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Bafta win for Essex director Caroline Bartleet

15 February, 2016 - 16:15
(from left) Yann Heckmann, editor, Caroline Bartleet, director,  and Vanessa Whyte, director of photography

(from left) Yann Heckmann, editor, Caroline Bartleet, director, and Vanessa Whyte, director of photography

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A director from north Essex is still in shock after her short film won a Bafta.

Operator producer Rebecca Morgan (l) and director Caroline Bartleet attend the after show party for the EE British Academy Film Awards. Photo: Ian West/PA WireOperator producer Rebecca Morgan (l) and director Caroline Bartleet attend the after show party for the EE British Academy Film Awards. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

Operator, written and directed by Caroline Bartleet, won the Best British Short Film category at the glitzy awards ceremony on Sunday night.

Originally from Great Tey, Caroline, 29, grew up in the village and still comes back from London at least once a month to visit her parents.

She, along with producer Rebecca Morgan, director of photography Vanessa Whyte and editor Yann Heckmann, were stunned to hear their project named as the winner.

Caroline said: “We are absolutely over the moon.

“We were really not expecting it – we were not expecting a nomination in the first place.

“When we sat down at the awards we definitely thought we hadn’t won because we were not at the end of a row – so my reaction was complete astonishment.

“Afterwards everyone has texted me to say ‘Did they tell you’, but no, they really don’t.

“When it was announced all I could thing was ‘Please don’t let me fall over’ and some really odd thoughts.

Images from Bafta award-winning short film Operator, starring Katie Dickie (pictured).Images from Bafta award-winning short film Operator, starring Katie Dickie (pictured).

“It is going to take such a long time to sink in, but it is such an honour to get it. It has started to sink in, but the word ‘surreal’ keeps coming up – it was like a dream and absolutely mad.

“On set was amazing, to see the script come to life in that way, it was brilliant, and on the edit I thought we had something really special, but you never know – it’s just so subjective.

“I always believed in the film but there is such a lot of competition out there.

“It is so over-whelming, I’ve had so many lovely messages.

(from left) Rebecca Morgan, producer, Caroline Bartleet, director,  Vanessa Whyte, director of photography, and Yann Heckmann, editor(from left) Rebecca Morgan, producer, Caroline Bartleet, director, Vanessa Whyte, director of photography, and Yann Heckmann, editor

“It has been a long road to come here – I was an actress before and that was really hard, and without the support from my friends and family saying ‘Don’t give up’ it would be much harder. So I owe them everything.”

She added: “The ceremony was absolutely amazing, and it was really fun. The big names do it quite a lot but we don’t so we were totally soaking up the atmosphere because it felt really special.”

The five-minute film tells the story of an fire control room operator, played by Katie Dickie of Game of Thrones fame, who receives a call from a desperate young mother, played by This is England and Broadchurch star Vicky McClure, whose three-year-old son is trapped upstairs by a blaze.

Caroline said: “Those actresses are some of the very best in the world, they are my favourite actresses.

“Rebecca had not produced before and I had not directed, and we needed £7,000, so getting them on board meant we could raise the money on Kickstarter because people who we didn’t know us donated and I think it was because they were recognised actresses and lead people to take a chance.”

As part of her research for the film, Caroline was given access to the London Fire Brigade control room.

So what does the future hold for a Bafta winner?

“We are all off doing different things at the moment, but I hope we work together again when we get some money together to make another short,” said Caroline.

“I’m currently writing a couple of things and hope to shoot something later this year, if I can get funding.

“This will make making the next project so much easier, even a nomination is really respected and gets you through doors.

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