In conversation with Tim Wildgoose, Head of Weapons and Manufacturing at Lucasfilm
Screen and Film School Manchester were delighted to welcome the Head of Weapons and Manufacturing at Lucasfilm, Tim Wildgoose, for an exclusive masterclass with our students and applicants last month. A glance at Tim’s work history shows an extensive list of films spanning over a twenty-year period, and as a specialist concept artist and designer.
Tim has been involved in several leading Hollywood blockbuster films, including Eternals, Wonder Woman, Assassin’s Creed and Aladdin, to name just a few. His success has led him to what could be considered his dream job – Head of Weapons and Manufacturing at Lucasfilm. During an hour-long chat, filmed live via Zoom, he was incredibly generous with his time and advice to the students, particularly those that are interested in working in the art, production design and props departments.
As well as the film credits mentioned above, Tim has worked for most of the major production companies that dominate the landscape today, including Disney, Marvel, HBO and Netflix. When we joined him he was in the heart of Shepperton Studios in London, where he is currently filming an upcoming Mark Wahlberg film called Our Man from Jersey.
Tim started out by talking about how he entered the industry in the first place, and at such a young age.
“I did a degree in sculpting and model making in the Hertfordshire area and HBO shot a TV show nearby called Band of Brothers. They were looking for work experience students and I ended up on their Special FX department and stayed on designing weapons. From there I went freelance and that’s where I am still to this day.
As a kid, all I always wanted to do was to make something that would appear in a movie, particularly because I was such a big fan of Star Wars. I have spent my career doing everything but Star Wars, up until recently when I got the call from Lucasfilm to work on their upcoming show Andor, and to run the entire manufacturing department. It was a dream come true. Sometimes just standing on set brought me close to tears.”
When trying to describe his job, Tim tried to summarise the many roles he undertakes when he said:
“My usual job is head of department for props and weapons. We’ll design anything that is needed for any given production. In modern day film there isn’t a huge need for too much manufacturing because most props exist out in the world already. We mostly get involved with fantasy or period films because they are less likely to exist, a lightsaber for instance.”
When asked what the best weapon or prop he’d ever made was, Tim mentioned a couple of blockbuster productions:
“Some of them are cool because they’re iconic. If anyone has seen Troy, I did Brad Pitt’s sword and shield. The Marvel work is also very memorable too – a Captain America shield a few years ago springs to mind.”
Following on from this discussion about the intricacies of Tim’s job, he then took over the live recording to share with us some of his concept work and drawings. This was a real treat for our students and Tim had clearly taken time prior to the Masterclass to plan a few surprises. He talked through his work on Wonder Woman 1984; he was asked to design all of the equipment for the Amazonian sequence at the start of the film and Tim wowed our students by showing off the designs for his Olympics-inspired assault course. As well as this, he shared designs from the recently released film Morbius, including lots of fantastical scientific equipment. This was an exclusive for our Screen and Film School students, as the film wasn’t quite out at the time of the Masterclass.
There was time following this demonstration for Tim to answer some questions from our students. One of our applicants, Paula Marie, explained that she is from a small town in Northern Ireland and that she dreams of getting to where Tim is now and asked what advice Tim would give her:
“Ireland at the moment has a really good film industry, following the success of Game of Thrones there is a new studio in Belfast. They even shot an entire series of it there which was shelved and won’t ever be released. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say that – but there we go! The industry there is thriving so I would recommend getting work experience in the department you want to work in. Get in touch with people and if you do a good job and work hard then no doubt you will start to see employment.”
It was at this point that Tim said that he could offer advice over email too, which was such a privilege for our students. Yasmine asked: what are some unique aspects of working on big franchises like Star Wars and Marvel?
“We get to make the coolest things, often without cost constraints. It’s also a bit of a family aspect because the same crews will move from film to film with each other.”
Tim has also written and directed his own films, including Porcelain, from 2020. Of that creative process he said:
“I used a lot of my contacts and resources to utilise a lot of set design and prop design, I called upon a lot of the skills I already had to get that film together. So, that shows there is a possibility for that crossover, even from something which is so specialist.”
With that the Masterclass was over, Screen and Film School Manchester’s very first deep discussion on these subject areas and with such a high-profile industry specialist. Before we wrapped things up completely, Tim reiterated that attendees could contact him privately for advice and tips. We are hugely grateful to Tim for that level of generosity, and we would like to thank him for taking time out from his busy shooting schedule to join us, our students were all very grateful.
Our industry teams across Screen and Film School work hard to secure these high-profile names for our events, stay tuned as we recap the upcoming spring Masterclass over the next couple of months.