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Meet the Bang team: Jem Stansfield

Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2010

Jem's path took him from university through a Scrapheap and onto Bang!

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Janet Sumner

We’re just taking a break in shooting, so I’ve grabbed hold of Jem, who kind of is in the science technology engineering club.  I just want to know a little bit about his background.  You’re not a scientist, Jem, but you are in the club.  What is it that you did?

Jem Stansfield

I did a degree in aeronautics and then while I was doing my degree, in the final year I was doing a project on spin stabilisation of satellites, but I noticed the technicians in the workshop seemed to know things almost in a better way than the lecturers, and it made me think, I can’t really pretend to understand the world of engineering until I do their job as well.  So then I started, I got a job building stuff for museums and science centres and whilst doing that I went to welding and metal fabrication and electronics classes two nights a week for two years so that I could, I don’t know, be qualified in making what I make, and then from there I went on to build film special effects rigs and I did some fairly big movies. 

Then I was, no I went travelling and then I came back and I was building stuff for a massive science centre in the Middle East when some guys from Scrapheap Challenge got in touch with me, wanted me to become a ballistics expert for them out in the States.  I’m like yeah, having never actually seen the show, it just sounded like a free trip to the States.  I remember getting there, looking around going, and I’ve got to make it out of this junk?  And they were like, have you never seen the show?  No.  Well, that’s the idea of the show.  Okay let’s get on with it.  Then they liked the way I built stuff and the style in which I built it and offered me a full time job working behind the scenes on their programme, I said, yes of course, and did that.  And then I ended up working with you Janet doing a fabulous series called Science Shack.  If you ever get a chance to watch any reruns of it, it is good!

Janet Sumner

It’s a bit retro now!

Jem Stansfield

A bit retro but nonetheless and I look like I’m 12 years old in it.

Janet Sumner

You still look like you’re 12 years old!

Jem Stansfield

If only!  So, then I did that and then the way TV is, if you do one good job for somebody then they go on and work on another show and recommend you and you end up doing a whole variety of shows, and so I’ve ended up just building stuff for TV shows and museums for most of my life.

Janet Sumner

I just want to get one thing clear for the audience because we see you, at least in the last series, doing these regular builds every series and there’s kind of a suspicion that you’ve probably got a team of about 20 people beavering away, you show up, do a little bit for camera and then buzz off again.  It’s not like that is it?

Jem Stansfield

No, it couldn’t be further from the truth.  I live these things.  It’s just they’re my ideas that I’ve had in my mind for years, and the guys at the BBC said what kind of things can you make for us?  And I’m like, a supersonic vortex cannon.  What’s one of those?  Give me seven grand and I’ll show you.  And I didn’t actually know how I was going to build it at the time but I knew I probably could do, and yeah it’s just, I don’t know, 50, 60, 70 hours a week just trying to figure it out, and because with these things there’s simply nowhere to hide, it’s like what you’ve made is what’s going to go on screen and if it’s rubbish it’s just going to look rubbish.  There’s a couple of mates that help me with them as we go along, but well they are a tricky ticket to be on.

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