We’ve all heard of the BAFTAs. We know that the awards celebrate the best of global film and we know that each winner is presented with the iconic BAFTA mask.
This year’s awards, held at the Royal Albert Hall, identified Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for best film, The Handmaiden for best film not in the English language and Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) and Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) for best actor and actress respectively.
With our favourite films capturing our attention not many will think about the journey of the award itself. What did it take to get the mask into the hands of the winners? It’s an interesting story to consider and started when sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe designed the piece in 1955.
So, what has this got to do with John Winter, a foundry supplier? Well, we’re not as far away from the glitz and glamour of the BAFTAs as you might think.
We supply the foundry that makes the BAFTA masks with a range of products that are used in the process, so here’s some insight into how it all works. The award itself is made in the foundry and follows the standard casting process of patternmaking, moulding, melting and pouring, shakeout and cleaning, heat treating and inspection before reaching its recipient.
The journey begins with making the sand mould so that the mask can take its shape. This part of the process sees John Winter’s sleeves and GZA4 mould coating used, which ensures a smooth removal of the metal from the mould. GZA4 for example, gives the casting an excellent surface finish and prevents metal penetration. Depending on the mould shape, a mould can be brushed, swabbed, sprayed or dipped in this product.
The next step in the masks’ journey is to melt the metal, in this case the metal is a bronze alloy called Phosphor Bronze, which was chosen for its colour and tone. A metal treatment, eco flux, is added to improve melting efficiency and metal quality and reduce slag melting temperatures and furnace build-up. To put it simply, the eco flux is added like sugar is to tea – it just gives it a little sweetener.
Once the mould has been made it’s time to pour the molten metal into the sand mould to create the intended shape. It’s extremely important that the metal can be removed with no damage and a smooth surface so to achieve this, resins, hardeners and release agents, such as the JW Parting Agent, are used.
Now that the mould has been cast and released, it’s time to make it look stage-ready with more polishing than you could imagine!
BAFTA FACT #1: British actor Peter Finch holds the record with five Best Actor awards for his roles in “A Town Like Alice” (1956), “The Trials of Oscar Wilde” (1960), “No Love for Johnnie” (1961), “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (1971) and “Network” (1976).
BAFTA FACT #2: In 2012, the silent film ‘The Artist’ received a BAFTA nomination in the ‘Sound’ category.