John Parr

Grammy nominated singer songwriter John Parr has had two U.S. number one hits "Naughty Naughty" and "St Elmo's Fire ( Man in Motion)". He has written and performed title tracks and music for 15 Hollywood movies including "Three Men and a Baby", Schwarzenegger's "The Running Man" , "Near Dark". The Oscar winning "Spider-Man into the Spiderverse" and "Deadpool" and has sold over 10,000,000 albums worldwide.

John's recent album "The Mission" is inspired by the sacrifices of our service men and women and their families with proceeds going to military charities to aid their rehabilitation as they make the difficult transition back into civilian life.

John is an Ambassador for the USO of America, USA Cares and Military Families and has worked extensively with Help For Heroes and UNICEF.

On the campaign to raise awareness for the military cause,, John and his production manager Hedley Taylor travelled 35,000 miles by road in the first 7 weeks of an 18 month tour of America.

"St Elmo's Fire ( Man in Motion)" was written by John and David Foster as an anthem for wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen. Rick had been recently disabled and during his recovery dreamed of wheeling his chair around the globe to raise funds and awareness for spinal research.
His incredible journey began in May 1985, wheeling 50 miles a day for two years two months and two days.... 25,000 miles circumnavigating the globe, Well...the rest is history.... Rick's dream finally became a reality and his epic journey had raised $275,000,000 for spinal research and built I cord, the world's leading spinal research facility, where a few people with the same injuries suffered by Rick were able to walk again.

Director Statement
From the moment we decided to make "Unconquered" I was on my honor Not just to Corporal Mark "Dot" Perkins and Sergeant Dave "Dogs" Dewar but to those whose every day is a battle to shed the chains of impediment.

The face off before the brutal rugby game.

It has been the driving force for half my life. I cannot count the blessings I have received whilst striving to bring light to those less fortunate. Telling the truth of Dot and Dave's story haunted me. These were elite, battle hardened soldiers, part of a brotherhood that few may enter. They honoured me with their stories and from then I had to weave a concise memoir that captured the whole 360 in just twenty four minutes. Even as shooting began I felt I was not getting to the heart of their story. It was early days but I was still an outsider walking on eggshells. As the shoot progressed they began to trust me, at least a little. It was the second day, we were sharing a soup in that freezing hanger and I went for it..... "How deep can I go?" Dot and Dave were puzzled..."How much of the dark stuff can I tell?" They just gave me the thousand yard stare . . . and said " Go for it!"

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Dave "A man prepares scene"

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Your project takes a part in our festival. What is your project about?
Unconquered is the true story of two elite soldiers who were severely injured, both mentally and physically in the line of duty and how they find their way out of the darkness, battling their demons to rise again through the love of family and their passion . . . Sport.

What were your requirements for actors to take a part of your film?
Three were no actors in Unconquered. The two soldiers played themselves, which as you can imagine was challenging for them and indeed myself. Reliving the most harrowing moments of their life on camera was a tough ask. It was the honour of my life that these incredible men put their trust in me and allowed me into their darkest places. In truth from an acting perspective I was looking for a more traditional  performance but I soon realised what I was getting was a truth I never envisaged.

How did you communicate with the cameraman?
I didn't storyboard  but I wrote every scene in the tiniest detail. The blocking, the colour and mood. It made it hard for my cinematographer/main cameraman Luke Wade at times because I could always see the finished film in my mind long before shooting began. Within a day we developed a shorthand that made some of the more challenging scenes possible.

What locations did you choose for your project? And why?
The shoot took nine and a half days.
We began in St Athan in Wales in a huge military aircraft hanger. Where we shot the `Rugby game, some drone work and the :"Man prepares scene ". It was freezing, dusty and without power much of the time. The office outside is where Dave actually works.

This was the sister Hanger in St Athen that had been converted into the biggest training & rehab gym I have ever seen. We also shot the physio scene and the Dave apologises scene   - some drone work and the big training scene in there.. It's actually where Dot works as a senior Physio.

