If I wanted to write a modern-day Cinderella story for the silver screen, here’s what I would do. I’d have the character a male adult to signify the narrowing of gender and age specifics. I would make his beginnings humble by placing him in a suburb far away from his fairytale land, a place so ‘normal’ it has become synonymous with the very idea of average.

His prince charming could be replaced with a metaphorical career – perhaps in computers, with Apple or Google or, better still, the film industry in Hollywood. The prince’s ball, a film set; his slipper, wit and daring; the fairy Godmother an industry mogul acting as mentor. I don’t have anything for the pumpkin yet, but I’m working on it.

He would undergo a series of trials and pitfalls at the hands of the ugly sisters, who in this case are the cutthroat environment in which such an industry flourishes. Finally, through talent and determination (substituting beauty and fate) he would lie in the arms of his prince (a directing debut with a star cast and major production company).

I ponder this on my way to meet Charles Parish and think in him I may just have found my real life Cinderella. He is a director and producer in the Hollywood film industry. He has worked with such stars as Mila Kunis, Tom Waits and Johnny Depp.

We’re at his house in Woodley, an ordinary suburb south of Manchester. On the way, I note that the font for the signage of the 70s prefab precinct is distinctly similar to that of the world-famous Hollywood hills sign. Of course, the lettering is not twenty feet high, but that block-like san serif boldness is there.

I’m there to discuss a script with him – a sci-fi story he has planned as an independent project set in the foothills of Northern Italy – but I just can’t pull away from the questions about Hollywood. I am fascinated.

It all started, he told me, at university in Nottingham, where he studied production design. He heard from a lecturer about a Hollywood film being shot in Prague over the summer, so he packed a bag and headed to the gothic city.

He found the set and turned up at 5am every morning. “They were filming that early to catch the effects of the natural fog,” he said. He managed to enter and explore the set with ease, without scrutiny or any kind of security shakedown. Later he found out that the crew had thought he was Heather Graham’s brother visiting her for a holiday.

“This is where I got the name Charlie ‘Hustle’,” he says with a laugh. At the time, the Hughes Brothers – who themselves hustled their way into the industry in the 90s with Menace to Society, a film that would later become a cult classic for confused adolescent boys all over the globe – were working on another film. This was From Hell, the Hughes Brothers’ adaptation of Allan Moore’s gothic graphic novel based on the exploits of Jack the Ripper. It was on this set that, little by little, Charles was given jobs to do with the special effects department, earning him his first credit on a major Hollywood release as special effects trainee.

After his surreal summer he went back to Nottingham, where he met hostility from his tutors. Maybe a little envy or perhaps his lack of preparation for third year led to him being out of favour with the faculty, but still he graduated and in doing so was invited back to LA to work alongside the Hughes Brothers.

He quickly proved himself in a succession of big commercials and rose to the position of second unit director on the blockbuster Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington.

From his skilled input he was offered the same role on a film adaptation of cult comic Akira, which promised to be even bigger in profile. Here come the ugly sisters. After much planning and pre-production work, the film was cancelled and Charles had to fly back to the UK.

But he was quickly called back to work on another production, a silent movie entitled Motor City. Pre-production dragged on and on, and failure to renew his working visa meant Parish had to return to the UK again. This was a recurring theme. All this time he was running low on funds and getting more and more despondent with the Hollywood waiting game.

When this project also fell through he was at a loss, not only in direction but also one of the production companies didn’t come through with his fee for work thus far on the project. A grizzly legal battle ensued that severed relationships with friends and colleagues.

Completely dismayed, he packed it in and went to Italy to work on the concept for the film that we were now discussing.

When everything seemed done for him in Hollywood, he received a call from Allen Hughes asking if he’d be interested in working as visual consultant on a Fox TV series, Gang Related.

Currently he is working on a project as director of photography and co-producer with hip hop mogul Dr Dre. In the process he has become good friends with Dre, sharing the same creative energy and apparent love of gin.

I look at my watch and realise I have been there for hours without once approaching the subject of the Italian script. Charles looks weary. He isn’t the type to boast about his dealings and plays it all down as if talking about his colleagues at the office.

We head out for a change of scenery to Charles’ local, travelling there in his renovated Morris Minor. Not too dissimilar to the shape of a pumpkin, I’d say. In the pub, I view the scene. After-hours workmen and cardigan-clad grandpas supping Robinsons, discussing last night’s match. I replace it in my mind with a corresponding Hollywood scene of black chiffon and gold, the latest gossip from the silver screen spouting from champagne drenched lips that shimmer begrudgingly from the latest botox fiasco. But Charlie pleasantly reassures me that there is another side to Hollywood, where you can escape the sham glam, where after a good five-a-side game you can have a few pints and watch the match. “You know,” I say to him, “I might just have an idea for a film myself.”

Samuel Buckley