The 2015 BIFAs - British Independent Film Awards

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:

Rather than the dark, dank hole of streetside Billingsgate, this year they've allowed for the entire back part of their building to be used by fans! It's a complete setup - with barriers, security and a little patch of red carpet. And the view? Kind of great. Who knew Independent films made this much Bank??

Rather than the dark, dank hole of streetside Billingsgate, this year they've allowed for the entire back part of their building to be used by fans! It's a complete setup - with barriers, security and a little patch of red carpet. And the view? Kind of great. Who knew Independent films made this much Bank??

So rather than my usual 4th-row-behind-the-kind-of-dealer-scum-who'd-sell-their-grandma-for-a-Q-lister-scrawl spot in a pen that resembles a dungeon more than anything... I'm in the second row in a rather great spot on a really nice setup. Even with a slight drizzle, I'm rather pleased. (insert an ominous drone of portent here)

So rather than my usual 4th-row-behind-the-kind-of-dealer-scum-who'd-sell-their-grandma-for-a-Q-lister-scrawl spot in a pen that resembles a dungeon more than anything... I'm in the second row in a rather great spot on a really nice setup. Even with a slight drizzle, I'm rather pleased. (insert an ominous drone of portent here)

Right now things are going so well I'm taking cityscape shots of The Shard across the river while waiting for Stars to arrive. And I'm thinking: they should do this every year. (insert a second ominous drone of portent here)

Right now things are going so well I'm taking cityscape shots of The Shard across the river while waiting for Stars to arrive. And I'm thinking: they should do this every year. (insert a second ominous drone of portent here)

We're off... and this is possibly Luke Evans, who was in (but not at the premiere of) the movie 'High Rise' earlier this year. I couldn't quite move fast enough to catch him before he evaded me and entered the place.

We're off... and this is possibly Luke Evans, who was in (but not at the premiere of) the movie 'High Rise' earlier this year. I couldn't quite move fast enough to catch him before he evaded me and entered the place.

Good news : turns out 24hrs later I'm awake enough to extract at least one Luke Evans shot. I'm not proud of much in this shot. However if nothing else you can't deny one thing : my camera's batteries were charged.

Good news : turns out 24hrs later I'm awake enough to extract at least one Luke Evans shot. I'm not proud of much in this shot. However if nothing else you can't deny one thing : my camera's batteries were charged.

Good news for fans of Luke Evans (or conoisseurs of recovery-of-shadow-details on full-frame Nikon DSLRs)... I managed to find another picture.

Good news for fans of Luke Evans (or conoisseurs of recovery-of-shadow-details on full-frame Nikon DSLRs)... I managed to find another picture.

This, meanwhile, is Douglas Booth, who I've photographed at many events without ever knowing what exactly he does. And, sure, I could go onto imdb and find out... by why spoil the mystery? In other news : much as the views at this premiere are great... the lighting is wildly sub-par. (edited to add : I know he's in 'Jupiter Ascending' but that doesn't help)

This, meanwhile, is Douglas Booth, who I've photographed at many events without ever knowing what exactly he does. And, sure, I could go onto imdb and find out... by why spoil the mystery? In other news : much as the views at this premiere are great... the lighting is wildly sub-par. (edited to add : I know he's in 'Jupiter Ascending' but that doesn't help)

I don't know who this is, but the issues with autofocus at this premiere are only slightly better than at the three previous BIFAs. I hope everyone wears contrast-detect-friendly grids on their gowns/tuxedos like this guy's shirt has.

I don't know who this is, but the issues with autofocus at this premiere are only slightly better than at the three previous BIFAs. I hope everyone wears contrast-detect-friendly grids on their gowns/tuxedos like this guy's shirt has.

"And y'all are here voluntarily? Like.. you literally have nothing to do? Wow." Our next arrival is actress Julie Walters, who appears from the gloom to dispense some incredulous home-truths.

"And y'all are here voluntarily? Like.. you literally have nothing to do? Wow." Our next arrival is actress Julie Walters, who appears from the gloom to dispense some incredulous home-truths.

I don't know who this is, but I think we've also established that I'm crazily out of practice at using my camera's flash at events. (edited to add, with apologies : Tracy Ann Oberman)

I don't know who this is, but I think we've also established that I'm crazily out of practice at using my camera's flash at events. (edited to add, with apologies : Tracy Ann Oberman)

I forget who this is right now, but for reasons I'll elaborate upon later, I don't want to go onto Getty or Wireimage to find out because it'll tell me who attended this event that I didn't photograph. (edited to add : he's George MacKay and among other things he was very good in last year's 'Pride')

I forget who this is right now, but for reasons I'll elaborate upon later, I don't want to go onto Getty or Wireimage to find out because it'll tell me who attended this event that I didn't photograph. (edited to add : he's George MacKay and among other things he was very good in last year's 'Pride')

