LATER this month while Leonardo di Caprio, Maggie Smith, Idris Elba and Kate Winslett vie for the BAFTAs, a young film director from Colchester will be looking to get her hands on her own award.

That’s Caroline Bartleet, the director of Operator, which has been nominated for a BAFTA in the Best Short Film category.

Following what happens to an Emergency Services Operator in a Fire Control Room when she gets a call from a desperate young mother, the script for Operator is based on a real 999 call.

When Caroline first listened to it, she was stunned by how terrifying it was. It soon became clear to her the story would make a powerful film, bringing to the audience's attention what an amazing job the operators do, remaining calm and composed in such stressful situations.

“I was on the internet researching another project,” Caroline explains, “and I needed to find out what happens when someone dials 999. I just wanted to get it right so I searched ‘999 calls’ and came up with loads of different things one of which was this call.

“It just blew me away. This woman was just screaming about a fire in her house and yet the operator on the other end of the call was completely calm. She didn’t know whether this woman was going to survive or not and yet she didn’t panic one bit.”

Interested in the operators side of the story, she contacted the London Fire Brigade who allowed her access to one of their control rooms.

“They were incredibly supportive,” she adds, “and the time I spent in that control room was invaluable. You do not realise how hard that job must be until you listen to the calls they have to deal with on a daily basis.”

Caroline and her production team raised the £7,000 budget for the five minute short through an on-line campaign and after securing two incredible actors in Kate Dickie and Vicky McClure, she set about filming the short over one weekend back in November 2014.

“When I was writing the film,” Caroline says, “I had Kate in mind so we were ridiculously lucky to get her on board. Then when Vicky agreed, we just couldn’t believe it.

“We took over a whole building with Vicky on one floor on the phone line while we filmed Kate in the ‘control room’ talking to her live.”

After the final edit about a year ago, the film was entered for several festivals, including the Colchester Film Festival and the prestigious London Film Festival.

“I loved being a part of the Colchester Film Festival,” she tells me. “Having it shown in my home town was a real buzz but being a part of London really opens the doors and that’s how we got our BAFTA nomination.

“It was so weird when we found out. It felt like it was just one big dream and then it sunk in. Since then I’ve just had a massive grin on my face.”

Born and raised in Colchester, Caroline started in films through acting, although she wasn’t really into that either until she went to secondary school.

By her own admission she was a shy child, with her first forays into theatre being a Saturday morning drama club at St Helena School she went to ‘slightly unwillingly’.

“I think I did that for about a year,” she adds. “You see, up until the end of primary school I was quite a nervous kid and it wasn’t until secondary school that I really got into acting.

“The school was in south London in the middle of nowhere and at the age of 15/16 you don’t really want that. Fortunately it was particularly good for drama and so the main thing for me was to focus on that. It had an amazing theatre and Carey Mulligan was in the year above me, so it’s got a pretty good pedigree already.”

After leaving school Caroline went to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she studied acting.

Moving to London, the majority of her work has been on the stage, but after a few ‘dry’ periods, where she had to work waiting tables and doing temping jobs, she decided to look for something else to do creatively.

“It started with me producing a number of short films on the side,” Caroline says, “and then after a while I thought I would quite like a go at directing myself. That’s when I started researching lots of different projects and came across that phone call.”

Now Caroline is getting herself ready for the BAFTA ceremony, which takes place on February 14, a night, I suggest, her parents, who still live in Great Tey, must be looking forward to as much as she is.

“Yeah they’re very proud,” she says. “I would have loved to take them but we only get two extra tickets and we thought, with all the work they’ve put in, we should really take along some of the crew instead.”