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THE CINEMATOGRAPHER - BARRY ACKROYD

Long-time Ken Loach and Paul Greengrass collaborator, Barry Ackroyd was nominated for Best Cinematography on Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker in 2010.

The Hurt Locker versus Avatar was a good story at the Oscars that year. Kathryn Bigelow and Jim Cameron had been partners so there was some intrigue in that, and we were the smallest grossing film to have won an Oscar. My wife and I sat pretty close to the stage next to Sigourney Weaver, who I think I called ‘Joanne’ - I’m not very good with faces and names - and when the moment came and they gave the cinematography award to Mauro Fiore for Avatar she looked at me and said: 'What! It was an animation! Only 25 per cent of it was film.' She was very nice about it. To be honest, I don’t think The Hurt Locker was the best cinematography that year - White Ribbon should have won; it was a fantastic piece of work - but it was good enough to win us six Oscars. It was great that we got ourselves in the position to win so many awards, against the might of all the other films and without the publicity. After all, The Hurt Locker only screened in four cinemas in New York when it was released the previous June.

The invitation say that you have to be at the theatre for 3.30pm and we arrived early because there was no traffic and went inside where you have to buy yourself a glass of champagne. It’s not like the BAFTAs; you genuinely have to buy your own drink. I didn’t actually have any cash on me, so I had to get someone to buy one for me. The really weird thing is during the commercial breaks. Everyone gets up and goes for a drink and then these people will come and sit in for you. I found that very strange. They’re all actors or wannabe actors and they look like they belong there.Instead of goodie bags they have gifting suites where you find out who’s giving stuff away, phone them up and tell them you’re a nominee and that you’re coming round. I really hate all those things, to be honest. So many of these people have so much money, they really don’t need the gifts. I’m just like the rest of the crew to be honest – it’s great to go get an award, but I’ve never done stuff like this to win one. I do it because I love making films.

When you’re someone who’s usually behind the camera it’s a lot different being in front of it. I wonder how Meryl Streep must feel, she’s been nominated about 15 times! She’s had the experience; I haven’t. I didn’t even have a speech ready - I had no idea what I was going to say. It was kind of a relief not to be called up as Best Cinematographer, but when we won Best Film Anthony Mackie picked me up and threw me on stage, so I was up there with Tom Hanks and the other actors, and the writer, Mark Boal. It was quite special. We then jumped into our limo and headed to the Vanity Fair party but when we got there my wife and I looked at each other and decided just to go back to the hotel and finish a bottle of champagne instead. It’s all a bit too much. By then it was long gone – the film had been two years before – and I was about to start on Coriolanus the following Monday in Belgrade, so I was ready to move on.
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