Monkey See Scenery based in Elstree, Hertfordshire, work in the glamorous world of show business, building sets for the TV and film industry.
Originally set up four years ago by director Tom Hagan, Monkey See Scenery joined forces with two other set construction companies in June 2019, tasked with building ITV’s World Cup sets.
"The specification for the World Cup sets was ‘Japan'," said Ian Vallintine, director and foreman painter at Monkey See Scenery. "The designer had specified the finishes, but we had certain artistic licence. Once the set was given the OK by ITV’s Head of Sport, it was handed over to us. It took three weeks to build and four days to install the set."
"We used Albany Vinyl Matt on all the timber – we thinned the paint down for a stained, weathered feel. Printed paper was applied using Albany Speciality Wallcovering Adhesive. The set was used for four weeks with an untold number of lights generating lots of heat, but I had faith the pre-mixed glue would work! We also used Albany Vinyl Silk in red. It never dulled and looked amazing."
"There were six of us on the build and it took eight of us to install the set. At this point, the set went in for a week’s rehearsal to look at the feel and finish, and see if there are any changes required. I’m proud to say everyone loved it."
And it’s clear to see why!
Working on such projects can, of course, be a huge undertaking. "It can be challenging creating what is often just a picture inside a producer's head," said Ian, "but we pride ourselves in being able to make dreams into reality. It's hard work and long hours, but when you see the set on screen it's very rewarding."
Now running a team of eight, Tom, Ian and co-director Rob have many more jobs lined up, both in this country and abroad. Brewers asked for the insider scoop, but, alas, there’s only so much you can divulge when you work in the industry!
‘We pride ourselves in being able to make dreams into reality. It's hard work and long hours, but when you see the set on screen it's very rewarding.’
"We do have an interesting project coming up that I can talk a little about," said Ian. "It will be a projection screen, 16ft high and 100ft long in a horseshoe shape. We’ll make it with mdf wood panels bolted together. The joints will then be filled with Albany filler and everything lined with 1700 grade Albany lining paper, before we apply loads of thinned-down Albany Vinyl Matt. The project will be made easier by using Albany products."
Monkey See Scenery's regular store is Colindale, where they recently celebrated becoming the 200,000th account customer and were awarded £200 prize money to use on Albany paint. "The staff at Colindale are extremely helpful and opening at 7am is a massive bonus," said Ian. "They have a great selection of products, including specialist ones that we find hard to get. The prices are also great, which allows us to keep cost down and increase our busy workload in a good way."
And the burning question, of course, was which set did they spend their prize money on?
"Our offices!" said Ian. "We decided to smarten up our own offices to give us an upmarket feel."
This set was for the opening number, with the Pros. We created three plywood rooms that were 12ft long with LED strips. All were lined with Albany lining paper and painted in Albany Vinyl Silk in bright colours. We’ve built many of the sets for Strictly using Albany Vinyl Matt and Silk. The colours are really vibrant and the coverage is great.
First & Last
Albany Soft Sheen was used in the arches, entrance and lettering. Albany Speciality Wallcovering Adhesive was used to adhere the fabric to the three red rings.
TV set, Far East Production Company
We used solely Albany paint for this set design. Vinyl Matt in cream was used on the walls as well as Soft Sheen in red, and Vinyl Matt in brown was thinned out for stain. Albany Speciality Wallcovering Adhesive was used to apply the wallpaper, and the fireplace stone effect was created using three different greys.