The Great Escape
Following last month’s Great Escape interviews, we continue to speak to graduates and professionals who have made the decision to base themselves on the other side of the English Channel. More and more young Jersey folk working in various sectors are spreading their wings and deciding to peddle their wares in mainland UK, and for varying reasons. Last month Alex Pearce told us how he left Jersey to pursue a career as a DJ, and chef India Hamilton spoke of the sheer diversity and vibrancy of London’s cuisine culture being a big pull factor. In Part 2, we speak to BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Mike Pearce about why he fled the rock and what might inspire him to come back.
NAME MICHAEL PEARCE PROFESSION FILMMAKER:
Do you consider London your home for the long-term, and would you ever consider returning to Jersey? London for the next few years, I’m not sure beyond that. There’s obviously no film industry on the island so I couldn’t really live there, but I want to come back to make my first film in Jersey.
What do you miss about the island? The beach, although I’m not sure if I remember how to surf, or if I even could.
And what are you glad to see the back of? The shit nightlife.
What are your long-term career plans? Direct feature films. In the near future I’d like to direct some original TV drama, maybe some commercials.
When did you decide you wanted to become a filmmaker, and when did you realise that it could be a viable career path?
When I was eighteen I was applying to do a Fine Art degree and I watched The Seven Samurai and it completely transformed how I saw film; suddenly it wasn’t just a form of entertainment but an art form that combined many different disciplines I was interested in – painting, design, music, story, performance etc. Very quickly I decided I wanted to be a film director, though I’m still trying to make it a viable career.
If you weren’t pursuing a career in filmmaking, what do you imagine you’d be doing?
I’m not really qualified to do anything else, though I always liked the idea of being a detective, maybe because they’re so romanticised in cinema. I’d like to be one of the hardboiled maverick types – drives 50mph on the esplanade, carries nunchucks, is a raging alcoholic and misogynist. I could do that.
Could you pursue your career based in Jersey? What would be your advice to someone from Jersey wanting to pursue the same career?
I think Jersey is actually quite rich for inspiration but I don’t know if you can pursue a ‘career’ as a filmmaker in Jersey. I went the classic route: I made some short films. Most were pretty bad but it was enough to get onto a film directing degree. So I‘d suggest, make shorts on the island – they won’t be perfect and you probably won’t have much of a budget but if you show potential in being able to tell a story, create characters that have some depth and are able to use cinematic language in a dynamic way then leave the island to study further.
Do you think Jersey does enough to retain young University graduates? What would persuade you to move back?
I have no idea what, if anything Jersey does to encourage graduates to stay. If an underground techno scene developed then I’d move back.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished a short TV drama for Channel 4; it stars Joe Gilgun who I’ve wanted to work with since seeing him in This Is England. Now I’m working on a short for the BFI which stars Maxine Peake, another actor I really admire, I’m really excited to work with her. After that its back to writing my feature film, which I’d like to be shooting on the island next year.