Producer Richard Moore has established a career for himself that is as varied as it is dazzling; but what is one of the most astonishing facets of Moore’s success is the unconventional path that he took on his way to the top.
Moore, who is one of the co-founders of the internationally respected London-based production company Mrs Grey, began climbing the entertainment industry ladder while he was still in high school. As fate would have it, his choice to forego his schooling in favor of gaining hands on experience in the industry led him to accomplish more by the age of 20 than many imagine possible.
In the last few years alone, Moore has had a hand in bringing a range of high-profile productions from el Jimador Tequila’s recent “Mexology” campaign to the music video for James Morrison’s hit song “One Life.”
He also produced the online factual entertainment series CTRL on behalf of Google and Copa90, as well as the upcoming film Being AP, a feature documentary that takes viewers inside the life of former horse racing jockey and renowned sportsman AP McCoy. Being AP was recently chosen as an Official Selection of the 2015 Toronto Film Festival where it will have its world premiere later this year.
Moore’s success in the entertainment industry is a culmination of his unyielding ambition, unparalleled creative vision and his ability to build relationships with people on both sides of the screen.
To find out more about Richard Moore’s incredible work and how he got to where he is today, make sure to check out our interview below!
PLM: Where are you from? When and how did you begin working as a producer?
RM: I’m originally from Sheffield in the North of England where we have a big film community especially with the introduction of the Sheffield Documentary Festival in the mid nineties, which is now one of the leading film festivals in Europe; but I grew up in London, which is where I learnt my craft and fell in love with films and the industry.
I left school at 15 years old, half way through high school as I was given the opportunity to become a producer’s assistant in television drama with director Luke Hyams and producer Louis Figgis for Channel 4. Although at the time they thought I was obviously older than I was, it didn’t stop me from accepting the position. I worked with them for several years on different productions, always managing to side step the question of my age.
The time I spent working with Luke & Louis is where I developed an understanding of the business and the various roles within a large production. Shortly after this at 18 years old, a group of friends and I decided to start our own company making music videos & short films. After three years we were achieving an annual turnover over of 1.2million pounds.
I was very fortunate in finding like-minded individuals who, like me, decided not to go to college but to start working and gaining experience through trial and error. The first time I really thought of myself as a producer was about a month after my 19th birthday when I was pitching an idea to Polydor/Universal Records with a directing duo called Mike & Robin for a £70,000 music video for a girl band called The Saturdays, which we subsequently won.
About a day later I had the overwhelming task of hiring a crew of 40 people, a cast of 35 and building two large sets on the back lot of Pinewood Studios. Luckily, I managed to come away from the experience with a commercial and financial success with the video generating over four million hits on YouTube. This was my real introduction to what it to took to be a producer on a basic level, with managing pressure, dealing with a lot of people in different positions and different environments, while simultaneously supporting your director and helping him or her to achieve their creative vision.
PLM: Can you tell me about some of the projects you’ve produced?
RM: My most recent project Being AP, which I co-produced and line produced, is a theatrical feature documentary directed by three-time Bafta winning and Emmy nominated director Anthony Wonke. The production was created for BBC Films, Irish Film Board and Northern Ireland Screen, and has recently been picked up by theatrical distributor Entertainment One.
My role was crucial in this production as I was responsible for all logistical, budgeting and scheduling elements of the film, which included a 70-day shoot, spanning the course of 12 months across all of the UK and Ireland.
I was responsible for hiring both the production and post-production teams, all financial aspects of the project including the reconciliation and cost reporting to EIS/SEIS private equity investors, broadcast and theatrical partners (BBC Films, IFB, NI, Eone); and, I was responsible for all contractual and legal clearances on the film and the technical delivery.
The film is about the greatest jump jockey that ever lived, AP McCoy, who is undoubtedly one of Britain’s greatest sportsmen in history. It is a story of sacrifice, doubt, decisions, triumphs and failure, also a story about getting old and coming to terms with retirement, and having to stop the very thing the makes you who you are, the very reason you wake up every morning. It is a story of relationships.
My role before this film was not too dissimilar in its production elements as the head of production for “Copa90,” the most successful sports YouTube channel in Europe; but at the same time very different in the type of people I managed, and the clients and partners I worked closely with.
“Copa90” was funded by Google as part of a Europe-wide investment, which aimed to take control of sports media through new and original programing targeting 12 to 30 year olds, which is a demographic that is incredibly important to brands and advertising agencies selling sports products.
For “Copa90” I was responsible for the launch and channel management with an annual Budget of $3 Million to spend on programming. I, alongside the creative team at the channel, were key in pitching, selling and executing brand integrated shows whilst also building our original slate of programs, which we would then sell to third party platforms.
Another stand out project that I executive produced whilst running my own production company Mrs Grey, was Find The Torch, an In-depth television documentary for Channel 4 in which Paul Weller talks about his love of England, his influences and his 30-year music career from forming The Jam in the 70s to making his more recent albums.
