31 January 2015

BAFTA Backstage

When I stumbled upon this event during a browse on Time Out, I couldn't believe my luck.

Imagine then, how pleased I was to discover it was completely FREE. I almost choked on my tea.

Thanks to this description, my attendance was inevitable; the curious film-lover/photography newbie in me just couldn't resist:

BAFTA are throwing open their doors to the public to celebrate their latest photography exhibition featuring knockout imagery from a vast archive. Work from eight photographers who have all covered past BAFTA Film Awards will be on show, with reportage and portrait photography of international film stars including Ben Affleck, Colin Firth, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Kevin Spacey, Meryl Streep, Leonardo Di Caprio and many more. A Q&A with the selected photographers who have snapped the silver screen elite will take place on both days.

Cool, right?

I accidentally double booked tickets for the exhibition and the Q&A, and was slightly smug to discover they had sold out by the end of the day. I took along my housemate to BAFTA 195 and inspired by the creative surroundings, got into the photographic spirit!

First up was the Q&A to set the scene.

First, we were played a short film as a taster of  BAFTA's work over the year. I ignorantly believed BAFTA was just the awards... how wrong I was! It turns out they do children's roadshows, designed to nurture new talent and seek out 'ones to watch'; lectures and masterclasses (their most recent was 'Dare To Be Digital'), and BAFTA in Hong Kong.

Then it was on to the panel, which consisted of 4 of the 8 photographers whose work featured in the exhibition space: Ellis Parrinder, Rich Hardcastle, Ian Derry and Jessie Craig, as well as Emma Blau, who works alongside BAFTA at Camera Press, a photographic agency.

This part was fascinating. For instance - did you know that photographers get nervous before they do shoots with the celebs? They even get tongue-tied and struggle to direct the shoot... but it's nothing liquid courage i.e. champagne, can't fix...!

Sometimes they'll be informed beforehand that they'll have 15 minutes with a celebrity, only to find that they actually have 1 minute. Can you imagine? This means they're constantly under pressure to get the elusive *winning shot* in very limited time. Apparently the pressure is eased if they know they've got the environment and setting right, but I know I'd personally freak out!

Another thing I didn't know is that before the show, publicists have a walk through of the awards ceremony set-up, from the red carpet, to backstage and beyond. They'll know exactly where each photographer from each publication is located (e.g. BBC, E!, MTV), and where their client will need to stop and pose (or who to avoid, as the case may be). However, photographers share a love-hate relationship with PRs. From the photographer's point of view, PRs can get a bit precious with their clients and restrict timings/photographic opportunities. And with up to 40 photographers backstage, competition can be fierce.

The Q&A was, of course, peppered with iconic images taken at the awards ceremony, featuring the likes of Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet - and my personal favourite, Tom Hardy. Each photograph was accompanied by the story of how it was shot, which was a fantastic insight. Some aspects of the composition were planned, whilst others were completely spontaneous "Actually, Kate was a bit drunk here...", "I just told Meryl to look into the light, and she owned it!"! Regardless, they always captured the moment beautifully.

At the end, the panel welcomed questions from the audience. Unsurprising, someone asked how the photographers got into the film biz. And equally unsurprising was their answer: be in the right place at the right time, and have an awesome portfolio to back it up.

After the Q&A we were released into the members-only bar, featuring all the fantastic photos discussed, and more. I also managed to get a picture with Ellis and Ian who were lovely, and pleased to see a real camera around the exhibition (even though I admitted I didn't know how to use it very well - oops).

My housemate and I had an amazing time, having no idea what to expect from the experience. BAFTA HQ is absolutely stunning, by the way, and the photos were all the more wonderful with a little behind-the-scenes knowledge on them. It's definitely not as simple as aim and shoot, that's for sure!

For more information on BAFTA, including events and space hire (I wish!), click here.


  1. Sounds like you had a great time! Meet up soon please! xx


  2. This sounds so interesting! I love knowing stuff from behind the scenes, I find it fascinating. Sometimes it's crazy how much work goes into something, and we don't always stop and think about it when seeing the final product. :)

  3. Sofie-Eliza Price2 February 2015 at 13:18

    Hi Julie! Yes it was such an amazing experience :) Oooh that'd be lovely. Tweet me and let me know when you're around and we'll try and arrange something :)

  4. Sofie-Eliza Price2 February 2015 at 13:26

    I'm exactly the same - I love watching the extras on DVDs with all the insight into locations, effects, costumes etc. It makes you appreciate the final product that much more!


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