One of our Youth Board members on BAFTA sausages and, more importantly, her conversion from sceptic to believer in video games at last month’s inaugural meeting.
As is often the case with things you apply for on a whim, without really knowing whether you are what they have in mind at all, I had no idea if I’d be successful. But low and behold like a letter from Hogwarts, an email appeared in my inbox inviting me to enter the mysterious and magical world of BAFTA. And so I found myself outside the looming golden entrance of the BAFTA HQ in London. My instructions had been fittingly evasive and exciting: ‘Take the third door on the left after the church. The entrance is quite discreet. The bell is on the right.’ I find the bell, am buzzed in and, having ascended up a spiral staircase, am confronted with a case full of old BAFTA awards and a selection of smiling 18-25-year-olds who are hopelessly attempting to remember everyone’s names: my new fellow board members.
One of the first questions asked is whether we get to take an award home as a souvenir. Tim Hunter [Head of Learning & Events] groans. I’m guessing it’s not the first time he’s heard this joke. We are ushered into the Princess Anne Theatre, past a pile of pre-bagged popcorn which prompts many wistful looks, and into plush red-seats in the empty cinema. We watch a short film which outlines what BAFTA is all about. I survey the stage before us in awe of how many pairs of feet belonging to brilliant people have scuffed the carpet across it. Fighting the urge to add my feet to the stage’s history, we move back into the boardroom and the ‘work’ begins.
It’s lunchtime and we are showered with sandwiches and ‘special BAFTA sausages’ (which aren’t as dodgy as they sound). Plied with soft drinks and mince pies, we begin, all feeling we could get used to this! Discussion starts, tentatively at first before the ease with which feedback is received and accepted prompts everyone to feel comfortable in adding their particular point of view.
I’m amazed at the wealth of experience the young people in the room had collected; the combined force was really impressive. In selecting the Youth Board, BAFTA seemed to have chosen a really broad cross-section of people from different areas. Everyone had a different skill, specialisation or perspective to bring to the – highly polished – table. There were people running University TV Networks, multiplatform producing on EastEnders, even making video games – a field I’d never had much experience of before and one which prompted a lot of debate at the meeting.
We discussed BAFTA’s identity being so strongly tied to Film and TV and whether it should endorse and award video games as it does, and if video games can be as much of an art form as Film and TV. I started the debate as a sceptic but emerged from the room a reformed believer. Just hearing some of the young people involved with video games discuss it so passionately had me convinced and it was great to learn something about this area which I’d never known before!
Meeting all the board members was inspiring. It was great to see what people were making possible for themselves. Equally, it was great meeting all the BAFTA staff who were all enthusiastic and keen to hear our opinions and take them on board. I was really impressed by the entire meeting. The meeting’s chair Kevin Price, BAFTA’s Chief Operating Officer turned to us at one point during a particular debate and asked: ‘Well what do you think?’ That’s the sort of decision we’d go to the BAFTA Youth Board to make. You didn’t exist before... but now you do.’ That really hit me.
It was great to feel part of something new and exciting and I have high hopes, as do all the staff and board members, for what the Youth Board can do. I’m excited to see the ideas it can bring to BAFTA Guru, which is a fantastic concept, and am excited to see what a year in BAFTA world has in store.
Anna is currently studying English with Creative Writing at Nottingham University and makes short films with eShed at the Watershed in Bristol. Her Guru recommendation is Charlie Kaufman’s Screenwriters Lecture.