So, here I am, at school, aged 14 and I once again find myself staring out of the classroom window, dreaming of a world I’m yet to experience. I didn’t know at the time how important the word ‘experience’ was going to be, but as I began to dream of ever more exciting endeavours, I now realise I was beginning to create my own experiences. And the fact they weren’t real was somewhat irrelevant at this stage in my life.
I snapped instantly back into reality at my form tutors mentioning of ‘work experience’. I was never shy of working and, to me, anything new was an experience waiting to be relished, remembered, and then built on. When asked, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, well nothing really specific, but I did have a very clear understanding of what I didn’t want to do. No desk or numbers (my father was a charted accountant), no old people (my mother was a blue rinsing hairdresser). Just give me something I could get an instant kick from and I’m all over it.
So here I am, in this little company of five, led by a young(ish), fired up, almost unstoppable chap, whose mind seemed on occasion to work faster than either he, or anyone else, could keep up with. The company was ‘DRP Films’ and Dale was the guy in charge. Looking back, he seemed to do very little managing, but shed-loads of leading which, is why I was so inspired to go back at every opportunity and help out in whatever capacity I could. I wouldn’t say at that stage I saw a career there, because I hadn’t yet figured out what a career was and why someone would even need one. But, what I did know, was that it was a fun, energetic and exciting place to be and I was enthused to be a part of it.
I returned to my school and, as a very quiet, almost introverted young boy, listened to my fellow classmates talk of their new-found abilities to make cups of tea and use the very latest photocopying technology (I refer back to that school window and the world beyond).
“And what about you, Richard?... Yes, you!”
I looked up to see my teacher trying to figure out what was so interesting on the other side of that glass, which, of course, would be a futile undertaking on his behalf, and not nearly as rewarding as it had been for me.
“Oh…well…I went filming in Sweden, Sir.”
The teacher laughed. As if that could ever happen on work experience. And that was the end of that. Except that is exactly what did happen. I joined Dale and the team as we crossed the North Sea, and like the intrepid explorer I dreamed to be, arrived in this strange place filled with topless sandwiches and rows upon rows of push bikes.
Well, there was no going back from here. It didn’t make me want to go out and start filming particularly, after all we were filming sewage works (that information I didn’t share with my class), but it did inspire me to be more than just the imaginary me and consider how I could turn my ideas into reality. I continued to help at drp for a number of years: weekends, holidays, evenings. In fact, I knew pretty soon that it was the type of work I aspired to do: creating things that would impress others, that would make them stop and think, and, even wonder ‘how?’. I was always a creative type, looking to change something, bring it to life, challenge the norm for no other reason than to kill the boredom.
Beginning to experiment with creativity, I conceptualised ideas for stage and set design, graphic design, animation and multimedia production, all of which I studied at college. So, in 1984 I joined drp…
By now, I’d received a lot of guidance from many people, some working professionals from various sectors, some credible sources of inspiration for me. They were real and, looking back, slotted perfectly into a young man’s working life that was now beginning to look like a potential career. As part of my college course, I had also studied acting which required me to deliver several live performances, all of which helped to begin my transition from introvert, to someone with a little more confidence.