Flash forward four years--it takes a long time to put a film together--and I'm standing on stage in the Prince of Wales pub in Willesden in front of a full film crew of around 40 people and someone actually shouts, 'Let's go for a take!' Reg Varney or Reg Presley? The next few seconds will tell.

Unfortunately, making a film is nothing like singing a song live on stage--but I always knew that anyway. Back in 1990, when I was teaching GCSE and A Level Film Studies, one of the very best text books I used was called The Movie Business Book (editor Jason E Squire). It had very detailed chapters on what the director did, the producer, the line producer, the director of photography, the editor, etc, all written by industry veterans. There were even sample call sheets and budget breakdowns. I used to teach from that book.

Now, over a quarter of a century on, I'm staring at my own call sheet. And one of my old students from those days is making the film.

Hadi obviously wasn't sure whether I'd show up, because I'm down on the call sheet as 'Karaoke singer TBC'. We've been talking about it for months, but I didn't get the date and location for my bit-part until an email two nights before.

I'd just come back from two weeks holiday in Finland (where I got to sing Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime in a bar in Turku) and was up north in Durham when the summons comes one Saturday. So, I head back down on the train on Sunday and am ready for that early start on Monday morning. With my trusty navigator Sylvia by my side, I make my way from Highgate via bus and Overground train to the location base, which is a school in Willesden, setting off at 6 am.

Hadi always says NEVER scrimp on the catering. Good food is the key to good crew morale on set. So we tuck into an excellent full English breakfast at 7 am at a big marquee set up in the school yard. I go for my costume fitting and discover the cowboy shirt I'm to wear is about three sizes too small. I'm wearing my own black jeans and shoes. Too late to change now. If I don't breath, the buttons may not pop.

We wait in one of the school classrooms to be summoned to the location. One member of the crew seems to do nothing but dish out bottles of water to anyone who wants one--he even writes your name on the bottle for you. It's a very long day and his job turns out to be crucial.

Peter Ferdinando and his bad guy posse (Andre Flynn, Pedro Lloyd Gardiner and Perry Jaques) troop into classroom as a group in full costume. Peter has to be the villain, I recognise the mullet and denim jacket look from the script. I'm intrigued by his accent. One of my university friends from way back hailed from South Yorkshire.

'You're from South Yorkshire aren't you?' I say, pleased with my detective powers. 'Yes', he replies with a look of quiet satisfaction. After a few minutes of small talk, it emerges that he and Sylvia share an interest in Japanese martial arts cinema in general, and Takeshi Kitano in particular. Sylvia is hugely impressed when he tells her he's just made a film with him--which turns out to be The Ghost in the Shell.



Im Ready for My Close-Up, Mr Hajaig.
Dino Laine in the dressing room, Blue Iguana

In my full Dino Laine rig in the improvised dressing room used on my day of filming, a school classroom. The shirt was just a little bit tight, but it did do a good job of partially disguising my then extensive jelly belly. The school was the base for the filming in the Prince of Wales pub on Willesden Lane, which was a short drive away. Photo credit Sylvia Starshine.