CRAFT: LIVING LEGENDS - You may not have heard of them, but in production circles they are nearly as famous as the stars they have worked with



Steve Chivers is a colourful character - both inside and out.

Covered from head to toe in tattoos and piercings, he’s famous for his

battles with airport metal detectors.

’He’s extraordinary-looking, which some people find frightening. He can

be scary, however. If he thinks you’re a wanker, you’re dead in the

water,’ says his close friend and colleague, Daniel Barber, director at

Rose Hackney Barber.

Barber, who like others, claims Chivers is a ’sweetie pie’ beneath his

hard exterior, raves about his camera skills. ’The way he orchestrates

lighting is incredible. He’s one of the most creative you can get,

particularly when he strays into the fantastical - that’s where his real

skills lie,’ Barber says.

This is much in evidence in Chivers’ work for Becks beer, which won him

a Golden Arrow for cinematography at the recent British Television

Advertising Craft Awards. The ad features beautiful shots such as

raindrops on waterlillies and silky, shadowy horses.

Chivers’ interest in film began when he was just nine years old and the

proud owner of a Super-8. He went to art school where he completed a

degree in fine art film and then began a career working on promos. He

has worked with all the greats, including U2, The Eurythmics, Elton John

and Diana Ross. ’Ms Ross’, as Chivers calls her, would only go ahead

with her latest video if he agreed to light her, according to one


Chivers, 40, claims the experience on promos was invaluable.

’It was the early days, there was no MTV, and what we did was

experimental and pioneered many of the techniques which have entered

music vocabulary today.’

A multifaceted character, the dog-lover, diver, former teacher and

romantic - he ran away to get married on a desert island off Australia -

has also worked on award-winning features and shorts. Lisa Campbell


Anna Darby, founder of Lavish Locations, barely has time to take a

breath as she helter-skelters through the history of her 13-year-old

locations company. Her conversation is littered with ’luvvie-isms’ and

interrupted every few seconds by a high-pitched, throaty laugh. It’s

like talking to Jilly Goulden on speed.

Darby established Lavish Locations after she’d been begged time and time

again to hire out her own Georgian home. ’I used to have lots of people

knocking on my door asking if they could use it for commercials or

films,’ she explains. ’After talking to them, I realised how difficult

cold-calling can be. You’re either told to sod off or are invited in for

tea and scones. I thought I’d be rather good at it.’

She now has more than 15,000 locations on her books from semi-detached

houses to grand stately homes. ’I’ll be driving along a road and see a

potentially brilliant house for a Persil commercial or something with a

New York apartment feel. I’ll screech to a halt, knock at the door and

tell them their house is absolutely perfect. They often think I’m

absolutely barmy.’

’Anna is a genuinely eccentric human being,’ laughs Storr Redman,

managing director of Eclipse, the production company. ’It’s one of the

few businesses where someone like that can survive and do well. She also

has one of the best collections of private houses on offer.’

And Darby’s kept the talent firmly in the family: husband Simon is one

of the top locations managers in town and her two daughters also work in

the business.

So what’s the secret of her success? ’I love what I do, darling,’ she

shrieks. ’I love the film business. It’s very sexy. I love selling my

business to production companies. I love seeing round people’s houses -

especially if they’re famous. It’s like Through the Keyhole. A very

famous person once realised she’d left her knickers lying on the bedroom

floor when I was looking around. And I caught her trying to stuff them

in her bed. It’s brilliant!’ Harriet Green


Vic Hammond has seen it all. From crocodile-infested waters in Thailand

and snake-ridden jungles in South America, to all-night drinking

sessions with the likes of Michael Caine and Roger Moore. Whatever the

tale, the garrulous cockney loves to share it.

’You won’t find a better story-teller than Vic Hammond. Sometimes he

gets carried away and you have to go over and break the session up, or

otherwise the whole production would come to a standstill,’ says Stephen

Gash, managing director of Stark Films.

Hammond’s story-telling skills are renowned in the industry. ’People are

always telling me to write a book,’ he acknowledges. ’I’ve got thousands

(of stories) because I’ve got a good memory for happy times.’

Originally a plumber’s mate, Hammond entered the world of production by

driving a mini-bus for the crew on Randall & Hopkirk Deceased.

To begin with, the ’luvvieness’ scared him off. ’It seemed a strange

world to a macho 23-year-old from Shepherd’s Bush,’ he laughs.

