Films4Life is a visionary charity set up by ex-gangster Mickey De Hara which reaches out to disengaged youngsters, offering them an opportunity to try their hand at film-making. Mickey offers young people this introduction to the world of film in the hope that it will focus their energies away from the streets into an industry that is not only exciting but full of opportunity. By creating Films4Life he has managed to turn his own life around and in doing so, is encouraging others to do the same.
Following his own life experiences, triumphs and failures, Mickey decided to try and demystify the misguided allure that surrounds youth gang culture, something he was once tied up in. He’s done time in jail and beaten cocaine addiction. He’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
“I went away for a while, not something I’m proud of. I was a ‘listener’ in prison, one night I went to see a young inmate who was in a very bad way, he wanted a way out of the madness of prison. We got talking about his drawings, which were stuck to the wall. He had so much talent but he was lost, I helped him find a purpose in art classes and drama writing. I learned that you can make a difference. I wanted to help those who needed it.”
Before his incarceration, Mickey had worked alongside Guy Ritchie on Snatch and RocknRolla as a script advisor. Guy Ritchie soon recognised Mickey’s talent for bringing to life credible, London gangster type characters. Mickey was once one himself and knew the rules inside out.
“Guy Ritchie had helped me find a talent for writing when I didn’t think I could. How many people were out there, with the skills and talent to do something special with their lives but no opportunity or self-belief?”
And so the concept of Films4Life was born. Mickey understood that many young people feel alienated or disenfranchised which often leads to depression, drugs and even gang culture. Key to Mickey’s philosophy is allowing young people to re-connect with the wider world, empowering them and re-kindling their self- belief and therefore enabling them to lead onto college or even employment in the industry.
Films4Life is not just about shooting through a lens though. The film industry employs a whole plethora of people, through various trades and skills. There are opportunities for electricians, painters, carpenters, runners, and drivers. Not everyone is a Spielberg. There is room for scope. It’s all about finding your piece of the jigsaw and realising that there is a role for you.
So what is his dream for Films4Life?
“My dream?” he laughs… Mickey recognises there is a vibrant, cutting edge pool of dormant talent waiting to be sourced, tapped and nurtured. He is currently working on a full-length script which he hopes to bring to the big screen. With the profits he’ll set up a film school run solely by young people; a creative place where they can bounce ideas off each other, write scripts and start making fresh, dynamic films with a real, grass roots street tag. Once on its feet, he wants to plug the profits from the films back into the film school so it becomes self-fulfilling. That’s his dream.
Give a kid a DVD and he will watch a film for a day. Put him behind a camera and he will make Films4Life.
Read more at: www.films4life.org