When I started the Raindance Film Festival in 1993, just about everyone I knew thought I was mad. I also had a curious hot-and-cold response form the British film industry – some loved the idea, most hated it.
The history is simple: I had started off working as a stage hand at the BBC in London in the mid 70’s where I worked on classic British TV shows like Dixon of Dock Green, The Old Grey Whistle Test and Monty Python.
I returned to my native Toronto for nine years in the late 70’s where I worked as a scenic artist on 68 feature films and over 700 commercials, short films and stage shows. I also was a R&D project manager for several famous scientific and IT projects.
When I returned to London in the mid 80’s, I had lost all my contacts. Following a spectacular personal bankruptcy during the last great recession I fell onto hard times and started falling into the self-pity trap. It was then that a friend told me: “As long as you are feeling sorry for yourself, no doctor in the world can help you”. He was right. I asked myself what I really loved, and it’s movies.
In the interim I had lost all my contacts. I started training courses in order to meet people and survive. Many of these very people I still know and admire. Edgar Wright was my first intern, for instance. I then wondered what I could do to make a few more bucks (as Canadians are apt to do) and I realised that what British people really like are semi-secret societies that issue plastic membership cards – and thus was born Raindance Premium Membership – which is still flourishing today.
Suddenly Brits started making films again after a drought of 25 years. To my astonishment, no British festival was set up to embrace new British work, so with a spare £150.00 I faxed a press release announcing the first Raindance Film Festival in October 1993. One of the films we showed was the first European screening of a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
One night – a few weeks before the Opening Night, I sat down and drew the mind map of where i thought Raindance would go.
I found this mind map this morning while unpacking an archive box during our office move. Strangely – it’s pretty much how it all ended up.
Plans work. Try it. Believe me. It’ll work out for you.