Film & TV: June 2005 Archives

BAFTA Nominations

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The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (aka BAFTA) has made an interesting change to its nomination procedures.

In past year, all films that opened in the UK in a given year were eligible for that year's BAFTA awards. For this year's awards, they're doing things differently: films can only be considered if they're entered into consideration by a film's producer or distributor, or by a BAFTA member. The idea is to bring a little focus to the overwhelming year-end rush of screenings.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out. As paradoxical as it might sound, this has the potential to broaden the range of films that are considered. That is, films that were going to get studio backing are going to get it anyway--but if a studio wasn't planning on backing a film for awards consideration, and a BAFTA member ends up adding that film, it will signal there's more member interest in it than the studio thought, which in turn might encourage the studio to schedule screenings and send out DVDs.

I've just gone and added Thirteen Conversations About One Thing into consideration -- I gather it opened in the US a few years ago, but it's just opening in the UK now. It's a remarkably good movie, and it definitely deserves consideration. It's entirely possible that the distributor would have entered it anyway, but of course there's no harm in a BAFTA member entering it first.

A list of films that have already been entered into eligibility can be found at BAFTA's website. It's a small list at the moment, since the year is only half over, and the bulk of serious contenders probably won't start coming out until the fall.

My first scoop

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I've just returned from a special BAFTA screening of "The Parting of the Ways," the last episode of the current series of Dr. Who. It was followed by a Q&A with series writer Russell T. Davies and the BBC's Jane Tranter. Before the screening started, Ms. Tranter announced that the BBC has commissioned a third series of Dr. Who from Davies, in addition to the second one which will begin next year. (Note to American readers: in the UK, a year's worth of a single TV program is called a "series" rather than a "season.")

Davies said he hadn't expected the revival to be received anywhere near as well as it had been, and that he figured it would only last for a single series, allowing him to have his fun with the show and then make his getaway. "In fact, when you announced I was doing the third series tonight, I could see my agent in the back row looking panicked. And my boyfriend, too. You know, there might have been a more tactful way of telling them about the third series." This prompted a laugh, but Davies was evidently not joking --or, at least, not joking about the surprise nature of the announcement. And if Davies' agent and boyfriend didn't know there would be a third series, I'm assuming that nobody else in the world did, either. Which makes this Yankee Fog's first scoop.

Or, as I would put it were I writing for a British newspaper: "Yankee Fog can exclusively reveal that Russell Davies will be doing not merely a second series of Doctor Who but a third as well." (In the interests of journalistic integrity, I should also reveal that the Davis quote, and the quotes that follow, are from memory and should be treated as paraphrases.)

Admittedly, this is not quite a Downing Street Memo level scoop, but it's my scoop, darnit, and I'm proud of it.

Incidentally, the first audience member to speak up during the Q&A began his question with, "I actually directed the first episode of Doctor Who ever, and--" prompting a sustained round of applause from the audience. When the applause had died down, he went on to explain that he was the most junior director under contract to the BBC at the time, which is why he got stuck directing a show that nobody thought would amount to anything.

Another question came from a little girl in attendance--based on her voice, I'd say she was about 7. She wanted to know, "If Doctor Who died, who would get the Tardis?" Davies answered that he's pretty sure the Doctor would leave it to Rose in his will.

Other things Yankee Fog can reveal (exclusively or otherwise) are (and they include some mild spoilers for Davies' upcoming second series):

• Billy Piper (AKA "Rose") will be in every episode of next year's series. Whether she will return for the third series is apparently still being discussed.

• Actor John Barrowman (AKA "Captain Jack") will be returning to the show, but will not appear in the first block of episodes. Barrowman was also in the audience at the screening, and when Davies announced his return, he yelled out, "And I'm willing to get naked again, too."

•  This series will be followed by a special in December entitled "The Christmas Invasion." The second series will also be followed by a Christmas special.

• When an audience member asked if he was planning on make a Doctor Who movie, Davies turned to the producer and said, "Ooh, yes, that would be a good idea," with a mischievous air that implied (to me, at least) that a Doctor Who movie was already in discussion, and was very, very likely to happen.

Oh, and before you ask: Yes, I now know the meaning of "bad wolf." And no, I'm not going to tell you. I'll just say that this episode provided a very satisfying ending to this series, and it was great fun to watch it with such an enthusiastic (and, as it turned out, historically significant) crowd. There were lots of laughs (in the right places) and a prolonged and enthusiastic round of applause after the episode finished, and again when Russell T. Davies took the stage.

The Blank Page

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There are a number of screenwriters with their own blogs--from small fry like me to huge guns like John August. But there are a number of writers out there who might want to make occasional postings, but don't really have the inclination to maintain a regular blog.

For writers like that, there's now a site called The Blank Page, a group blog with posting privileges open to any member of the WGA (the union for film and TV writers). It's not an official WGA site--WGA membership (or, actually, membership in another country's equivalent) is just a convenient way of establishing that somebody is a working screenwriter. The Blank Page's aim is to provide an interesting and low-key window into the life of working writers, so take a look. You might find it interesting.