Lessons from BAFTA

Film Doctor BAFTA

It’s a grey Monday, but the Film Doctors are still buzzing (and maybe a little woozy) from last night’s BAFTA awards ceremony. As always there were inspiring quotes from the winners this year, confirming many ‘old truths’ – the importance of perseverance, of telling a universal story and the importance of collaboration. So, this week’s ‘Monday Prescriptions’ aren’t coming from us, they’re coming from this year’s BAFTA award winners and nominees:


We all know the importance of Universal stories – the ones that cross geographical boundaries and transcend cultural differences, appealing to everyone. This year’s BAFTA-awarded films were exactly of that kind. Both Tyrannosaur’s producer, Diarmid Scrimshaw, and Octavia Spencer, winner of Best Supporting Actress for The Help, addressed the subject:

“The Help is about regular people so it resonates with everyone. We always like to root for the ‘underdog.'” O. Spencer

“Tyrannosaur is a universal story, which is why it connects with everyone.”  D. Scrimshaw

Meryl Streep, winner of Best Actress for The Iron Lady, summed up: “Everybody is the same. They are all people.”

The right story secures immediate attention and dedication. Michael Fassbender admitted he wanted to be part of Shame, before there was even a script.


Having a great story is one thing, but really seeing it through is a rare gift. We all know the film industry demands gigantic doses of both perseverance and patience, and hearing it first-hand from the ones who made it in the race is reassuring.

John Hurt (honored with the Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema award): “I’m going to give the same advice that Noel Coward gave to me, which is press on. And I will add don’t let anybody get in the way of your instincts.”  

Adam Deacon (who won the audience’s Orange Rising Star Award): “For 10 years I was living in a hostel. All I can say is keep working and it keeps getting better and better. It doesn’t happen overnight, it took years and years from the age of 12, but eventually you get your time”

And if you thought creating a project was a long haul, think of the actors who are hungry for decent roles. Surprisingly, Gary Oldman admitted to have been looking for a part like George Smiley for 20 years.


Once again, we come to the importance of networking and having the right people around you. Octavia Spencer is best friends with director Tate Taylor, who in turn was childhood friends with Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help. Meryl Streep says she has make-up and hair expert Roy Helland to thank for her BAFTA. Streep has worked with Helland on every film she has done for the last 35 years.

You can be on the look-out not only for collaborators, but also people who’d inspire you. Martin Scorsese showed us that he is still the same film fan that he was when he was a boy, watching films and dreaming of directing: “I watch a lot of movies. I still have a lot to keep up with but I’ve seen a lot of British talent, Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay, Joanna Hogg, Ben Wheatley’s Kill List.” It is clear that a lot of other films and other people have inspired him over his long career.


So what’s next for the BAFTA winners?

John Hurt is in Jayne Mansfield’s Car, which Billy Bob Thornton directed and the pair are in Berlin today to start making deals. Adam Deacon is directing Payback Season which follows the dizzying fame of a premiership footballer who started life in a rough council estate. Tim Bevan (Working Title – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) – “We are all keen on doing another John La Carre adaptation, in particular ‘Smiley’s People’  and we’re also on course to do ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby.'”

Michel Hazanavicius would like to make another silent film, but not straight away.

Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) would like to do a film about 19th century American women’s civil right leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Martin Scorsese – “if the right story comes along, with the right sentiments, I would consider doing another children’s film”.

Last, but not least, a little something for the directors out there – a few words from the BAFTA Director Award Winner, Michael Hazanavicius:

“The less you do as a director, the more the audience does and the more they enjoy themselves”; “You don’t need words to say ‘I Love You’

MONDAY PRESCRIPTION NO.6 – Universality. People. Perseverance.

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Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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