December 6th, 2015.
Prior to today, I'd photographed arrivals at the BIFAs - the British Independent Film Awards - in 2011, 2012 and last year in 2014. Each of those times, it was a somewhat miserable, dark, claustrophobic experience on an ill-lit roadside outside Old Billingsgate. It was crowded with autograph dealers, and the darkness was lit up only by passing roadside traffic, and involved photography at staggeringly high ISOs.
But because you never knew who would show up, and whether you could take photos quickly enough before they went in, going to BIFA was kind of both simultaneously miserable and awesome, in a weird/cool way. This year it was different, and in the worst possible way.
Here's how it went down, with advance apologies for me being bitter about it:
Over and above being annoyed at how few stars even came in via the 'official' entrance, I was a bit mystified at how corporate this event was. How is it that the INDEPENDENT film industry has A-list stars totally dominating the Wireimage 4-photographic record of the event which doesn't include most of the people photographed here AND a premium sponsor AND a glitzy harbour-side venue to congratulate itself for its awesomeness? I'm not saying Independent film should necessarily suffer for its art or go low-key and grunge or whatever, but there is a choice.
And for my choice, yes, I REALLY did decide to petulantaly delete the sponsor's name off every umbrella at this event. If you want stars to be seen with your umbrellas but don't show the stars, why would I publicise your branded-umbrellas? But if you're interested in knowing the name of some purveyors of fine premium champagne, you really should try Piper Heidsieck
So.... not sure I can really claim I enjoyed that, unless I somehow came across as only subtly negative. Yes, Bifa has always been disappointing in the past, albeit for entirely different reasons. And to me, it says a lot that given the choice of even merely walking past the public or not.... a lot of stars prefer not.
Which. Is. Fine. I absolutely respect that. But then don't have a crowd-friendly setup that implies it will happen. Why not have two small dank and overcrowded pens in near darkness like in 2011, 2012 and 2014? That sent out a clear and unambiguous message about the event's intent. Still, it's another entry for The Archive of Premieres - and....
Until next time : when I'll voluntarily support the Highly Commercial Studio-based Film Industry (because they at least PRETEND to like me!)
Final note : I still love that when I do a search for 'Bifa' online, the British Independent Film Awards comes SECOND to 'Bifa.org' - the British International Freight Association. I'd be happy to photograph their annual event if I'm in town: next year's is on 21st January and you can buy tickets here