This documentary was directed Palme d’Or and legendary Sundance nominated filmmaker, Julien Temple. My role was critical as I brokered the deal with Universal Music and sourced the funding, as well as pitched and sold Julien Temple on the idea of directing, while also hiring the production team to create the documentary.
PLM: Can you tell me about some of the commercials you’ve produced?
RM: In the last 12 months, in between shooting the feature documentary Being Ap, I executive produced “Mexology,” a commercial campaign for El Jimador tequila about four artists who were challenged to collaborate on the creation of an event that embraced the Mexican spirit of enjoying life. They were tasked with re-imagining the legendary Michigan Building, an abandoned theatre in Detroit without a script, storyline and within 48 hours. On “Mexology” I worked with the recent Cannes Gold Lion winning director Martin Stirling, who specifically requested me on the project due to my background and experience in documentary style films and someone who has the ability to manage global clients in a very high pressured and time sensitive environment.
I also executive produced the #ispossible campaign for HSBC, a British high-street bank, which was a series of three commercials about young entrepreneurs who believe that every success story has a supporting cast. The campaign documents them as they reveal the people that helped them realize their ambitions and explain how to achieve yours through inspiration and mentorship.
PLM: They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
RM: Nearly every project I work on is slightly different, it’s always a different medium, different duration and inevitably has a different platform that it exists on, be it a commercial, film or TV drama series.
The key thing for me in picking projects is I have to be inspired by the team I’m working with, I have to believe in the story and I have to believe in the brand. Producing nowadays is about adaptability, its not about saying your a television drama producer or an advertising commercial producer, unfortunately you don’t have that freedom anymore, which is not a bad thing it just means you can’t get too comfortable. You have to keep current and up to date with the latest platforms, websites or mobile applications. You have to constantly learn new methods and challenge yourself.
PLM: Why are you passionate about working as a producer?
RM: I’ve never chosen to work on a project for any personal financial gain, I just love film making and working in this industry; I love finding myself in new places, meeting new people and starting new adventures. My goal in everything I work on is to produce a piece of work that I can truly be proud of, which is incredibly difficult but it’s the challenge and risk that makes it so exciting.
I, like many other young producers, fell in love with films because of directors like Bernardo Bertolucci, Paul Thomas Anderson and Martin Scorsese. When I first started in the industry and began to understand who it was that put these epic films together, and the tasks and difficulties they went through to make these scripts a reality, it truly inspired me. One of my biggest inspirations to become a producer was a man named Jeremy Thomas, a legendary filmmaker who won the Academy Award for the film The Last Emperor, who in my opinion is the greatest independent producer of all time.
I’m driven by my passion to understand how things work. I don’t get excited by the prospect of meeting musicians, actors or artists; instead, I get excited by the possibility of meeting great producers like Arnon Milchan, Irwin Winkler and Harvey Weinstein. People that built empires and have impeccable taste.
PLM: What production companies have you worked with in the past?
RM: In the past I’ve predominantly worked with three very different production companies– Partizan, which has been running since the early nineties and is led by incredible directing talent and great ideas fundamentally; Bigballs Films, which works solely within sports media and programming and has a strong remit of building its own intellectual property and commercializing it; and Unit9, a tech-savvy contemporary hybrid production company that doesn’t have any barriers, they build software, apps, websites, 360 VR projects and films that live on any platform that exists today.
PLM: What production companies or agencies are you currently working with?
RM: I’m currently working with director Anthony Wonke on a slate of films that are range from drama to documentaries. Anthony has two feature documentaries in cinemas this year– one on Cristiano Ronaldo, the biggest football/soccer player in the world, and another, which I co-produced, Being AP, which I mentioned is centered on the greatest jump jockey of all time, AP McCoy. We are working in a partnership with Partizan Films on this slate.
I’m also working with a director named Alex Grazioli on a film called The Baby Killers, a true story that documents the meteoritic rise of a clan of 20 teenagers in Gela, the south of Sicily, during the ’80s, who after having been denied entry into the Cosa Nostra decide to start there own mafia faction known as ‘La Stidda,’ which was more dangerous, more ruthless and more evil than anything before them.
I took a trip to Sicily in April of last year and was introduced through a Sicilian author to Orazio Vella, who at the time was the youngest baby killer and murdered his first string of people at the age of 14. After being arrested at 18 from years of murders, racketeering, drugs and prostitution, Orazio managed to escape a prison sentence after turning states evidence.
I’ve also recently finishing a commercial project with the agency We R Social and am due to start a new business venture with Google/YouTube.
PLM: You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one project over another?
