The art of craft

The art of craft

By Michael Pickard
April 28, 2022

Ones to Watch

We Are Lady Parts and Landscapers stole the show at the British Academy Television Craft Awards 2022. Winners including writers Nida Manzoor and Kayleigh Llewellyn, costume designer KC Williams and editor Sarah Brewerton reflect on their celebrated work.

For the first time in two years, the cream of creative talent working behind the camera has been honoured at an in-person celebration marking the British Academy Television Craft Awards 2022.

With prizes in categories ranging from costume design, writer and director to production design and visual effects, Channel 4 comedy We Are Lady Parts and Sky’s true crime drama Landscapers were the big winners, each scooping three Bafta statuettes each.

Paul Bettany and Claire Foy in award-winner A Very British Scandal

Fellow C4 drama It’s a Sin and Netflix fantasy series The Witcher also claimed two gongs of their own, with other scripted winners including BBC dramas In My Skin and A Very British Scandal.

The final award of the event, which took place on Sunday, saw the TV Craft Special Award presented to Triple C, a gateway organisation that helps deaf, disabled and neurodiverse creatives access the arts and media. The organisation, led by Cherylee Houston and Melissa Johns, is dedicated to improving access and accessibility, as well as connecting organisations, raising awareness around disability issues and influencing decision makers within the television industry.

After the dust settled on a glitzy ceremony in central London, DQ spoke to some of the winners to reflect on their award-winning work.

Costume Design: PC Williams
A designer working across advertising, fashion, music and TV and film, Williams won the costume design award for her work on We Are Lady Parts, against competition from The Serpent, The Pursuit of Love and A Very British Scandal. The series follows the fortunes of a Muslim female punk band on a mission to find a lead guitarist and get themselves a gig.

“That it’s about four girls who are all second-generation migrants really resonated personally with me. My parents emigrated to the UK in the 70s and 80s, so I’m also a second-generation migrant. Being able to tell a story about women and girls who look like me and come from similar cultural backgrounds felt like an amazing opportunity and one I didn’t want to pass up.

“All I can bring to a project is me, my ideas and how those ideas respond to the words in the script. When I got the scripts and was able to read about the bios of the girls, I knew immediately how I wanted to tackle designing the show. It was important to me to have authenticity and one of my costume standbys who worked with me from the beginning of prep and on to set is Muslim and it was important for me to have her on the team. I didn’t want to be an outsider looking in thinking, ‘This is what Muslim girls wear.’ I wanted it to feel real.

PC Williams strove for authenticity in designing for We Are Lady Parts

“For Bisma [played by Faith Omole], it was so much easier to get her right because she is essentially me, a British Nigerian girl. Designing for her came really naturally. But when designing someone like Amina [Anjana Vasan] or Noor [Aiysha Hart], I really leaned on the team I built around me to understand the do’s and the don’ts of Islamic dress in a modern sense and get it right.

“In terms of the day-to-day running of our industry, there’s a huge issue with there not being enough [costume] supervisors and without them, it’s impossible for us to do our jobs. A lot of supervisors want to design, so the boom in the television industry enabled a lot of people to move from supervising into designing. As a young designer, the creative side of the job is fine but if you don’t have the right support, the logistics are awful. We need to invest in the infrastructure to enable more people to leap from standby to supervisor. That’s a gap. The more diverse voices we have telling stories, the richer our TV is going to be.”

Editing – Fiction: Sarah Brewerton
Brewerton edited all five episodes of It’s a Sin, Russell T Davies’ joyous, heartbreaking series about five friends living together in 1980s London under the shadow of the emerging AIDS crisis. On the same night, It’s a Sin director Peter Hoar won the Bafta for Director – Fiction.

“It’s a Sin wasn’t one of those jobs where you have to rethink the structure and do so much. It was my job to be as respectful of Peter’s rushes and Russell’s writing. Russell is also brutal with his own work and won’t hesitate to lose something if it’s not quite working or worthy of staying in the edit. It’s just a real collaboration.

Sarah Brewerton edited all episodes of It’s a Sin

“It was a four-month shoot and I was the sole editor, so whilst it was a lot of rushes – 135 hours for five hours of TV – it gave me time to really think about the journey each of the characters were going on. By the time we got to the fine cut with Peter and a few weeks later with Nicola [Shindler, executive producer], Phil [Collinson, producer] and Russell, I had a pretty good handle on what we had.

“I really love dialogue and two-hander scenes that show a lot of emotion, but I get a lot of pleasure from doing musical sequences. There’s quite a lot of singing and karaoke in It’s a Sin. Each episode had a really joyful moment, whether it was a montage or singing, and I really enjoy those moments and fitting music [to the action]. There are probably elements I loved in each episode and I like the satisfaction of a slower scene that gets to the crux of the emotion. But when you have a musical number, you really get immersed in it.”

