I first met Mark Lacey when we worked for Capture UK filming comedy over the Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago. Mark was a laid back guy who always got the job done and he certainly seemed to be getting a lot of work on shorts and productions around the country. It was really only a matter of time before he made the move down to London and reading the interview below it seems that he has done well for himself and I hope he continues to do so.
A practising AD (Assistant Director), Mark has chosen his career path in the industry and is being successful with it. The interview below should inspire you to do the same, not everyone is a director and sometimes your skills lie elsewhere, that doesn’t make you any less talented or necessary, it shows that you have good self-awareness and the ability to utilize your strengths in the most competitive of industries.
Thanks Mark, we could all learn a thing or two from your words. Enjoy.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and what your working on.
I live and work in London, normally as an AD on corporate/commercial jobs, shorts and features. I graduated from Stirling Uni in 2006 and have been working in various guises in the media industry since then. I started out mainly working for a small production company called Running Productions, based in Edinburgh, doing a bit of everything including editing, camera and production. I moved on to working as AD, mainly on shorts, shooting corporate and live events, especially at the Edinburgh Festival and running community arts projects. I moved down to London about two and half years ago, partly for work and partly because my girlfriend moved down. Earlier this year I finished an 18 month stint as lead 3rd AD on a stop motion animation for Disney called Frankenweenie, which was a new and interesting challenge and bit different from previous stuff I have worked on.
Currently I am working on a couple of projects, production managing a small corporate for a property company, which is not very exciting. I am also in the early stages of pre-production on a feature that I’m 1st AD on for OHTV, which is a bit more interesting and starts shooting next month.
Alongside my work in the industry I also try and make some of my own projects with friends who also work in the industry. Back in 2008 I co-directed a short called Blank with Owen Gower, a fellow Stirling Alumni. Since then we have made a couple of short documentaries and little films, along with our friend Sinead Kirwan, under the banner Bad Bonobo. We are currently trying to get a couple of shorts off the ground and developing a feature, when we can find the time.
What/who inspired you to embark on a career in film making.
I guess there were a lot of factors that got me interested in working in film and TV probably starting with my dad. He is a professor of film, TV and drama and so much of my early interest came from him. We used to watch loads of TV drama and films growing up and it become, along with football, my main interest. Once I realised I was rubbish at football it was the next best thing.
Have you had to make sacrifices and how have you coped with that?
Just the normal ones that most freelancers have to make, especially when first starting out, mainly financial and not being to always plan ahead or go on holiday much. But I get to do a job I love so that makes most of it worth while. It beats getting a real job I suppose.
What is your ultimate goal, what drives you?
I think just to work on bigger and better films. I learn from every job I do and ultimately I would like to take that knowledge I have built up and make my own films.
How do you define success?
Getting to do what you love balanced with a rich and interesting personal life. I don’t really use money or status as a marker for success, more that you get to do what you want and enjoy it.
How do you feel about collaboration?
For me the best thing about working in film is that fact that you get to collaborate with so many talented people. I think film making is all about people with different skills coming together to create something. The director or producer might have an overall view on how it will turn out but they can’t achieve it without working with the rest of the crew.
Boy Chemical Girl – A short film Mark Produced
Do you have a niche or genre that you specialise in?
Not really, other than I tend to work on smaller scale/budget productions. Although being an AD on a stop motion has given a little bit of a niche when it comes to that type of film making.
What was the title of your first film and can you tell us a bit about it.
I can’t remember the title but it was a detective story I filmed with an old VHS camera that we borrowed from my Dad’s uni. He used to make home movies of parties and stuff and one day I decided to make a little film with my friends. I must have only been about 12, I think someone got murdered and there was a detective investigating. It was all edited in camera, I don’t think it exists any more, which probably for the best.
Christopher Nolan at the moment. It changes all the time.
All time top current top 5?
- Singing in the Rain
- The Dark Knight
- Star Wars – A New Hope
- L.A Confidential
Best short film you have seen?
I haven’t seen any for a while sorry I can’t think of any right now.
First film you have seen at the cinema?
I’m pretty sure it was Bambi and no I didn’t cry.
A random funny story/experience in the film world?
I was working at 3Mills studios, near where the Olympic stadium is and I was talking to a guy at the bar after work one day. He mentioned that David Cameron had been round to look at the stuff for the Olympics and I then called David Cameron quite a rude word, which I won’t repeat. After the guy had got his drink and left, the 1st AD who was with me and overheard it all turned around and asked if knew who I had been talking to. Turned out he was the head of organising the Olympic Opening Ceremony! surprisingly I never got a call to work on any Olympic stuff…
Favourite film related website?
What advice would you give to first time film makers?
I think learning from people who have been doing it a while is really key. A lot of people think they know it all after uni (I know I did) and really you don’t know much. Also deciding what role you want and to focus on it. I wish I had decided that I wanted to be an AD much earlier, because it takes a while to get known for what you do and to move up. Just hang in there, learn as much as you can and keep the faith.
Mark was 1st AD on this Feature Film