I was into photography from an early age. Other kids played football, and hung out at the arcades while I was earning 2p an item for mass-producing cassette taped recordings for comedians and musicians to sell at their holiday camp gigs, on a stack of old tape decks all wired together. I wanted to buy a 110-format Single Lens Reflex. A bit of a geek, I was.
My dad knew a bloke in the BBC, or so he said, and one day in 1978 he turned up with a video camera. They were quite rare in those days, and the one I got to play with was always mounted on a tripod because it was rather big and heavy, but I quickly figured out how to use it and set about filming all my schoolmates who rushed over to see this amazing invention that I had hooked up to the telly.
There are in existence, a couple of early videos ‘Search for the unusual animal’ and ‘Carrot’.
Then in 1994 after a year at GIT learning music I started a degree in film & TV, at Brunel University Twickenham.
By the final year I started making more serious documentary films, and developed a passion for the art form which had extended my interest in photography and music. I specialised in music documentary- this way i could continue hanging out with musicians, shaking and prodding my camcorder all about the place and calling it ‘work’
Some years passed. I absconded to the French Alps for a while & continued to play music in bars.
The first doco was shot some time later in 1999, and cut on analogue equipment – a parochial little story called karaoke uncovered. Having already worked as a DJ when i was a teenager i knew quite a few other megalomaniacs that had taken their yes-indeedys thrusting into the exploding new karaoke craze, so-making a film about it sounded like a right laugh. It was also a very good way to meet girls, so it became my final year uni project, along with an extended thesis on selected plays of Dennis Potter, and a short illustrated story about unrequited love.
For the next few years I produced an animated short film to promote paraplegic Nic Bailey’s ‘Impossible Dream’ to design and navigate a catamaran single handedly across the Atlantic. I worked closely with local council & businesses her in Devon to shoot video at many local areas of beaty & heritage.
I made another short film for the Turning Point Heritage Trust in memorial for Veterans lost in battles off the coast of Torbay. I filmed Devon superstars ‘Daddy Mango’ at various festivals & venues. I shot a documentary for the Devon Air Ambulance 30 Musicians & a helicopter which was screened on Satellite TV & won the award for 3rd place documentary Of the Year’ at The Institute of Videography.
The next film was a documentary about Peter Freestone, who had been PA to Freddie Mercury, and had invited Tim Hunter & myself to play an evening of his songs at a private party.
I met Helen Sheppard whilst she was recording her CD Hello Tomorrow at Malcolm Tofts recording studio in Torquay.
She collaborated with Tom Unwin and I was invited to film in the studio as they recorded. Phenomenally talented, often likened to Billie Holliday in this jazz period of her career. Helen has remained a good friend and a major talent.
Nick Harper – Love Is Music
This was the biggest independent film project so far. It combined interview and performance footage shot throughout 2006 & released nationally after a Soho film premiere in March 2007. As a result of the collaboration, my network of contacts exploded & I propelled into a new world, playing many supports in larger venues for not just Nick, but also Ezio & Derrin Nauendorf.
The film was 90 minutes long & marked a creative leap forward. it is available in an HMV near you! Or you can just watch it here :O)
Epilogue – Since 2007 I have worked under the old company name craftyproductions.com, now here on mikelast.co.uk with Ten to never, Newton Faulkner, Queen, Pete Christie, The Bad Apples (shot on DSLR), Roger Styles, Alex Hart, and I am now collaborating with Indie film maker Matthew Reed on a huge festival project in aid of Cancer research.
It features Nick Harper, Mike Peters, Cy Curnin, Chris Summerhill, Victoria Park and Newton Faulkner called ‘Avebury Rocks’. The event will be raising funds for the Prospect Hospice as Nick Harper’s mother, Monica Weston who was well known locally as head teacher of St.Peters Junior School in Marlborough, spent her last days as a terminal cancer sufferer at Prospect. This takes place on July 9th 2011.
To close up the story so far – please check out the films