As a teenager, I didn’t have much of a clue as to what to do with life. It was the mid sixties and the world was swirling with great commotion: A society being dragged into the modern age, a cold war hanging over our heads, the Vietnam war off to the east, the music of the Beatles from down the road in Liverpool and the sounds of the Beach Boys beckoning from California. A fundamental change was about to happen as the leading edge of the baby boom generation was beginning to make itself known. And in my area of the Universe, I was surrounded by the world of show biz. This was the north of England, a seaside town called Blackpool, known as the entertainment capital of the north. I was young. Distractions were plenty.
As a family we had lived in Canada where I was born and as a kid I had moved from school to school because of the family moving from town to city. My father was a bank manager who moved to be promoted. Then my parents divorced and I moved to England with my mother. My studying was in a shambles. I had no consistency, no structure. Then one day when I was fifteen, my Mother took me aside, sat me down and asked me the most important question of my life. She was worried that I wouldn’t amount to anything if I carried on with my diversions rather than structuring my life around something. “So, what do you want to do with your life?” She asked. WOW. I was stumped. I hadn’t given it a thought. What was I to say? She then asked, “What do you like to do? What do you enjoy doing?”
Somehow, I knew this to be a turning point for me. I naturally thought of the theatre, show business, but I needed more time to think. I asked if I could answer her the next day. The next evening we continued the conversation. Suddenly this dreamer who had been shunted along by life, had to say something that would make a difference. I had thought at one point of wanting to run away and join the circus to become a clown. Maybe it was the smell of the grease paint or the elephants, or the nomadic life. Show biz seemed to be in my blood, but I had to be more practical.
Then, out of the blue, a little voice spoke to me from inside my head and I blurted out these words: “I kinda like photography.” I don’t know what made me say it. I didn’t have a good camera; I didn’t really take that many pictures. Again, perhaps it was the dreamer in me but it sounded practical. It was something I could learn and I had been inspired by the great photography of the National Geographic and films like Lawrence of Arabia, where I became the adventurer, the escapist and a desirous observer. That spark my mother had instigated in me put me on a career path of a lifetime as a photographer, a cinematographer and as a filmmaker.
I started as a beach photographer in Blackpool, and I went to college to learn how to do it properly until moving back to Canada to be hired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto. They eventually sent me around the globe as a documentary cinematographer to places I had only dreamed about in my youth. This was the nomadic life. I saw real, exotic places from the pages of National Geographic and I got to see some of the railway tracks that Lawrence of Arabia had blown up in Northern Africa. I then became a Director of Photography filming feature films and TV series of Canadian and US drama, and this was definitely my circus. It all happened for me, that is, until California called and I moved to the South Bay area very near to the place where the Beach Boys beckoned me from, those many years ago.
It has been a dream of a life in my chosen professions of film making, storytelling and photography. I look back and I couldn’t think of doing anything else, and I’m now creating my own business to nurture my perpetual creative and wanderlust spirit, and to help corporations, non profit charities and individuals tell their stories on video.
Over the years, my mother and I have drifted apart but I will always thank her for parenting me at the right time in my life. She dragged something very precious out of me, my life. For what else could one ask of a parent but to inspire their children to discover their own true life-goals and independence, through encouragement?
We are all individuals who must follow our own dreams, and we almost always discover them with the help of people who pass through our lives with messages sent at the right time and the right place, like: It’s OK - go ahead - follow your dream – make your life. You have permission.