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Film Studies 101
Empire & Sky Movies present coverage of the Academy Awards
The Secrets Of Oscar Night
Winners and nominees share their Oscar night experiences

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THE COSTUME DESIGNER - SANDY POWELL

Since kick-starting her film career costuming for Derek Jarman, Sandy Powell has gone on to score ten Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design. Her first win, for Shakespeare In Love in 1999, was followed by further successes with The Aviator (2005) and The Young Victoria (2010). This year she's nominated for her work on Martin Scorsese's Hugo.

My clearest Oscar memory was when I won for the first time with Shakespeare In Love. I still don’t remember how I got to the stage - it was an out-of-body experience. Suddenly you’re up there and everyone’s looking at you! It’s terrifying but it’s also unreal - almost like it’s not really you up there so it doesn’t matter. After ten nominations I know what to expect now... the red-carpet and the fans with banners and the buzz of excitement and nerves, but don’t get me wrong, just because you know the route from the hotel to the theatre, it doesn’t make it any less exciting. It’s still a thrill to be a part of it. I still look around and think 'Look who I’m standing next to!' and once you’re in the back of that car you have that feeling in the pit of your stomach and your heart is beating really fast. It’s nerve-racking, but as soon as it’s over there’s a huge sense of relief, whether or not you’ve won.

The nominees’ luncheon is just good fun. This year I sat next to John Bailey, the cinematographer, and Bérénice Bejo from The Artist – it was a really mixed table and that’s what made it great. It’s completely relaxed, there’s no competition. It’s a laugh because no-one’s winning anything that night. And then you have the school-photo aspect of it which is funny.

My advice to first-time nominees is to make sure you eat before you go. It’s a long evening. You’re chasing canapés all night so take a snack in the car and a sensible pair of heels. The goodie bags? Well, you don’t get goodie bags at the Oscars if you’re only a nominee. I’m not sure whether actors do but I sure didn’t. Maybe I’ll have to steal one this year! My plan after the ceremony this year is to head to the Governors Ball like everyone else. They’ve changed it from a sitdown dinner to a cocktail event which will make for a better night - you can go and chat to whoever you want. You never feel like eating anything anyway.

You’re not at the Oscars for the networking aspect of it. I’m sure people do network but I certainly haven’t been involved in it. You’re there for the competition and for the partying and socialising. I don’t think it’s on anybody’s mind though really, everyone’s just concerned about making it through the night.
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