Sunday, February 10, 2008

The day of the BAFTA awards

It's mid-day in London and preparations are well under way at the Royal Opera House where the 61st British Academy of Film and Television Awards will be held tonight.

The red carpet takes 4 hours to put down and it started at 11am, ready for the international television crews to start finalising their setup. They are here in force this year. Every nation seems to be represented. From Canadian and American stations to Al Jazeera TV, who have a podium near to the UKFilm.TV one.

There are only five presenters allowed on the red carpet, including Ryan Seacrest from American Idol fame. His autocue was ready with "Ryan: Welcome everyone to London". I will be a little bit more spontaneous than that, though I do have my general and specific questions printed out, as well as all the details of the nominees. I also made sure I researched every single name that I did not know. I chatted with Toby and Lisa from Freud Communication, the publicists behind the awards ceremony, and told them they had did Britain proud with the setup and that they were just as good as the Oscars that I attended last year. "It's our second year here at Royal Opera House", Toby said, "and hopefully you'll agree that it's much better than the Oscars".

It certainly has the same preparation buzz and the size and scale of the production is certainly equivalent. A key difference is that there is no public gallery. However to counter that one, I'm pointed to a small arena with about 200 seats, which is open to the public and has a big screen which will show the ceremony live. Tickets are first come, first served from Jubilee Market in Covent Garden (you heard it hear first).

I picked up my accreditation and broadcast passes, as well as the ceremony and dinner and had a look around at the logistics. The timing to finish filming and then put our camera equipment in the car before going to the ceremony is very tight. According to Toby, all the action is in the last 20 minutes, so if I am packing up and heading for the car, then I could miss it all. I will need to see how many people have arrived before 6pm and then make a decision to either watch the event in the media centre, or make a mad dash before the doors close at 6:15pm. The dinner is in the Grosvenor Hotel and I'll be catching up with the team at BAFTA Scotland who I bumped into this morning. You may remember I worked with them in 2005 to do the first new media broadcast of the BAFTA's. They were impressed that I'd taken it even further with the documentary , though it has taken three years of applying before I finally got approval in London.

The hard work paid off in the end.
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