling and gratifying. Thank you, Academy."

Earlier this year, TheWrap did a roundtable interview with several prominent casting directors, each of whom made a strong case for the group to be recognized by the Academy.

"I don’t think we are ignored. But a lot of people don’t know what we do and the impact that we have on films," Terri Taylor, casting director on last year's "Hitchcock," said at the time. "I think it’s important that we start talking more so that people can understand the role that we play in getting a movie to the screen."

Also on the panel were Vicki Thomas ("Django Unchained"), John Papsidera ("The Dark Knight Rises"), Mary Vernieu ("Silver Linings Playbook") and Lora Kennedy ("Argo," "Cloud Atlas").

Here's the video of the discussion: