Chris Jones - Film Maker

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WHY SHOULD YOU LISTEN TO HIM…?  Because he writes the best selling GUERILLA FILM MAKERS HANDBOOKS and he was Oscar shortlisted for his multi award winning short film GONE FISHING.


Chris was born in the Northwest of England, in Wigan, an old coal mining town now more famous for its Rugby. Film making was not an obvious career choice, but Chris’ passion for cinema and drive to make his dreams come true resulted with him making a string of highly successful super 8mm horror movies which in turn landed him in film school.

It was while at film school that he made alliances with other film makers with whom he subsequently made three genre micro budget features – first was an action thriller starring Harrison Ford’s kid brother Terrance, THE RUNNER. This baptism by fire soon led to a second feature film, WHITE ANGEL, a serial killer thriller (US title INTERVIEW WITH A SERIAL KILLER) starring Peter Firth. WHITE ANGEL later ran as the centrepiece film at the London Film Festival and picked up a bunch of international awards at festivals. The third micro budget feature was URBAN GHOST STORY, a gritty social realist paranormal tale set in Glasgow, Scotland which he wrote and produced.

It was during the making of these films that Chris decided to write THE GUERILLA FILM MAKERS HANDBOOK. When it hit the book shelves, it was an immediate success with Indie film makers. The book has since spawned two updates, an American edition and a third book, THE MOVIE BLUEPRINT. The books have helped and inspired over 100,000 new film makers to date.

After some years teaching and writing books, Chris relaunched his film making career in 2009 with the ambitious short GONE FISHING. The film was entirely funded with £50 ($100) donations and Chris has kept an extensive blog about his adventures at

GONE FISHING was Oscars shortlisted in 2009.

Chris lives in Ealing, West London and his business is based at the historic Ealing Film Studios.

Q:  What was your favourite film as a kid?

A:  THE VALLEY OF THE GWANJI. Cowboys and dinosaurs -  what more could you want?

Q:  Who inspired you when you were starting out?

A:  A few people. At film school there was a business advisor who lifted the veil of possibility. Ironic that among the film lecturers it was the business admin guy who made a huge difference to my career. It was just a two hour chat but absolutely what I needed. Also, stuntman Terry Forrestal believed in me when most thought I was mad. Lending his name to what I was doing made all the difference, and it was a lesson in surrounding myself with expertise, talent and connected people.

Q:  What was your big break?

A:   I have never had a break. I have only had breakthroughs where I pushed so hard that the forces of probability took over. We make our own luck. I guess that looks like a break or luck from the outside, but that is a myth that stops people achieving their potential. Expect no breaks and go for success. You wont fail.

Q:  What was the best day in your career?

A:  There have been so many really, but consistently, the premieres of my movies have been extraordinary. The last one - GONE FISHING - though only a short film, was quite overwhelming. As I had made this film in a tactical attempt to win an Oscar I had a lot riding on it so to get an overwhelmingly positive response really did bring me to tears. But really, I am blessed to be in a creative business so every day has its own highs and lows.

Q:  What has been your most important lesson?

A:  Pacing of a story. It’s been an ongoing lesson and I relearn new aspects all the time. That’s why I love film making and screenwriting. It’s the art of saying the most with the least. Get to the point and keep it tight.

Q:  If a niece or nephew wanted to be in the business, what would you advise them?

A:  Take your time. Learn your craft and get as much experience and contacts as you can before you attempt something ambitious. Beyond that, start writing, pick up a camera and start making movies. It’s amazing what you can do with a Canon 5D MkII and a desktop computer. And if you want to be a writer only, do it anyway as it’s essential to experience your words made into a film.

Q:  What is the hardest part of your job and how do you overcome it?

A:  Daily survival from a financial perspective. I have been doing it 20 years now and every day I wonder how I will get through the next 24 hours. Still, somehow I always manage.

Q:  What do you feel is a writers’ or filmmakers' key responsibility?

A:  To engage with an audience and respect their time. Life does not owe anyone an audience. Like respect, it needs to be earned through hard work and focus.

Q:  What mistakes do you see writers or film makers making over and over?

A:   It’s hard to criticise as I feel that every film is a miracle. Having said that, I see too many scripts taken to set before they are ready. Rewrite, refine, evolve…

Q:  What advice would you offer a writer or film maker?

A:   Plan for a life in film and create a strategy that reflects that. Many people fail because they don’t think long term. Like a marathon, you just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And remember to look around on your journey, and be nice to everyone.