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31 August 2010

John Forrest - Media

John Forrest - Media

John Forrest is about to celebrate 40 years of employment in the media - including BBC and commercial radio, ITV and BBC TV. He started with a new radio station and over the years went on to develop two passions in his programme making - music and faith. Technology has moved along dramatically during that time, but in many ways media systems and control are the same as ever. 

As he has been a freelancer for the last nine years his portfolio has developed enormously and he is now directing the Insight Film Festival, which wants to encourage people of all backgrounds to make films about faith.

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to make animated films like Walt Disney did, but the ambition faded once I realised I had little talent for drawing. I was always fascinated by TV and radio though and was convinced that making programmes was a job that everyone in the world would want as much as I did.

How did you get involved in media?

I studied film and television at Durham in the days before most 'media studies' courses had been invented when the BBC opened a local radio station. I helped to make the student programme and it got me skilled enough for my first job with BBC Radio Manchester.

What media production has given you lots of joy?

Too many to list in a brief answer. My first job was very special - to get paid for something I enjoyed so much. Over the years I guess I would feel a special privilege to make programmes with Holocaust survivors and to tell some of their stories. Working with great musicians and in fantastic locations has also been a wonderful aspect of the work.
I'd also have to mention ...
... a live production of BBC Songs of Praise from Cardiff Millennium Stadium for the first Sunday of the new Millennium - with 6,000 in the choir, 100 harps, royalty, celebs and a live audience of 64,000.

Any grief?

... a live production from Cardiff Millennium Stadium for the first Sunday of the new Millennium - with 6,000 in the choir, 100 harps, royalty, celebs and a live audience of 64,000.

We have a creative grace to shape the world. What is your specific edge?

The Mission: Let your light so shine before people.
The Reason: ... that they might see good things you do.
The Aim: ... and give glory to God.
The Source: Inspired by Jesus.

What is your vision for the Insight Film Festival?

The 3rd Insight Film festival will launch its call for entries this autumn and we're in partnership with a number of organisations to present some spectacular awards to young film makers who can make films about faith. The vision is to encourage everyone to see faith as a legitimate genre in their film making. The Insight Festival wants to encourage a fresh generation of media players.

What has virtue got to do with it?

Responsibility, Loyalty, Community Cohesion, Faith, Love and Understanding.

Who influences you in your work?

People who create beautifully creative works of art which reflect truth.

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream for society. What is yours?

That people will understand each other more and that faith will be cherished in ways which add to that understanding.

What is the greatest challenge you face in the arts?

To be given appropriate platforms for expression.

How can film increase wellbeing in society over the next decade?

By exploring truth in all its various dimensions.

Tell us a joke...

An artist tries to persuade a sceptical commissioning editor that his talking dog is worth a feature.

"Look," he says, "I'll show you how well he talks - Fido, what's the weather like outside?"

The dog barks, "Rough, rough".

"Good Fido, and what is the name of the structure above our head?"

The dark barks, "Roof, roof" at which point the commissioning editor tells them both to go away and get lost.

Outside the room the dog turns to the artist and says, "I say, do you think it would be better if I'd said a ceiling was above our head rather than a roof?"