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Last Updated: Monday, 25 February 2008, 10:10 GMT
The Oscars 2008



Daniel Barber and George Clooney
Daniel met George Clooney at the recent Oscars nominees lunch in LA
British director Daniel Barber was nominated for an Oscar for his short film The Tonto Woman - a 35 minute-long Western based on a short story by US writer Elmore Leonard.

The film centres on a cattle rustler who meets a woman who has been held prisoner by the Mojave Indians for 11 years.

Daniel, who travelled to Los Angeles with his wife Sandra, has kept a diary of his time at Hollywood's most prestigious and glamorous event.

But Sandra was recently diagnosed with cancer, putting their Oscar experience into sharp relief.

SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY, 0030 LOCAL TIME (0830 GMT)

Daniel, with wife Sandra, left, and Tonto Woman actress Charlotte Asprey
Daniel, with wife Sandra, left, and Tonto actress Charlotte Asprey
I guess it's all over now. I would have liked to have won, but that's life I suppose.

Still, the main thing is that I'm just going to make more films and hopefully I will be able to come back and win for a feature film one day.

I have to remember that winning an Oscar is an almost unbelievable goal, and that it is an honour just to be nominated.

I'm unashamedly name-dropping here, but I had a lovely chat with John Travolta after the ceremony. We just started talking and I mentioned that I had been nominated for an Oscar, but hadn't won.

He told me not to worry about it, that he had been nominated a couple of times but failed to win, and that it hadn't done him any harm.

He told me to carry on, make another film, and that I had done really well to get here. I know he's right, but I still would have loved to win...

SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY, 1330 LOCAL TIME (2130 GMT)

I've been hanging around just waiting for Sandra to get her make-up done. She's having a great time, and I'm here sweating.

I'm also rather nervous about how much the bill is going to be to replace the hotel carpet. I've been walking in a figure of eight for the last hour or so!

Friends have sent some wonderful text messages of support and I just don't want to let them down.

All the hard work Matthew and I have done in the last few years come down to this. I just want to enjoy it, but it is going to be hard.

And I hope they make announcements in the lavatories, because that's where I'm going to be!

SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY, 0000 LOCAL TIME (0800 GMT)

I'm starting to get a little nervous now.

Matthew, my producer, and I have chatted about our acceptance speech in case we win tomorrow night, but I'm struggling because I don't want to jinx the whole thing by thinking about it.

If I'm nervous now then I can't imagine what I'm going to be like tomorrow! Sandra keeps telling me to calm down, but I can't help it.

All I can think about is that moment when they put the camera on the nominees' faces. They have to keep smiling when someone else wins when all they really want to do is kill them!

I really show my feelings and I'm scared I wouldn't be able to keep smiling.

Matthew went to pick up our tickets today and we are in aisle seats. Is that good or bad? I really don't want to read too much into it...

Sandra and I went back to the health food shop, Erewhon in Beverly Hills, and chatted to the guy who has helped Sandra. I asked him what his name was and he said Truth! What a name! I'm just pleased that whatever he's done has taken Sandra's pain away.

SATURDAY 23 FEBRUARY, 0030 LOCAL TIME (0830 GMT)

Sandra and I went to collect her jewels today. Amazingly, they have loaned her 250,000 worth, including a stunning necklace with black, gold and white diamonds, along with matching earrings and a ring.

They told us not to worry - that everything is insured - but it is such a lot of money! Sandra has joked that they may not get them back. At least I think she was joking.

It's been a relaxing day today. No meetings, just a nice lunch, and of course it is the big day tomorrow...

SATURDAY 23 FEBRUARY, 0030 LOCAL TIME (0830 GMT)

The Consulate tea-party turned out to be a very nice affair.

We turned up to this beautiful house in LA, to find a spread of cucumber sandwiches and urns of tea. How very British!

There were a few of the British nominees there. Tilda Swinton turned up looking fantastic - as well as some other familiar faces, and figures from the industry who live out here.

I was just helping myself to a sandwich and I was thrilled to see actor Michael York standing at the end of the table. Our eyes met, and he looked really, nice so I went over to say hi.

I told him I was a big fan of his work - and that I thought he was great in Brideshead Revisited...

There was a momentary awkwardness before he said wasn't in Brideshead Revisited. I had mixed him up with Anthony Andrews.

I was so embarrassed, but he said I wasn't to worry, then luckily I did remember he was in The Three Musketeers, which I did love and I told him so. He thanked me very much.

Apart from that I had a great time, and the ambassador made us feel very welcome. It was so nice to feel part of something.

FRIDAY 22 FEBRUARY, 1230 LOCAL TIME (2030 GMT)

We had a rather late night last night!

