Gavin Humphries is an Executive Producer at NOWNESS and a producer at Quark Films, which was founded in 2006 when he completed the Producing MA at the UK’s National Film and Television School.
What’s your connection to the British Council?
After the initial excitement of being selected for a festival you then of course have to work out how to afford to get there. Thanks to the British Council I've been able to attend some key festivals with shorts I produced, including Cannes and Sundance twice. It's costly and if it wasn't for the British Council I'd have found it really hard or just be very overdrawn! Prior to the Shorts Support Scheme the BC also contributed to the cost of a 35mm print for my graduation film from the National Film and Television School, Ela, which was shortlisted for the Oscars. Without the print, the film wouldn't have been considered, so I owe them a lot. I'm now producing the first feature of brilliant writer director Deborah Haywood, Pin Cushion, funded by the BFI. The BC arrange festival selection screenings with major international festivals and have great relationships with them, so I hope we'll work with the film team to get this film in front of them when it's completed.
What are you working on right now?
Pin Cushion will be finished in spring 2017 and I'm working with director Siri Rodnes on a science fiction feature, Nine Lives. Siri directed Take Your Partners, one of the Five Films 4 Freedom for British Council and BFI Flare. I keep myself even more busy as executive producer at international online channel, NOWNESS, working across an exciting slate of short form content with new and established talent all over the world. Our door is always open...
What originally turned you onto film?
Apart from wearing out a beta max video of Star Wars which I watched obsessively every Sunday for about two years, a defining moment was when I stumbled across Gregg Araki's The Living End on Channel 4 when I was 17. As a young gay man it blew my mind as it was the first time I felt a film spoke directly to me. It was just something completely unexpected - rough around the edges, unflinching, humorous and raw. I subsequently made a date with that Channel 4 film slot (I think every Saturday at 9pm) and discovered world cinema, including Almodovar, who became my director crush.
Another big influence is Gladiator. The opening battle scenes in Germania were filmed in Bourne Woods right next to where I grew up and a big regret is that I had the opportunity to be an extra, but screwed it up by oversleeping after a night out at Heaven nightclub. I digress! Apart from the fact that to me it's quite a perfect film, Gladiator helped demystify how films were made. The woods I used to play in as a kid could double as a German forest in 180AD and my teenage workmates from Sainsbury's could be Centurion extras!
What has been your career high so far?
The constant satisfaction of being able to earn a living as a producer and waking up every day excited about the projects I'm working on and the people I'm working with.
What was your first job in the film industry?
Talent Agent. I represented actors in film, TV and theatre and learned a great deal about spotting and nurturing talent, negotiating, dealing with contracts, reading scripts, keeping up-to-date with the industry and drinking white wine.
Key piece of advice for someone starting out in film?
Be fearless and don't be afraid to make mistakes. It's a cliche, but you definitely learn more and improve when things don’t work out rather than when they do!
What is your favourite British film?
I can't say I have an absolute favourite as there are so many films I love and admire, but one which immediately springs to mind is Andrew Haigh's Weekend. It was such a simple and honest story told in a beautiful and compelling way. I saw it without knowing anything about it in advance (sometime the best way to see a film) and it took me completely by surprise.
What’s the first film you remember seeing?
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It may well have been the first film I saw in the cinema. I was utterly inconsolable at the end and haven’t been able to watch it since for fear of becoming a crying wreck (and I’ve tried).
What’s your favourite line from a film?
I’d love to be really sophisticated, but if I go with my first response it’s Princess Leia in Star Wars: ‘Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way’.
Who would play you in the film about your life?
Tina Fey because I often feel like Liz Lemon.