Behind the scenes at BAFTA

When the British Academy of Film And Television Arts (BAFTA) hosts its annual film awards at the Royal Opera House (ROH), there are usually more divas in the stalls than on the stage
Clare Brown, director of production at BAFTA, is up to the challenge. “We have to be mindful of the opera and ballet taking place around us. That’s the biggest challenge but we have been at the venue for nine years so we are very respectful,” she says.

On the night, Brown had 40 presenters to take care of (including the likes of Stephen Hawking and David Beckham) who handed out awards in 26 categories, but she insists that ego issues are rare.

“You have to really look after the talent. We partner with Audi to organise the transfers and make sure no one is hanging around at airports. We also team up with the Savoy hotel and most of the presenters stayed there. They attended the nominees party at Kensington Place on Saturday night, the red carpet procession and ceremony at the Opera House and the gala dinner at Grosvenor House,” she says.

The table dressings at the Grosvenor House hotel, themed around the nominated movies, are a special event in themselves. This year the decorations for The Theory of Everything, for example, featured a recreation of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and the fiendish equations, which Stephen Hawking solved to create his theory of spacetime.

At a previous event George Clooney said he had never seen a room looking so beautiful, a compliment Brown cherishes.

She says she was delighted this year that 170 of the 200 celebrities invited attended. “I think the A-listers like the BAFTAs because it’s cosier than the Oscars. That said managing the London traffic is a huge challenge. We work closely with Westminster council.”

This year the organisers had to fend off accusations of elitism and racism when the Martin Luther King biopic Selma, failed to make the nominations. Critics pointed out that many of this year’s nominees attended the nation’s top public schools.

Brown says: “We take diversity very seriously and it was addressed this year through the presenters. You can’t do much about the movies that you are given, but it was a shame Selma wasn’t included – it will do well in the Oscars.”

BAFTA breakdown at the ROH
 
Client: BAFTA
Organiser: BAFTA/Whizzkid for the TV Broadcast for the BBC
Event: The EE British Academy Film Awards
Date: Sunday 8 February 2015
Venue: Royal Opera House
Number of guests: 1,800
 
Client brief: Seated televised awards ceremony for 1,800 people, with area for pre-awards reception. Press areas also required: photography area, press conference area and a media room – all required to have live feeds of the ceremony, red carpet show and the press conference.

Overview of the event: Europe’s biggest red carpet media event on Bow St, followed by the premiere awards ceremony held at the Royal Opera House, attended by Hollywood and British Film Royalty, actors, producers and celebrities with the world’s news, fashion and film press in attendance.

Any major challenges: The biggest challenge is to accommodate this around the full performance schedule of the Royal Opera House. Bow St is closed to traffic on the Thursday before the event, so patrons to performances in the lead up to BAFTA have to be contacted to alert them to use alternative drop off and pick up points. Some events for ROH patrons may have to use the entrance from the Piazza, rather than Bow St, in order to facilitate the Bow St build. But it is for the most part ‘business as usual’ for the ROH until Sunday – and then come 7am on Monday morning, it is as if it never happened.

Venue comment: “We are delighted to be the home of the BAFTA Film Awards. There are many obvious brand synergies between our two organisations, both striving for and celebrating artistic excellence, for example. This was the 9th year that we have hosted BAFTA and, as the UK’s premiere arts venue, it is wonderful that we were able to welcome this premiere awards event,” Moya Maxwell, head of commercial programming at Royal Opera House says.

This was first published in the March issue of CN. Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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