On Sunday I spent a few hours playing sound-man for Anne as she shot some interviews at the London Model Engineering Exhibition. It was exactly the kind of show you’re picturing in your head; finely detailed replicas all measured with laser precision (they actually use lasers to measure the parts) and presented by chaps (and a few chapettes) clutching cups of tea.
It was wonderful. Alexandra Palace was filled with buzzing and clattering as trains, planes and ships, displayed with pride and… well, just lots of pride actually. The good kind.
I realised wandering round that the setup was incredibly familiar; it shared all the smells and murmurs and chatter of a comic convention. But the beaming faces and eagerness to talk about work with new people felt a world away. Very few were tucked behind tables and those that were were busy making things whirr about, delighting people.
Maybe it was a generational thing; by and large the exhibitors were in their 50s and 60s, a lot more confident of their abilities than the (generally) younger comics crowd I’m around so much. But I got the sense that it wasn’t just that.
Speaking to Mitch from SMEE was a treat. He beamed about the work of his friends and fellows, proud to show the work he’d spent many thousands of hours on. He was humble about his achievements as a model maker, but not entirely self-effacing, understandably proud of work he’d contributed not just to the show, but to films like X-Men First Class, Lost In Space and Harry Potter. He was brilliant. Even better, he was brilliant while wearing a SMEE-branded workshop coat.
It was a welcome reminder that it’s not impossible to talk about print and storytelling with that kind of passion.
Anyway, I didn’t get many good photos but Anne’s film will make up for that when it’s ready.