While everyone has been talking about the latest Star Wars film, alumnus Danny Clark (pictured above) has had a very good reason to keep his mouth shut…
That’s because he was one of the army of creatives who have helped turn a story from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, into something seemingly very real.
Born and bred in Oxford, Danny has been behind some of the life-like characters and futuristic machines and landscapes that are featured in this year’s Christmas blockbuster - Star Wars: The Force Awakens - which has hit UK cinemas after getting its big premiere at a star-studded event in Los Angeles earlier this week.
Since completing his degree in Television and Film Set Design, Danny, 28, has gone on to be involved in some of the biggest films of the past few years.
“I have been fortunate enough to work mostly in feature film since I left university in 2010,” said Danny.
“I started off in the industry as a junior model maker using the skills and confidence picked up in uni to help me portray myself with an online portfolio. It was this portfolio online that helped me get my first job on Wrath Of The Titans.
“I finished this project after several weeks in the art department at Shepperton Studios and then was able to get work on Snow White And The Huntsman also as a junior model maker.
“With my foot on the ladder and the contacts I made in film slowly starting to expand, I then became involved in films that then led onto other projects with new art departments.”
After the Snow White film, Danny got involved in other major productions - Anna Karenina, Hummingbird, Order Of The Seven, Tarzan, Heart Of The Sea, and King Arthur - in roles ranging from runner to draughtsman and standby art director.
And some of the jobs were more than a little demanding. “Each project was different and challenging,” Danny explained.
“They ranged from searching through film animal wranglers for live hummingbirds [for Hummingbird, surprisingly] to organising the logistics for a Boeing 737 to be delivered to Pinewood Studios to become an interior set for the film Jack Ryan.
“But this just adds to the range of abilities I have. I’m taking useful skills and information from each project, as I focused mainly on a draughting route through the art department, wanting to expand toward eventual art direction.”
And Danny says the foundation he got on his course at USW has been one of the major reasons for his success.
“I first heard of USW when applying through Ucas and I became most interested when I visited for an open day,” he explained.
“With Cardiff being a great city and USW opening the CCI building [Atrium] in the centre of the city, it was a no brainer to choose here for my university and not elsewhere.
“The course helped me understand the basics that the industry would require, and that teaching myself after uni, on particular programs and techniques that I had seen being used first hand, would be key to getting a foot in the door.
“I’d also like to mention my tutors at USW - Anna Solic and Joe Durnall - who really helped set me up with their support during my time there.”
Danny is still having to keep quiet about his work - but cinema-goers will soon be able to see exactly how his efforts translate into big-screen.
“Unfortunately, my last four projects have not yet hit the cinemas with both Star Wars and Heart Of The Sea coming out this month,” he said.
“But I’m looking forward to seeing them as much as the rest of the audience.”