A MORAY man who worked with director Martin Scorsese and numerous A-list Hollywood stars is in celebratory mood this week after playing a key role in a blockbuster movie which scooped five Oscars.
Michael Start, who runs the House of Automata in Kinloss with wife Maria, received news in the early hours of Monday that fantasy film ‘Hugo’ had won five of the industry’s most prestigious awards.
What was even more gratifying is that two of the Oscars were awarded in the
Visual Effects and Art Direction categories – the areas in which Mr Start worked during the filming of the movie at Shepperton Studios in London.
As the only automata expert in the UK, which sees him restore and repair mechanical toys and objects, he was asked two years ago to provide specialist advice on-set.
He regularly made the long trips south from Moray to London, having already agreed to loan a number of the one-of-a-kind items from his shop which became key parts of the film.
Actively involved in the movie, he spent time on the sets in England and on location in Paris.
"I had to lurk behind the scenes, but I was working on dressing about five different sets with automata and tools. Scorsese wanted authenticity – he didn’t want anything from the wrong era," said Mr Start.
"It was a very tough regime but all the time they were focused on the best possible result. This was film-making at the top of its game for everyone involved, and for me, I thought this is the best opportunity for somebody promoting automata to get it out to the biggest possible audience."
Mr Start has also loaned a number of clockwork toys from his shop to the makers of new Daniel Radcliffe film, The Woman In Black, which currently sits at the top of the UK film box office chart.
For much more on this story, plus details on how a car from Moray transported Oscar winner Meryl Streep in her Iron Lady role, see this week's 'Northern Scot'