A Birmingham company has revealed it played a key role in a £130 million Hollywood space blockbuster from director Ridley Scott.
The sci-fi film Prometheus featured more than 100 astronaut helmets made by Erdington company CMA Moldform.
Director Ridley Scott was so impressed with the firm’s work that he asked for a pair of the helmets for his office.
CMA Moldform specialises in work with clear resin for the automotive industry and art world, and employs 50 staff at Spitfire Park in Erdington.
The props were technically difficult – specifications called for lightweight, high strength, minimal thickness and maximum optical clarity for close-up camera shots.
The company invested considerable time in research and development before they managed to create the correct resin for two types of helmet – some for long term use and others which were more brittle and which could be easily broken during filming.
CMA has been producing scale models since 1985 and began rapid prototyping in 1990.
Its art division has been evolving since 2005 and the company now has a turnover in excess of £3 million.
Due to the expansion of international art orders, the company has doubled its production space to 40,000 sq ft and is hiring eight staff – a workforce boost of almost 15 per cent.
Managing director Peter Turnock said: “For Prometheus they called me from Pinewood. After a lot of testing we came up with the right material and the shapes to do the mould.
“Ridley Scott called me up to say ‘Could I have two for my office? I’ll buy them.”
CMA is owned by David and Dorothy Buttress, whose son Kevin works in the business. Together they have almost 100 years of experience in moulding and casting.
The company is also a supplier to Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley, Aston Martin along with a host of other automotive, aerospace and manufacturing companies around the world.
It also produces large-scale artworks for public commissions, sculptors and artists, as well as fine scale models of figures, cars, ships, trains, planes and other vehicles.
“We use the same skills to make models and prototypes but in a slightly different way,” Mr Turnock said. “We don’t have a product that we produce.”
Mr Turnock said business comes from word of mouth recommendations, exhibitions, PR, advertising and contacts made in a varied career, from the navy to bridge building and marketing.
“I did a lot of film work from Aardman Animations to Bond films,” he said.
“CMA has grown from 15 people five years ago and in a recession. We’re a successful SME and we’ve done all we have with our own funds, with a bit of help from banks and a little bit of grants.”
CMA is set to take part in the Birmingham Made Me design expo at Millennium Point in June and hope to display a 400 kg three metre long shark, cast in crystal clear resin for artist Pascal Haudressy.
Mr Turnock said: “We have a strong manufacturing core here and it’s expanding. The government is beginning to help and cut the red tape and get it right and let us do what we know we can do. We’re an island, we’ve always been good at exporting. We’ve got the best engineers in the world, we’re the best at design and innovation.
“The worry for the future is where the skills are coming from. We’re trying to train from the experience we’ve got. Every manufacturer is doing training. We’re looking at apprenticeships now.
“I was a cadet in the navy, so I’m a great believer in skills like that.
According to Mr Turnock, growing the number of people who are gaining practical skills is absolutely crucial for companies like his. He said: “Children are being steered away from engineering in school, but this country is founded on engineering and manufacturing, and it’s coming back in the Midlands.
“The new Jaguar plant at Wolverhampton is going to create six or seven thousand jobs in the supply chain. Engineering is not a dirty word.”