This month I’ve been extremely busy delivering my company’s contribution to the marketing of upcoming film, The Matrix Resurrections. Well, I’ve also been on holiday in Barbados and I’m currently writing this on a cruise ship in the south of France but, that aside, I am now reaching the zenith of over two years of work on one of my most important professional activities of my career.

The marketing director at Warner Bros said: ‘I’m now handing over this project to my execution team,’ and the thought struck me that I too could do with having an execution team. That might be one for the future but this time round it’s down to three of my staff that I’ve roped in to help me deliver this one-off marketing extravaganza. And so, as I sit here on this floating buffet, writing this article, I know that the famous nose clip that Morpheus wears is currently being laser engraved, the window displays for 200 opticians are being printed, the 20 social media posts are being airbrushed and spell checked, the film set I’m building in my factory (for an interview I’m giving) is under construction and the nine key pieces of eyewear I’ve been licenced to produce for sale are being polished, frame set and packed.

And this isn’t even half of what we have planned. But how did it all start? Well, I’ve developed quite a reputation for making glasses for the film industry over the past couple of decades, starting with Keeping Mum and including 18 other films with three more currently in production. I get to bespoke the major celebs, including the likes of Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brad Pit and Emma Stone to name just four. I’ve mostly considered this to be a perk of the job because, in truth, I don’t get much press off making glasses for films. Journalists don’t really care; ‘good for you’ was the general response from my first Cruella press release. It was only when someone broke into my shop and pinched the frames from the film (they got 22 months in prison for that) that the press rolled in. With The Matrix Resurrections, I’m struggling to find a good hook for the press as ‘British designer makes 200 frames for the Matrix film and gets paid lots of money’ is not going to cut it. No story there, and my dad’s offer to break into my store again and pinch the Matrix glasses was flatly refused.

About two years ago, I got a call from the costume designer Lindsay Pugh. ‘I’ve been given your name as someone who can help with some sunglasses,’ she said but I could hear scepticism in her voice. I had the feeling she was calling me only as a courtesy to the person who recommended me. She couldn’t tell me the film at first, even its existence was a secret and so we had to refer to the film with a code word. I was asked: ‘how do you work?’ Now I take pride in being my own best salesman and I seem to remember a 30 minute rant/sales pitch that obviously worked because she called me back and told me what film it would be. ‘I’m going to make your day, Tom, this is a new Matrix film and there are two things the Matrix franchise is famous for – mobile phones and sunglasses,’ she said.

I negotiated a sizable fee (I’d have done it for nothing) and then made it my number one priority in life. After getting a detailed brief (no script for me to read this time, too secret!) I sketched out huge numbers of frames, watched and rewatched all the films and prepared a presentation for the costume designer and the film director.

As with Cruella, I was only asked to make frames for the key characters at first, yet ended up making every single frame in the film. Sometimes I had to redesign and make a piece five times as the director Lana Wachowski wanted it ‘a bit thinner’ or ‘a bit smaller’ and every single time she was spot on. That was a little frustrating for me because I’m used to being the master but being pushed by someone epic always brings out the best in me and, even during filming, we were designing and making frames in record time. ‘Can you have this on set by Friday?’ ‘Do you mean tomorrow? Or next Friday?’ I’d ask. Or: ‘We’ve just decided this character is going to wear glasses, I need three repeats of it tomorrow for a fight scene, in case they get broken.’

One of the most exciting phone calls I’ve ever had was from someone who had just watched the first cut of the finished film. ‘Tom, the film is amazing and your frames are in almost every scene, you are going to love it.’ Well, as a massive Matrix fan 20 years ago, it wasn’t going to take much for me to love this film anyway, let alone having spent two years making sure the stars are wearing the best of British eyewear!

  • The Matrix Resurrections will premiere in cinemas on December 22, 2021.