Michael graduated from Oxford University in 2007 with a degree in experimental psychology and philosophy, and some short films and theatre under his belt. His day job is production manager at Brixton-based arts agency B3 Media, and he’s produced 12 award-winning shorts through his company Pico Pictures since 2008, including four for the UK Film Council, one for BBC HD and one for BBC Writersroom. He currently has two features in development with UK screen agencies Creative England and Northern Ireland Screen, and is hunting for production funding.
What training or mentoring have you received?
A lot of my learning has been on my own sets, with plenty of trial and error involved! But I’ve skipped some errors thanks to great Skillset funded programmes I’ve been on, including Think Shoot Distribute, the Berlinale Talent Campus, Save Our Scripts and Guiding Lights.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a producer?
During Save Our Scripts, French sales exec Lionel Uzan said that when approaching companies, don’t hassle the top dog who’s always too busy and looking for reasons to say no. Find a junior exec, who will have the ears of their bosses and is also looking to dig up gold and impress. Simple and obvious advice once it’s been stated, but incredibly useful.
What kinds of projects attract you?
Material that isn’t contrived or familiar. I want to make films that engage, surprise and feel fresh, because that ensured that your audience buys into the illusion. There are so many great stories out there that are not being told and so many emerging and diverse writers to tell them—they just need finding.
You’ll die happy when…
I’m making a comfortable living out of finding, developing, shooting, completing and exhibiting projects, with talent I love to be around—without worrying about how to pay the grocery bills.
Supported by the Skillset Film Skills Fund, as part of A Bigger Future 2 (www.abiggerfuture2.co.uk)
Taken from movieScope magazine, Issue 26 (Jan/Feb 2012)