Pinewood Film Studios: Travelling the World in your Lunch Break

Pinewood Studios: Travelling the world in young lunch break

Pinewood Film Studios: Where else could you amble through a Greek village, cross the road in front of a Bond car and trek across a desert on your lunch break? 

Pinewood is a bit like a chameleon. Every day, without fail, it morphs into somewhere different. It was this that inspired me to travel.

But hold up, rewind, let me fill you in…..

Discovering Pinewood

Iwas lucky enough to spend my first 3 years of life after school, working at the iconic Pinewood Film Studios.

The studio is world renowned, being the home of James Bond, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Carry On film series’ to name just a few.

Film Studio

Pinewood’s old Double Lodge Entrance

007 Soundstage

I wasn’t given my licence to kill

I first called Pinewood home straight from school, after finishing my A Levels. I somehow managed to wangle myself 30 days of work experience at a Film, Television and Musical Theatre agency – and I couldn’t believe my luck. What a lucky bugger.

I knew it was an amazing opportunity but little did I know just how much the next few years would change my life…

I’d work my way up the ranks, move companies within the studios, walk in the footsteps of some of the greats, see the Queen, meet the Stig (without the helmet), share lunch with the Dragon’s of Dragons Den, have a Spice Girl pay for my coffee, help Alfred Hithcock’s grandson clear out his office, almost get run over by Anthony Hopkins, have my office extinguished for scorpions, make a new best friend and begin the journey towards my first backpacking adventure.

The Studio Is Alive!

The studio, without doubt, has a heart, a soul and million stories to tell. It’s like something out of ‘Night at the Museum’, alive and constantly transforming, changing its colours every day. This never helped when directing people to my office though…..

“Ok, so you pass the main admin block then cross the road by the European cathedral (Quantum of Solace), carry on through the Greek hilltop village (Mamma Mia), around the desert palace (Prince of Persia), no wait, you’ve gone too far. Did you turn left at Gotham City? (The Dark Knight).”

The office I spent most my day in faced the centre of the studio. I’d be sat at my desk, working away as a giraffe would walk past, followed by a tank, then 12 dwarfs and later, Heath Ledger in full Joker costume.

It’s a miracle I got any work done at all.

Lunch Break Travels

The best part of my day? My lunch break. This was the time that I escaped the confines of my office and took a walk around the studios, transporting myself round the world and back again in 30 minutes.

My office was in Heatherden Hall, Pinewood’s Victorian country house. The gardens here are beautiful. You may well recognise them as they’ve appeared in countless films.

From the gardens you can cross over Dracula’s bridge and past the Bat Cave before arriving at the backlot then back around, into the studios.

I was lucky enough to see and explore many different film sets during my 3 years at the studios and this was my first taster of the exotic landscapes I had yet to see in real life. I remember being especially mezmorised by the Prince of Persia set.

The persian desert was brought to life by the animals that were all over the place. Pinewood had suddenly become a zoo, housing everything from elephants to camels, horses and scorpions.

Prince of Persia

I got a bit lost and ended up behind a palm tree

It was the scorpions that broke out during a storm overnight. They made for the warm office blocks resulting in exterminators fumigating everywhere. Fun times!

Another movie set that seriously captivated my imagination and made me desperate to travel – to Greece in particular, was Mamma Mia. It was built in the 007 soundstage and jesus was it impressive. A full Greek, hill top village was constructed, complete with real olive trees. The set is idyllic and it was all created from scratch inside one massive building. If you haven’t seen the film yet, prepare for some feel good cheese… and make room for Greece on your bucket list!

Mamma Mia

i promise its not real

Mamma Mia

although the trees are very real!

I could ramble on for days about the things I saw over the years at Pinewood but I’m afraid I’d bore you to old age.

I wanted to write this post after reminiscing about the good old times… (being so old now and all!) Pinewood really was where my urge to travel was set alight.

Everyday, as soon as I sat back down at my desk after exploring the studios, my feet began to itch. Maybe the exterminators cleared the scorpions but missed the travel bugs.

Sure I was very lucky to witness the things I did at work on a daily basis, but I didn’t want to be the guy who only saw these places recreated in an air hanger sized studio. The deserts of Persia may have been convincing but as soon as you turn around, you’re faced with a a load of builders and their arse cracks sat in a red, double decker, London bus, having their lunch whilst Duncan Bannatyne is chauffeured off in his fancy car.

I needed to get myself out of there and although it was always going to be hard to bid Pinewood goodbye, I’d be bidding the world hello!

Pinewood Film Studios

Leaving Pinewood…. for the last time?