Mike is an award winning writer and director as well as a City Academy Film School tutor. Find out what inspired his journey into the film industry and how to make your own personal breakthrough....
What first inspired you to get into filmmaking?
The first film I remember watching at the cinema was The Jungle Book. I grew up in the 80s which is finding a resurgence in popularity now with shows like Stranger Things. It was an era of Blockbuster cinematic fantasies, video rental, very few TV channels, and no internet, so cinema was a big influence. There wasn't a single lightbulb moment, but I loved watching films. There was something so immersive about the joining of image and sound that I didn't get from reading, and I became interested to find out how it was done.
What was your first ‘break’ into filmmaking?
I find it's useful to think about achievement like digging a tunnel. The moment you break through is just the final strike of the hammer, and it is all the work leading to that point that puts you in a position to see the daylight. When starting out, I contacted around a hundred production companies, received two replies and one was a 'yes' that led to a few weeks work experience and got me in the door. I built my experience from that point, taking running (entry-level) jobs wherever possible, and soaking up all the information I could find.
What’s the piece of work that you are most proud of?
I made a short drama called SICK, which sought to raise awareness of mental health issues. It was funded by an NHS Charity, endorsed by Samaritans, received a clutch of awards, and was distributed on DVD as part of the Film Four Forgotten Classics Collection and through BFI Shop. I think that project achieved what it set out to, having played to audiences at mental health events the world over, which is very gratifying.
What or who do you admire in the filmmaking industry at the moment?
Oh wow, such a big question. Everyone who is shaping the agenda for equality and diversity is doing the industry, its practitioners, and its audiences a great service. Those who aspire to filmmaking, the people who join City Academy's courses, are in a stronger position because of this rebalancing. The more varied the voices, the richer the stories, and I look forward to many more of those transformative moments that first led me to cinema.
What are you currently working on?
Alongside teaching and corporate projects, I am researching a remastering of the short film SICK for distribution online and developing more narrative work that I hope to make in the future. The final, break-through hammer-stroke is just another beginning. The job now is to widen the aperture.
What can students expect in your classes?
Students can expect to surprise themselves, they are often so much more capable than they realise. Finding a way into filmmaking is about finding your place in its structures - connecting who you are with what it offers. Like me, rather than a lightbulb moment, students may be on a journey of evolving curiosity about what filmmaking could mean for them. My classes will help them carve out a way forward and take steps towards their own breakthrough.
See all classes taught by Mike Rymer.