Yesterday Sandra went to a health food shop with a friend, and the guys there gave her a series of foods to try. It had a dramatic effect on the way she was feeling, and she went from feeling bad to really great.

Because she was feeling so much better we went to a pre-Oscars bash with Francesco Quinn, and his wife Julie, to a party in our hotel thrown by the Italian jewellers Damiani.

They have some beautiful jewels, but god knows how anyone can afford them. They cost an absolute fortune.

The party was held in the Penthouse, so we went up in the lift and who was there but Sharon Stone! Francesco being Francesco, ran straight up to her, introduced himself, and brought her over to say 'hi'. I can't believe I shook Sharon Stone's hand.

She was very nice, and polite - and very attractive - but there was lots of people who wanted her attention so she just kept it brief.

Then I met the Italian ambassador, who told me about the best Italian restaurants in LA. He said if I had trouble getting in, then I just had to ask him and he's sort it out.

Then Sandra and I walked past Paris Hilton who gave us a look as if to say ''who the hell are you?".

But the best bit of the night came when Damiani offered to loan Sandra jewels for Oscar night. I just said "yes please!". She's gone off there today to get them sorted out. It's so exciting, and I'm so pleased for her.

Just as we were leaving the party to go to dinner, Geena Davis walked out of the lift, and, thinking I was a party greeter, stuck her hand out to shake it. I took it and thanked her for coming to the party.

She's so tall - about 6ft 4ins - and all I could think to say was "Wow... you're tall!"

"I know," she said.

"Were you ever in the school basketball team?" I said.

"No."

Cool...

We have a reception at the British Consulate this afternoon, so that should be another good night. My producer, Matthew Brown, has also arrived here from London so it's good to see him.

THURSDAY 21 FEBRUARY, 1315 LOCAL TIME (2115 GMT)

I went to yet another meeting today! This time it was with Mandate Pictures who produced Oscar-nominated Juno, so they're pretty hot right now.

Again, it was really interesting, and they have given me another script to read.

It has made me realise how many doors open for you when you're up for an Oscar. It seems once you are nominated it validates you as a serious director and you become someone that people want to work with.

Of course all of these meeting are very nice, but the proof lies in if they come to anything. It's all positive stuff though.

Unfortunately Sandra was not feeling great this morning, and we even talked about leaving LA to go home early and just miss the whole event.

But we spoke to her oncologist back home, and as far as he is concerned how Sandra is feeling is not unexpected, and he said there was no point in going home early. I think she is just nervous and is keen to start her treatment, which is understandable.

I'm off to another meeting now, this time with a possible agent, and I'm actually walking, which is very unusual in this city. The trouble is, it is easier to get lost on foot and at the moment I'm an Englishman lost in LA...

WEDNESDAY 20 FEBRUARY, 2220 LOCAL TIME (0600 GMT THURSDAY)

I had a really interesting meeting with Suzanne Warren and Bill Mechanic from a company called Pandemonium today.

Bill has worked on some huge films - including Titanic with James Cameron - and is a really well-known film producer in Hollywood so he was interesting to talk to.

He was very complimentary about The Tonto Woman and he gave me a script to read. He said if I found it interesting then we could talk about it further.

They were both very charming, and the meeting gave me a good idea of what is out there and the kind of projects I could do in the future.

After the meeting I met Sandra - who had spent the morning getting her hair coloured - for lunch at a restaurant called Koi where we ate tons of sushi.

It was quite possibly the most pretentious restaurant I have ever been in! It was so dark it was like walking into the Black Hole of Calcutta... but with fish.

And there were loads of people in there who thought they were famous waltzing about and trying to get people to look at them. Very LA.

Also today, one of the actors in my film, Francesco Quinn, sent me an e-mail today with 53 reviews of my film from US critics. They were interesting and thoughtful critiques, and all of them complimentary - at least the ones he sent to me were!

It is unusual to have critics review short films so I was really interested in reading them. I'm more used to having my mates come up to me in the pub, slapping me on the back, and saying "that was alright, mate", so they gave me a real buzz.

It's not just for the praise - it is about being part of something, and to have my film taken seriously, because I was serious when I made it.

WEDNESDAY 20 FEBRUARY, 1000 LOCAL TIME (1800 GMT)

Last night there was a special screening at the Academy of all the nominated short films. It was a wonderful occasion - but very long!

It is the pinnacle of any film-maker's career to have your film shown at the Academy, so it was fantastic experience.

But it was also an emotional experience for me, made more so because my wife, Sandra, couldn't be there. She was in quite a lot of pain last night and had to stay in our hotel room.

That was really upsetting because I love her and I share my life with her, and the evening would have been more wonderful if she had been by my side. It seems the cancer is already robbing us of experiences together.

