Mickey De Hara – Founder
2000 – 2006
A chance meeting with Guy Ritchie was the starting point for me. I had the stories and the language in my head but as I have dyslexia I never believed I could write.
I had a colourful upbringing, and even from an early age I didn’t always attend school.
Guy became my mentor. Shoved a laptop in front of me, loaded the ‘Movie Magic’ software and told me to write.
I worked with him on the scripts for ‘Snatch’ and ‘RocknRolla’, even getting my face on screen. Meeting Guy was my lucky break and the rest (admittedly with a short interruption at Her Majesty’s Pleasure) is history.
I went away for a while, C Wing – Brixton Prison in fact. Not something I’m proud of, especially as it was for something I didn’t do!
But it’s funny how things happen. I was a ‘listener’ in prison, given the role of going and talking to offenders who were struggling to cope inside.
One night I went to see a young inmate who was in a very bad way. Lonely and scared, he wanted a way out of the madness of prison.
We got talking about his drawings, which were stuck to the wall. He had so much talent but he was lost. Over the next few weeks I helped him find a purpose in art classes and drama writing.
I learned that you can make a difference. I wanted to help those who needed it.
A plan began to form, or rather the idea of a plan. Guy Ritchie had helped me find a talent for writing when I didn’t think I could. How many people were out there, with the skills and talent to do something special with their lives but no opportunity or self-belief?
The concept of Films for Life was born.
I concentrated on my writing and wrote a piece for Prison Radio. It turned out to be very successful and won two awards in 2011; ‘The Jerusalem Award’ and ‘The Sandford St Martins Trust Merit Award for Radio.
At the Sandford Awards I met Tony Jordan of RedPlanet productions. He was kind enough to give me his card and told me to contact him on my release.
I’m now in an open prison and have regular home leave at weekends. Today was a big day for the idea I had inside. I went to a family friend’s get together and met Tom Bingham of Push Studios. Tom’s company is expert in immersive events and corporate branding.
We were talking about my idea for Films for Life and he liked the concept of giving people with talent a chance in life. Something he said stuck with me. He said ‘society needs to fix itself’. Tom wants to help develop the idea.
January 11th 2012
So, today Tom and I got together to discuss Films for Life. I was definitely going to do something on my own but this is growing now. Tom knows the business and has contacts at the BFI and BAFTA. He’s offered the support of his company, Push Studios, to help it move forward. It looks like this is really taking shape.
We are Films4Life!
Tom introduced me to his team at Push Studios and it was full steam ahead. We have a logo and they are working on a presentation to get the aim of the charity across. I’m going to arrange meetings with some of my industry contacts to gather support.
Had a meeting today with a group of friends and contacts. They came into the Push offices to look over the presentation and listen to the whole idea behind Films4Life.
They’ve all offered their support which is fantastic. Welcome to Brendon Power, Perry Cella, Ranjit Kasharma and Luke Sullivan.
As the charity and website are targeting young people, we’ve arranged for a group of them (all interested in the film industry) to come in to the Push offices on Friday to hear the story and look at the direction we are moving in. Should be interesting.
I called Guy Ritchie and he’s agreed to see us on Feb 21st. Would be fantastic to get him on board.
What a day. The general feedback from all the young people was positive. They raised some valid questions and concerns and made some really interesting comments. We need to decide exactly who we are setting up to help. I guess it can’t be everyone and we have to start somewhere. The team at Push Studios will revise the presentation in time for the meeting with Guy.
Tom and I met Guy Ritchie for lunch. We outlined the aim of the charity and he has given us positive and constructive advice. He’s on board but not sure yet in what capacity. He said something really interesting. That success in this industry is really down to attitude. Attitude and a bit of luck! He’ll willingly give us a couple of junior positions on his next movie as long as the kids have the right attitude.
The team at Push continue to refine and revise the Films4Life concept based on feedback. It’s looking good and the words ‘Films4Life community’ seem to be prominent. If we can encourage this sense of community then everyone gets their chance.
I called Tony Jordan and arranged to meet him on March 6th. I think he’ll be interested and may offer his support.
Met with Tony Jordan at the Century Club. We had a great chat about my writing and the award night at Lambeth Palace. Then we talked about Films4Life. He loved the idea of helping young people get a break and put his name to the initiative straight away. What a great day!
We arranged to meet again soon to discuss a possible project.
Tony has put us in touch with Attic Media. We are arranging to meet with them in the near future.
Today I met Malcolm Cockren at BAFTA. He’s not only been in the film industry forever but has also been closely involved in many different charities. He’s interested in getting involved but wants to meet with the team for a full outline. Arranging that soon.
Met with Dan Cadan of Cheeky Boy Productions. He’s a lovely guy I met when he was a runner on the film set of ‘Snatch’.
Dan’s now a Director and Writer so a real inspiration for the young people we are trying to help.
His words were “Love it, count me in”
This just gets better.
I rang the man of the moment, Steven Clark-Hall of Skyline Films. Told him about Films4Life. He says it sounds just what he’s looking for and has arranged to come into the Push offices on March 28th.
Steven Clark-Hall came in for a meeting. He’s put his name down as a supporter and has also given us a list of people to contact in the industry. It’s so great to have him involved. This is really gathering momentum now.
Today I rang Toby Kebble on the off chance he was in England and not off filming somewhere exotic. As soon as I explained the Films4Life initiative he just said “Mickey Dee – I’m in, put my name down”. Toby’s a great guy who wants to give the youngsters an idea of the hard work and commitment it takes to be an actor and an insight into how he started off. He’s happy to be a mentor for us. This is fantastic news.
The team went to a meeting with Attic Media (the company Tony Jordan referred us to). They’ve advised us to submit a project outline to Channel 4, so we’ve immediately started working on this.
They’ve made a firm commitment to be involved with Films4Life and help in any way they can.
I talked with George Warren, a script developer. He has helped me in the past with my scripts and now also runs a company called Script Factory which will add further scope for the young members of the Films4Life community.
Spoke with Luke Sullivan, a young friend who always wanted to be a director and writer. He has been working on a film with Olivia Aubry. The resultant film is called ‘Lullaby’ and is a dark tale, superbly told.
Both Luke and Olivia want to give their support to Films4Life and their first hand experiences will be invaluable to the young talent in the Films4Life community.
This week has been focused on the website and how we get our message across. Everyone has worked so hard. Tom Bingham has blown me away by donating his time and the efforts of his team. With their help and the unbelievable support of friends and industry professionals I can see my original vision coming to life.
Films4Life. It’s still in its infancy but the response from the industry so far gives me immense hope for the future.
Preparations to go to Cannes and spread the word are underway. Exciting stuff.