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BAFTA Film Awards: The Sessions

4 October 2016
Event: BAFTA Film - The SessionsDate: Saturday 13 February 2016Venue: BAFTA, 195 PiccadillyBAFTA/Jamie Simonds

As we approach another awards season, Mariayah Kaderbhai, BAFTA's Film Programme Manager, talks us through the annual BAFTA Film Awards Sessions 

For the past five years we have invited the BAFTA Film Awards nominees to BAFTA HQ the day before the big event to explore their craft and discuss working on some of the most acclaimed films of the year. With many of the world’s best film practitioners all in London at the same time, it is an opportunity too rare not to capture, and of course, record and publish online for our wider audiences to enjoy.

In 2016 we hosted thirteen interviews, roundtables and panels events, with 30 nominees from 13 different awards categories as part of ‘The Sessions’. These events and filmed interviews, in terms of the experiences and insights shared, are unique. They not only allow the listener to gather the most useful tips from BAFTA-nominated film makers and professionals, but they also provides the nominee with the opportunity to discuss their craft and career with their peers, reflecting upon the challenges, the pitfalls and the exhilaration they’ve experienced on the way – an often rare yet valuable experience.

So what do we do when we have this smorgasbord of talent all in one place? We simply ask them – how did you do it? Ever wondered how the make-up team on The Revenant created all those bear attack scars on Leonardo DiCaprio? Or how Eddie Redmayne trained his body to be able to play Stephen Hawking with such conviction in The Theory of Everything? Or how you can record sound on all those corridors in Birdman? Or how do you edit a film as frenetic as The Big Short?  (Incidentally, by breaking all the editing rules apparently).

Luckily for us, nominees are generous enough to share all their tricks of trade, not only helping fellow practitioners, but sharing their expertise with the next generation of filmmakers and inspiring the potential award winners of the future. What’s more, the interviewers range from working industry professionals, to film journalists, to the new talent we support throughout the year, including our BAFTA Breakthrough Brits and scholars, all aiding this beautiful 360 degree knowledge-sharing experience.

And the secret to success? According to visual effects supervisor Ben Grossman, (Hugo, Shutter Island, The Day After Tomorrow) it’s cutting the word ‘no’ out of your vocabulary. In his experience ‘So many people talk about how they ‘can’t’ do something, or ‘shouldn’t’ do something or ‘won’t’ do something’, he shared at the Sessions in 2012. The success stories are those who have ‘never used the negative’, seek solutions to problems and say ‘yes, we could make that happen.’

So whether you are a working film professional, a trainee fresh to the industry, or simply a keen film fan, these interviews present something for everyone, making the ‘behind the scenes’ accessible and the final product achievable.  With 2017 on the horizon, we look forward to welcoming nominees on the eve of the awards for a sixth year. Our learning programme is underpinned by a commitment to sharing the expertise of BAFTA winners and nominees to the wider public, in turn encouraging and raising the quality of film, television and games enjoyed by so many. For us, the Film Sessions is a key way of putting this guiding principle into practice. Head over to BAFTA Guru to explore.