Well here goes or is that a cliché? Anyway. I am a Royal Television Society award winning writer/director who writes, directs and produces fiction and factual productions. I also write for children's television.
I grew up in Bangor, North Wales and I suppose I was just like any other kid growing up in the 80's. I saw all the films one should and did not do nearly enough of the Math that was expected. My friends and I would watch action films the bbfc said we should not and comedies that we probably did not fully understand until we were older.
We would then go out and 'play the film' if you get what I mean? You know? Reenact. I would become Luke, Han or even Darth Vader one day. The next? Maybe a boy with no name after a western or even Mikey or Mouth on a pirate adventure without as many booby traps. Films were just everything to me really. I just felt that I liked, even loved film more than everyone else. Stranger still, I suppose I felt I understood film differently to my friends. It is difficult to explain because it was and still is difficult to understand.
When I was 9 years old I was staying at my friends house. Gary's parents ran a local pub and lived upstairs. While his parents were at the pumps pulling pints, Gary and I would be going through the rented videos that would come in every Friday. His dad would almost never watch any while we, on most occasions, were probably not allowed to.
One cassette stood out on this particular day for no other reason that it had a funny title. Gary and I started to watch the film that was in a foreign language I later learned was Italian. We carried on for a while because you get those English language films that start in a different language. This however did not and after 10 minutes Gary turned it off. Took it out of the toploader and I am pretty sure put Die Hard on instead. Now as much as I love Die Hard this Italian film had got my attention. I was actually disappointed not to carry on watching it.
So at 3am. After the pub had closed and everyone else was where I should have been I went down and put that film back in the video. I loved it and I even cried during the final scene when the protagonist watches a bequeathed reel of film of censored kisses and embraces collected by his now gone friend and mentor. This film was of course Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso but I knew at that point that this art, this collection of images meant more, well maybe not more, I mean who am I, but it meant so much to me. I was that young boy. However, I would not leave to follow my dream like Sal in the film. Actually my path would be very different.
While having one of those Career Day's in school. The ones you have when you are around 13 or 14, well I was asked, just like everyone else ''what do you want to do?'' At first I went with the crowd and said the same as the others. "No, no John. What do you really want to do?" I was asked. Feeling a little spotlighted I felt, for whatever reason, I was expected to be different and as such say something different. So I said it. Out loud for the first time. "I want to be a filmmaker". The laughs and sniggers soon followed. The teacher, who seemed so eager to get this me to share, which makes his early questioning of me even more bizarre, replied "Poor lads from Bangor don't become filmmakers" (Feel free to insert suitable emoji here).
So that was that. School carried on. I did my GCSE's and A Levels beckoned. I was feeling very frustrated at this point and although some of that frustration, if not most was with school, I was also reading way too much Hemingway at the time. So I just felt I needed to do something different. So I joined the British Army in 'earnest' and, well, that was pretty much that really.
I am sure there are plenty of stories in there but perhaps they are for a another time. Anyway, by the time I left Army at 25 years old I found myself a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as places like Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland. Plenty of experience but experience to do what exactly? I honestly did not know what I wanted to do other than knowing it was time to leave the Forces.
I joined North Wales Police as, rather obviously, a police constable. Uniform for a uniform basically and it was not for me. I just did not want to wear a uniform anymore. At the same time my patner's brother was doing a media and film course at collage. An access course to go to university. He was learning about filmmaking and getting to make films. I thought it was amazing but one day he quit and I was strangely annoyed with him. Really annoyed. I then thought about it and realised I was actually annoyed with myself for never having tried to see if I could do something with the only thing I ever really wanted to do.
So I left uniformed service......again, and somehow I managed to get a place at Bangor University to 'read' film. It was an academic course but I was for the first time with like minded people. Again there are stories but I have to save something for a future blackmail. While studying I would work on an film, TV, commercial set that would have me. I needed to learn how this place worked. I graduated with a First Class BA(Hons) in Film Studies while also receiving special recognition in practice. I then returned and completed an MA in Filmmaking, achieving a Distinction.
I finally able to do what I always wanted. I wrote and directed my first drama. Directed factual, then another drama and they just kept coming. The films and programmes I was making were getting recognition from BAFTA, the Royal Television Society, the Celtic Media Fesival, Prix Jeunesse International, places I could never have imagined or hoped for.
Today, I like many am currently working on a number of projects both in development and in production, but I am also still that kid who dreamt of making films, making television. That has to be good? Right?