For the past week, I’ve been completing some work experience at ‘Bay Studios’ in Swansea. And I have to tell you all something, despite it being a 2 hour journey each way between Carmarthen and their offices, it’s been worth every minute I’ve been there.
For obvious reasons, there isn’t much I can say about the show we were filming for. To play it safe, I’m also going to avoid mentioning the name of the show, and it’s subject matter. I’ll only say what the show was once it’s started being advertised, and publish some images of the props I designed once the show has officially been broadcast.
What I can tell you, though, is how much I enjoyed my time there…!
On the first day I was there, I was given a small tour of the studio by Amanda Roberts, and I was amazed by the sheer scale of the place. I got to see part of the set as it was being built, and honestly, if I wasn’t taken into the studio itself, I’d have predicted that the scenes that particular set was being used for would have been filmed on location. Yeah, they’re that good!
After that little tour, I was warmly welcomed by my fellow freelancers and crew members, of which included Hattie Gent and Amanda Boucher, with plenty of hands to shake and names to memorise (and I hope I’ve gotten them all right so far!) And then, it was a nose-dive straight into working.
It’s quite fascinating, actually, creating the props I did. Not only was it fun to see and learn how they were all made, but it was amazing how often we, as the audience, all-too-often forget that graphic products actually count as props. When we hear the word ‘prop’, I think most of us instinctively think of things like medieval swords and fake rocks made of papier mâché, not letters, drinks cans and name badges. Even something we use as often as money had to be faked. One day, I sliced up £1070 worth of fake £10 notes, each one of which subtly had the message “This is prop money” printed on both sides.
I’m not really sure why we forget about this particular kind of prop in film and television. It may be because we don’t remember the styles have changed over the decades, or we presume that we can use copyrighted brands so long as they were around at the time the show is set. Or, it might be because these kind of props are (generally) much smaller than things like swords and rocks, causing us to not realise they still had to be worked on. Yet, whatever the reason is for us not realising these props are indeed props, it was a delight to learn just how valuable these graphic props are, despite being overlooked by us, the audience. I’ve quoted Brad Bird before, and I’ll quote him again,
“If nobody mentions it, then you know it’s good.”
I suppose what you can learn from this post is that, just because you specialise in one part of the creative industry, that doesn’t mean you can’t branch out into other things. It’s a matter of keeping your eyes peeled, talking to as many people in the industry as you can, and having the urge to try something different when the opportunity comes your way.
There are a few things I regret about my experience there. I regret not doing as much designing as I would have liked to show my skills. I regret not being able to give a proper “goodbye” to the crew and show them how much I appreciated the work they gave me. I regret not being able to have a go on that ping-pong table during one of my break-times.
Regardless, I had a great time there, and I really do hope that one day, I can work there again. The people were friendly, the work kept me on my toes, and the work I did helped me to see a new side to the industry I work in. I simply can’t thank these people enough!
Next stop, ‘Elvet Woollen Mill’…