Going 'Lady Gaga' over special effects work, Whimple

PUBLISHED: 09:09 04 March 2010 | UPDATED: 01:00 16 June 2010

FROM James Bond to Batman, simple gate posts to staging for Lady Gaga, a Whimple special effects engineer tells the Herald of his working adventures.

FROM James Bond to Batman, simple gate posts to staging for Lady Gaga, a Whimple special effects engineer tells the Herald of his working adventures.

Michael Badley, 27, kicked off his career with Warner Bros as a trainee - working on million pound batmobiles.

A graduate from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, he has met Hollywood stars from the late Heath Ledger, to Vince Vaugh, and Christian Bale.

He has since worked on Aston Martins in Quantom of Solace (he explained they make several, so they can blow them up) and his last film was Inception - with an all-star cast headed by Leonardo DiCaprio - to be released later this year.

But he describes his time working on film sets as anything but glamorous.

He said: "You're usually working on a building site and you usually only see the gag you are working on. It's not glamorous at all."

His job involved working on the technical design of a film, building equipment, and creating special effects.

He would build equipment for sets and be involved with any mechanical rigs that needed to be made to move scenery about.

His working hours increased while on a shoot, starting at around 6am and working until 7pm - either setting up gags, such as explosions, or waiting to do one.

While it can be a lucrative industry to get into, the work is not regular.

"You can work from three to six months but then have no work for the rest of the year. It's not so good when there are no events, although there's a lot of money in it if you can stay in it and work your way up."

And he gets job satisfaction from his work. "Every job is different," he said. "It's always a challenge. I don't necessarily like the stress while I'm working on it, but once it's finished, there's a great sense of satisfaction. It's nice to see the film and the work you've done on the big screen.

"I've worked with a good bunch of people. It's a nice, friendly industry to work in and you really do get weirdest things and go to the strangest places."

He adds it can be disappointing when a scene is cut, even though it may have cost millions to create the equipment.

He said: "It's incredibly wasteful, but there's a big budget for it and filmmakers often make plenty back in profit."

He recommends would-be special effects engineers get good training and qualifications behind them.

But he warns that it is a difficult profession to get into and that he has been helped by contacts in the industry - from his wife, to his former peers at stage school.

"It's a bit of a closed firm," he said. "

After seven years working at Pinewood Studios, Michael and his wife Helen decided to move to the area, where he has set up his own business.

Whereas his national assignments tend to be based more in the entertainment industry, his local work covers anything from gates, to railings, to general metal work.

* For more information on Michael's work, contact him at Applied Engineering UK on


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