I started out making oral history films. As I toured the country in search of old train drivers, truckers and boat builders I realised what I wanted to do with my working life. I’m charmed by the world, but I feel somehow detached from it. This is a useful perspective for a storyteller to have. I’m fascinated by the characters in the stories I tell, but I don’t necessarily see their story the same way they do.
Since then I’ve made analytical documentary essays, and plenty more social history. I’ve made drama-docs and drama. After over 20 years of producing, writing and directing I’ve crossed a few genres. But all my work has something in common. It’s not the form, but the content. I’m drawn to stories that make us think about subjects in a new way. When we do this we begin to wonder more about the world in general and start to look at things differently, with a more open mind.
Almost a century ago the founders of the British documentary movement came up with the brilliant idea of making films about everyday life and that this would be a source for good because the more people knew about each other the more they would all get along. I believe that ideal still influences documentary filmmaking today. It influences me too. I’m convinced that in our fragmented modernity we need every dollop of social glue that we can squeeze out.
There’s another simpler reason why I do what I do. I enjoy it. I love the rhythm of a film, from the initial broad research to cracking open access to the thrill of the shoot and the intensity of the edit. Then when it’s all over, I sit back and relax for moment. But before long I can’t wait to start all over again.