Being a BAFTA Judge

BAFTA 2014I’m often asked how I got to be a BAFTA judge. The real answer is luck.  I was in the right place at the right time with the right expertise and talking to the right person. And I’m forever grateful to that person!

At the time I was working in interactive technology and computer games.  Luck would have it that BAFTA had just set up Interactive and Games section and needed specialist category judges with expertise in those fields.

The first year, in 2002, was something like The Best Enhancement of Linear Media in a Non-Linear Fashion. Lots of great stuff, but the film Memento seemed like the obvious winner. The second year, 2003, was Best TV and Film Website.  And then they let me become a full member and I got to judge TV and film!

I take it as an honour to be a member.  One of the 6500. Apparently someone now has to die before you can be a member. That or forget to renew or get out of the game for more than 5 years. Anyway, I still feel lucky.

I watch between 100 and 150 films a year. Yes, for those of you quickly calculating that’s 2-3 films a week, with a big chunk in December when most of the screeners (advance release DVDs and the odd Blu-ray from Warner) arrive.  I also judge shorts – both animation and films.  And the Foreign Language category.

I will admit I’ve discovered a strategy.  Two award worthy films – often intense emotional roller coasters – followed by a palate cleanser – my fluffy films.  And fluffy certainly can also be award-worthy.  Let’s just say I have a soft spot for comic book adventure films.  Thor being one of my favourites of the genre.  It was filmed in New Mexico where I was born (go New Mexico Film Office!) and is about a Viking god (Ingold is a Viking name) and said god is played by Chris Hemsworth.  Oh, and it’s charmingly funny too.

So what’s my favourite film I hear you ask? Well, I don’t really have a lifetime favourite.  My favourite film of 2014 was Rush. Pan’s Labyrinth will always be up there.  And maybe Jaws for being the first film to scare the living daylights out of me as a child.

Oh yes, how do I judge? Well, I let the film wash over me – I’m there to enjoy it (or occasionally not). Afterwards, I then make a brief note about what I thought and tick a category box if I think it’s deserving. Months later when we’re asked to judge I pull together my shortlist and enter it on the voting website.  A few weeks later I find out if anyone else agreed with me.  And then we do the final vote!

We don’t know until the BAFTAs who won either – although maybe a bit before anyone who isn’t at the awards ceremony due to any transmission delay.  And the awards are always good fun!

I’ve since furthered my involvement with BAFTA by becoming an independent advisor for BAFTA’s Digital Strategy and Communications Committee.

My passion for film and TV extends into the service I offer for consulting.  I’m not just about distributing content on demand.  I’m about helping an industry I love monetize so it can produce more great stuff and giving passionate viewers the opportunity to watch what they really want to see in a way that’s convenient to them.

Contact Maria if you think there’s a way she support your love of film.

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