The Work of Artist Anthony James


In the autumn of  2017 I was contacted by an old friend who works full time in the film industry, and her message read’ How would you like to work on the most successful Dinosaur franchise of all time?’. Hardly a difficult question to answer with a big fat YES! I couldn’t believe my luck and I will admit to punching the air with excitement after my friend’s message.

UNIVERSAL needed 5 cardboard masks for five actors to wear in ‘JURASSIC WORLD FALLEN KINGDOM’, the second in the ‘JURASSIC WORLD’  Trilogy, so I got straight to work creating a wearable T-Rex, Triceratops, 2’ JURASSIC PARK/WORLD’  style Raptors and a Pterodactyl.  The masks themselves were quite easy for me to construct, I’ve made many similar masks in the past. The brief for them was to create ‘kiddy friendly’ ‘cardboard masks’ and I knew they were needed for a scene that was to include children, so over Christmas 2017/18 I created classic looks for all the dinosaur masks and painted them in nice bright colours.

…And so, in February 2018,  the day before I was to deliver them to set, dawned. I was told to deliver them to an industrial estate outside North London in Slough. Weirdly I’d only visited Slough a year earlier to visit the ‘THUNDERBIRDS 1965’ Studio, so Slough, was it seems, the place to be.

The next day was sunny, I loaded the masks and picked up the phone to give the studio an ETA,…

…and then everything went wrong! the lady on the other end of the phone broke the dreadful news that there had been an interdepartmental argument as to whether masks are ‘Props’ or ‘Costume’. ( In hindsight I have to agree with the costume department that technically masks are ‘worn’ so should be considered as costume, but  I wouldn’t have agreed with that at the time!)  This had led to the decision NOT TO USE MY MASKS, and ‘JURASSIC WORLD’S’  costume department was going to create them!

I put the phone down in shock, it’s not often you get to work on a multi-million dollar movie and I’d somehow just lost the gig. I sat down utterly deflated, not heartbroken or anything you understand, just really disappointed that I wouldn’t be part of, even in a tiny way ‘The most successful Dinosaur franchise of all time’.

So that afternoon I unloaded the car, had some chocolate, and carried on planning children’s workshops for the next few weeks. The ‘JURASSIC WORLD’  gig was over, before it had really begun and no-one would see my beautiful dinosaur masks after all! Well I decided a couple of hundred children would instead, so the masks would be absorbed into my children’s workshops and given to children to wear.

The next day dawned sunny yet again, a beautiful spring day. My disappointment at the previous days revelations  had quickly dissipated, as the practicalities of running an arts based business again swept over me. And then At 11am, everything changed again. A lady phoned from California. Now I have to admit that sort of thing doesn’t happen around here that often so that in its own right was pretty cool, but what she said next simply blew me away. She apologised for the mask issue, and having spoken to Stephen (I, to this day, believe she meant Stephen Spielberg OMG!) both he and the director had asked whether they could hire three of my cardboard dinosaurs as set dressing instead. Well you could have blown me down with a feather, it was all on again, and then the lady on the phone specified which three dinosaurs they wanted, and without letting on my heart sank again, as I knew one of the dinosaurs requested had been damaged in a children’s workshop earlier in the academic year and never repaired. And then it got worse, I asked when they would like the dinosaurs…,and she said tomorrow…Now, I’ve worked in TV before and the standard practice in TV is to say yes to anything and then cope with the reality after, and this is exactly what I did in this moment, YES, ALL three dinosaurs would be ready and on the ‘Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom’ Set by 2pm the next day.

In a complete panic I phoned my wife, and she headed home from work (a huge thank you to the school for being so obliging, although as a self employed musician it did mean she wouldn’t get paid for teaching that afternoon) to look after our then four year old daughter. As soon as she arrived I hurtled to my storage facility where my dinosaurs were stored. There was Vinnie the Velociraptor (not based on the Jurassic Park Velociraptors which all dinosaur buffs know are really Deinonychus’s, but based loosely  on real Velociraptors) so small and feathered and luckily for me entirely intact. There was Xylosuchus a large land crocodile, painted bright yellow and with my daughter’s old baby milk bottle lid eyes (had the director etc noticed this when they requested this particular dinosaur? I think they had – again the Kiddy Friendly theme) and again this model was absolutely fine. And then there sat Protoceratops, sadly lying on its side, with a leg off, crushed and with only one eye. All three were literally thrown into the back of my car and brought to the house, and I then spent the whole afternoon and evening repairing and improving Protoceratops. Its leg was re-attached, strengthened and then coated with glue and tissue and painted, it even got new eyes, with 3D eyes to replace it’s 2D ones.

By the next morning all three dinosaurs were ready, and loaded. I waited for a call…nothing…OK everything’s a go. The trip down to Slough was event free and I pulled up outside a huge building. Written on it in large letters were the words ‘ANCIENT FUTURES’, this was where the movie was being shot. I’d done it. Three of my hokey, fun, kiddy- friendly dinosaurs were about to appear in a multi-million dollar dinosaur movie, a movie that was part of a franchise I had loved since JURASSIC PARK back in 1994. I was so excited I couldn’t find a parking space, I just couldn’t seem to get my brain into gear to do the simple job of stopping the car, but finally I slung it into a space, got out and headed onto the set of JURASSIC WORLD FALLEN KINGDOM!

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