The problem with being good at what you do is that people seek you out for that reason.
We been making Set Decoration and Props for Feature Films since 1998 and TV some time before that.
Following on from my Blog post ‘Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ in 2014, Burrows Lea Forge has a reputation for doing tricky work to a high standard but in timescales far quicker than most can dream of. Obviously this niche market costs a little more and relies a lot on what the client provides… namely quality information, style and mood interpretations, drawings, schedules and prompt payment. In return we advise, plan and produce what they need, when they need it, sometimes even the same day!
This is why we do so much work for the Movies; however this brings it own unforeseen problems. The majority of producers like Disney, Spielberg, Lucas are very protective over their product and production… rightly so, there’s a mind boggling investment in these Features. Resulting in Confidentially Agreements and Manufacture surrender rights documentation, meaning that as a supply company we can’t publicly show (let alone reproduce) what we’ve made for them, particularly when it comes to Social Media…. So nearly all the movie work we’ve done over the last 15+ years you’ll never see here or on our feeds, which is a bit frustrating from our point of view.
A minority of Movies production companies take a different approach and embrace the media storm, hoping it will whip up some free publicity one such film being released this week is ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’ a Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Sherlock Holmes) directed movie for Warner Bros. A Re-imagined 1960’s Cult classic, where CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization T.H.R.U.S.H.
So I can show a pictures of what we made (without being taken to court), but out of loyalty to our employers I’m not saying what they are or what scene they are used in. All I’ll say is its great from a crafts persons perspective, that Blockbusting Production Companies still see the worth of employing us old fashioned types alongside the cutting edge technology of CGI and Motion Capture. Long may it continue………… and keep me employed by going to see the film this month!
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ironwork for the film.
Robin Hood 2009 montage
What were you doing 5 years ago this week?
Well, we were making a last minute batch of Cauldrons for the Ridley Scott Film ‘Robin Hood’, starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong and others. The production company had been let down by a ‘Blacksmith’ manufacturer at the last minute, we were already busy with their earlier orders. Desperate, the purchaser approached us, working on the basis ‘if you want something done ask a busy man…..” So we made 13 of these fiendish Cauldrons comprising of nine individual steel metal pieces, which then had to be riveted together. Anyone with any experience of this process will realise this is not straightforward….. Oh, and did I mention we had only five days to do it!
Cauldrons made in 2009 for Ridley Scott’s film ‘Robin Hood’
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ironwork for the film.
Remember ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ films? I loved them! Well there’s a remake directed by Guy Ritchie coming very soon and we’ve made some bits for it!
All the bits you see in the photo are made out re-forged ‘scrap’ billets, the texture, colour and extra working gives the perfect character for primitive cell door ironmongery….. which its for! We knew this was what the designers wanted…. because the drawing showed us.
We made them for our usual designers; Julie makes our life really easy with her beautiful drawings, hand drawn and full size as they should be! The reason it makes it easy is because drawing by hand conveys texture, weight and character that CAD can’t…. long may they continue to do so.
Shackles for Les Miserables 2012, close up.
Missed this one! Well I did until today, I’ve just realised we made props for the award winning Les Miserables film and didn’t shout about our involvement, we were so busy in 2012 I totally forgot we had done our bit toward the film’s success.
Barricade Productions approached us regarding a particular scene where they needed a large quantity of authentic ‘slave’ shackles. We had worked with some of their production staff on other films, so were recommended as a safe pair of hands. I have a big problem with anything to do with the word ‘slave’. As a professional, 21st century Smith I don’t do restraint items, arms or weapons (including knives). Barricade were quick to clarify that this was the only description that fitted what they had in mind, the metalwork was to be used in a set dressing context. The production company was hiring Pinewood Studio’s water tank set for the scene (a big deal apparently, James Bond movie’s use it a lot!) and to boot it had Russell Crowe as the baddie ‘Javert’; he’s my wife’s favorite, so I had to take on the commission.
In the scene, Hugh Jackman’s ‘Jean Valijean’ lead charachter fights his way on to a dry land, weighed down by his chain restraints, having survived a landing from a stricken ship. Following are many ‘lost souls’ in a similar predicament. Twenty five sets of bindings/cuffs/shackles were needed for the professional actors. We had made some for the ITV series of ‘Sharp’ in the 90’s starring my favorite actor Sean Bean, so twenty + sets was no problem. As usual budget was a problem, but we managed to deliver accurate copies of the production companies historic sample.
Burrows Lea Forge’s blacksmiths turned round the order for 25 sets within 2 weeks of the order being placed and on budget. That’s pretty good as Movie work goes. Especially as we were making pieces for Walt Disney’s ‘Malificent’ at the same time.Thanks to Mick, his industrial Smithing expertise did us proud on this one (as he always does).
Les Miserables shackles 25No. copying exactly Barricade Production’s original on right.
A selection of Ironmongery for ‘Malificent’
Late spring 2012 we were approached by Briar Rose Productions to make some set decorations and props for a Walt Disney Productions film titled Malificent (the wicked witch/Queen in Snow White) played by Angelina Joli, the film was directed by Robert Stromberg.
As usual we were approached because the production company wanted accurate, quality reproductions and interpretations of their designs, hand forged by Artisans and delivered in the time restraint that film production demands. Its a credit to Disney and Briar Rose that our traditional craftsman skills and authentic product we offer are valued over fake or CGI decorations.
The picture above shows a small example of what we made hopefully you might see our small contribution in context when the film comes out in March 2012. Just in case you wish to commission copies of this ironwork…. you can’t, I’m afraid. We made these items exclusively for Disney, so you’ll have to talk to them first!
If you’re interested in this type of work, take a look in the ‘The Movies’ section of this website for more examples.
A small selection of forged ironmongery made for the Steven Speilberg’s film ‘Warhorse’
We were asked to make some specific set decorations for Steven Speilberg’s film Warhorse. Its the first time we’ve worked for one of his production companies and the experience was good. As usual, for films and documentaries our specific remit was authentic, detailed hot forged reproduction of existing samples or images (they already employ plenty of ‘cut it & shut it’ fabricators etc). The picture show in a small sample of what we were asked to make, it is all forged in an open hearth (coke fire) and by hand as the samples and images were.
On a personal note (this is a blog page after all), I find this type of work particularly interesting, its very rarely these days we get a genuine opportunity to make general rustic implements and utility items, obviously the Blacksmiths in the past would consider this work as humdrum and tedious, but a Forging Smith its real time-travel to our Blacksmithing past.
In the past we have made itms on various archaeological and historical series, a few of Ridley Scott’s film’s including the most recent Robin Hood, ITV’s Sharp series, currently we’re making set items for the film of ‘Les Miserables’ and we have just started the Disney film version of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.