LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with Luke Walton
Luke Walton is film producer and director of ’The Pitch’ film short competition. Interviewed by Pat Harvey, Luke was an engaging guest as he talked about his early interest in the arts which later led to him turning his hand to film. He felt that film this was possibly the most compelling medium of communication for this generation.
Luke had drawn inspiration from film festivals such as the USA based 168 International Film Competition. He entered this competition in 2009 with his film ’Unscripted’ and it was nominated for a number of awards including best film. He adapted the format of the competition for the UK. Anyone is able to enter ’The Pitch’. The winner receives £25,000 to enable their film to be made and has the opportunity to visit LA to meet industry professionals. Luke illustrated his talk with numerous film clips including a number of pitches. The ideas were fascinating and the some of the pitches he showed have not yet been made into film.
Luke co-produced some of the films with previous LCC speaker, Jackie Sheppard. The music for Rahab was composed by previous LCC guest Vanessa James. Luke said that he hoped the competition helped to launch film makers into their careers.
The films mentioned plus other films and pitches can be seen on the website: www.enterthepitch.com/thepitch/
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with Paul Kerensa
On Saturday June 7th we were delighted to welcome our guest, comedian and comedy writer Paul Kerensa. The laughs kept coming as Paul, with easy manner and accomplished patter, delivered pithy one liners and witty comments on life, aided by the judicious use of a powerpoint presentation. Using photos and mathematical tables he illustrated the ’providential’ link between his children’s birthdates and how they appear in binary number form. Trust me it was funny you had to be there! There were also a few ’nice’ heckles from those gathered. You would expect nothing else from an ACG audience. At the end he had us singing the story of the Bible to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody!
During the second half Paul gave a fascinating insight into his work and development as a comedian and writer. It all began when he attended evening classes in comedy. Pat Harvey’s penetrating questions drew out much of interest as Paul highlighted the more serious aspects of being a Christian in a largely atheistic comedy world. Paul seems to be able to navigate these potentially treacherous waters, maintaining his Christian integrity, yet holding his own in the professional comedy circuit. He provided insights into the writing process for the TV sitcom’s Miranda and NotGoing Out. The latter is rather more ’edgy’ than Miranda and Paul noted that on a number of occasions his influence had pulled the programme back from going further ’over the edge’. Short clips of those programmes were shown as illustrations. He also talked about Radio 4’s The Now Show which necessitates writing sketches based on current newsworthy subjects. He only has a few days to respond to events as they are happening. But he seems to enjoy this challenge. Paul proved to be a very personable interviewee and the evening concluded with Q&A from the audience.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with Vanessa James
We were treated to a riveting evening when Vanessa James was interviewed about her career as a composer and author by Julia Bicknell. With a unique upbringing and not really speaking until she was about 9 years old, Vanessa lost herself in the world of music, expressing her emotions and ‘talking’ through the piano. After an epiphany experience when she heard the film music of John Williams, Vanessa knew what she wanted to do with her life. She embarked upon a career in film composition and while at music college, made invaluable contacts at the local film school where she offered to write film music for free. This enabled her to get her foot in the door and her music was noticed by established film makers. Since that time her compositions have provided the backdrop to various television ads including an ad for Audi cars. But despite her prodigious talent Vanessa went through a difficult patch and were it not for a providential meeting with Jackie Sheppard, (producer of the film Africa United) at a Lighthouse Café Club event, Vanessa might have given up her musical career. Jackie helped revitalise Vanessa’s career by paving the way for her to write the score for the film Rahab (Enter The Pitch film competition winner 2010). In addition to film composition, Vanessa plays keyboards in the band Starling with her husband and ACG board member, Daniel James.
Vanessa went on to talk about her book The Girl With No Name, which recounts the remarkable story of her mother, Marina Chapman. Marina was abducted as a child in 1950s Colombia and was abandoned in the jungle where her only companions were monkeys. She was able to establish a rapport with them and she lived with them for about 5 years. Her reintegration into human society began when she was taken from the jungle by monkey hunters and sold to a brothel. She later escaped and for a time survived as a street child until she was adopted by a loving family. Eventually she travelled to England and met her husband at a church in Bradford. Vanessa started writing about her mother’s life to fill in time while working at a theatre box office, never dreaming that one day it would turn into a best selling book and lead to TV appearances and a documentary film. She gave us fascinating anecdotes revealing how her mother’s time with the monkeys influences her life even to this day. For example a walk in the park often turns into more of an adventure as Marina’s agility in climbing trees is put into practice.
