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Behind the scenes at the London Film Festival

We get talking to the movers and shakers of LFF, and hear what goes on behind the red carpet

The boss

Clare Stewart, LFF director
‘I work from 8am to 2am during the 12 days of the festival. As soon as I’m in the office each morning, I check ticket sales for the night before and deal with any problems that have arisen. Then my day is scheduled in 15- or 20-minute slots with meetings, interviews, events and introducing gala screenings in the evening. I never actually see a film! I love how my job is a constant tension between creativity and commerce.’

Something nobody knows about my job
‘I start the day choosing what to wear – I have an Excel spreadsheet just for that during the festival!’

The photographer

Stuart Wilson, Getty Images
‘I work from mid-morning to midnight, photographing actors and directors at premieres. I’ve been doing it for eight years. It’s intense. I run around all day.’

Something nobody knows about my job
‘I end up in intimate situations with stars. I was caught in a revolving door with David Lynch and Donovan once. They were meditating, chanting and encouraging me to join in.’

The driver

Peter Morrison, Renault VIP fleet manager
‘We use 40 cars, and we’ll have cars on the road 24 hours a day. So at 4am, as the last directors and actors are coming home from parties, you’ll also have cars going to the airport to meet the early flights. I’m the controller, but at times I drive. It takes over your life for 12 days. Everybody’s treated the same, whether it’s George Clooney or a director you’ve never heard of. They all get their cars at the airport. My favourite? Steve Buscemi, what a nice guy.’

Something nobody knows about my job
‘These days the celebrities prefer environmentally friendly cars to limousines.’

The hairdresser

Lee Radley at Nicky Clarke
‘No one wants their hair done at 9am for an evening event. One crazy night I darted from Mayfair to Islington to do Neve Campbell at home, and from there to Notting Hill to Gillian Anderson. Then I had five minutes to get to Claridge’s to do Helen Mirren. I had to hop on a motorbike taxi, holding on for dear life. The secret of red-carpet hair is a solid foundation. It’s got to look great for hours. It’s no good walking in like Marilyn Monroe and leaving like Helena Bonham Carter just woken up.’

Something nobody knows about my job
‘Everyone thinks it’s glamorous. It’s actually exhausting, late nights and early-morning starts.’

The volunteer

Georgia Parris, former LFF volunteer
‘We lay out water and chocolate in the cinemas for the big screenings, put up posters, make gift bags, co-ordinate with drivers, courier the films… Days are long and nights are late. But the buzz is incredible. I’ve been volunteering for six years and I’m now a filmmaker myself.’

Something nobody knows about my job
‘Some of the parties can get a bit outrageous. I won’t say any more!’

The publicist

Christelle Randall, Head of publicity team for the LFF at Premier PR
‘My day runs from 9am to 11pm, and I work closely with the BFI which runs the festival. We work on up to ten red-carpet events, and one of our jobs is introducing talent to press. Timing is key with live TV: “London Tonight” goes out at 6.15pm and BBC London is at 6.50pm. Last year I got a kick out of bossing about Ed Miliband on the red carpet.’

Something nobody knows about my job
‘During the festival I survive on a diet of sponsor freebies like Green & Black’s chocolate topped up with sachets of vitamin C powder.’

See our full guide to London Film Festival

London Film Festival

The London Film Festival is the capital’s flagship film extravaganza, the crown jewels in the movie calendar. The fifty-seventh BFI London Film Festival arrives in the city on Wednesday October 9, bringing the most-talked about films from Summer’s big international film festivals – many of them months ahead of their release dates – and a generous handful of swanky gala premieres. There will also be short films, experimental works, restored classics and plenty of talks, workshops and Q&As with filmmakers and actors.

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