An Introduction to my Movies


Growing up in England in the 70's, the only way to see a movie on TV was an old black & white western on Sunday afternoons or the string of movies they would play over the Christmas period. The same string of movies every year. It didn't matter what it was, I was captivated. The stories, the characters, things I didn't even understand, playing out like magic on the little glass screen in front of me.

My dad worked at Texas Instruments as an electronic engineer in the early 80's so we were always early adopters of new technologies. I still remember the day we unpacked our first VHS VCR, a giant mechanical box which even had a remote control with a two-metre-long cable. My dad had purchased one movie to watch on this new contraption; Star Wars. Life was never the same again.

I watched it over and over, sometimes several viewings in the same day. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Completely different to the old classics that were played on Christmas TV, someone had figured out how to capture my level of imagination on the screen and I couldn't peel my eyes away. Over the next few years, I got to see more and more movies as VHS rentals began to pop up. Eternally inquisitive, I needed to know how this was done.

In 1981, my dad had to go to the US for his work for several months, and mum and I tagged along, living in an apartment in Woodland Hills, California. It was inevitable that we would visit the local attractions. Disneyland was amazing, but it was visiting Universal Studios that sealed my fate. Getting a first-hand glimpse into how this movie magic was achieved, had me hooked.

In December of 1985, I got to go to the cinema for the first time. The movie to break my big screen virginity; Back To The Future. My mind was blow beyond the stratosphere with the immersive nature of the experience.

My teens would see me relentlessly watching movies, 10 - 20 a week. When I wasn't watching them, I was reading behind the scenes books, watching 'making of' videos and reading endless filmmaking magazines like Fangoria. My mind was flooded with information and filled with ideas.

Fast forward to my troubled early 20's and I heard about a community TV station where I could get access to filmmaking equipment and learn how to use it in return for creating content for the station. This was the birth of my filmmaking career.

The next few years found me directing music videos and forever volunteering to help out on other productions. All the while, soaking up all the knowledge I could about every aspect of making movies. The two areas I gravitated towards and where my natural talents lay, were the camera and editing.

In 1999, frustrated with a lack of momentum, I decided to make my own feature film. With no budget and no idea what I was doing, I attracted a team of ragtag filmmakers and off we set into the wilds of country Victoria to make a Sci-Fi epic adventure called Lost. I later had to change the title due to a silly little TV show of the same name and in 2004 after 6 months of shooting and 4 years of post-production, I emerged with Lost:Black Earth. Nothing taught me more about filmmaking than putting this project together, and as bad as it was, it opened doors.

Since then I had a steady flow of projects to work on from TV commercials to music videos, short films and features. I had some great experiences and some truly terrible ones and I found the higher I progressed in the industry and the bigger the budgets became, the less creativity and fun were involved.

In 2014 I decided to walk away from filmmaking and take my life in a different direction. I simply couldn't bring myself to be around the egomaniacs and sociopaths any longer. It's a shame really as most of the crews and cast are great people, doing their best to create something in an environment that is constantly being hindered by the incompetence and egos of the producers.

It's interesting that so many of the skills I learned as a filmmaker, I have been able to put to use in my new endeavours in hypnotherapy, meditation education and personal empowerment coaching. Afterall, as an editor, I spent my life studying people and the intricate and subtle nuances of emotion, frame by frame, pixel by pixel.

James Cole

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