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We shot the Dave at  Sea scene in Flamboro, North Yorkshire. Incredibly beutiful by day but wild and threatening at night, with ten foot waves on the night we shot

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Flamboro Lighthouse

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3am in the North Sea in March - the calm after the storm

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I was searching for something reminiscent of a bombed out chateau for the battlefield scene. I was driving about 17 miles from home when it revealed itself.

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We never intended to re- enact either of Dot and Dave's life changing accidents.  Firstly we didn't have the budget and  secondly we wanted to take the audience inside the soldiers minds  and let them imagine it through sound and  facial expression - but when we came across a vehicle that was exactly the same as the one that crashed in Africa we had to bite the bullet and try to make it as authentic as possible. Luke is on the left  and that's me on the right.

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Why should distributors buy your film?

Shorts are a tough sell, not just business wise but also  from an audience perspective. That being said, with 24/7 accessibility  to content and the ways in which the audience now views it, I believe the short just might have a brighter future. Clearly it has to make money, but I think the really successful folk in the movie business long to be around shows  that give people something that will live on long after the final credits. Or am I just a hopeful romantic . .

What expression elements did you use in your project? How would you characterize your work?
Truth was all in Unconquered. I wanted to put the audience inside these guy's heads. Many scenes are without dialogue and rely so much on the interplay between the two men, a visual poem if you will. I am always trying ,both in my music and now in film, to really move people. If I can get that involuntary reaction...the tears, the goosebumps...something a human has no control over, that is my goal. Yes you could say it is artifice or manipulation but I want people to feel what I felt the day Dot  and Dave and Honoured me life changing stories.

At what festivals have you had success? Has the film already premiered? If so, where?
The first festival we entered as Carmarthen Bay in May 2023 in Wales, a BAFTA qualifier were we made the final. We won 4 awards at the Accolade festival in America. We took Best documentary at the Athens festival in Greece and won two awards at the Royal Society of Television and Motion Pictures. In technical categories we have won Best Script - Best  Cinematography- Best Director and Best score. Its early days and  of course among our successes we have had some hard knocks. All any of us wants is a fair chance to respectfully ask leave any bias and ego at the door  and let any film sink or swim on its merit. What we all deserve in life is a level playing field.

What motivated you to become a filmmaker?
I have loved film since I was a little kid at the Saturday matinees . Thet transported me from my little mining town to the moon and back. The thrills, the spills of those cliff hanger B movies to the glorious technicolor period epics to the wild wild west. It was intoxicating. But then the Beatles came along and I, like most of us, was bowled over by those incredible times and I knew then that I had to be a performer, a musician . . .an artist.

I worked and worked, practiced so so hard and after 20 years of struggle I made it. i was a rock star and number one in America. I made so many videos with some great directors but always insisted we shot 35mm and usually Panavision. Budgets were healthy and I got to be somewhat  involved but never really hands on which frustrated me.

Around 2004 my son Ben wrote to Vic Armstrong( elite stuntman and 2nd unit director) Ben was fifteen and had to do 2 weeks work experience from school, like myself he aims high. Vic kindly wrote back and a week later Ben was on the set of the James bond movie "Die Another Day". I dropped him off at Pinewood on his first day but couldn't resist outstaying my welcome and hung around on set. There I met my future business partner Chris Munro, he was in charge of sound. We immediately hit it off and over a coffee made plans to shoot a short film. He had been 30 years in the film business a two time Oscar winner but had never made his own film. When the Bond movie wrapped  we wrote and shot Road to Damascus.  -  Chris directed and I was Producer. Chris was hot and everybody wanted to work with him and would do it for free as we like to call it. We shot in and around Pinewood with many of the Bond Crew. Panavision lent us all the Camera gear, lenses and trucks. But 35mm stock was not free and boy that nearly broke the bank.

After the 10 day shoot Chris had to leave to shoot the Mathew McConaughey film "Sahara" so I was left to do the post. I was so out of my depth.  I did sound, foley, score, the edit, SFX , you name it, but what a learning curve. I got to work down at Twickenham Studios where we  did actually shoot a scene for Road to Damascus in the same studio where the Beatles shot "Let it be".

