Reasons not to attend awards ceremonies…

Posted on November 15, 2011 by Mike Riddell

Let’s be honest here – one of the main reasons I didn’t attend last weekend’s Aotearoa Film & TV Awards is because I wasn’t in the same city, due to a prior engagement. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been able to resist the prospect of a free night out. The fact is I didn’t go (even though I was a finalist), and I’m delighted that I didn’t. This is not one of those sour grapes posts, given that our film The Insatiable Moon picked up two major awards (Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor). Rather it’s a reflection on the whole process of such gigs. I was at the ‘Craft’ awards ceremony a few days before, and had opportunity to observe. So here, in no particular order, are reasons not to attend these events:

  1. What they’re mostly about is who’s cool and who’s not. The in crowd engage in back-slapping, brown-nosing and snide putdowns like the outrageous pricks they are. Most of them are in the television industry, and they have egos so inflated that it’s a wonder they’re still tethered to the ground.
  2. The majority of the awards follow the money. Where big $$$ have been spent, you can pretty much guarantee that awards will follow. This is not particularly surprising given that the sponsors of the event have a vested interest in the outcomes.
  3. It costs an arm and a leg to get a half-decent outing. The gala awards ceremony costs $170 per head to attend. Arthur and his mates wouldn’t get a look in. Though I’m pleased to announce that one I know did manage to gatecrash (lips sealed).
  4. People on big salaries prattle on about ‘our industry’. Those at the creative edge of the film world know that they lurch from job to job, trying to get enough to survive on, and that there’s no such thing as a ‘film industry’ in NZ.
  5. While we’re all partying, we forget that film in this country is at an all time low. Originality is discouraged, and the one body with a statutory obligation to fund kiwi stories has neither dosh nor imagination.
  6. Disturbingly, the list of judges includes the names of several category winners. Am I missing something here?
  7. For the small players, the experience of mixing it with the big-noters is strangely isolating and depressing – a reminder that you’re not in the club and never likely to be.

I could go on, but I won’t. The answer? Flag the glitz and bullshit, and get on with making honest films with honest stories in whatever way is possible. There’s no award for that!

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  1. Rawiri Paratene says:

    I agree with all the points you make… I wasn’t going to attend and really didn’t want to because of all of the above, but my daughter wanted me to go and in the end I thought it important to go there to represent our beautiful movie. When my name was called out I was genuinely surprised. I didn’t think I’d win because our film wasn’t in the in crowd. Congrats to Greg and Teresa and Sara and to you Mike (the fellow representatives. But yeah it has never been about awards… This film was a special film to be associated with and one we are all very proud of!

    November 22nd, 2011 at 8:37 pm ()

  2. Mike Riddell says:

    Rawiri, you are the embodiment of everything good and real and true in this strange world we inhabit. So proud of you that you got the recognition you deserve amidst all that is against true talent. Thanks for representing us and our small film, and expressing the humility that it represents. Delighted that Marama talked you into being there!

    November 23rd, 2011 at 9:24 am ()

  3. Mary Trainor-Brigham says:

    Bless you Mike, as always, for seeing and naming the larger domain basins, and for shattering even them with your savvy consciousness.
    But never underestimate the inspiration which ripples out with tsunami-strength when a film like yours trumps the in-crowd with what is truly “in” ~ mana, which glowed undeniably both from The Insatiable Moon and its players on Awards’ night ~ Love you!

    February 28th, 2012 at 11:38 am ()

  4. Marama Davidson says:

    I agree completely Mike with what you have written – and thank you! Since that night I’ve been left with a hangover of shittiness all because of each of the points you describe above, exactly that! But you writing this article as relieved me of it somewhat – I sigh with some release.
    I’m glad I was able to be a cheerleader for my Papa who I am immensely proud of, but gosh the sour aftertaste watching the attention given to ‘in-crowd’ made me realise how irrelevant the night actually is to real meaning of making good films.
    Dad deserved his win, damn straight. I’m just not sure if that evening deserved him, is all.

    February 28th, 2012 at 11:40 am ()

  5. Mike Riddell says:

    Thanks Mary and Marama! Goodness is as soft as water, but it leaves its mark…

    February 28th, 2012 at 8:13 pm ()

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