WITH light sabers at the ready the young Umar Hussain enters into pretend combat with his favourite Star Wars character.

Glancing at the treasured snap, taken with Darth Vader at Six Flags in New Jersey when he was then five, brings home the reality of how Umar is now literally living the dream working on the latest blockbuster movie - Star Wars 8 The Last Jedi, due out in December.

Since the snap was taken the Force has certainly been with Umar as he forges a successful career in the visual effects industry.

"I didn't dream or anticipate I'd get the chance to work on Star Wars as it seemed quite a far reaching goal! But I'm very happy to have the chance to work on Episode 8 after really enjoying working on Episode 7," he says.

Umar's meteoric rise developed from his love of films. "I've always been a big watcher of film and television throughout childhood/teens," says Umar.

The 25-year-old, who grew up in Calverley and attended Bradford Grammar School, recalls having a particular penchant for Disney animated films during his childhood - now he is literally living the dream.

His introduction to his glittering career came after studying politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at the University of Manchester.

"I had the opportunity to work with a friend on a short film project he was working on. Soon after, a Production Intern role on the television show 'Made in Chelsea' was advertised and I interviewed for and landed," he explains.

"Once I had the exposure to seeing both a small scale and large scale project in person, I quickly saw if I wanted to, that I could pursue a career in film."

Gaining the experience on set gave Umar the confidence to develop his ambitions. "I knew I eventually wanted to try and work on a Feature Animated movie as growing up that was my favourite genre of film," says Umar, who was determined to turn his dream into reality.

"I definitely was proactive in meeting and connecting with everyone and anyone who was connected to the Visual Effects / Feature Animation scene as it’s a very small world in the industry – especially for Production staff.

"It’s not as easy as it may sound – but by being proactive, showing up to events and being curious (and polite!) people more often than not want to help youngsters trying to break in.

"I even travelled to the US on spec to meet people in the industry who could potentially help, advise and support me to turn my dream into reality.

"To get to where I have in this industry, in such a short time, has certainly taken passion, determination, hard work and not taking ‘No’ for an answer."

Umar explains the closest comparable work in the UK scene at the time was Visual Effects. "I headed over to a VFX conference in Germany, FMX, and spoke to as many people as I could on advice on how to break in to the industry.

"After a lot of conversations and advice, a HR Intern at the Visual Effects company, Framestore, opened up that I managed to get. From there I worked my way across into marketing and then relatively quickly into production."

Umar works as a Visual Effects Line Producer at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the visual effects branch of Lucasfilm now owned by Disney.

"VFX Line Producers have a wide range of responsibilities day to day."

Umar explains part of the role is to project manage.

"My job is to make sure we deliver the Visual Effects work on a given film on time and on budget whilst making sure my production team are happy and that the artists on the film, which on any given project can range from 10 to 400 people, are satisfied with their role."

He says his daily work differs as the film progresses. "At the start of the film, when filming has finished and Visual Effects work is ready to start, I am in charge of planning and managing the artistic and production crew. We need to deliver a project working closely with the Creatives and Senior Management at Industrial Light & Magic to make sure we set up the project with adequate resources in terms of people and match the right groups of creative people together to create great work.

"Once the project is in full flow my job is to work with the Production team to make sure we have a clear schedule of when work will be done, and plan out when we are able to show work to the Director & Producer of the film."

So far, Umar has worked on Gravity; Guardians of the Galaxy; Star Wars Episode 7 - The Force Awakens, Doctor Strange and Star Wars Episode 8 - The Last Jedi.

And it goes with the territory that he has met some pretty impressive people along the way....

"I've been lucky enough to bump into Margot Robbie and Tom Hanks at a few film events and have met Daisy Ridley working on Star Wars."

Despite meeting stars of the Big Screen and attending premieres, Umar keeps his first firmly on the ground.

"When I am introduced to others I sometimes do think they are talking about someone else, especially what I have achieved in such a short time, despite all the odds! - But day to day my job has all the stresses of a normal desk job so you almost forget about the fact you are working on a film - until the premiere that is!"

Among the highlights of his career so far are attending dialogue recording sessions on Star Wars with Daisy Ridley and JJ Abrams along with the first screening of Doctor Strange.

"Mainly on Strange that was a very long gruelling project with high complexity but the pay off was great seeing it together with the artists on the big screen."

When asked if he had ambitions to work on a particular film, Umar says: "I've been very fortunate to work on some of the biggest and highest grossing films of the past years - not to mention films that have been nominated for the BAFTA and OSCAR for Best VFX - so in the visual effects world I can't say there is any particular project I want to work on."

Umar credits Ron Clements and John Musker as his favourite directors growing up (Aladdin, Hercules, Little Mermaid, Moana).

"In the Live Action world I am a big fan of Baz Luhrmann's work and in terms of actors I would say Will Smith and Leonardo Di Capri would be the two standout actors I'd love to be working on a film with."

Although based in London, Umar stays true to his Yorkshire roots and regularly visits his parents, Dad Zulfi, a businessman and charity ambassador who set up Bradford-based Global Promise, and his Mum Naheed in his home village of Calverley. Umar's sister, Safia, has also carved out a successful career as a solicitor in London.

"I travel back to Leeds when I can, but with work it is around every three or four months that I get to head back north."

His advice to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the film industry is: "You need to be prepared to be the first one in and last out of the office in the early years to really make an impression and take in as much knowledge as you can (speaking of VFX production in particular).

"There is definitely opportunity out there if you have a committed and hard working attitude, open yourself to listening and being proactive – you can do very well in VFX! It's not for everyone - the hours are tough but the rewards are great."

Despite having the best job in the world, is there anywhere he would want to be in 10 years? "I’m in the best company in the best city right now! – but I’d love to work abroad in the coming years – recent visits to LA have definitely inspired me to want to expand my horizons and continue to develop my film production skillset abroad."

Watch this space.....