Ealing Studios

“Quiet on set! Getting a take. . . camera rolling?”


“. . aaaaand ACTION!”

I love the summer holidays when I get to indulge in non-academic, non-engineering activities guilt-free. I had the opportunity to help out my budding film director friend with his short film shooting at Ealing Studios last weekend. The experience was exhilarating.

I saw how the make-up artist applied sweat, bruises and blood on the actors. I was impressed by the actor’s (who played the protagonist) ability to express his character during rehearsal (when the actor(s) act without the camera rolling) even without his acting partner. Ok. Maybe that is the standard for students from acting schools, but I was still amazed anyway. Later in the day we got a glimpse of Colin Firth as the shooting for Gambit happened in the studio right next to where we were.

Hollywood, Bollywood may sound and appear glamorous but the work that goes on on set requires all your attention and energy. The shooting for my friend’s short film began around 9am and I only left the studio after 6.30pm, after helping out with the cleaning up. I slept throughout the whole tube ride back to central London (where I crashed at a friend’s) and may had members of the public assuming I was a little tipsy. I was still half-asleep when exiting the tube station and temporarily lost the ability to walk straight. I recovered slightly after a restorative of salmon ramen and takoyaki for dinner.

While introducing myself to one of the crews on set, I told him I studied Chemical Engineering and I wanted to work in a chocolate factory. Being somebody who is very detached from the engineering world, he couldn’t see the relationship between the two, until I explained that chemical engineers are the ones responsible to oversee/organise/design the processes that happens to make your toothpaste, shaving cream, canned food, shower gel etc. He told me that, “Everyone wants to be a film director, a whatever, so-and-so, but this is the first time I’ve heard of somebody who wants to work and own a chocolate factory.” At that point in time I wanted to go HELL YEAHHHH!!!!! but I just smiled and laughed instead.

He himself started out with producing home-made films by getting himself a camera and having fun with his friends. Another guy I spoke to on set actually did a PhD in Physics before enrolling into a drama school in London. Now that’s monumental. I thought he was a model at first impression. One very important thing that all these people reminded me was, dare to follow your dreams. As a Malay proverb goes – kalau hendak seribu daya, kalau tak hendak seribu dalih.

Direct English translation – If you wanted something badly enough, you would put all your efforts in it, but if it was something you really do not want to do, you’ll come up with thousands of excuses for it.

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