By day, they are accountants with global consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers. But from Friday, for only two days, they become keepers of one of the most closely-guarded secrets in the world.
Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz will be the only people who know the winners of the coveted golden Oscar statuettes, cinema’s most prestigious prize.
They are the people who tally the votes of the 6,100-odd members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) who choose the Oscar winners.
“We print everything” for fear of possible leaks or online hacking, Cullinan told AFP, explaining how the voting process has been revolutionised over time.
“For 84 years, (it) was only done by paper. Over the last three years, they have allowed members to vote electronically, with a password. An increasing number, the majority, now vote electronically,” he said.
The pair has a team of five or six people to help. But they make absolutely sure that no single person counts all the votes in a category, to ensure nobody but them knows any of the winners, said Ruiz.
There are 24 categories and over 6,000 votes to be counted by hand. That’s a lot of counting. The vote ended Tuesday evening. They hope to have the results collated by Friday evening, said Cullinan.
Security is, needless to say, a key concern. Both Cullinan and Ruiz each get a set of 24 envelopes with category names pre-printed, together with 24 cards. But they fill in the winning names by hand before sealing them.
As a double fail-safe, each of them memorises the category winners by heart, just in case. Nobody apart from the two of them knows the results. From the moment that the results are finalised, and a set of envelopes is placed in each of two briefcases, both of them are escorted by armed guards until the start of the ceremony.
Agence France Presse