But before he knew it, he was hooked and was thrust into the position of

grip on The Eagle Has Landed, after working as an assistant.

Whatever he has worked on - whether it’s big budget films like Out of

Africa or commercials for Camel or WH Smith - Hammond has found


On one recce in the Amazon, he became concerned that there was no doctor

or serum to treat snake bites. When the producer stated that this was

just a rehearsal, he quipped: ’Aah, but do the snakes know that?’

’He’s the biggest joke-teller on earth and, for many, would be the first

person on the crew list. He keeps the crew laughing no matter how tough

the conditions. He’s the type of bloke you’d want alongside you in the

trenches,’ says Saatchi & Saatchi’s head of TV, Mark Hanrahan.

Crews have also relied on the strapping Hammond to negotiate with the

locals in far-flung climes.

’He gets booked for dangerous jobs or the ones where you have to lug a

150lb camera up an 800ft hill. If you get into any nasty scrapes, you

definitely want him on your side,’ adds Hanrahan. Lisa Campbell


While most men are a nightmare on a shopping trip, Paul Frecker would be

a dream companion. He’s rated as one of the industry’s top stylists.

A favourite of Jonathan Glazer, Frecker is known for being highly

creative, strongly opinionated and very particular. He’ll soon put you

in your place if you dare to interfere with any of his creations.

’I once tried to get involved but was told ’what do you know about

frocks, you’re a producer?’,’ remembers Lizie Gower, managing director

of Academy.

’His real skill is being able to dress actors so that they look very

natural - like they’re wearing their own clothes, not something that was

bought half an hour ago.’ To achieve this, Frecker often insists that he

meets the actors before compiling the wardrobe. ’People and outfits

aren’t interchangeable. Some agencies don’t understand that. They

haven’t cast the character but they still want the outfit ready. But

everything has to be believable - a stylised reality,’ he says.

Frecker does not have too many pretensions about his work. Some of it he

says is art, some is just to pay the mortgage. ’When a friend described

my career recently, she said that I flick though the clothes rail at

Joseph for a living,’ he says, revealing a dry sense of humour.

Yet one of the commercials which he is most proud of showed how creative

he can be. A futuristic Mazda ad involved Frecker creating weird and

wonderful garments out of rubber and gauze.

Now 40, he began as a stylist on The Face and i-D magazines, working

with acclaimed photographers such as Nick Knight and Juergen Teller.

He then drifted into TV commercials via pop promos, with Tony Kaye

approaching his agent for a top stylist. ’It was a baptism of fire,’

remembers Frecker. ’I thought if I could cope with that, then I could

cope with anything.’

Few would disagree. Lisa Campbell


It doesn’t get much better than receiving a compliment on your cooking

from chef extraordinaire, Michel Roux. Not that location catering’s

chirpiest clown needs a reason to smile. Nobby Foley (aka ’a real-life

garden gnome’ and ’a young Frank Dobson’) is guaranteed to put a beamer

on even the most tired and hungry face.

Nobby’s reputation for cracking one-liners at all hours precedes


’He can always be relied upon to serve up a joke or five with the

breakfast,’ says Francis Castelli, a producer at The Mob. ’As long as

there’s an audience, he’ll be performing.’

You begin to wonder if he’s in the wrong vocation. When Robbie Williams

so enjoyed his roast dinner that he popped over to say thank you, they

ended up swapping anecdotes. And he’s shared a joke with Paul Hogan,

Burt Lancaster and Jack Nicholson, who all enjoyed his nibbles and


A Bermondsey boy, Nobby clearly enjoys talking as much as he enjoys his

food. As Charlie Read, production manager at BFCS, remembers: ’He’s such

a fast talker. He’ll talk the hind leg off a donkey.’ Showmanship aside,

it’s his accommodating nature that has won him so many fans in the

industry. Becky Swindale, production manager at Annex Films, remembers:

’He’ll do anything for you without sleep and without complaining.’ And

Castelli remembers a Jameson’s Whisky shoot that required Nobby to cook

en route on a coach journey to Devon: ’He helped by being flexible.

He’s never been known not to deliver the goods.’

It is clear to everyone, including Nobby, that he loves his job, even

when it takes him to far-flung, cold locations. ’I love working


It’s like having a holiday,’ he enthuses. ’You get put in a lovely hotel

and meet friendly people.’ Jenny Watts.

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