Alex King has been working in the movie industry for over fifteen years. He has been a part of many popular film productions out of which two were filmed in Hungary. Apart from being a successful entrepreneur, Alex is also a very friendly and approachable person and I was lucky enough to get him to do an interview.
- How did you start working in the film industry?
I started out as an actor and after 10 years or more I decided I needed a change in direction, staying in the same industry with just a little jump to the other side of the camera… no more pressure, or so I thought! I worked in props for a few years while I found my new vocation, I was offered an assistants role in picture cars on Bourne ultimatum and have not looked back since.
- Have you always wanted to be a part of the film industry?
Not really, I wanted to be a graphic designer when I was at school as I was a very keen artist, however, I had always liked performing and found myself on the first step of my acting career very soon after a short term in reprographics, well I say short term, but it was a four year apprenticeship!
- Could you explain a little bit what your responsibilities are as a picture vehicle coordinator on a day to day basis?
Every day is different, but to summarise: the budget, maintaining the budget and constantly updating, amending and looking to make savings. I manage a crew of between 6- 20 people depending on the films requirements and source to purchase or hire multiple vehicles from WW1 tanks to building modern day 4×4 rock crawler (Man from Uncle) and motorcycles, trucks etc. I liaise with product placement too, whether it Mercedes, BMW or VW. I also oversee the daily running on set, make sure stunts have what they need for rehearsals, transportation costs and scheduling in where and when vehicles are required. I could go on but I’m in the middle of all this right now on the two films.
- Apart from working as a picture vehicle coordinator you are also an owner of a company, could you maybe elaborate on how that came about?
I started my company 6 years ago, purely by chance as I already had a company name registered for another business plan. The film I was on at the time was Captain American and they would not pay me on a schedule D basis (taxation class) unless I had a limited company, so I started trading my LTD Company. From then on it snowballed; I started investing in equipment and a new workshop truck that I had built which I still have, although I want to upgrade that soon to move more equipment around. All workshop equipment goes into 2x 20 foot containers so I can pretty much go anywhere in the world and set up a shop.
- Most people would agree that you have a rather interesting job, but would do you like the most about it?
The thing I like most about my job is my job, I’m very lucky to do what I do and I love every aspect of it, even the challenging times and scary moments, I get to meet new people, experience different cultures, build one off projects and drive the most amazing vehicles while being surrounded by a great team who I regard as my working family. I could go on…
- Could you explain a little bit how you get involved with a particular film?
I usually get a phone call or an email from a producer, designer or production manager that I have been recommended to or who I have worked with before, or in some cases I will hear about a project and I will get in touch and pass on my CV and push for a meeting, usually it is the former as there are not many people who do what I do.
- What are the first steps when starting a new project?
I will sign a NDA (non disclosure agreement) then read the script a couple of times, usually there is some kind of shooting schedule, then I will put a budget together, based on my experience and what sequences are in the script regarding action sequences. Then I look at hero vehicle options and start talking to placement companies.
- You seem to be very busy so do you find it hard to balance out your private and business life?
Yes, very much so. I can sometimes be away from home for up to 9 months; although I get to pop home it is all about the job, very hard to switch off when you are solely responsible for your department. There are some jobs that allow a better work life balance, but I try to make up for it in between films.
- What would you say was your favourite project that you have worked on?
Green Zone, National Treasure 2, Ghost Rider 2, Die Hard 5, man from UNCLE and probably the two I’m on now. They all have something about them…
- What do you think is the reason that Hungary is so popular with movie production companies?
The city can cover a number of different cities through the ages, there are also very good studio facilities, cheaper labour and materials, the rest you will need to ask a producer about, but on a personal level I love it and also have a Hungarian brother in law.
- Since you have experience working in Hungary what did you personally like about it?
Becketts, the city itself, the history and the night life…
- What would be your advice for young people who want to get their foot through the door?
Never give up, never moan or complain, get on with everybody, work hard, never say no, make a pre apology to friends and family that you won’t see them as much as you used to. Most of all enjoy yourself!
- And lastly what are your plans for the future and are there any goals that you yet want to achieve?
I want to start an internet based company, this is a long term plan, continue along the same route for now, although I do have a secret desire to direct too…watch this space!