Emerging Talent – Fiction: Adjani Salmon
Recently seen on screen in Chivalry and Doctor Who’s Eve of the Daleks, Salmon is an actor, writer, director and producer most notable as the co-creator, co-writer and star of BBC Comedy Slice entry Dreaming Whilst Black, which is based on his own YouTube series of the same name about aspiring filmmaker Kwabena, who is trapped in a recruitment job and must decide between going all out to achieve his dream or giving up entirely.

“It’s a reinterpretation of the web series so we changed it and made it better. It’s a dry comedy; people would say it’s a dark comedy but I think it’s funny. My writing partner, Ali Hughes, and I try to make a point never to make up race jokes, so any joke of that nature, we play it real to life. The web series is more heightened but when you make it more realistic, it’s harder for people to divorce themselves from their own flaws. That’s definitely what we tried to do this time around and tell the story in this realistic, naturalistic way and have the comedy come from the situations and circumstances Kwabena finds himself in.

“I went to school to be a director. I started writing in order to direct. I started acting because I couldn’t afford to pay an actor. Then I started exec producing to protect all those other things. I just consider myself a storyteller and those are the ways in which I do that.

“The last 12 months, from Dreaming Whilst Black coming out to now, has been a massive shift for all of us. That’s what everybody saw, not many people saw the web series, which is why I said [in my acceptance speech] don’t shun those YouTube series with a thousand views, because that’s us. It’s interesting that the film industry tends not to be a gradual progression. It’s just a hard slog and then some sense of you’ve made it or you’ve been seen. It’s been an amazing rollercoaster of seeing something come to life.

“Commissioners should broaden where they find people, it’s as simple as that. There are all kinds of platforms where people put out their work, so it’s about broadening their horizons and not just waiting until someone becomes viral.”

Original Music: Arthur Sharpe
Sharpe collaborated with director brother Will to create the original score for true crime drama Landscapers, which stars Olivia Colman and David Thewlis as Susan and Christopher Evans, a mild-mannered couple who become the focus of a murder investigation when two bodies are found buried in a back garden.

“Susan is enamoured with the golden age of Hollywood so we needed to reference that and take the audience into her head and how she was imagining her life to be this whirlwind romance with a hero husband. At the same time, what Will and I both thought was key was not to make the score purely referencial. We wanted to make sure there was a definitive Landscapers sound, in the same way there’s Susan’s fake world in her head and the reality of the situation, which is the fact her and her husband are accused of a double murder.

Olivia Colman and David Thewlis in Landscapers

“Directors will usually have a decent idea of where they do and don’t want music. Will always tries to get me writing as early as possible so the world is built as early as possible, so by the time he’s filming, he might know what track he wants where. It may change, but we’re always spit-balling from the first possible opportunity. Everything from the costume design to production design, they’re feeding into the same thing, which is hopefully creating an original world.

“I’ve never had as much freedom as I did on this show. The producer and the execs were so trusting of me and Will and so encouraging, and it really helped that they wanted to see where it would go. They wouldn’t micro-manage or say, ‘Do this, do that.’ Ultimately, what happened was there weren’t any notes from them, which really helped. I’m sure every composer would agree that the less people meddle, the better they’d feel they do. It definitely was a huge help there was so much trust involved and we could work it out between the two of us. It’s one of the bigger things I’ve worked on but one of the ones I’ve had most licence with.”

Scripted Casting: Aisha Bywaters
In a formidable category that also included nominees from It’s a Sin, Time and Sex Education, Bywaters won the award for her work building out the riotous band at the centre of musical comedy We Are Lady Parts.

“I read it, I loved it, I wanted to be a part of this band and this group of people. Then it was how do we find them, because it’s so specific. That’s always the feat of casting, that now I have to go and find these people. That took quite a long time. We found them through the traditional system. We were looking on social media and we had loads of submissions because it wasn’t just about them being good actors. They either had to be musicians already or be able to learn really quickly. When we found the people we were keen on, it was also, ‘OK, but do they work as a band?’ There were so many levels to casting but ultimately it was just immense fun.

“They definitely needed to have chemistry. There were a lot of iterations [of the band]. We spent a day getting in lots of different people and seeing how they fit together. They can’t overpower one another and you see that now, because those actors are friends. They’ve formed these relationships, they have these bonds. That’s amazing and also a dream in my job. That’s when you know it’s working.

“Our job has changed massively within the last two years in terms of how casting is done. It’s more technology-based than it was. There’s a lot more material, tapes and things to go through. It’s a different process than it used to be. The one thing I’d say is a real benefit is it is amazing how many actors you can see. Before, you could only have so many people in a day’s casting. Now you can really take risks in a way you couldn’t before. It’s such an exciting time. We would look for people making music who are Muslim and living in the UK and DM them and say, ‘We’re making this show, would you like to audition?’ It’s really opened things up.”

