Interviewer: It seems only fitting that former construction engineer Roger Moffat should’ve used his redundancy money to change direction and break into Hollywood, creating special effects for film and television. For, by his own flamboyant admission, he’s no conventional engineer, but a born performer who loves an audience. Do you remember a certain car commercial in which the car was driven down the side of a skyscraper? The building facade and windows were built by Roger’s own company for a daring stunt whose trade secret he will not divulge. He also constructed sections of a bridge for the film Mary Reilly, which starred Julia Roberts and John Malkovich. So, Roger, how did it all start?
Roger Moffat: Well, about ten years ago I had a heart by-pass operation and about the same time I was made redundant. I was feeling pretty low at the time , so I decided that the only thing to do was to take my working life into my own hands and set up my own business.
Interviewer: And what kind of success did you have in the early days?
Roger Moffat: You could say it was a bit like taking a roller-coaster ride and wondering when you were going to come flying off at break-neck speed! Everything was a challenge : finance, production, marketing.
Interviewer: But that’s all in the past, you’re… you’re apparently much sought after now. I hear forthcoming film productions are queuing up for your services.
Roger Moffat: Some – yes. There’s no doubt that we’re certainly growing rapidly but we’re still small, and I think it’s probably important to remain that way. I’ve seen too many organisations just grow and grow and in the end they finish up over reaching themselves – stretching themselves to the limit.
Interviewer: Do you have any regrets about the way things have gone? About the way your life has taken a different turn?
Roger Moffat: To be honest, none at all. I feel that I’ve escaped being a slave to a regular income, from commuting, from having to justify my actions to everyone, from having to attend the office party , from having to book my holidays in advance – actually, I don’t have any holidays at all at the moment, come to think of it. I’m too busy! But best of all, I’ve nothing to do with office politics!
Interviewer: Probably the biggest advantage of all! So, what’s the secret of your meteoric rise?
Roger Moffat: Oh, I couldn’t have done anything without the support of my wife, Lili, who’s also my business partner, and there’s our two daughters, of course, Natasha and Katia. They’ve all been wonderful.
Interviewer: So what kind of job did you start out doing?
Roger Moffat: I graduated in mechanical engineering and then spent about twenty years in industry. Then my job – I was the chief engineer in an air-conditioning firm – just disappeared overnight. Anyway, after that, I set up my own computer-aided system that makes really intricate architectural models.
Interviewer: And you also supply components for the aerospace industry, don’t you?
Roger Moffat: We do, but I have to admit that it’s the film work that really interests me most.
Interviewer: Do you worry about the future?
Roger Moffat: No more than anyone else. I mean, there’s no job security anywhere these days, is there ? Of course, it’s a risk running your own company, but then you’re equally as vulnerable staying employed. I decided it was safer to be in charge of my own show than to be a part of someone else’s. Naturally, I’ve had problems. We had to sell the family house, the one I built myself. But, looking back, it all seems worth it. I was always infuriated by having to justify myself to people whom I didn’t consider to be my intellectual superiors!
Interviewer: How would you describe yourself? What are your strengths, weaknesses?
Roger Moffat: I think I’m a bit of an oddball character really. I suppose you might say that I was a hard-headed romantic. I believe that an engineer has to invent ideas. You need to be very talented. You need to have a feeling for balance and form. You also need to feel you have status and that people value what you’re doing. I’ve always seen engineers as sort of visionaries , if you like. Engineering can give you great power, a position in the world and, if you don’t look after your engineers, then you’re in great danger of losing your prestige, your position. Engineering’s still the ‘workshop of the world’ in every country. We’ve built superb ships, motorbikes, motor cars. Now we’re entering a new phase with new challenges.
Interviewer: And what about the tools of your trade? How do you view those?
Roger Moffat: To me, mechanical things are magical: a motor car is a thrilling bit of science. The microchip is a masterpiece of theoretical design; machines of unbelievable complexity make them. But from my point of view, the most rewarding thing of all is that all these things are designed by engineers .
Interviewer: You certainly seem to have a passion for your profession. I think the mystique of the film world will be pretty safe in your hands. Thanks for coming to talk to us today, Roger.
Speaker 1: In common with most of my colleagues on the track, I’m training  in the morning most of the time, as well as throughout the day. And sometimes we have to compete in the mornings too, as early as seven or eight in some places in the world. And people say to me, ‘And you really eat before that?’  But, if you think about it, you absolutely can’t perform to the best of your abilities without fuelling your body – or your mind for that matter. So, the message for kids who’ve got their sights set on gold  is, ‘Don’t skip your breakfast before you train.’
Speaker 2: I have to admit that I was one of those awful people who used to tell others to do something that I didn’t do myself. It wasn’t until I was invited to present a report on  a conference in the USA, and I was sceptical before that too, that I came back a convert. There’s good research to show that people are healthier if they eat breakfast, and everything I heard was quite convincing and I’ve gone on to use quite a lot of it in my column  – you know, I read up the research and did a few pieces on it myself, which were quite well received, even by the professionals .
Speaker 3: Well, I read that the latest thinking is that whatever you eat in the morning, your metabolic rate goes up slightly, so the rate you burn calories goes up too . Even if you sit about a lot like me, if you’ve had a good breakfast, you still won’t necessarily put on weight. Sounds crazy. But just think: if you don’t eat first thing, you get a rumbly tummy about mid-morning, and what happens next? Well, what I do is rush out to the vending machine after I’ve pulled into the next station  and grab something quick, which is usually chocolate or crisps – you know, something full of fat and sugar! So I suppose those newspaper articles are right really, aren’t they ?
Speaker 4: I’ll be absolutely honest with you – I usually wake up and don’t feel particularly hungry, especially when you’ve got an early start. And you can’t be absolutely sure where the next meal is coming from – I mean it could be breakfast, lunch or dinner, depending on where your next stopover is and what time it is there. And during all that time you might have served all manner of meals too , so you have to think ahead and I generally make sure I have something breakfast-like  before each shift, even if it’s not morning, and then I don’t get hunger pangs in the cabin .
Speaker 5: I think that if you’re someone who ‘skips’ breakfast, for want of a better term, you don’t know what you’re missing until you try. And I think that it’s especially important to try and get this message across to parents.  I can tell which ones in my group have missed breakfast : they lack energy and they’re the ones who get all the colds and that, honestly. But it’s got to fit in with the whole family’s normal way of life too. It’s no good making great resolutions and breaking them two days later because you can’t get up in time or it’s going to make you late for work.