Previous films include X-men: First Class, Downton Abbey, Skyfall, Fast & Furious 6, Thor: Dark World, Malificent, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Michela has one of the most inspirational stories about the sheer determination it sometimes takes to break into the film industry. Over the course of about five years she battled to gain access into film and her determination paid off! In her early twenties she has worked on some of the largest scale films being made in the UK and never once have I seen her unhappy or without a smile on her face. She embodies the enthusiasm and energy that is needed to go places within the industry.
Michela and I are standing on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron during the last few days of filming. Having heard her story through another crew member, I was determined to pin her down and get the finer details! Here it is in point form as it was sooo huge!
- Finished school in Italy
- Had a place to study Economics at university but it just didn't feel quite right! Always wanted to work in the movies - loved behind the scenes photographs and the out-takes.
- Father suggested learning English so Michela found out where the studios were located in England and landed an unpaid job as an Au-Pair with a family who lived in Pinewood. Not only that, but the family also ran a graphic design company out of an office in the studios! Result!
- Very excited to be able to enter the incredibly high security studios to look after their child. In moments of quiet Michela would try to talk to people who were working around the studio on films and tv programs. A driver told her that 'New Tricks' the television show was looking for Runners/Set PAs (part of the Assistant Director team, Runners work together to organise the set, the crowd, the unit base, the actors, basically everything!) so he took her to meet the 3rd Assistant Director. He gave her a part-time job!
- Once that had finished Michela needed money to live on so quit the Au-Pair job and worked as a kitchen hand in a restaurant. Whenever possible she would go to Pinewood and hand out her CV to the various production companies and talk to those people she had be-friended whilst Au-Pairing.
- Michelas CV drops paid off when the BBC called and talked about a job offer on a television program 'My Almost Famous Family'. Without waiting for a yes or no, she jumped on a bus and a hour later turned up for an interview. Sadly she was underqualified but due to her enthusiasm they gave her a job in crowd looking after the extras. This gave her more time within Pinewood to try to find a more permanent position.
- On a particularly low day, Michela was sitting in the coffee shop in Pinewood wondering whether to go back to Italy. She started chatting to a group of Sparks (Electricians) who were working on the reshoots of 'The Wolfman' and after hearing her story they took her on as their unpaid work experience (it is now illegal to have unpaid experience) just so she could stay within the industry. For six weeks Michela helped out in every department; directing traffic, emptying bins, running errands and meeting as many people as she could. Again this job came to an end and it was back to the drawing board.
- Michela then worked as a part time childrens tennis coach and signed up to an extras agency 'The Casting Collective'. She worked as an extra on a few films, not enjoying the role but at least gaining more of an insight into how the filming system operates. Inbetween these jobs she continued to send out her CV and was thrown out of Pinewood three times by security.
- With CVs now being posted, a phone call from the production office of XMen: First Class, telling her to wear all black and come in for a PA role came as a surprise. They were impressed once again by her enthusiasm and asked Michela to come back as a Runner. Fifty eight days later and Michela had nailed the job. From there on in the work snowballed and she is now very rarely out of work! Phew!
- Main advice from Machela is to learn, observe, be enthusiastic and never, ever give up.
Note: Pinewood and all connected studios have now massively increased their security so long gone are the days when you may have been able to gain access without the correct identification. Even crew members sometimes find it difficult! Please don't try to gain access off the back of this interview.