Name: Phil Allchin
Describe what you do
I’m in charge of anything with wheels: trucks, facility vehicles, any cars, any bikes. We deal with the whole package. You probably average fifteen cars on a film including the unit vehicles that take all the different hard drives and disks to whoever needs them.
How did you get into the movie business?
I was actually a milkman, so I had driving experience, although a little bit slower than usual. My next-door neighbour was a driver and he got me in: I used to do the pick-ups for wigs and different packages of make-up. The first movie I worked on was Mutiny On The Bounty with Sir Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson. Technically I looked after Mel but I only saw him once in three days. He came and put his bag in the car, said hello and that was it. I sat there playing cards, drinking tea and twiddling my thumbs. I thought I was going to get sacked!
Is there a recognised career path in your industry?
Not really. You need a Public Carriage Office license if you’re working in the London area. You have to have an operator’s license and a driver’s license. Usually drivers who have been doing a similar kind of thing will ring me and I’ll get them to do one or two pick-ups. We get to see their personality, how they work, and that’s really the only way new blood comes in.
Is there an unwritten etiquette when driving?
Whatever talent is in the car has to know that what they say will never get repeated. I get in the car, say “Good morning, how are you, this is where we are going, do you want anything?”, and then I don’t say anything until they speak to me. But there should also never be an uneasy silence in the car. It’s not easy to judge it, but that’s the way it should go.
How do you choose the right driver for the right job?
I’ve known most of the boys I work with for twenty or thirty years, so I know their weaknesses and their strengths. Maybe some get on well with women, some are better with the men, some know all the restaurants, some want to get home at night to their families. You’ve got to know who you’re working with.
What’s a regular day for you?
We’ve got a crowd of 235 people for a scene at the moment so I’ve got coaches picking them up. They’ve got to be there for six o’clock and we’ve got three or four good pick-up areas in town where we can meet them and get them on the coach without being in the way. We bring them in, drop them off and at the end of the day take them back again. I insist the drivers all ring me when they’re on the move and when they arrive so in that sense I’m a bit of a control freak. Some days I get up at 3.30am, I have to know everything is taken care of.
What’s the most important thing you need to do your job?
My little diary. Everything is in there. And you’ve got to try and remember everything as well. I can remember seventy or eighty people’s phone numbers, but I can’t remember my wife’s!