Jim Sturgess signs for fans, and also dispenses strange gang signs. I remember him best from 2013's underrated albeit over-ambitious 'Cloud Atlas'

Jim Sturgess signs for fans, and also dispenses strange gang signs. I remember him best from 2013's underrated albeit over-ambitious 'Cloud Atlas'

Domhnall Gleeson is in the upcoming The Force Awakens, but I don't give a crap about the Star Wars range of products, services, bedsheets, party supplies and occasionally and purely incidentally, movies. He was however good in this year's 'Ex Machina'

Domhnall Gleeson is in the upcoming The Force Awakens, but I don't give a crap about the Star Wars range of products, services, bedsheets, party supplies and occasionally and purely incidentally, movies. He was however good in this year's 'Ex Machina'

I don't know who this... but then despite all the movies I watch and premieres I attend, I don't actually know *everybody*

I don't know who this... but then despite all the movies I watch and premieres I attend, I don't actually know *everybody*

"When they said Independent Film Awards I assumed this would be held in a high school auditorium and we'd be drinking beer out of paper cups!"

"When they said Independent Film Awards I assumed this would be held in a high school auditorium and we'd be drinking beer out of paper cups!"

"I love your green dress!!" a girl from the crowd shouted, so that answers that question. But there was no response... and in this light, both of my cameras' white balances are struggling.

"I love your green dress!!" a girl from the crowd shouted, so that answers that question. But there was no response... and in this light, both of my cameras' white balances are struggling.

Vicky McClure arrives (I remember her from this year's TV Baftas)... but I'm going to be honest I'm a bit worried. This event is meant to start (inside) at 7:30pm and it's already 6:45pm..... and I've seen The List of attendees. Where are THOSE attendees?

Vicky McClure arrives (I remember her from this year's TV Baftas)... but I'm going to be honest I'm a bit worried. This event is meant to start (inside) at 7:30pm and it's already 6:45pm..... and I've seen The List of attendees. Where are THOSE attendees?

Tom Courtenay zips past. He's got two Oscar nominations.. but premiere-wise he was in 2012's 'Gambit' and 'Quartet'

Tom Courtenay zips past. He's got two Oscar nominations.. but premiere-wise he was in 2012's 'Gambit' and 'Quartet'

Again, I don't know who this is - it's possible she's a guest rather than nominee - but under the circumstances the best strategy seems to be to find anyone wearing an above-average dress and photograph them on mere suspicion of fame. And use any spare time available to wonder where Marion Cotillard, Colin Farrell, Cary Mulligan, Alicia Vikander, Helena Bonham Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tuppence Middleton, Richard Aoyade and Anne-Marie Duff among others are...

Again, I don't know who this is - it's possible she's a guest rather than nominee - but under the circumstances the best strategy seems to be to find anyone wearing an above-average dress and photograph them on mere suspicion of fame. And use any spare time available to wonder where Marion Cotillard, Colin Farrell, Cary Mulligan, Alicia Vikander, Helena Bonham Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tuppence Middleton, Richard Aoyade and Anne-Marie Duff among others are...

I also don't know who this is, but a few people from the crowd did know. The remaining crowd, that is. You'll notice the number of people is a lot less now than before. (edited to add : Joanna Vanderham)

I also don't know who this is, but a few people from the crowd did know. The remaining crowd, that is. You'll notice the number of people is a lot less now than before. (edited to add : Joanna Vanderham)

"I also have something yellow. Oh. Right. That's your purse. I haven't stolen it yet"

"I also have something yellow. Oh. Right. That's your purse. I haven't stolen it yet"

Meanwhile our next arrival saunters over, and you'll notice that the barriers are now even more empty than before. I'm not sure if maybe somebody set off a fire alarm and somehow I missed it because I was too busy keeping the drizzle out of my camera lenses.

Meanwhile our next arrival saunters over, and you'll notice that the barriers are now even more empty than before. I'm not sure if maybe somebody set off a fire alarm and somehow I missed it because I was too busy keeping the drizzle out of my camera lenses.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster is best known for his involvement in The Maze Runner films (and also Game of Thrones)... but even at my advanced age, I'll rate him for being 'Ferb' in the rather awesome 'Phineas and Ferb' Disney animated series.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster is best known for his involvement in The Maze Runner films (and also Game of Thrones)... but even at my advanced age, I'll rate him for being 'Ferb' in the rather awesome 'Phineas and Ferb' Disney animated series.

I don't know who this is, but between you and me, I'm less excited by the dress alone than I should be because it appears that in spite of all the 'effort' of putting up barriers, carpet and security.... stars are declining to walk around the building to this entrance... and instead using a side or 'front' entrance instead.

I don't know who this is, but between you and me, I'm less excited by the dress alone than I should be because it appears that in spite of all the 'effort' of putting up barriers, carpet and security.... stars are declining to walk around the building to this entrance... and instead using a side or 'front' entrance instead.

