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A night at the BAFTAs
The documentary ‘Escape from Kabul’ for HBO/BBC was nominated for a BAFTA. I’d worked on it as a producer in the field (everything involved in making a film happen including carrying tripods around) and was second camera (the director, Jamie Roberts, filmed and I helped him, in the interviews for example I’d film the character from the side).
This was a jump up from my regular role of providing security, logistics and medical advice in Afghanistan. It was a big budget film with an award-winning director. I got the chance to work on it through three things. Firstly and most important to the team was my wide experience in Afghanistan from over two years having made good contacts in the Taliban and gaining knowledge of the country. Secondly was my own background in filmmaking from a Masters degree in film production but more relevant having helped produce several documentaries and learning from others whilst presenting. And thirdly a natural consequence of experience were the contacts in my industry, who I kept in touch with and recommended me for the work. That was in January/February 2022.
Fast forward. An invite to the BAFTAs. It was on Sunday the 14th of May at the Royal Festival Hall. I’d been living out of bags for two years and was based in the north. On the Saturday opened a storage unit and found a black velvet jacket from a previous life, the white shirt stretched across my front but never mind, at a tailors I picked up a bowtie and a cummerbund. Trousers from days in the office still fit. Shoes from the funeral. Fine enough.
A red carpet and champagne from 2pm and a party until 2am. I told a friend attending I’d leave after the dinner at 8pm. As we arrived it was sunny and saw old friends. Ah, I wasn’t going to leave after dinner, was I? The rules were to not approach people for autographs or photographs. People hovered around Cillian Murphy and Kate Winslet wondering if they could break the rules. I think the 2pm champagne was designed to get people through the door, we needed to be seated for the ceremony at 4pm, sharp, latecomers weren’t allowed in.
Our film didn’t win but it was great to see a range of international diverse films. Lifetime and special awards for Meera Syal and David Olusoga. I broke the rule at dinner because it’s not every day you meet a hero. Mine? Matt Berry. I told him he was great, using several swear words before and after great. He was a highlight for me.
At the dinner we were sat with other parties to encourage mixing. After dinner, champagne was again used as an incentive to get the crowd onto the terrace of the Hall, and the party went on into the night next to the Thames. It felt otherworldly. People held their awards close as stories swirled about “BAFTA thieves”, instead of the awards people eyed the champagne flutes with the BAFTA logo on them.
I saw my friend who I’d told I was leaving after dinner, he opened up his arms to the Thames, to London, to the night, “We’re here” he said, and we were so I stayed until the end. There was talk about after parties in flats around London, I’d promised myself the gym the next day to act as a brake on this so left. On the way out you could hear people’s bags chinking with the champagne flutes.
I felt it was a moment, kept my ticket to remind myself to keep fighting and improve myself. I’m learning French to make myself more employable, particularly for west Africa, for my homework wrote about the night, my teacher is still to correct it so there will be mistakes, but if you can read, it’s here.
À propos d'hier soir
Hier soir, je suis allé a la cérémonie des BAFTA au Royal Festival Hall à Londres. C'était un événement très formel. Alors j'ai porté une veste en velours noir avec ma médaille du guerre en Irak, une chemise blanche, un noeud papillon noir, une ceinture de smoking noire, un pantalon noir et des chaussures noires.
Il y avait beaucoup de gens célèbres comme Kate Winslet et Cillian Murphy. Il y avait une performance musicales entre la remise des prix. Et c'etait terrible. Les gens ont été choqués. Mon documentaire n'a pas gagné mais il y avait beaucoup belle documentaires internationaux.
Après l'événement principal, nous avons dîné. Nous avons mangé un peu de nourriture mais nous avons bu beaucoup de champagne. C'était gratuit. Alors bein sur nous avons boiré trops. Et après, il y avait une grande fête sur la terrasse à côté de la Tamise. C’etait doux. Tout le monde a bu jusqu'à 2h du matin.
J’ai regardé la rivière et j’ai pensé j'aime travailler à Leeds mais je veux retourner à Londres bientôt parce que c'est une ville fantastique. Pour moi, c'est la meilleure ville du Royaume-Uni. Pour travailler, pour culture et pour le gens. Je vais resté à Londres jusqu'à samedi et ensuite je besoin de retourner à Leeds.