I’m in a forest, on the outskirts of Moscow, facing a cardboard cut out of an armed robber, holding a smoking 9mm ‘Baikal’ pistol. A Russian security guard is, I think, screaming at me. My ears are making that horrible, hollow ringing sound they make when pressure’s built up after a flight. Or, it seems, when you fire a pistol without earplugs…
This sounds a little like the start to an espionage novel. It’s not. This genuinely happened recently. And, in a moment, I’ll explain why it’s relevant to my TPL application…
I’ve always been fascinated by stories. Whether it was ‘borrowing’ my parents old DV camera to film shorts with my friends, making up inter-galactic stories to calm my once-ODD brother, or the fastidious studying of screen-writing how-to books from the age of 13, I did everything I could to absorb and create as many stories as possible. This included studying History, rather than English, at university – why, after all, be confined to the creations of past authors, when History offered an infinite treasure trove of potential narrative?
After attaining a 1st Class degree from Oxford University in 2010, I dived into gaining valuable creative experience working in advertising and TV/film production at companies like DDB, Lion TV and Amber entertainment. During my time at these companies, I gained fascinating insights into the development, packaging and pitching of ideas, as well as a greater understanding of how each industry worked. More so than anything though, I came to see the gaping holes in each industry – the flimsiness of the creative ad agency model, the counter-creative process of commissioning, the old-fashioned nature of film finance… With a realisation of these problems came the deliciously complex start of a quest for solutions.
After a brief, gap-yah-inspired fling with China and the study of Kung Fu, I returned to England to embark on a more entrepreneurial exploration of these issues. This began by joining Circalit, an online platform that sought to crowd-source new scripts and novels by creating a peer reviewing system that encouraged the best material to rise to the top. Three months into working with Circalit, I was told I had been personally responsible for a 300% increase in company profits. Subsequently, I was offered shares in the company.
However, frustrated with an increasingly admin-based role, I left Circalit to pursue screenwriting more seriously. In March 2012, after shooting three short films and winning a selection of writing competitions, I was offered representation as a writer/director by The Agency, and began pitching my work to production companies across the UK. This has subsequently led to two successful options on new TV pilots, and has helped in securing me funding from IdeasTap, who offered £1,300 for me to create an original, comedy web-series, Two Death.
With this money, determined to stretch it as far as possible, I was able to bring together a team of 43 young creatives and lead them in the creation of a 44-minute, 6-part web-series that doubles as a pilot to a new television concept. The process was gruelling and challenging, but ultimately unbelievably rewarding, and with over 400 likes on Facebook, 10,000+ views on Daily Motion and a plethora of encouraging posts, emails and comments, we’ve already had several meetings with production companies interested in developing it further.
Alongside writing and directing, I teach and mentor children and young adults in a host of different subjects – this pays the bills, but also provides me with a fantastic excuse to keep studying, and offers up plenty of bizarre life experiences… like this trip to Moscow.
Ears ringing, this guard screaming or laughing or heckling at me (hard to tell), I was going to have to shoot this gun again, without earplugs. As a general fan of ‘hearing’, I stopped and gave it some thought… And made up my mind. Carefully, I removed the magazine, took two bullets out… And placed them in my ears. Suddenly, everything was quiet.
I like to think about things differently. I always strive to challenge the status quo, and to find novel, simple solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. I love stories, and I love innovation. Quite honestly, PTTP’s Pixel Lab would be the perfect opportunity to expand and utilise the interests, passions and skills I’ve spent my whole life developing.