I don't know who this is, but if you're interested in why this photo looks so weird, it's because two flashes in the crowd went off simulataneously. . (edited to add : Luke Newberry, who I failed to recognise from being in the movie 'Quartet')

I don't know who this is, but if you're interested in why this photo looks so weird, it's because two flashes in the crowd went off simulataneously. . (edited to add : Luke Newberry, who I failed to recognise from being in the movie 'Quartet')

Celia Imrie was in both the First and Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films...  and I'm glad she took the time to walk around the building she was entering before... you know.... entering.

Celia Imrie was in both the First and Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films...  and I'm glad she took the time to walk around the building she was entering before... you know.... entering.

And now even the people walking past aren't feeling like making eye-contact? I'm not really used to feeling this unwelcome at an event. Or rather feeling it so explicitly.

And now even the people walking past aren't feeling like making eye-contact? I'm not really used to feeling this unwelcome at an event. Or rather feeling it so explicitly.

"Heeeeey.... is that free champagne in there? Do you guys mind if I don't linger?" Not at all... kinda wish I could do the same.. (edited to add : Laura Carmichael)

"Heeeeey.... is that free champagne in there? Do you guys mind if I don't linger?" Not at all... kinda wish I could do the same.. (edited to add : Laura Carmichael)

"Hey, guys. They're releasing the rottweilers in about five minutes. Thought you'd like to know". You know, Bifa, if you didn't want us to be there you could've just pulled a gun on us and told us to clear off.

"Hey, guys. They're releasing the rottweilers in about five minutes. Thought you'd like to know". You know, Bifa, if you didn't want us to be there you could've just pulled a gun on us and told us to clear off.

Saoirse Ronan is apparently brilliant in the highly-rated (and BFI LFF premiere-ing) "Brooklyn", and I'm always impressed when she decides to snub autograph dealers openly. So that's one good thing.

Saoirse Ronan is apparently brilliant in the highly-rated (and BFI LFF premiere-ing) "Brooklyn", and I'm always impressed when she decides to snub autograph dealers openly. So that's one good thing.

"Not sure if I'm here for an awards night or at a nighttime trial for alleged armed robbery..."

"Not sure if I'm here for an awards night or at a nighttime trial for alleged armed robbery..."

I feel like I might have photographed him at last week's premiere for 'In The Heart Of The Sea'.... or maybe I just wish I was listening to metaphorically explicity sea-shanties and bad rap music than be here.

I feel like I might have photographed him at last week's premiere for 'In The Heart Of The Sea'.... or maybe I just wish I was listening to metaphorically explicity sea-shanties and bad rap music than be here.

Olivia Colman was fantastic in 'The Lobster' and was great here, signing and posing for the hopeful fans remaining in spite of the miserable drizzle. If Independent film wants to broaden its appearl, then perhaps they should be making even MORE of an effort to win fans by being inclusive and welcoming. Instead of appearing elitist and snobbish.

Olivia Colman was fantastic in 'The Lobster' and was great here, signing and posing for the hopeful fans remaining in spite of the miserable drizzle. If Independent film wants to broaden its appearl, then perhaps they should be making even MORE of an effort to win fans by being inclusive and welcoming. Instead of appearing elitist and snobbish.

"I think we took the wrong entrance. There's people here... why are there people here?"

"I think we took the wrong entrance. There's people here... why are there people here?"

"Glad you guys are here! No ... seriously. Your flashes are lighting the way"

"Glad you guys are here! No ... seriously. Your flashes are lighting the way"

Kind of a late arrival, but at least willing to brave the risk of rabies or the croup or whatever it is that We The Common Folk carry.... is model-turned-actress-possibly-still-model Agyness Deyn.

Kind of a late arrival, but at least willing to brave the risk of rabies or the croup or whatever it is that We The Common Folk carry.... is model-turned-actress-possibly-still-model Agyness Deyn.

"You like the dress? You can't afford it. But what am I talking about... EVEN I can't afford it"

"You like the dress? You can't afford it. But what am I talking about... EVEN I can't afford it"

Last arrival via the *cough* main entrance : Maxine Peake, who was very good in last year's "The Theory of Everything"

Last arrival via the *cough* main entrance : Maxine Peake, who was very good in last year's "The Theory of Everything"

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

"Dude? You need to chill". Maybe.... or maybe Bifa might re-evaluate what exactly they were trying to achieve with this Event's outdoor component. If anything.

"Dude? You need to chill". Maybe.... or maybe Bifa might re-evaluate what exactly they were trying to achieve with this Event's outdoor component. If anything.

I think maybe you suck, Bifa. You sold out (or perhaps for the first time revealed the extent to which you sold out)....

I think maybe you suck, Bifa. You sold out (or perhaps for the first time revealed the extent to which you sold out)....

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

ps. If you want to know whenever I post a new premiere journal, feel free to follow me on twitter @berndt2_photo or on facebook by clicking here (I'm usually more cheerful!)