How Milly has battled her way from Doncaster schoolgirl to Bafta nomination and blockbuster film job on The Flash
Back in her days at school in Doncaster, Milly White loved being on stage and dreamed of working in films or theatre.
She may not be on the stage now – but her dream of working in films has come true, and she’s already up for a Bafta award.
But it has not been a straightforward route to the movies for Milly, who left a job with a retail design company after realising she was in the wrong job before taking up her new career, in which she is currently working on a big budget blockbuster.
This month, she will be among those attending a virtual awards night for the student Baftas.
It comes after she and her pals at the National Film and Television School put together an animated short film as part of a college project, called Night of the Living Dread. It impressed the Bafta panel, who made one of the 15 finalists out of over 680 submissions from 34 countries. It is one of three finalists in the animation category.
They usually have an award ceremony in LA – this year it is online though, on Friday, July 23.
Night of the Living Dread is a story about someone who cannot sleep, who has to confront some embarrassing episodes from her past.
The animated action unfurls on a set that was created by Milly, including a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and lounge. It was painstakingly filmed with every four seconds of action taking a day to create, at 24 frames per second.
Milly, aged 26, grew up loving the world of entertainment. She was the narrator a few years ago for the Ridgewood School production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
Milly said: “I've always loved theatre, since I was a small child, and I also loved making things.
"I started doing product design and industrial design and technology at Loughborough University. I enjoyed it but I wasn’t quite fulfilled.
"I finished my degree and went into a graduate job, and I hated it.
“I found out about a course at the National Film and Television School, which sounded great, but I thought it was never going to happen. Then I decided to go for it.
"I worked really hard to get on the course, and I left my job to go freelance. It meant I could be my own boss and build up experience to get on the course. I built a set for an amateur production of Fiddler on the Roof. I did a short film called Make do and Mend for the London Sci Fi film festival, which got a mention.
"Then I applied for for the NFTS. I gave up my flat and moved back in with my parents in Harlington.”
She got onto her course in 2019, and graduated a couple of weeks ago, making two films as part of the course, along with others in her group. One of those was Night of the Living Dread.
They managed to get the comedian Stephen Fry narrate the film – they approached him after he took a class at the school, a few months before they made their film.
And early in 2020 they started work. Some of the work was done by people at home during lockdown.
“My job was to design the sets and props,” said Milly. “It was everything that you see on screen except the puppets. I had my own department called the arts department and I led that team.
“It involved laser cutting parts, and ageing them to make them look right. In the end, we had a series of sets. It was in several different pieces so you could separate the rooms.
"There is a sequence in the film where the character, Ruby, sees a tissue on the parquet flooring. I was really pleased with the way it came out. I’d been advised to paint on joins between tiles, but I engraved a parquet pattern so that the tiles cast shadows, I love that because it cast beautiful shadows in moonlight scenes.
"But my favourite of the rooms I created was the bathroom.
"It is a shame that unlike other groups in the past, because of Covid, we will not be able to go to LA to attend the awards. That would have been an amazing experience. We will do it from our own bedrooms instead, and it’s still fantastic, regardless. If I can find something, I’ll still wear a nice dress.”
She and her friends plan to take the film around film festivals before it is released for the public to see, although they have already released a trailer.
In the meantime, Milly is getting on with her day job, which has seen her land work on a major film.
This year she has been working for Warner Brothers as part of their set design team at Leavesden studios. The budget is substantially higher than she had to work with on Night of the Living Dread.
She is working on a superhero film called The Flash – but says that is as much as she is allowed to say about the project.
But she said she is loving her job.
"When I was working on Night of the Living Dread, everything was in miniature. Now I’m working on a colossal scale," she said. “It is hard work, but it is just so much fun. There is never a boring day.
"Everything I’ve done has been working up to this. At one time I was convinced it was unattainable. There is no one pathway to this job , which is amazing.
"At one point I had a dream to be in the West End. I would never change what I’m doing now.”