One of my favourite mornings of 2017 so far was spent having brunch with Pip Piper. Pip is a Brum based film maker (with an IMDB profile and everything), and I knew a bit of his story already. However, I’d never properly picked his brains before – and what brains they were to pick! I was hugely impressed by both his wisdom and integrity and as soon as the opportunity to interview him for the blog came up, I was delighted to take it so as to share the wealth a little wider. So without further ado…
Jonny Mellor: Hi Pip, could you introduce yourself to the Sputnik readers?
Pip Piper: I am a film producer, a charity director, a film company co-director, a documentary director and involved in several initiatives including being CEO of the Producers Forum and part time lecturer on an MA in film distribution and marketing that I helped set up. I have been married 27 years and have 3 grown up sons.
Originally, I was a full time youth worker and did that for many years in different guises. From 1997 I began developing the emerging work around OSBD (One Small Barking Dog), a media outfit that had grown out of the youth work and would become a formal charity in 2001. Alongside my wife Debbie and whilst raising our kids we also set up many initiatives to support young people and youth workers across the city and nationally. The first few years we just relied on God providing what we needed which was very exciting but terrifying at times to be honest! But I have often said that over 20+ years of not having a salary we have never missed a mortgage payment or a meal for the kids! God is good. TBH we all rely on the Father’s goodness no matter what our fragile circumstances!
In many ways since really pushing OSBD, making films has been the main passion and focus. So: 20 years+ of making and creating, enabling others, communicating and engaging.
JM: You made the strange journey from church youth worker to internationally acclaimed film director. How did this work out?
PP: Ha ha acclaimed! That’s nice…well yep I’m very appreciative- we have won some awards along the way, that is always great to get some recognition for what most of the time is very hard work by everyone involved.
As mentioned above in many ways it was a very natural journey that simply embraced the direction we felt we should be heading and combined with that cool mix of spiritual yearning, opportunity, passion and evolving support it found its way organically.
I’ve always been very keen to advise people to go for their dreams and accept perceived failure as lessons along the way. I am not afraid of perceived failure and, I guess from my mountain climber/instructor background, I love taking risks!
I have been very fortunate to have support from my wife and kids and also from friends and colleagues. That counts for so much.
JM: If you had to pick 3 highlights of your career so far (and one lowlight) what would they be?
PP: That’s tough!…
Well let’s maybe start with a lowlight and then build up from there.
I guess when you have spent an incredible amount of time, effort, money and goodwill on getting films made, when something really bad happens it really hurts. The Insatiable Moon is a feature film shot in New Zealand which I produced and took 10 years to make with massive sacrifices from many involved. The film was amazing and did really well, winning several awards. When a very well known film outfit brought the film out on DVD for global release, after a good run in cinemas, it was out of sync (lips didn’t match the spoken words) and that destroyed the film’s potential to break out. That was so gutting on so many levels. BUT, I believe the film is still to have its day!
Now for the 3 highlights!
1: Making The Insatiable Moon with an incredible team of people and having the stamina and determination to do so over a 10 year period. It is a film I am very very proud of.
2: Seeing young people I have helped to mentor, train and encourage flourish in the creative and film industry. That’s a huge bonus for me. Some, I have spent decades working with and others, just a few months, but it makes so much of what I do worthwhile.
“True success is in the success of others”, a very wise person once advised me.
3: The whole journey- if that’s not too much of a cliché. But I am amazed that both myself and key others involved in this journey are still going! There have been numerous set backs and tough times alongside amazing seasons too. The combination of God’s good grace, friendship and support, my family’s patience and love and never ending new opportunities for creating/collaboration and meaningful engagement is a truly marvelous thing.
Thanks Pip. We’ll continue the interview next time, but for the time being, this will give you a flavour of The Insatiable Moon…