After two decades of working in engineering and manufacturing, Jamie Lundy is now laying down new and exciting tracks in the creative realm of filmmaking.
Jamie joins us on Close-up Culture to chat about this unique career change and give insight into his debut feature film, Principle Deception.
Q: You come from an impressive background in engineering and fashion. Can you talk about your background and how these experiences have informed you for this step into filmmaking?
A: I joined my father’s business way back in 1996 when I was just 15 years old. Over the years I worked hard and slowly came through the ranks, starting my career in workshop, then the design office, through to project engineering and eventually Project Management / Project Directing.
My career stretched over a 20 year period. Our family core business (40 years old) was the design and installation of petrochemical plants, diversifying into Rail Infrastructure Projects in the year 2000. Over the past 15 years or so I have been involved in many major West Coast Rail projects for Railtrack and Network Rail, eventually Project Managing infrastructure projects such as Milton Keynes Resignalling, London Blackfriars Bridge Resignalling, London Bridge and Reading Station Resignalling and electrification works.
These projects gained my team great recognition in the industry and I was awarded the national “Outstanding Individual Project Award” for the work carried out over a two year period for Thameslink Resignalling in London. This involved installed huge signal gantries on railway viaduct structures in the heart of London City itself.
At a young age I was also involved in fashion as a young model, working with the likes of Kate Moss, Ian Somerhalder, Stella Tennant, Mario Testino, Bruce Weber, Versace, Dolce & Gabanna, Vogue, W Magazine, and much more.
Following a serious illness five years ago I became extremely depressed and isolated. Thanks to my doctor he suggested I take up photography and suggested it was “good for the soul”. He was right and slowly but surely, I gained back a passion and skill I’d forgotten I had – creativity.
I studied and practised photography every day, starting to understand and master light and helping new models with my own knowledge of being in front of the camera. My co-director on Principle Deception, Andy Lee, taught me how to use a camera and still mentors me today.
The filming idea started a couple of years ago when Andy and I discussed the idea of filmmaking. With Andy’s 20 year career in producing music video and my 20 year career as a Project Manager and photography skills (infront and behind the camera) we thought it would be a great recipe for success.
Q: What is your connection to storytelling and filmmaking? Is it something you have always felt destined to do?
A: As a child, I always had a vivid imagination and always believed that I could be anybody and anything was possible. I was a national gymnast starting at the tender age of 6 and continued till the age of around 15 before injuries retired my career. With this discipline and training I grew up with the philosophy that anything less than 100% wasn’t good enough. With a keen eye for perfection and detail I believed that if you worked hard enough and believed in yourself the world was open to all sorts of possibilities. Even before the internet was invented!
I always loved movies. They were inspiring and magical. It was always an experience going to watch a movie and even going to the local VHS rental store. I the smell and atmosphere of the cinema. We lived right next to one. The grand doors, the red carpets, the balconies where the rich people sat, the cigarette smoke, popcorn and the usherettes with the ice-cream trays. What an experience it was, going back home to grab your Star Wars characters and play the scenes you’d just witnessed first hand. I miss that. I miss the emotional connection we all had to film.
Was I destined to be a filmmaker? Maybe.
Q: You are currently in pre-production for your first feature film, ‘Principle Deception’. I heard it is World War Two story with action, deception and love. Can you give us any more insight into the story?
A: First and foremost, it is a film that we hope will raise awareness of the brave and empowering SOE (Special Operations Executive) women of WW2 who fought and died for not just our country but many others too. Around 18 months ago I was handed a small five minute short script to read based on a female spy in WW2. There wasn’t much to the script apart from a women, a spy, a washing line and an ME 109 fighter plane! But I loved the concept. You’ll have to watch it now to see if you can spot that moment.
We set out writing the story with a very important brief. I said: “Imagine you have to make action figures out of every characters!” I wanted the characters to be unique and have their own style, quirks, clothing, motivation, agenda.
Our lead character “Ellie” pretty much reminds me of myself, when I had been poorly a few years before. Emotionless, isolated, introvert, a little selfish but determined, strong minded, good work ethic, believe, a photographic memory and exceptional attention to detail. Throughout the movie Ellie’s character seems to escape her cold and dark side, warming to her new colleagues who confide in her with real life and normal events. For a while she manages to break away from the chaos of war and return to a little reality.
Q: Yourself and co-writer Andy Lee have plenty of experience working with A-List artists. Do you think that will be useful when collaborating with actors on the film?
A: Andy Lee is not just my co-writer (along with Paula Van Wijngaarden) he is also my co-director but yes, having experience with A-List professionals has helped in securing actors and actresses for certain roles. With us both having long and successful professional careers, it does give other professionals that we are here to stay. That’s not to say that we don’t get excited when we meet our on screen heroes, but when it comes to business, we are nothing but professional.
Q: What is your vision for the visual style of ‘Principle Deception’?
A: Gosh, what a question!
I / We are inspired by many visual styles and directors. Some include the likes of Sergio Leone, David Lean, George Lucas, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Ridley Scott, Denis Villeneuve, Francis Ford Coppola, and many more.
I’m a true believer in trying to use as little CGI as possible in this movie, so all the dog fights, car chases, vehicles, explosions, missiles etc. will be real. We have Richard Grace (son of Carolyn Grace – world-renowned display pilot) co-ordinating, choreographing and flying our planes. A real British Hurricane and a German ME 109 will take to the skies in an epic dog fight witnessed by an American B17 Bomber (Sally B).
With regard to visuals, I like contrast, shadows, the use of practicals etc. so there will be lots of this. I’ve never really followed the rules for lighting. I’m more of a “If it looks right, it is right” and Andy shares that vision too. As for equipment we’ll be using the Arri range utilising a couple of Arri Alexa XL’s and a couple of minis.
Q: You recently announced that Matthew Mardsen (‘Black Hawk Down’, ‘Rambo: 2008’, ‘Transformers 2’) has committed to the project. How important is it to add experienced people like Matthew to your team?
A: Yes, we’re very lucky to have Matthew onboard and he has given us some great advice and assistance in meeting the right people. He’s had a fantastic career as an actor and has now gone into writing, producing and directing himself with his own film I Am That Man, which due to be released later this year. I’m very grateful for all the support and advice he has given me so far and we’ve built a good friendship between us. I’m sure we’ll be doing lots more together in the future!
Q: I imagine you are anxious to get into production. How are you finding the process so far of making your first feature?
A: From my previous career, I’m quite used to projects taking a long time to develop and deliver but yes, I must admit I’m a little anxious but equally excited. I’m enjoying the whole process and learning so much, not just about filmmaking, but also about the history, stories and people of WW2. I’m lucky to have a great team around me that our passion for this movie.
Q: What are your next steps for ‘Principle Deception? And, what are your hopes for the film?
A: We are currently finalising the cast and will start filming in September / October 2019. We have some very experienced actors associated with the film, but my vision has always been to push and promote young British talent. I hope by taking this strategy it will give the film a certain feel, depth and reality to it.
Our hopes are to start a sequel straight away!
Title photo courtesy of Global Film Showcase