But it was still fantastic to sit there and watch the other nominated films and to meet one of my heroes, Curtis Hanson, who was presenting the event. He's a great film-maker. He made LA Confidential, for example.

It was also a weird evening! There were loads of photographers, and I was interviewed by several different television networks. It makes you realise that you're part of this massive machine which is an extraordinarily powerful thing - but great to be a part of!

The actors from my film were there too, so it was lovely to see them again and have their support. It was also lovely to see people congratulate them on their performances.

I woke up this morning had the most fabulous American breakfast, which is doing my diet no good at all. I'm off to another meeting now - my third with a production company since I've been in LA.

TUESDAY 19 FEBRUARY, 1315 LOCAL TIME (2115 GMT)

I had a really great meeting at Warner Bros, it was very positive.

We had a chat about the kind of films I'd like to do, and they are going to send me a few scripts to read. It couldn't have gone better.

The man I spoke to - whose name I'm not allowed to mention! - said he really liked my short film, The Tonto Woman, which is great because I made it to attract attention and that's what it got.

When I got back to the car park, the man who had been plucking his nasal hair was back, only now he was squeezing the spots on his chin. That was nice.

After the meeting I rushed back to the hotel to have lunch with Sandra.

She had spent the morning having her nails done, and they are now a flaming Ferrari red. They look great, but we'll see if they stay that way for the big night.

It's very LA in our hotel - it is full of perfectly manicured women, with breast implants modelled on Barbie dolls.

Exactly how I imagined it!

I'm off again to another meeting now, this time with New Line Cinema, who are apparently very keen to speak to me as well.

TUESDAY 19 FEBRUARY, 1100 LOCAL TIME (1900 GMT)

I have just arrived at Warner Brothers! It's all very exciting, but Los Angeles is surprisingly grey.

I'm sitting next to a bloke in his car who is plucking the hair from his nose with tweezers, which is a very interesting thing to do in a car park.

He obviously has an important meeting and his nose is very important for it. How very American!

(Adopts an American accent) I'm seeing one of the executives here, who is, you know, going to talk with me. I'll be there with my manager Keith Redman from Anonymous Content. I'm very excited to be working with him.

I had a fabulous hotel breakfast this morning. I went for the healthy option - which in America probably means it has more fat that the unhealthy option - which was granola with yoghurt and red berries.

My wife, who is supposed to be eating very healthily, had two eggs, rosti, grilled tomatoes and toast with all the trimmings. Greedy cow!

The guy who is picking his nose hair has left now. God knows what he was trying to get out of there. Maybe it was something else.

One daren't think...

MONDAY 18 FEBRUARY, 1100 GMT

We're on our way to the airport to fly out to Los Angeles and it is all very exciting.

We had a busy weekend preparing ourselves, and packing our bags, worrying about what to wear and all that.

We tried on a couple of outfits for our 11-year-old son, Moses, so he could see what we look like.

He was fairly nonplussed at just about everything, apart from a strange white bowler hat which he thought would be very bling if I took it - very Puff Daddy.

I decided I had better not take it after all!

Sandra Barber
Sandra at the airport ahead of her Oscars adventure

Moses is very excited by the whole thing. All of his mates are quite excited, too, and he has become a little bit of a star at school, which I think he quite likes!

But it has been a strange weekend, too. We have been so looking forward to going to the Oscars, but Sandra has not been feeling brilliantly well and was in quite a lot of pain yesterday, so that was difficult to deal with.

She had breast cancer three years ago and, unfortunately, the cancer has returned and has spread throughout her body. In fact, this morning we were speaking to her oncologist about treatment.

We have been so happy and excited about going, but now we have this terrible reality in the back of our minds that is going to be have to dealt with.

And it is going to be dealt with. Sandra starts her chemotherapy in London on 3 March.

Nonetheless, we're still excited to be going to Los Angeles. It is a wonderful, fabulous opportunity.

My Hollywood experience starts tomorrow morning. My manager, Keith, has organised a meeting with Warner Bros, so we'll be going off there to have a chat about what they are doing, and what I could maybe do with them.

Then, in the evening, we have got the Academy screening of all the short films, so that is the first time I will see the other nominated short films.

I'm very nervous because I'm worried I will see one or two - or all of them - and think "bloody hell they're all really good!"

I wouldn't be very happy about that - but all the voting has been done now so we'll have to see what happens.

I can't lie - I would love to win!

But I think being just nominated, from a career point of view, is great. For me that's what it is all about. It's about wanting to make feature films and that is my dream.

From a business point of view, then, this trip is very important, but from a life point of view it pales into insignificance next to what is happening with Sandra.

But we are both involved in this project and it is her dream, as well as mine, for the film to do well and lead on to making feature films.

I'm just really happy that she is coming to LA with me.





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