Did you know?
Richard Branson is a great fan of THUNDERBIRDS and has named a fleet of rescue locomotives for Virgin Trains after the THUNDERBIRDS craft. Note: During one of Sylvia’s many transatlantic trips, she was travelling in a Virgin plane named after LADY PENELOPE. Unfortunately, the plane broke down and there was a long delay in LA! Richard Branson did, however, give Sylvia complementary mileage for the delay!
It was the late fifties and the eve of what would be known as the SWINGING SIXTIES…
After a less than auspicious start, I had joined a small production company making commercials and low budget documentaries.
There was very little money but lots of enthusiasm from the company directors who were technicians on the other side of the camera. I was their GIRL FRIDAY working for a meagre salary but gaining production experience.
Truth be told, I was overqualified academically for the job, having recently graduated in economics and sociology from the prestigious LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS. My temporary GIRL FRIDAY job had developed into a full time occupation and I found I was totally intrigued by the world of film, albeit not exactly Hollywood!…
Looking back, it was a crazy decision to make, to leave behind my stable university connections for an unknown future. But I had always been interested in the make-believe world of books, theatre and film and I threw myself whole-heartedly into this new venture… Little did I know that it was the beginning of the most exciting era of my life!
From the start, I was thrown in at the deep end and found myself working for five company directors – all equally talented, charming, maddening and irritating!… As the only female influence I often had my work cut out to keep the peace. They each protected me and overworked me in turn and my tasks were many and varied, ranging from receptionist/personal assistant during VIP visits from prospective clients to tea girl/assistant painter and decorator during slow times (which were happening more and more often) to script girl and cashier!… (even though my petty cash rarely balanced as they all played fast and loose with my book keeping).
You name it – I did it and loved every minute of it. I soon learnt that knack of dealing with and placating each of my individual bosses but it was soon clear that there was not enough work to keep the company going. Also there were simply too many creative brains and egos to satisfy and much to my sadness, the five minds were to go two separate ways and a breakaway group was formed.
Although I wanted to be loyal to them all, I found myself torn. I had become very much part of the original team and its dream but now I was forced to make a decision. I had become allied with two of the younger members of the original team who seemed to be natural leaders, so when they asked me to join the new company I agreed. They approached two talented members of the art and camera department and so a new team was formed. I became a director of the new company and between us we covered all the vital aspects of filming.
Having pooled our financial resources (cashing in insurances and raiding piggy banks, including my mother’s savings) we set up shop… We rented an office in a country mansion by the river, converted the ballroom into a studio and waited for the phone to ring!…
We were raring to go, eager and pitifully naive. Would this be the beginning of a golden future of the end of our adventure we asked ourselves, as the phone remained ominously silent?
But we could not have envisaged the twists and turns ahead that would turn our lives upside down, both personally and professionally in the pursuit of our dream.
TO BE CONTINUED!