Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

From the Death Star to L.A. Know What You Want and Work Hard to Get It, That's the Mantra of Games Guru Simon Wood, the Man Behind the Authentic 1940s Setting of New Xbox and PS3 Game LA Noire. SARAH DALE Talks to the Australia-Based Product Designer from Middlesbrough

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

From the Death Star to L.A. Know What You Want and Work Hard to Get It, That's the Mantra of Games Guru Simon Wood, the Man Behind the Authentic 1940s Setting of New Xbox and PS3 Game LA Noire. SARAH DALE Talks to the Australia-Based Product Designer from Middlesbrough

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH DALE

WHEN a five-year-old Simon Wood went to see Star Wars on the big screen for the first time he was awestruck.

Like many men of s his generation, Simon, now 38, was mesmerised by the fantasy landscape, characters and story and from then on he spent every spare minute sketching spaceships.

When Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980, Simon, who grew up a stone's throw away from the Evening Gazette office on Borough Road in Middlesbrough and later Acklam with his parents and younger brother, became intrigued by the idea that people created models and costumes and virtual landscapes.

It was his lightbulb moment and from that moment he set about creating his path to his dream job, taking CDT (craft, design and technology) as one of his options at Boynton School (now Hall Garth) in Acklam before taking a design course at Cleveland College of Art & Design (CCAD).

From there he gained a BA (Hons) degree in Industrial/Product Design at Sheffield Hallam University.

"All I wanted to do was work in the film industry," says Simon, on a visit to Teesside to catch up with family, his first "proper holiday" since his wedding to wife Sandra four years ago.

After graduating from university he worked as a product designer for a small design consultancy in London.

When he found out that the new Star Wars film, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, was being made 15 minutes away from his shared house in Harrow, London, he knew he had to be on board. "I rang everyday asking for the name of the production designer," recalls Simon.

"I rang everyday until the girl on reception gave in and gave me his name: Gavin Boucquet. He is a hero of mine, he drew the original blueprints of the speedbikes that went through the trees in the Star Wars films. I told him my background and he told me to come in, he showed me how the art department worked. From being there for a couple of weeks I ended up staying there for 10 months to the end."

Then he rubbed shoulders with more big names working on the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies starring Pierce Brosnan and then the Thunderbirds film.

"It was at a time when games were becoming more like films, there wasn't much between films, animation and games," says Simon.

He went to the ECTS (European Computer Trade Show) with his portfolio and went to see Sony, where he got a job as production designer for four years designing characters and working on the London locations of the PS2 game, The Getaway.

When the opportunity arose for him to join Team Bondi, set up by Brendan McNamara who he had worked with on The Getaway at Sony, in 2003 the little detail that it meant upping sticks to Australia didn't faze him at all.

"It was just moving offices to me," he says.

"It was just Sandra and me at the time, it was before we got married and had our daughter. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.