Film - TV - Video

I had developed a great fascination for cinema and films from a very early age. Maybe it could be attributed to the make-shift cinema we made when I was an infant, where I and my elder brothers and sisters huddled under the old, wooden dining-room table, sheets blanketing out daylight to view a Charlie Chaplin film through a small, plastic Woolworth’s projector. Or could it be when making Kodak Super 8 films with my brother Dennis when I was a junior; with our doomed attempts at SFX filmmaking – loading a Tamiya model of a Willys Jeep full of matchstick gunpowder and setting it alight to see if it would explode. Maybe it was those weekly - sometimes bi-weekly - trips to the BFI (again with my brother) during my secondary school years, watching the classics of cinema in full screen splendour, and becoming some kind of aficionado to teachers and students alike. Whatever the moment, the non-stop compulsion of watching movies at the cinema and on TV, DVD, or internet is still there, whenever I can.

'A Foundation in Fine Art'
Even so, I had always thought myself as being an artist, having been gifted with a great ability to draw at an early age. Although I really did want to succeed in sciences during my O level exams, it was no illogical step to go the path of least resistance and pursue a vocation in art. Yet, when I applied to start a year's foundation course in Fine Art at St Martin's, I barely got in with the skin of my teeth. During the interview it was stated that the work in my portfolio was old and not very good, although they were very impressed with the sketches I had done during my first visit to Mauritius earlier that year. With such inauspicious beginnings, my time at St Martin's proved to be one of the best times of my life. And, as the year came to an end, the overall suggestion from my tutor was to pursue a degree in film or theatre, as my personality (other than my talents) were more suited to this.

'LCP and Tchoop-Tchoop'
The best thing about studying film as a degree subject was walking into a lecture room first thing in the morning to watch a film!  I began my degree in Film, TV and Video at the London College of Printing (LCP)* in September 1989. Like St Martin's, I got in with the skin of my teeth. (I was initially on the waiting list.) The course was a good grounding in political, experimental and world cinema of the 60s, 70s and 80s, only it was at a time when the current British (and American) cinema industry was veering far from it. Also, like most of my classmates, we were groomed to be potential Directors and Film Ideology-makers of the future, in a so called 'film industry' that was fast eroding and being neatly replaced with an entertainment driven television one (with the exception of ad-men Film Directors taking over the show).

Tchoop Tchoop Storyboards

Even so, amidst the uncertainty and shifting expectations of what it was to be a Filmmaker, the student battles against abhorrent Thatcherite policies (such as Poll Tax and Student Loans), and my own personal insecurities being at the LCP, I found a strange compatriot in an older student, Jason Gilliam. Our love of rap music, US pulp action films, and computer games, led us to creating a surreal, low budget, sci-fi fantasy, called Tchoop-Tchoop for our final year film. (The title had come from the sound a silencer makes when going off!) It was a brave and bold attempt at something genre based, and even though I did not fulfil my grand ambition to direct a film there, the best I came out with at the LCP was working with some great friends like Jason.

'At the BBC and Chrysalis TV'
A good break after film school was receiving a bursary to be a Technical Operations Trainee at the BBC. Initially the training route was in radio - eventually to become a Sound Desk Assistant. Yet, due to my prior degree experience, I wanted a placement at Television House, with which I performed a range of technical roles there (from Camera Operating, Lighting, to Post-Production and Beta SP three-machine editing). The amount of programmes I worked on (either supporting key staff or shadowing them) was wide-ranging, and included being on Watchdog, Top of the Pops and Jackanory. The piece de resistance was having a placement as a Production Researcher for BBC Blue Peter, which not only gave me valuable TV production experience, but also merited me with a Blue Peter Badge.

Much later I was to work as a Production and Development Researcher for Chrysalis TV. Here I joined a seasoned production team supporting two bright and up-and-coming comedians, Noble and Silver, on a mini-series going out on the (then) newly formed E4 channel. From locations managing and casting actors, to assisting talent and working with the public (some of the comedy was reality TV based), my involvement was very rewarding as it helped continue my employment as a Development Researcher for the company. Here, I sat around the table with fellow Researchers, Producers and Production Heads to discuss the next hit Game Show or Factual Entertainment sensation we were all so eager to create.

'My Life as a Filmmaker'
In 1999, after taking a refresher video course at a community filmmaking centre in Hammersmith**, I was awakened to the practice of Digital Filmmaking. From this point onward, as a DIY Filmmaker (or Videographer), I was no longer slave to poor quality analogue tape when considering low-budget shooting, or misled by the perception that using big, expensive, cameras was more professional than using small ones, and editing in big edit-suites was better than being at your home computer. Even now, as a self-shooter, the results filming on HD can produce some startling results. As I would say to students when embarking on DIY filmmaking, the great thing is that you can do everything yourself – shoot, light, sound, edit and exhibit (and in the comfort of your own home), as well as produce great quality videos for much, much less that you previously could. 

I have over a period of time been employed to script, direct, shoot, and edit many short films and promos for a range of companies and organisations. Below are several examples of my work.

Nursing Generation (2008) was a short documentary, produced by Janet Daby and directed by me, about Black Caribbean Nurses' first experiences coming to Britain in the '50s and '60s. Made for Lewisham Film Initiative, the film was screened on the Community Channel and   

The 'Coronet Welcome' (2006) was a sting made for The Coronet Cinema, Notting Hill, which was designed by Kathy Elliot, and was digitally processed onto 35mm film stock.

This promo (2005), made for Kensington Temple London City Church, was produced again by Janet and directed by me. Camera was by John Raggett, and the editing (as well as additional photography) was done by Rich Mitchell.

Scripted by me from an original idea by Janet, A Beautiful Self (2003) was a short comedy about a dour therapist who enlists the help of her dissolute and self-indulgent client to get the intentions of her estranged husband.

Mean Time (2002) was a short film about the stresses of getting ready for work taking on self-punishing proportions. It was mine and Janet's first project together whilst at South Thames College, studying our PDC in Screenwriting and Directing Drama. 

*The LCP is now known as the London College of Communications (LCC).
**The organisation was called Connections Communications Centre or CCC-Media, as it became later known until it closed in 2009.


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