Q1. What attracted you to Film/Cinema in the first place? Were you a child or a teenager when this happened?
A1. I fell in love with cinema at a very young age. I was taken to see Disney's Bambi at the old cinema in Stapleton Road, which sadly closed down in the early 90s. I must have been 4 or 5, but after that experience I was fascinated by the magic of film. I think I spent most of my youth hanging out with my friends at the old Bristol cinemas. There was the Odeon on Union Street (which is still there), the Gaiety in Knowle, the Bristol New Centre, which is now the Bristol Academy and the two old Cannon Cinemas at Henleaze and Whiteladies.
Q2. When did you first conceptualise Film as a form of expression?
A2. The first film that really blow me away and made me realise that film could offer more than entertainment value was Orson Welles' Citizen Kane.
It's simply a masterpiece from beginning to end and so ahead of its time considering it was released in 1941.
Welles was without question a very talented and clever man. He had started in radio and theatre, had shocked the nation with his radio adaptation of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, had produced critically acclaimed adaptations of Shakespeare's plays for the stage with his Mercury players and to this day, has made the greatest debut film by a director - Citizen Kane.
Q3. Did you train or study in Film Making?
A3. Yes I did, since I always had an ambition to work in the media in some capacity. I studied A-Levels in Media, Film and English Literature and went onto study for a BA Honours degree in Media Production and a Masters degree in Film Studies and European cinema.
Q4. Were there any particular heroes/entrepreneurs that you aspired to?
A4. There have been a number of creative people in film, music and the media that have interested me. I suppose I have become fanatical about their work. In music I would cite the Beatles (I own all their albums), the early Rock N Roll superstars such as Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Duane Eddy, Buddy Holly and of course, Elvis. I love Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson's Blues, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, The Byrds, Chet Atkins and Les Paul.
In film my favourite directors are Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, Akira Kurosawa, Louis Malle, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Renoir, Luis Bunuel, Sydney Lumet, Howard Hawks and Michael Powell. My favourite movie stars are Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Paul Newman, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Robert Redford, Peter Finch, John Wayne, James Stewart and William Holden.
Q5. Have you had any mentors to guide you in your development with your Business operations?
A5. Strangely enough, my biggest mentor was probably my father. He instilled me with a work ethic and he also helped me financially getting CineMe off-the- ground. My father also ran his own small construction business and I worked for one of his companies for a period of 4 years. I suppose that made me interested in running my own projects - particularly when setting-up CineMe.
Q6. As an Entrepreneur running CineMe - who would you say inspires you today?
A6. There are 3 people in particular who inspire me working in Bristol business, who are very successful and have achieved great things. The first two are Peter Hargreaves and Steve Lansdown, who established the financial company Hargreaves Lansdown in the early 1980s and have have built a FTSE listed company, employing few staff compared to other rival corporate companies.
The other person is the architect and mayor of Bristol George Ferguson, who has done so much to change Bedminster with the Tobacco Factory Bar and Theatre.
Q7. What drives you as an Event Organiser to want to express your chosen art form? What sustains you?
A7. What really drives me is providing a platform to give talented independent filmmakers the opportunity to screen their work to an audience. I want to champion British film, new talent and to bring to Bristol an alternative film programme to what is being offered by the major cinema chains, who seem to just screen Hollywood product.
I want to make watching film an interesting experience by providing a monthly screening and networking event, where creatives and film enthusiasts can meet, watch quality short films and talk about what they have seen.
Q8. Would you describe yourself as a very disciplined person - Are you methodical or fluid in your approach to running CineMe?
A8. I wouldn't necessarily say I was a disciplined person in general. But when it comes to CineMe, I do takes things seriously, since I want to help and encourage film talent and I want to run events, which are professional and screen quality work to a paying audience.
I believe in high standards (I suppose I am a bit of a perfectionist), and I believe that you have to really invest time in the people who come to the events and support what you do. Without your audience, customers, filmmakers - You are nothing and CineMe would not exist.
Q9. What's your take on the world of Studio Films in contrast to Independent Films today compared to say, 10 - 15 years ago? What's happening out there?
A9. There are many filmmakers making really impressive short films and features, but finding it hard to get their films distributed and getting their voices heard. I personally blame some of the major studios and talent scouts for not taking risks and just financing film as a safe bet, so they make a huge return on their investment. The films that appear to get major funding are remakes, sequels, genre films (particularly horror and science fiction), or re-introducing a film franchise like they did with Batman and Spiderman.
The thing that annoys me most is the fact that the major cinema chains, seem to all screen the same films - 99% are Hollywood studio films. Where are the British, European, Asian, South American and other films from around the globe being shown!! Sadly, in just art house cinemas.
Q10. How does CineMe compare to it's competitors? What's unique about CineMe? Why do people come to CineMe in order to screen their films?
A10. I think the unique thing about CineMe is that it is not a film festival and that it does not cost money to enter, or screen your film. It's also run on a monthly basis and puts a lot of emphasis on Bristol filmmakers, who struggle getting their films shown to an audience.
We have never relied on sponsorship or funding. CineMe was set-up using our own money and we have invested hours and hours buying our own equipment, running events, scouting for new content, contacting filmmakers and trying to create a filmmaking scene in the city.
We do it because we are passionate about film and want to help and encourage filmmakers looking to make a success in the industry.
I think Bristol filmmakers need a platform for people to screen their work and to network with like-minded people. We want to be open to everyone making good work and to not be an exclusive club.
Q11. Would you describe yourself as being successful? Or fulfilled? Or both?
A11. I'm generally pleased with CineMe's progress and I couldn't have done it without the other people involved. I set-up CineMe with Joe Haynes and have two other people involved, Jeff Notton and Kirk Stacey.
The feedback from filmmakers and the audience over the last 5 years has been encouraging and generally positive. My proudest achievements are coming-up with a catchy name and a good website, running a Q&A with BAFTA winning writer Bob Baker for the Bath Film Festival and I suppose still being here after 5 years.
On the flip side, I am the type of person who is never entirely satisfied. There is so much more I want to do with CineMe and so much more I want to do to champion quality short and independent films and to put Bristol on the map for filmmaking.
Q12. What does the future hold for CineMe?
A12. I have no idea what the future holds for CineMe. It would be nice to be around in another 5 years to mark our tenth anniversary. That would be in 2018.
Q13. Finally, how can more people get a glimpse into your world ? How do they contact you?
A13. We have a CineMe website www.cinemefilms.com 2 Facebook groups, a Twitter and LinkedIn page.
I can be contacted via my email firstname.lastname@example.org
NB: We run monthly short film nights every last Tuesday of the month at the Tobacco Factory bar.