During the making of the documentary they travelled to Columbia, and met up with a neighbour who had witnessed a time when Marina was tied to a tree by her captors. They also went into the forest and encountered monkeys who, alas, were not Marina’s original monkeys and this led to a sense of bereavement for some months afterwards. The book is available from Amazon and can be ordered through Waterstones.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with John Forrest
Our guest at the Lighthouse Café Club on January 18th was TV producer John Forrest. In the first part of the evening John gave an overview of his wide ranging career. He spoke of his early days in television & radio including his creation of the radio character ’Mr Nasty’ who carried out absurd arguments on a children’s radio phone in programme.
He then talked about his years as producer of Songs of Praise and a number of other projects, including a film he made for an MA project featuring a meeting between the comedian Frank Skinner and Archbishop Rowan Williams, illustrating what he had to say with filmclips of his work. He then focused on his current role as director of Insight Film Festival. This festival gives awards for films which focus on the role of ’faith’. During the second half he was ably interviewed by Pat Harvey (who also has produced programmes for television). There were times when the successful completion of programmes seemed impossible, for example overseeing Songs of Praise at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, but somehow a way forward presented itself. John was a fascinating guest and we could have listened for much longer.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with COLE MORETON
Broadcaster and award winning journalist Cole Moreton was the guest at the Lighthouse Café Club in September. Ably interviewed by Pat Harvey (artist/writer/producer), he told us, oftentimes amusing stories, of his experience of interviewing those in the public eye. His interviewees ranged from politicians such as Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair and Nick Clegg to significant Christian leaders such as the late John Wimber.
He talked about his recent book, Is ’God Still An Englishman’, in which he questions some of the thinking behind an historical ’British Empire’ version of Christianity. He alluded to the challenges and questions that had arisen from his own faith walk. While not everyone would agree with his conclusions it nonetheless gave food for thought.
He noted how in the recent Olympic Games he was privileged to be at one of the races in which Somalian born Mo Farah won a gold medal. Despite the challenge of coming up with an inspired piece of writing surrounded by 80,000 screaming fans and answering to a very demanding editor, it was a magical moment to be there and see how amazingly the largely white middle class crowd responded to the Somalian born runner.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with GAVIN ASHENDEN
We were treated to a lively and entertaining evening with Canon Gavin Ashenden at the Lighthouse Café Club in May. Interviewed by Pat Harvey in the first half, Gavin expounded his views on a number of topics in his engaging and unique style and told us something of the journey that led him to becoming a Christian. It turned out that the late David Watson had been an influential figure in his conversion.
He referred to a book that he has written about Charles Williams. Williams was a member of the literary group The Inklings in the 1930s and 1940s. Other notable luminaries of this group included C.S. Lewis and J R Tolkien. Gavin felt that Williams’ contribution to literary thought has been overlooked and his book, ’Charles Williams; Alchemy And Integration’, is an attempt to redress this.
In the second half he talked about his forthcoming book ’Healing Christian History’ and its premise that we have lost something by separating Christendom into the major blocs of Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox. He argued that walls had been built around each bloc, with few venturing out to find the treasures in the other traditions.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with ADRIAN PLASS
We were treated to an evening with prolific author and speaker, Adrian Plass. During the first half Adrian spoke on a variety of themes with stories, anecdotes and poems running the gamut of emotions from hilarious to moving; lighthearted to challenging. He noted that the two most important qualities in life were love and laughter. He gave examples from his work at Scargill House, Yorkshire, of how laughter (using what some would think of as sacrilegious humour) had helped bring healing to people who had been struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.
He poked fun at church culture, not in a cynical way, but as someone right there in the middle of the church.
This was reiterated in the second half when, interviewed by Pat Harvey, he said that he was very orthodox in his Christian views, even though he spent so much time making fun of the church. Pat probed him with penetrating questions and this provided a fascinating insight into Adrian’s life, work and beliefs. He talked about how he started writing, really as a therapy for his own difficulties many years ago, rather than with aspirations of becoming successful.
