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Meet the… head of metal

Brian Fowler from The ATS Team has helped design and fabricate obstacles on all seasons of Ninja Warrior in every territory the show has been broadcast, including the UK

Brian Fowler, head of metal at The ATS Team           
Talk us through an average day in your role

Luckily most days are different from the one before. I get to spend a lot of time bringing ideas to life that haven’t existed. So, we start with an idea and, through a series of prototypes and trial and error, we produce something totally original in most cases.

I have worked at ATS for more than 10 years and helped design and fabricate obstacles on all seasons of Ninja Warrior in every territory they have worked in, including the UK. I’m responsible for building the skeletons and foundations of the obstacles, as well as testing and troubleshooting mechanical systems. So, much of my role involves assembling structural metal products, such as frameworks or shells for machinery, tanks, and metal parts for building. I prepare, cut, shape, machine and weld metal using complex hand tools and equipment such as blowtorches, shears, gauges, power saws to construct the structures that become the obstacles or challenges used on set.

How did you get started in the media industry?

I met a group of actors that were producing their own short film. They asked me to design the film, which consisted of dressing a few sets and building some specialty props. I was also the stunt car driver, background extra, assistant director, part time grip, etc. Making my own movie was fascinating!

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I’ve had lots of different jobs in my life, that gave me the knowledge and random experience to tackle almost anything. 

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

It’s probably the most creative industry. No one wants what they’ve seen before. We’re always trying to top the one before us. It’s also a pretty tight group of people. I’m always running into people I know on different sets.  

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

Honestly, just work hard at your craft whatever it is. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you focus your energy. You have to know a little bit about somethings and a whole lot about most things.