Nida with Olivia Colman

Writer – Comedy: Nida Manzoor
Completing a hattrick of awards for We Are Lady Parts, Manzoor won the award for comedy – writing for her debut series, on which she also directed and created the titular band’s original songs. A second season has recently been commissioned.

“I wanted to create something that challenged stereotypes I was seeing on TV, especially around Muslim women. I remember telling myself I wanted to make it as funny as I could make it, which I was quite daunted by, as then you have to try and be funny and think about gags. But I wanted to really lean into the comedy because we don’t get to see Muslim women being funny on TV. To see people reacting and saying they were moved by the representation and the message but actually they found it genuinely funny has been one of the most gratifying things to hear.

“When I was coming up with the idea of the show, I wanted to create something where I could really lean into my voice and, because my first passion was music, it felt like the most fun option. And because I got to work with my siblings on it, it felt organic and natural to what the show was.

“I was always trying to find the line between the heightened world and the real world. That was something I worked on at the script stage with the team at [producer] Working Title and then also as I was working with my crew in prepping. When Amina has these dream sequences where she goes into her closet and starts singing Girl of Constant Sorrow, it was like, ‘How is it going to work?’ It was a constant exploration to get right. Then I was always worried the band wouldn’t feel like a genuine punk band, but as soon as the girls were rehearsing together, very quickly my worries were allayed because they were laughing, joking and playing the songs. They were definitely a punk band.”

Writer – Drama: Kayleigh Llewellyn
Llewellyn won the Bafta for the second season of In My Skin, having won a Welsh Bafta for the first season of the show, which is a deeply personal story of a teenage girl living a double life as she struggles to negotiate her mother’s mental illness, friendships and her sexuality.

“The effort going into season two was a psychological effort. There was an inner critic, an imposter syndrome voice that started to speak up and say, ‘Just because you had a bit of success with season one, it doesn’t mean you’ll get it again,’ or ‘Everyone will realise it was a lucky mistake.’ There was that psychological hurdle to get over. Once I had managed to put that to one side, I procrastinated for a few months and then determined to ‘Tell the truth and let the story speak for itself.’ The moment that clicked in my mind, it flew very easily. I wrote season two in five-and-a-half weeks and it was actually quite joyous once I got into it.

“With the luxury of doing a standalone pilot that airs, one of the pros is that you get a run-up at what your show should be. You make it, it goes on telly, you watch it, audiences watch it, you get feedback and you have time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. By the time I then did the rest of season one, it was with that knowledge in hand. In that process, I already had plenty of time to figure out how to do weighing up my personal story with making good telly. Then by the time we came to season two, I was able to be a bit ruthless. If you sit down thinking, ‘This is mine and my mum’s story and it must be told exactly as it happened to us,’ then the process of making telly can be quite painful because it feels like you’re hacking away at family history. I realised by season two that doesn’t serve me and instead come at it with just a TV eye – what’s the best story?

In My Skin deals with universal subjects such as mental health

“In My Skin is an example of the phrase ‘The unique is universal.’ Sometimes TV execs and the money people can become nervous about things that seem rarefied. It’s set in a small town in South Wales and it’s about a woman who’s bipolar and a man who’s a drug dealer and a Hell’s Angel, and their lesbian daughter and you think, ‘That’s not many people.’ There is a propensity sometimes to get a bit nervous about investing in shows like that, but ultimately the themes at the heart of it – mental health – have touched so many people.

When you never see yourself reflected on TV, it can be so difficult but the moment you do see a sliver of your life reflected it’s so affirming and wonderful. I hope the mental health and sexuality strands in this show brought that to people. It’s taboo to talk about but a lot of people have also felt shame in their family situation. So many people go through that and it feels awful to admit it, so hopefully by me admitting it, some people think, ‘Me as well.’ And there’s laughs in there. It makes the bitter pill easier to swallow.”

Other winners in scripted categories included:

Special, Visual & Graphic Effects: Dadi Einarsson, Gavin Round, Aleksandar Pejic, Oliver Cubbage, Steffano Pepin and Jet Omoshebi for The Witcher (episode one)
Director – Fiction: Peter Hoar, It’s a Sin
Make-up & Hair Design: Barrie Gower and Sarah Gower, The Witcher
Photography & Lighting – Fiction: Erik Wilson, Landscapers
Production Design: Caristina Casali, Robert Wischhusen-Hayes and Fabrice Spelta, Landscapers
Sound – Fiction: Sound Team, A Very British Scandal

tagged in: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,