Former West Sussex student, film-maker Mike Brett has been announced as a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Breakthrough Brit 2014 alongside his collaborator Reece Millidge.
Mike, aged 33, who grew up in Haywards Heath and now lives in Tufnell Park, isn’t completely joking when he says he owes everything to a short work-experience placement with the Mid Sussex Times.
“My creative roots are definitely in Haywards Heath. The first job I ever did was with the paper. I think I would have been 15 or 16 at the time, and I even wrote some football reports. It was the first time I had done anything creative with an audience of any kind.
“But actually my route into film-making was a bit of a long story. I went to study English at university and went into teaching. I taught English for a couple of years and then got into journalism and then film journalism and then realised I would rather be making films than writing about them!”
And so he got together with Steve Jamison, aged 33, originally from Saddleworth, Greater Manchester. In 2008 they set up their production company, Archer’s Mark. Their debut documentary feature, Next Goal Wins, about the American Samoan soccer team, reportedly the worst football team in the world, was released earlier this year to critical acclaim.
As well as directing their own films, both factual and fictional, the two are also keen to support other new film-makers with the production and release of their features. The duo were executive producers on The War Book, featuring a heavy-weight cast including Sophie Okonedo, Antony Sher and Kerry Fox, which screened at this year’s BFI London Film Festival.
The Breakthrough recognition comes at the perfect moment: “Definitely I think perception is really important. When you think of BAFTA, it is an extraordinary academy. You see all the portraits on the walls, and you realise you are in an extraordinary place. I wouldn’t pretend for a moment that we are in their company, but it certainly does give you something to aspire to.
“I suppose the word ‘breakthrough’ sums up the intense excitement of being selected by BAFTA for this scheme, because it reminds us that we’ve only just started to gain recognition in the industry and now have an unparalleled opportunity over the next twelve months to really establish our creative voice and determine the shape of our long-term careers.
“Cinema is such a collaborative art, so having the BAFTA seal approval in this way will hopefully help us as we continue to connect with other film-makers we admire and develop those deep and long-lasting creative relationships that ultimately help everyone create their best possible work.”