Oscar fever is traditionally a seasonal affliction, but not anymore. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just redesigned its website and added a veritable goldmine of archival clips and pics from its gigantic permanent collection that goes way beyond the awards themselves.
The original site was built back in 2008, but only offered a limited look at the organisation’s staggering — like, seriously mind-melting — amount of old-and-new Hollywood treasures: “10 million photographs, 165,000 film and video assets, 80,000 screenplays, 50,000 posters, 20,000 production and costume design drawings, and 1,400 special collections.” Yowza.
Now, with the help of LA-based entertainment marketing agency Trailer Park, it’s an interactive online hub where that material can be surfaced and explored. This evolution is awesome for film fans, and such a smart move on the Academy’s part — one that aligns with the growing trend of cultural institutions giving free access to their archives.
Folks can time travel back through old Oscars ceremonies or plan ahead on the upcoming Events page, but the most fun are the new Collections. The team selected 11 subjects to start — from movie icons like costume legend Edith Head and anime visionary Hayao Miyazaki to classic flicks like Jaws and Pulp Fiction — and populated each of these pages with video, images, sketches, behind the scenes stuff, and even newspaper clippings from the production on through to theatrical release. Apparently more are already in the works, which is great, because all this does is make me want more more more: More media, more movies, more everything. (I’ve got my fingers crossed Gene Kelly and/or Singin’ in the Rain are next up…)
The whole revamp is also a great way to start stoking interest in the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is set to open on LA’s Miracle Mile in 2017. Locals may be ambivalent about the transparent Death Star-meets-Epcot design by architect Renzo Piano, but if this online intro is any indication, it will be home to a hell of a lot of incredible artifacts. Here’s some of my favourite finds from the Collections; visit Oscars.org for more.
The Wizard of Oz: This early Tin Man prototype never made it to the big screen.
Jaws: Steven Spielberg films right at the big dude — a beast which required 40 crew technicians to handle.
Hayao Miyazaki: A storyboard sketch from My Neighbour Totoro.
Alfred Hitchcock: The man himself has a laugh on the set of Vertigo with Kim Novak.
The Blues Brothers: They’re on a mission from God (even off-camera).
Guillermo del Toro: One of the director’s notebooks from Cronos, with notes about set design and props.
Gregory Peck: A brilliant fan letter from a young boy who enjoyed Peck in The Omen. (From the Gregory Peck Papers at the Margaret Herrick Library.)
All images courtesy Oscars.org