For those of you who know me, you must know I love films! From watching to understanding the little minutiae behind them, film-making looks so interesting to me! If you follow this blog, you must have noticed the pattern; James Bond, then the London Greek Film Festival, then all the films that I have reviewed… If watching a film is just a part of my fascination with cinema, learning about the backstage, behind the scenes or little know trivia are another – albeit significant – part. So, when I first learned that there is another film exhibition in London at the moment, I thought I would go there and give you all the scoop!
The exhibition I’m talking about (and you can actually surmise it from the title) is BAFTA: Behind the Screens, housed temporarily at BAFTA Piccadilly, while the original space next door is renovated until summer 2021. This little exhibition is a well-hidden secret near Piccadilly Station and Fortnum and Mason; you can pass by it, as the first you will see is a cafe (and it is a rather cosy one with the perfect music and very – very – affordable offerings!). Nested between the tables and chairs, you can find exhibits telling compelling stories from BAFTA winners, who write, shape and shoot what we see on screen. Sounds exciting, no?
This public exhibition is actually all about the makers in the film industry. You can see (and listen) to stories from costume designers, special effects supervisors, hair and makeup designers and other people who work behind the scenes, but whose input is important when thinking about film-making. Throughout the whole exhibition, you will only see a few actors, such as Naomie Harris, Chiwetel Ejiofor or Andy Serkis. I found this interesting, as a film is not only the director or his actors; there are others – often forgotten – who are the backbone of it and it was a long time coming since anyone focused on these “unsung heroes”! So glad that BAFTA did just that!
What stories did I find interesting? Well, first of all, it was Nadia Stacey’s! She is “The Favourite”‘s hair and makeup designer, who (I believe) did a great job in that part. Apart from being historically accurate, she also had to find creative ways to express the weirdness of the world the characters inhabit. You will see a part of the script, a development document with Emma Stone’s character on the film, Abigail, and one of the only wigs that was made from scratch, using human hair! The Yorgos Lanthimos film went on to win 7 BAFTAs and Nadia herself won the best makeup and hair award! Little know fact? Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone rarely wore makeup, while the men did and wore wigs too!
Another story that is interesting is the one associated with “Killing Eve”, the BBC-favourite spy thriller. Phoebe de Gaye – “Killing Eve”‘s costume designer for its first season – created the iconic looks of Villanelle and Eve and was in part a reason for the series’ continued success. For Villanelle’s looks in particular, Phoebe was inspired by high street clothes and fashion brands. From the Burberry dress that had to be dyed, because the original was too bright for the camera in Italy, to the Molly Goddard pink tulle dress that in turn inspired dresses worn in the awards season, Villanelle’s fashion choices reveal her independence and non-conformist views on anyone and anything.
Finally, there is also the story (or rather the soundtrack) of the BAFTA-nominated “Interstellar”. Hans Zimmer, after collaborating with Nolan on the Dark Knight trilogy and “Inception”, went on to write the musical score of “Interstellar”, with a twist. While normally the score is used to complement a completed edit, in “Interstellar” this was different; Nolan described the theme of the film to Zimmer and asked him to write something. Zimmer did and eventually the piece was called by Nolan “the heart of the film” and informed parts of the writing process and editing. Leaving out the personal aspect – the composed piece related to Zimmer’s sense of fatherhood – it ended up influencing the final product, as we saw it in the big screen!
I could probably talk to you more in detail about what I saw at BAFTA Piccadilly and how this exhibition is important for understanding the way films are created. For now, I’ll just urge you to visit the exhibition (it’s totally free by the way), get inspired while there, find a new appreciation for behind the scenes of famous films and TV series and drink a coffee or grab something to eat! The organisers say that the exhibition will be regularly updated to cover all crafts in the film-making process and BAFTA categories in the next two years. If you haven’t visited yet (since the 17th September, when it opened), you still have a lot of time to go! Have fun and enjoy!
Till next time,