RM: The short answer is the director. I have to be inspired by them, I have to believe that they know what they want from the project and have an achievable vision considering the time and money that’s proposed. I’ve turned a lot of high paying projects and full time jobs down in the last two years as I don’t like being led by anything other than wanting to make a great film. Convincing my father, who’s a chartered accountant, in the very early days of my career that this is my method to success, was more difficult than any production I’ve worked on. I think he had plans for me to run a FTSE 100 instead of trekking through the jungle of Dominica in the Caribbean filming a commercial for the tourism board whilst be being bitten by mosquitos; but, as uncomfortable as it was in the humidity I know I would still rather the latter.
PLM: What have been a few of your favorite projects so far and why?
RM: My favorite project so far has got to be Being AP. Although it’s also the most recent, it reminded me a lot of working on TV dramas during the start of my career, and building that trusted and tight nit production family who you see day in day out for a long period of time, who all have the same goal and want to contribute to telling an incredible story through supporting the director in his vision and fundamentally taking you creatively to a place whilst watching the film that you haven’t seen before.
If I had to pick another project that was a real favorite it would have to be a charity film for Virgin Unite that I produced with my partner in our first six months of business at our company. I recall him asking me to attend a meeting with him and Richard Branson’s mother Eve in Oxford, England. We were both unsure about what the project really entailed, but considering that Sir Richard himself had personally invited us, we were already excited. When we arrived at Eve’s house, she asked us within the first 10 minutes of our meeting if we wanted to help her ship a herd of cashmere goats from England to North Africa to help bring stability to women in the region through creating jobs in the textile trade, specifically in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It sounded so far fetched and bizarre that we had to do it and two weeks later we were filming with her in Africa and her beloved goats.
PLM: What would you say your strongest qualities are as a producer?
RM: At first I thought my strongest qualities as a producer was my understanding of the logistical and financial aspects of a production; but, after having produced a lot of different projects, I now I believe that my real skill lies in my taste and my ability to inspire, manage and lead people.
PLM: Can you list some of the people you’ve worked with that our readers might know?
RM: I’ve worked with musicians such as James Morrison, White Lies, The Futureheads, Paul Weller, Tinnie Tempah, The Saturdays, A-ha and many more.
Professional action sports athletes: snowboarder Stalle Sandbech, BMX’er Harry Main, surfer Fergal Smith, skateboarder Madars Apse.
Professional soccer players: Lionel Messi, Neymar, Sergio Aguero, Alexis Sanchez, Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart, Frank Lampard, Theo Wallcott and just about every other player in the English Premiership and now Jump Jockey AP McCoy.
I’ve also worked with magazines like Italian Vogue, Dazed and Confused and ID.
PLM: What projects do you have coming up?
RM: I have a film titled The Baby Killers about child assassins from southern Sicily which is about 25% of the way through filming and then another film about the birth and death of the music video business set against a backdrop of London and LA, which is due to go into pre-production spring 2016. I also have a sports documentary about the most successful soccer agent in the world, which is due to go into production January 2016, as well as a film I’ve been developing for about five years on legendary blues musician, Sonny Boy Williamson II.
PLM: What are your plans for the future?
RM: My plans for the future is to continue to freelance produce commercial campaigns for advertising agencies that allow me the ability to test and try new filming techniques, working with new emerging and talented young writers, directors and creatives, who are working on evolving platforms and technologies whilst also developing and producing my longer form projects with more experienced filmmakers.
My plan in 6 to 12 months is to start a new company building a talent accelerator, production studio for storytelling, that inspires the next generation of creators, putting the audience first and entertaining them in formats they love, and working with influential digital creators. Kick starting ambitious ideas, driven by inventive cross-platform storytelling, made famous by already engaged audiences whilst monetizing these projects through adaptable business models.
PLM: What do you hope to achieve in your career?
RM: Award recognition from your piers in the industry is great and obviously helps the soul, but what I really want to achieve is the ability to educate and change peoples lives through storytelling, something that I always find with other peoples films. If I could make someone feel the way I felt after watching Hoop Dreams or Waltz With Bashir I would be happy.
PLM: What kind of training have you done, and how has it helped you in your field of work?
RM: I haven’t had any educational or traditional training in my field, rather I took a slightly different route of entering the business at an early age, jumping in head first and asking as many questions as I could muster before I started frustrating people. I recall when I was production assistant in London asking ‘Leaving Last Vegas’ director Mike Figgis who was mid take on a commercial with Juliette Lewis what he thought of the new handheld Sony camera and if he would consider using them on his upcoming film, fortunately he entertained me and stopped the take to have a conversation about cameras.
Some people need the solid foundation of a college degree to have the confidence and belief in themselves to start working, I would rather ask for forgiveness than acceptance and it’s what I appreciate in other young professionals. What I’ve learnt in the film business in my short career so far is that everyone is reasonably smart, most can hold a conversation and there’s a lot of talented individuals, but what most people don’t seem to have, for the most part, is the ruthless ambition to continue striving and working hard when it’s not going your way, having the foresight to know that things generally work themselves out in time.