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Sunday, 22 April 2012

AFICIONADO CLASSIC BLOG 2008: ROBERT WATTS: RECOGNISING THE UNSUNG 'WARS' HERO!


On location in Norway for ESB,  Robert Watts has a Wampa friend for company!


One of the pleasures of being a STAR WARS fan is having the opportunity to attend conventions, meet fans and talk to numerous behind the scene people, actors/supporting artists/extras who worked on my favourite movies (and not just STAR WARS, but INDY too). Of the last few years, of all the people I have met, one of the nicest and most amiable people I have met has to be Robert Watts, a fellow Brit whose impressive list of film production credentials encompasses not just the first three WARS films but all three classic INDY’s and several JAMES BOND pictures too (and two of my faves as well-THUNDERBALL and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE). Finally meeting him, as I thought neither myself or fans would ever get the chance as so many conventions are more actor orientated than behind the scenes, at CELEBRATION IV, it was amazing to see just how much he remembered, all these years on, about the making of the original films and recalling just how much an enjoyable period of his life it was. The nervous and I can’t believe that I’ve been involved in all of this nerves of Robert Watts, amidst thousands of fans equally pleased to see him at that first CELEBRATION appearance, soon gave way, I feel, to an immense enjoyment and wonderfully honest candour about his own life in the film industry. Indeed, his appearances at the STAR WARS REUNION French film screenings, CELEBRATION EUROPE and JEDI CON 08 were equally as good, and Watts was getting used to things, even more enthusiastic and enjoying the atmosphere, far more relaxed and I am sure he has gotten to know many more fans on a regular basis who he has given advice to as they have wanted to enter the film industry. Additionally, he has also been kind enough to bring along certain personal items from his collection (loved that Finse blue jacket from EMPIRE!!) and rare photos to show us all and enjoy. On behalf of all the fans, I’d like to say a big thank you for being involved in the STAR WARS/INDY universes. As Obi-Wan would say: “Good Job!!”.
Thirty years on from all his work on those landmark Lucas/Spielberg films, its sad to discover through, not only conversation with Watts, but also reading the wealth of material over the years on the various behind the scenes front, that, despite his hard work within the British film industry, his work for LUCASFILM (and other big movie companies), his nurturing and guiding of new talent, as well as working hard to get the most out of people in making films that have become legendary, Robert has not received one single award or accolade outside of LUCASFILM and AMBLIN for his considerable talents. Whilst other filmmakers/craftsmen who have worked on the WARS and INDY films have received career enhancing OSCAR and BAFTA awards, Robert Watts has, as far as I’m aware, never received anything at all throughout this magnificent, varied and prestigious career.

Annoyed by this, after months of mumbling how unfair the situation is to my AFICIONADO colleagues about this dreadful state of affairs, I decided to do something this week. I emailed BAFTA (the BRITISH ACADEMY OF FILM AND TELEVISION ARTS in London) and asked if Watts could be considered for some kind of ACADEMY FELLOWSHIP award for his genuinely unrecognised hard work within the industry-perhaps some kind of award like the one the BAFTA fellowship eventually gave to David Tomblin in honour of his being the finest First Assistant Director in the world-an accolade that I felt took too long in coming anyway, and sadly he received it only a few short years before his sad passing. BAFTA have since kindly replied, stating that Robert’s name will certainly be considered in their next meeting to discuss potential names worthy of receiving one of the highly prized awards. I feel Mister Watts certainly is more than worthy of a BAFTA.

If you feel the same way as I do, then perhaps my fellow AFICIONADO readers in cyberspace might like to lend support to the cause. BAFTA can be emailed at their website of: www.bafta.org/contact-us.html  In the nicest way possible, of course, let them know how deserving and talented Robert Watts is. Let’s see if we can all chip in in getting an award for him that he so richly deserves...

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