Blog

Super Achievers Now Live!

NOVEMBER 30, 2016

 

The first of our new series of inspiring shorts documenting the real lives of small business owners is now online - and it's a real jaw dropper!

All small business owners face massive challenges every day, but Glen Dufty, AKA Mad Dog, has had far more than his fair share. Watch now to see his story and find out how this remarkable man overcame heartbreaking tragedies to rebuild his life and business.

Watch below, or Click here to see the YouTube series and don't forget to subscribe! Episode 2 is coming soon!

 

Super Achievers - coming soon!

JUNE 15, 2016

 

Super Achievers is a new series of inspiring short documentaries and stories that delve into the lives of entrepreneurs across the UK. We’ll reveal how they started and in many cases succeeded against the odds; how they met challenges, dealt with failures and setbacks, and divulge the secrets of their success.

And we’ll tell the stories of those extraordinary individuals may have achieved great things, but ultimately crashed and burned, only to get up and start again.

Launching this Autumn, each documentary will be between 15 and 20 minutes long, complemented with additional background stories, essays, expert commentaries, images and graphics to provide and in-depth study of those brave enough to seek more from life though entrepreneurship and business.

We’ll answer questions like: why did they do it? How did they start? What challenges did they face? What sacrifices did they make. And ultimately we’ll ask the question: Was it worth it?

We plan to offer a multi-channel, multi-format immersive experience for each story, told through our web site, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. We’ll follow through each story with Twitter Q&As, and live Periscope sessions so everyone involved can truly immerse themselves in the lives and businesses of some of the UK’s most remarkable people.

A Very Stiff Letter

JUNE 7, 2016

 

I think it was Thomas Hobbes who concluded: “Fear is the natural state of man”. I stand to be corrected, but after a half century as a human, I believe it to be true.

My disappointment last Saturday night at the Hay Festival, as I watched Guardian journalist Oliver Bullough rage – in a very subdued, middle class manner – against the forces of fear, brought the statement into sharp relief and drove home the tragic consequences of giving into it.

I was disappointed on two levels. At first I was annoyed that, as a lover and maker of documentaries, I’d travelled for an hour an a half to Hay specifically to see Bullough’s award-winning new film “Bloody Money”, only to watch a man I admire sit with his hands clasped in a thoughtful steeple on stage before rising to begin a bumbling revelation of his inner anxieties and then segueing, rather clumsily, into an apology: He wasn’t in a position to show the film. A stiff letter had got in the way.

A stiff letter? Written by, it seems, Peters & Peters solicitors – hardly Carter Ruck - but it was VERY stiff letter. Apparently.

On another level, my disappointment was much less selfish, and a great deal more onerous: A journalist had been silenced, at least momentarily, by the very forces he was trying to expose. And this because of a very Western, middle class, nonsense of a fear: The film makers might get sued.

Let’s be clear. This was not a court injunction, the consequences of which could be prison. It was a letter. A stiff letter. From a law firm few of us had ever heard of - a law firm working for a very dodgy (allegedly) Ukranian oligarch. The sort of person who any right-thinking individual would assert had no right to redress through the British legal system.

So, what do I find wrong with this? First, let’s deal with the subject of the film (at least we got to see a trailer). It’s about corruption in the Ukraine, and as it’s spine, there is a story about a little girl who suffers from haemophilia and who, because of said rampant corruption, can’t get the clotting agent she needs to stay alive. The horrific realisation quickly dawns that when this little girl reaches puberty, something truly terrible is going to happen.

Her story could not be told last Saturday night, all because a bunch of middle class Brits were too scared to stick up for her.

Instead of watching the film, we were subjected to “Death by PowerPoint”, detailing how the British financial system is complicit in providing the legal mechanisms for corrupt foreign individuals and regimes to hide wealth stolen from their citizens. Stuff, in all honesty, we already know. Oliver railed against the establishment for allowing such atrocities to take place: For turning a blind eye; for the British financial system for being so greedy to accept the fees from some very nasty people; for hiding their ill-gotten gain. For giving into their financial bullying, maybe? Ironic, don’t you think?

Here we were, bowing to the same forces. Agreeing not to show anything nasty about our rich, powerful oligarch because we were all so very afraid of what he might do to us. God forbid, in exposing a corrupt individual and supporting a little girl who might lose her life as a result, that we might lose some money in a court case.

And right here I might be exposing myself as a closet Marxist. Property maybe is theft, I’m frankly not sure. But do I believe that property sometimes is a crippling force against journalism and democracy? Definitely. I am sure that Oliver Bullough had a stand-up row with his producers and backers before backing down and agreeing not to show the film (I so hope so). Or maybe he has a nice flat in West London, or Hampstead, or Crouch End, or Notting Hill; or a trust fund, a savings account, wealthy parents or a pension? Maybe Oliver didn’t. Maybe he didn’t care. Maybe his producer or director had these things and therefore a lot to lose. If you stand to lose those sorts of assets, and care about them, then any oligarch with an army of lawyers, and a quiver of stiff letters, has you in the palm of his hand.

Our last line of defence in Western civilisation is our army of journalists, bloggers, whistle blowers, documentary makers, and maybe even our Assanges and Snowdens. But my sad conclusion on Saturday night was that our Fifth Estate is populated by a propertied, mortgaged, asset-rich, fearful middle class, who fold at the first threat to their core existence by the very rich and powerful, and often corrupt, individuals we seek to contain and protect against.

I did suggest to Oliver, on the night, that he should have set up and used one of the shell companies he was exposing to “lease” the film for a few days and show it, and allow the shell to be sued. Fighting fire with fire, so to speak. But it was too late. The damage had been done and we’d been exposed as a nation of wimps against the forces of evil.

So, my wife and I trundled out of the auditorium and down to the Hay front office to complain in a polite, middle class manner. And our lovely, middle class Hay hosts apologised profusely, refunded our money and we got free tickets to see Brian Blessed instead. Lovely.

I wonder if the little girl in the film is still alive?