William Wiles talks to Nilesh Patel about how he manages to combine his day job as a project architect with his passion for film-making
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working as project architect on a £3m refurbishment of a 1950s office block in Mayfair: we're putting in lifts, windows and plant on the roof. It's in a conservation area, and we need approvals from the client and the City of Westminster to makes any changes.

What does a typical day involve?
This is my first project on this scale and I'm in charge. I've learned a tremendous amount. I deal with requests for information from the main contractor and I liaise directly with the client. We're also doing a spot of value engineering with the QS, ensuring that the design gets built as approved. I don't think I've had a conventional career – I've jumped from scheduling drilling work to a £3m project.

What made you want to be an architect?
I never really wanted to be an architect. It wasn't a burning ambition. Doing A levels, I realised that I didn't want an academic career. Architecture was the only creative course I could get on to without an art A level. When I applied, I didn't even know what a portfolio was. I had to look it up in a dictionary.

What do you do to relax?
I've been interested in film for a long time, since my parents took me to see Jaws. The idea of film-making took hold when I saw The Godfather. That was when I realised there was someone behind the camera. After joining Sturgis, I took an evening class in film production. In the first term, I made a two-minute animated spaghetti Western spoof. Later, I was picked to make a short film for FilmFour. Part of it was shot in the Sturgis office. I have to say that everyone at Sturgis has been really supportive of my film-making.

What film are you working on at the moment?
About four years ago, I had the idea of making a short film of my mother making samosas, shot in the style of Raging Bull. On the strength of a storyboard, Panavision got in touch and agreed to loan us equipment. The film is now in post-production and is arousing some interest.

Do you find it difficult to combine your job with filming?
Very difficult. As an assistant, I could find the time, but now I can't. Most of my time is taken up with looking for funding, support and organising. I've sent 500-600 items of correspondance in the past 18 months.

What are the similarities between architecture and film?
Writing a script is a lot like the specification process. Being a producer is like being a project manager, and being a director more like being a designer. A short film is the equivalent of an interior. The ambition then is to design your first building. It's the same.

What happened to the samosas from the film?
The cast and crew ate them.


Age 34
Current job Project architect at Simon Sturgis and Company
Employment history Worked on the British Museum for Bowyer Langdons Bachelor before joining Sturgis in 1998
Qualifications BA and RIBA (III) from Birmingham University
Lives Bounds Green, north London