“All I ever wanted to do as a kid was work on the films I loved!”, declares Tor when I meet her in South London. And now, she very much is.
With a few weeks off in between her current workload , it was great to hear how she has made her way, leaving Hurtwood in 2010 to read English at York, now proudly working in her ideal job.
Full of enthusiasm when we meet, she is delighted to share as much as she is allowed about her – alas, top secret – work on film. Why top secret? She explains that she is confined by a NDA– a non-disclosure agreement to protect any details of the film from public knowledge – and also to protect herself against journalists’ attempts to extort details of production. Suffice to say – this is a film that will impress.
So back to lunch and our interview. Tor is thrilled and delighted to share details about her career, making it clear that she ‘Couldn’t have got here any quicker’. Her role? One that sounds rather unreal – she is a ‘greensman’ – whose job it is to design, construct and dress the natural sets, to create the visualization of the worlds various of film. And whose childhood dreams do indeed seem to have come true: she most definitely is in her own film-makers’ heaven.
Meeting Tor again after quite a few years was a real pleasure: a quixotic mix of energy, intelligence and quiet integrity, she literally bubbles with satisfaction over her career path and its outcome. Happy to recount her route from student to her ideal career, she recalls how throughout her time at York she was rarely without her camera, involving herself in local festivals, gigs, video shoots, and became known for enthusiasm and commitment. This led relatively easily into work with a small but vibrant production company in York who took a chance on her precisely because she had been so busily committed to the film world.
Working in Pre-Production in the commercial and promotional world of film was often like herding cats she recalls, dealing with everything from phone-chasing, catering, budgeting and accounts to weather forecasts. She was a trouble-shooter for much of the time, managing “a plate-balancing act” as she calls it, but one that gave her real insight into the film world, and one that also gave her a solid knowledge of procedure, as well as a network of professional connections.
Returning from a year’s sabbatical and glorious travel, she entered the world of film, this time via the Art Department. The is where, she clearly explains, the ‘look’ of a film is developed. She got herself a break in the affiliated department, the ‘Greens’, and the rest is history. Now she works creatively and co-operatively in a team that is engaged with giving us whole landscapes within the sound stages on studio lots – or out in locations. It is their job to create the backdrop to the imaginative worlds of film. She has found herself helping to deliver whole landscapes, whether real or artificial, alien wastelands, deserts or volcanic fallout, or rather more gently, the Hundred Acre Wood tree house in the recent film, ‘Christopher Robin’.
Her materials are various: real and artificial, groundcover, ferns, sand, and 'lots and lots of moss', she tells me. The work is challenging and rewarding in equal measure, with often crazy deadlines and intense timetables. How could this all come out of her portfolio of English, Media and Psychology A levels at Hurtwood, I muse? She clearly believes that all her studies, her learning on every level has provided her with the subtle and necessary skills. Her innate commitment to people, creativity and imagination make it clear that Tor really has found herself exactly where she wants to be. She is already earning herself a reputation for her particular skill in ‘fine dressing’ of the set before filming. Watch out for her moss next time you notice a green backdrop in a film…
Meanwhile she is clearly looking forward to getting back to work, and I for one will be taking a more interested look at the sets when it is finally released.
Taking a final shot of her with the backdrop of greenery outside Tate Modern, I leave a vibrant Tor who seems very much to have found her role beyond Hurtwood. Job done!
Some stills from Tor's latest project, 'Christopher Robin':