Thirteen Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Me

I used to write music for commercials, with a sound designer friend. Neither of us could play a musical instrument – we were from that nineties generation who used computers to compose. We had some big clients – Pepsi, for example – and at one stage were making quite a lot of money. But I really wanted to be a film director, music was just something I stumbled into, so it fell by the wayside. It’s been a useful experience when it comes to editing pictures to music, and talking to composers.

I’m not related to Edgar or Joe Wright…

I love lens flare – not as much as JJ Abrams did in the first Star Trek reboot, but not far off. We shot Unwelcome on Panavision Primo anamorphic lenses and Robot Overlords on G series Panavision anamorphic lenses – incredibly beautiful glass. Panavision are my favourite lens makers – their lenses have an organic, flattering way of rendering human skin that complements digital sensors beautifully.

Russell Brand once stripped down to his underpants in my living room. The word is overused these days, but I think he’s probably a (wayward) genius.

People often ask me what my favourite film is, a question I find really difficult to answer. Years ago I sat down and wrote a list of my favourite films – it was over 200 films long. Scorsese was the director with the most films on there – seven, if memory serves. The films that made me want to direct were by the so-called Movie Brats in the seventies and eighties – Spielberg, George Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese. University educated film geeks with zero life experience. ;-)

This picture is acceptable – because I’m hidden behind a cap and sunglasses, and there’s a Spitfire in the background

I have zero interest in being famous. I thought I did when I was a teenage nerd, around the time I was (very) unpopular with the opposite sex, but now I’ve seen the ugly reality of fame first hand. I admire people who can handle the glare of the limelight, because I know I couldn’t cope with it. I think it’s part of the reason I love and respect actors, I know I could never do what they do – expose their most private, vulnerable feelings in a public setting. I don’t much like having my picture taken, either – I feel sorry for the cameraphone generation who are constantly being photographed, constantly having to look at their image reflected back at them online. As the late great Richard Harris once said: “life is for living, the rest is just propaganda”.

Unlike JJ Abrams (and Tarantino, and Spielberg, and Christopher Nolan) – I hate film (i.e. celluloid) and was mightily pleased to see the back of it. I particularly hated the wait between shooting it and seeing how it turned out. Nowadays, if you do your post-production very carefully, and use the right lenses – I think digital looks better than film… Contentious statement!

I’m one of those people who can concentrate on something and completely lose track of time, I become totally absorbed in what I’m doing. A few years back I was worried – like a lot of people are – that my smart phone was shortening my attention span. I took several tests to determine my ability to focus, and got top marks in every one. But anecdotally I’d say I find it much harder to watch a slow movie, or read a book, than I did once upon a time.

I used to play – and love – video games, but gave them up in my twenties as it was impossible to sustain while I was working. They’re incredibly addictive, and have kept me up when I should have gone to bed on many, many occasions. I’ve completed Super Mario Brothers: The Lost Levels – if you know what that means, you’ll know how difficult it was. It’s nothing to be proud of, of course! Though I do think video games improve your reaction times, your ability to process visual information.

I’m a James Bond fanatic and have watched the best movies many, many times. My favourite is probably… Goldfinger? Though I don’t envy Barbara Broccoli trying to figure out where to go next with the franchise. How do you reconcile modern morality with the womanising, hard-drinking, cold-hearted spy as he was in the original Fleming novels? At what point is James Bond so different to James Bond… that he’s no longer James Bond?! Although I do have an interesting idea for a reboot – Barbara, call me! ;-)

I’m not on Facebook, and never have been. The whole notion reminded me of the school playground, and those handwritten best friend lists kids used to carry around at one stage. You lived in fear of being crossed off somebody’s list, it wasn’t a healthy mindset. At various points in my life I’ve wondered whether I’m missing out and have contemplated joining – but I didn’t, in the end, and it seems like a good decision today as I rarely meet somebody who actually seems to enjoy using it. I’d liken Twitter to cigarette smoking – compulsive, addictive, but not very much fun. Instagram is my favourite of the social media platforms, especially since it takes the least time to catch up with, and it’s visual. And the mood on there is positive, on the whole. Though I haven’t been posting much, recently…

I love scuba diving, and ask pretty much every good screen writer I meet to write me a scuba movie, or a TV show. Needless to say it hasn’t worked out – yet. Something with sharks and moray eels, buried treasure, underwater knife fights… Sort of a cross between Thunderball and The Island and Jaws, maybe with a dash of The Abyss thrown in for good measure. Set in an underwater paradise like Cocos Island. Please write it for me, I promise I will love you forever.

I was Tom Cruise’s hand double in the first Mission Impossible movie. He’s very short, and very charismatic. Ask me about it when you see me… ;-)