A FEATURE film art director from Bournemouth says he always pushes for Dorset to be used as a location in the next Hollywood blockbusters.

Luke Whitelock has worked with the likes of Disney, Marvel and Warner Bros during a near two-decade career that started with his studies in Bournemouth.

After getting his first taste of experience on a Harry Potter set, Luke has made noticeable contributions to recent box office hits like Avengers: Endgame, Cruella and even the latest Bond film.

For Luke, it was his mentors at the old Bournemouth Arts Institute, now AUB, who inspired him.

Bournemouth Echo: Luke Whitelock in Hellman Hall designed for CruellaLuke Whitelock in Hellman Hall designed for Cruella

“I went to Oakmead School in West Howe and was very much into art and design,” said Luke.

“Some teachers recognised that I had a bit of a talent so suggested I go to college which wasn’t something I’d considered before.

“So, I went to the open day for the Bournemouth Arts Institute and really liked it. After helping with the photography and art direction for someone on a film course, I found it was something I really enjoyed.”

Luke then decided to apply for a film course however was unsuccessful in his application. He instead planned to take a graphic design course in Cheltenham, however a subsequent discussion with a lecturer changed everything.

Luke recalled: “I told this lecturer that I didn’t get on the film course and would instead go to Cheltenham. He then just said, ‘why don’t you come and do my audio visual course instead?’

“I jumped at the chance. I joined in second year, getting a full diploma and focused on art direction. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Thanks to some string pulling by his mentors, Luke got his first taste of experience as a helper in the filming of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Luke has since designed various memorable movie mock-ups, including the glass escape pods seen in Avengers: Infinity War, the interior of Helman Hall for Cruella and the Great Hall set in Maleficent – described by Luke as his proudest design.

Bournemouth Echo: Luke Whitelock in the Great Hall designed for MaleficantLuke Whitelock in the Great Hall designed for Maleficant

Despite getting used to the biggest soundstages in Hollywood, Luke says that he always mentions Dorset as filming locations in pre-production meetings as it means he can “get home”.

He said: “For example we shot a lot of the upcoming series The Sandman in Sandbanks as a double for Australia. I always love being able to film in Dorset because it’s like I’ve gone full circle. It’s great fun to come home as I really miss it and it has some of the best scenery in the country.”

Luke has recently ventured into teaching, having started an online art direction course. He hopes to inspire the next generation of art directors in the UK – and maintains that people of all backgrounds can make it.

He said: “There wasn’t anything like course when I started. I’m trying to get any aspiring set designers into the industry. People can come from architecture degrees or interior designing and learn how to use their skills to mould into set design.

Bournemouth Echo: Design (left) and finished (right) escape pods for Avengers: Infinity War. Pictures: Luke WhitelockDesign (left) and finished (right) escape pods for Avengers: Infinity War. Pictures: Luke Whitelock

“The influx of Netflix and Amazon Prime has seen a lot of production based in the UK. We’re now in a situation where we don’t have people in the UK to fill these roles.

“If you want to get into this side of the industry, you’ll have to learn skills like 3D modelling and my course can do that. Although I do want to ensure that drawings and designs aren’t homogenised, everyone should be able to leave their own mark.”

Visit app.gumroad.com/lukewhitelockdesign for more information.