I have been in love with stories from a young age, and for most of my working life as a documentary filmmaker I have had the privilege of intimately working with other people to tell theirs. Those moments when another person truly opens up to an audience are priceless, and I am now passionate about helping other filmmakers create that same on-screen magic with their characters and stories.
Across almost three decades of storytelling I made 24 films for the BBC and UK broadcasters, then moved into feature docs winning two Emmys and over 40 major International awards. My stories range from a personal BBC “Video Diary” about returning to Haiti to find the man who shot me in an election massacre, to a brain surgeon in the KGB hospital in Kyiv using a domestic power drill on the skull of a patient who was fully awake. I am drawn to observational real-life dramas where deep ethical and moral dilemmas abound, and passionately believe that stories are vital to the psychic health of our communities and nations.
Keeping the audience at the heart of my filmmaking decisions has been central to my work, and is now at the core of how I collaborate with other directors to bring out the best in their ideas and material. My dream, your dream, is that more documentaries spark passion and debate, and bring our wonderful world a little closer together.
Across my career I have taught directing classes in the UK, Denmark, Finland, Croatia, the US, and Australia, worked with Nick Cave on one of my soundtracks, been nominated for a DGA Best Directing award, was a tutor at the IDFA summer school, curated and ran a successful documentary film festival in Australia for five years, and formed Eyeline Films with the BAFTA award-winning director Shreepali Patel.
In 2020 I co-created a two-day story workshop called “DocCelerator” with my Danish colleague Ove Jensen, and to date we have worked with over two hundred directors and producers to transform their film stories.
Storytelling is a noble and redeeming art, and now, more than ever, this crazy world of ours needs engaging documentary stories to help us create a better future.
THE ENGLISH SURGEON
What is it like to have God-like surgical powers, yet to struggle against your own humanity? What is it like to try and save a life, and yet to fail? Shot in a Ukrainian hospital full of desperate patients and makeshift equipment, The English Surgeon is an intimate portrait of Henry Marsh as he wrestles with the dilemmas of the doctor-patient relationship. Music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
“Enthralling, astonishing, agonizingly human” NY Times
“Deeply touching, resonant…and very funny” Variety
“The best documentary for a long time” The Guardian
“An extraordinary documentary” Time Out
International Emmy winner, NY Times Best Films list, 14 major international awards, and “The Guardian” TV Critic Sam Wollaston’s Best Documentary for the last 15 years
Imagine being arrested by the Police, told you have committed a murder you know nothing about, and find yourself behind bars for 20 years? In 2005 this happened to Tonio Zuniga in Mexico City, but with the help of two tenacious lawyers he overturns the system in an incredible real-life courtroom drama.
“A compelling story of international importance” Variety
“One of the most buzzed about Mexican films in years” Hollywood Reporter
International Emmy winner, 12 major international awards, and over $8m at the Box office including a 13-week run in 335 Mexican cinemas
YOUR LIFE IN THEIR HANDS
An intimate and dramatic portrait of two men whose lives intertwine around an extraordinary operation. Adrian has a large brain tumour and will die in a few years without surgery. Henry Marsh is the maverick neurosurgeon who may be able to save him, but only if Adrian is awake during the operation.
“It is impossible to describe the wonder and intensity of this programme, an overwhelming documentary” The Times
“What is the point of the BBC? For a straightforward answer watch “Your Life in their Hands”…a hypnotic piece of television” The Independent
“This is programme making of the highest order” Sunday Telegraph
“An extraordinary film” The Guardian
THE CHILDREN OF HELEN HOUSE
A year in the life of the world’s first centre for children who will die before their time. Nestled in the grounds of an Oxford convent, Helen House inspires meaning when there appears to be none, and hope when life could not seem blacker. Through the families who share moments of unforgettable intensity with us, this series will change forever what people understand by a “good death”.
“The Children of Helen House dominates the night’s viewing. If there is one programme you’ll still be remembering in a month’s time, it will surely be tonight’s series opener…” The Daily Mail
“The Children of Helen House reimagines the notion of fly-on-the-wall television as something wholly more noble. There are no villains, no backbiting, no fake embarrassment and no contrived endings” Sunday Times
Through survivor’s testimony and never before seen documents, the deadly cat and mouse between German fuse designers and British bomb disposal teams in WWII is dramatically told for the first time.
“A wonderfully well-made programme – compulsive viewing” Daily Mail
“This spellbinding two-part documentary” Radio Times
“A fascinating series which paints a compelling picture of extraordinary dangers” Daily Telegraph
SEARCHING FOR A KILLER
A highly personal film in the BBC’s “Video Diary” series about my journey back to Haiti to find the man who shot and wounded me in an election day massacre.
“Extraordinarily powerful, a moving and compelling story of personal salvation in an environment of magic and intense menace. This is a film which stays with you” Sunday Times
“A powerful account, mesmerisingly conveyed” Evening Standard