BAFTA Film Committee approves move to two-round voting system; 2013 nominations to remain ahead of Oscars; online screenings to increase.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) will change its voting procedure for the Orange British Academy Film Awards for the 2012/13 voting period.

The Film Committee has approved a move from a three-round voting system to a two-round system, with individual chapters now also deciding nominees for the categories of Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Director, Editing, Make-Up & Hair, Original Music, Production Design, Sound, and Special Visual Effects. Members will then vote on the winners in those categories.

Previously, the first round of voting resulted in a longlist of 15 contenders in each category. This was then narrowed down to five nominees in the second round, with the winners chosen in the third round.

As of next year, the first round will choose the five nominees, with a voting deadline first week of January, and the second round in early February will decide the winners.

As per previous years members will vote for both the nominations and the winner in the Best Film category and the four performance categories.

Members will also have the opportunity to ‘opt in’ [open to any BAFTA members who volunteer to join] to chapters to vote for the nominees and winner in Animation, Documentary, Film Not in the English Language, and Outstanding British Film.

The changes mean that voters will have a marginally longer time to vote in round one, and crucially, that the announcement of the BAFTA nominations will remain ahead of the Oscars, which last year moved its nomination date a week earlier in the calendar.

Next year’s BAFTA nominations announcement will fall on Jan 9, six days before the Oscar announcement. Last year’s BAFTA nominations fell on Jan 17.

The change means the BAFTAs move closer to the Oscar voting structure which has two voting rounds, with some categories extended to three rounds.

BAFTA CEO Amanda Berry told Screen that the changes were being made to “enfranchise the BAFTA members and to ensure the membership remains informed.”

“We received a number of comments last year about whether round two was redundant and whether we were chapter flagging [where the majority of member nominations are in line with chapter suggestions],” she said.

“We want to ensure we have an informed membership voting. We will actively encourage members to abstain if they don’t feel confident of their decisions in certain categories and we’ll ask them not to vote in the second round if they haven’t seen all the films in that category.”

BAFTA is also set to expand its online viewing portal – restricted to a number of categories this year – to enable distributors to showcase their films online.

Berry said she didn’t expect the changes to increase the likelihood of sweeps, produce the same nominations as the Oscars or damage the chance of success for independent films.

Voting procedures remain unchanged for Outstanding Debut by a Writer, Director or Producer in their First Feature Film, Short Film, and Short Animation categories: a jury will decide both the nominations and winner for Outstanding Debut; the Short Film and Short Animination nominations will also be decided by a jury, and the winners decided by an opt-in chapter.

Nik Powell, chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee added: “For several years, the question of whether the Academy should move from our three-round voting system to a two-round system has been on the Film Committee’s agenda. After much research and debate, the Film Committee has elected to implement a two-round system for the 2012/13 Orange British Academy Film Awards.

“This decision was taken due to the simplicity and clarity of a two-round system, not to mention its potential to involve members more. These changes capitalise on the strength and expertise of the Academy’s chapter voting system, which was first introduced in 2004/05.”