My BAFTA Red Carpet Experience
While I have encountered many new and exciting experiences within my
first month of studying abroad in London, attending the BAFTAs red carpet
is one of the highlights of my trip so far. The BAFTAs, or the British Academy
of Film and Television Arts, is an organization that encourages and promotes
the art of film and television. Similar to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences in the U.S, BAFTA presents a series of award ceremonies each
year for both film and television.
The first British Academy Film Awards, the annual award ceremony that recognizes the best contributions to film, were in 1949 in London. There is a wide range of awards handed out during the event, including Best Film, Best British Film, and BAFTA Rising Star. Since 2017, the ceremony has been held at Royal Albert Hall and televised on BBC One. Unlike the Academy Awards, the show is not shown live and does not include special performances or a comedic host, rather focusing on solely the awards.
Living directly across the street from Royal Albert Hall and knowing that previous DeKA members attended the red carpet while in London, Anna Hill - another DeKA active - and I were excited to get wristbands to see the red carpet live. The BAFTAs are one of the few major film awards shows that allows for fan access, offering us a special opportunity. However, since wristbands are distributed on a first come first serve basis, we had to be ready early in order to guarantee our spot.
On the morning of the awards, BAFTA tweeted out a location for people to pick up their wristband which was luckily only two tube stops away. By the time we arrived, there was already a line forming, primarily comprised of study abroad students,film fans,and autograph dealers. Out of the 400 wristbands handed out, we were given numbers 81 and 82, allowing us access to a better spot on the red carpet.
We were instructed to begin lining up outside of Royal Albert Hall at 1 PM, despite the red-carpet festivities starting four hours later. Wristband holders were sectioned on one side of the carpet while the other side was filled by media and news outlets for interviews. Though we luckily were able to secure a spot at the front of the red carpet, the four-hour wait was both long and cold. We were primarily surrounded by autograph dealers, who spent most of their time during the wait trying to push past us. During this time, I also noticed that many people had come prepared. They had bags full of printed out photographs and posters, ready for actors to sign.
At 5 PM, the red carpet began to broadcast live on the BBC, and filmmakers, actors, and presenters slowly began to shuffle down the carpet. They would first stop at the reporter's side to do interviews with different outlets, and then, if we were lucky, stop by the wristband holders for autographs, pictures, or just to say hello. One girl standing near us who had attended the red carpet many times before advised us to be “aggressive” if we wanted celebrities to greet the section, though she seemed to do most of that work for us.
I noticed that a majority of the people that walked the red carpet were not nominated for anything, but rather just invited as presenters or guests. This made the experience more exciting as we were often pointing out unexpected arrivals, such as the original members of Queen showing up to support Bohemian Rhapsody. However, what surprised me the most was how dedicated most filmmakers and actors were to interacting with fans. While a few sped inside the venue, most made an effort to stop for at least a section of fans. Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz, who won the BAFTA awards for Leading Actress and Supporting Actress respectively for The Favourite, and Bradley Cooper, who was nominated for Best Director and Best Leading Actor for A Star is Born, are some of the actors who went down the entire line of the wristband holder section.
Being in the front, we had the opportunity to see and take photos with a wide range of attendees. This also allowed us to watch a lot of actors interact and take photos together. I got the chance to see some of my favorite filmmakers and actors up close including Barry Jenkins, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale. While most of the people surrounding us attended the red carpet for a specific person, we enjoyed watching the action unfolding live around us.
The red carpet itself lasted two hours, with most actors having to clear the area a few minutes early for the arrival of royals, Prince William and Princess Kate, who also attend the ceremony. Seeing notable members of the film industry and how an awards ceremony functions up close has been one of my most unique adventures in London so far. Most importantly, seeing an element of the industry in person made me grateful that studying in London has granted me access to an outside understanding of my film studies that I cannot fully grasp in the BU classroom.