Adrian helps all of us in the church to take ourselves a little less seriously.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with GILLIAN REYNOLDS MBE: RADIO, SUDDENLY CHIC (AGAIN…)
Gillian Reynolds, doyenne of radio critics and, after 45 years with pen/typewriter/mouse in hand, a triumphant icon of survival in the face of a youthbesotted industry, was a refreshing and stimulating visitor to the Lighthouse Café Club as she charted the rise, fall and rise of radio. With audience figures for all genres at their highest ever, and with Radio Four in particular at the top of its game, what was the
explanation of the success of what was once seen as a whiskery medium, unlikely to survive the impact of television, let alone the digital age? An unreconstructed fan of the BBC, Gillian claimed that “a new market for quality”, inconceivable apart from the licence fee, is being created from the brilliant Reithian principle of “using the tide of the familiar to lead on to the unfamiliar”. Pressed on its future, she was guardedly optimistic. In an engaging coda centering on her faith, Gillian described how from childhood in Liverpool she had been a convinced and active Anglican. Even the challenges of her church’s interregnum could not shake her conviction that “there is something far bigger than us”.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with PAUL JONES & FIONA HENDLEY
The July Lighthouse Café Club hosted Paul Jones and Fiona Hendley. Paul shared some amusing stories of his time with Manfred Mann in the 1960s. With songs and testimony, Paul and Fiona gave a fascinating account of how they came to faith. Paul used to visit art galleries before his performances to try and attain some peace in the frenetic environment of his tour schedule. His favourite artist was Casper Friedrich and he couldn’t help noticing (as a devout atheist!) that there was a sense of spirituality evident in the paintings. Paul concluded that there must be a source to this spirituality. He eventually gave his life to Christ at a Luis Palau rally in London, after being invited there by Cliff Richard. Cliff sang some songs at the event and this was particularly ironic as Paul had debated with Cliff Richard on national television in the 1960s when he had sought to destroy Cliff’s belief in God.
Fiona became a Christian at the same event. For a long time she had been searching for a reality beyond herself as she had had difficulties in her relationship with her natural father. She and Paul appeared in the same musical together. They fell in love at that time and became Christians together later at the Luis Palau rally. Paul proposed to Fiona on that night. Fiona has entered ministry full time as an evangelist and Paul continues in the entertainment industry performing with the Manfreds, The Blues Band and hosting BBC radio programmes.
The interviewer for the evening was Julia Bicknell.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with STEWART HENDERSON
From the white heat of Liverpool in the 60’s and 70’s to the hallowed precincts of BBC Radio Four, poet/ broadcaster/producer and presenter of R4’s Questions, Questions, Stewart Henderson, shared his spiritual and professional journey with an audience studded with names from ACG history such as Jenny Cook and Nigel Goodwin, plus a throng of other admirers. In the first half of the evening he regaled us with a selection of the works which have earned him a permanent niche in festivals like Greenbelt, covering subjects such as GPlan Furniture (for those who remember it!), bored schoolboys, and Liverpudlian Protestant bigotry. In the second half he revealed that, while not wearing his faith on his sleeve, he did not find expressing it the uphill task that some claim it to be, as suitable and exciting subjects often landed on his plate. He was thrilled to be reunited with his ACG roots, and congratulated it on continuing to “fight the good fight for the Light in the marketplace of the arts”.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with NORMAN STONE, FILM PRODUCER
Longstanding ACG member and prolific filmmaker Norman Stone held his audience enthralled for two hours with tales of productions old, new and yet to come. Concentrating on KJB: The Book That Changed the World, newly released on DVD to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, Norman treated us to a catalogue of the challenges you face as a film maker: not only getting productions off the ground and commissioned, but in producing high quality drama on a tight budget. And he gave an amusing example of a location for KJB where he could not afford to have the public excluded, and where children stood and applauded as the actors delivered their lines! Asked about the current direction of BBC religious broadcasting, he admitted to considerable concern, saying it was increasingly difficult to get proposals coming from a historic Christian stance commissioned. Even his ’breakthrough’ production, Shadowlands (1984), found its central theme C.S. Lewis’ faith diluted in successive incarnations, as a stage play and a feature film. Even the current Narnia series, where Aslan becomes a cuddly animal rather than a fearsome lion, was not immune. Finally, Norman treated us to a ’ripomatic’ a kind of trailer for a film which doesn’t exist yet, made because “Hollywood doesn’t read any more” of The End Time, the story of Saint Columba. Watch this space.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with the PRODUCERS OF ’AFRICA UNITED’
In January the producers of the film Africa United, Mark Blaney and Jackie Sheppard, shared about their journey as filmmakers and their involvement with their most recent film. During the first part of the evening they showed one of their early films. During the second part they were interviewed by Julia Bicknell, particularly with reference to the film Africa United. It was fascinating to hear about the risks they took and about how God met them at various points with the role of prayer being pivotal in the making of the film. Africa United is available on DVD from various outlets including Amazon and HMV.
LIGHTHOUSE CAFÉ CLUB with DAVID and CARRIE GRANT
The Lighthouse Café Club was launched in London on Saturday 20th November 2010 with guests Carrie and David Grant. There was a full house to see a performance from Carrie in the first half. This was followed by Carrie and David in conversation interviewed by Pat Harvey. Pat ran the Lighthouse Café in Littlehampton for many years and it is great to see her idea revived, with herself and Board
Member Gordon Adams at the helm.