I was blessed to meet the boss down there, the late great Gerry Humphries ( Blade Runner,  A Bridge Too far, and a hundred more movies he did sound for) he was a lovely man who would always shoot me a reassuring wink to  let me know that I was doing ok. Wonderful moments.
We actually did make the 2004 Oscars and came 7th in Live action short. Personally I think we had a real shot but with Chris' name and many other leading lights involved on the film I reckon the Academy thought we may have been a little over qualified and they gave to statue to "Wasp" a gritty urban video that was much the mood of the day

Which movies are your favorites? And why?
"Wonderful Life" . . .its perfect. "Braveheart" . . still leaves me unable to speak.

What topics do you like to deal with in your work?
 The human spirit. The stuff that makes people tick. Their challenges, their vulnerability and the incredible things we are capable of.  Its like when you write a song, its impossible to do something completely new so you try and do it or say it a different way. I am a hopeful romantic so I want to be lost in the wonder and magic of it all. I don't mind going dark so long as there is a positive outcome or message in the final reel. The bar has been set so high in my lifetime and as a musician I have tried to reach for it, likewise with film. You have to give your all, every braincell every ounce of energy. It can never be perfect but God  loves a trier.

What genre do you like to shoot and why?
 The epic myth is the star that shines for me. I guess with the advent of streaming,  folks are used to getting into something for the long haul so I think that genre has a new life. But it has to have a life and real integrity. The examples are out there, the standard has been written and captured and that should be the the foundation from which we begin and seek to maintain it. The pursuit of excellence. Even if we fail  . . .to have that tenent in our heart every day we work in this business , only good will come.

What project would you like to shoot one day, what would it be about?
 I have two scripts I would love  to shoot next. Both are true stories and happened close to where I live in Yorkshire. I believe they will inspire and motivate but most importantly entertain. With out that you are rudderless. I think you should always leave a movie feeling better than when it began. Something that will live with you long afterwards. I believe a good movie can really help people whatever their lot. Those precious moments on celluloid or video  that give us hope, strength and a smile when we need them most.

How has COVID affected your film life?
 Through my pal and exec producer Neil Bladen, I met Dot and Dave at their old military  base just before Covid and having heard their incredible stories promised we would make a short documentary. We planned to hire a local production company and have them make it. I met with them and agreed they could make 6 minute documentary for £5,000. Some local business men agreed to throw some money in so we were off to the races. Then Covid struck!! By the time the dust had settled the production company went bust and the local businees men stopped taking my calls.

I was on my honour. I had promised Dot and Dave I would make the film . . .

I did research and bought Black Magic cameras...TheUrsa G2  and the 12k ( which was a life saver ) and the 6k. I loved  the images they made and combined with a set of Zeiss CP2's it was as close to Panavision as I was going to get.

A few lights and bits and bobs and  we were set. Well that took half the life savings  and a few bob from Neil, it was .time to find some like minded folk to work them. I spoke with my old buddies George Fretwell and Howard Johnson -they had shot some of my very early demo videos and always gave me good advice. They pulled in  a couple of their proteges, who were experienced . . . But I had seen a  video a young guy had made on Youtube that I thought had something really special about it. I contacted him and I got lucky . . .Luke Wade became my Cinematographer, Main Camera, Editor, Colourist, you name it, my wing man.  

What do you do if you're not thinking about a movie? What are your hobbies?
 I spend as much of my free time as i can with the love of my life, my wife Sharon and I'm blessed to have two sons who are my dear pals. I am still a recording artist, composer and live performer so I have to stay match fit for that side of my life. I am a black belt in Tae kwon Do and was an instructor and also a one time dog breeder of German Shepherds....we won Crufts one year with our  dog "Mr President".

Of course the great thing at my age is that I am a grandad....a young one but non the less a very proud one and to be part of a young  life is a true blessing in life.

What projects do you plan to shoot in the future?
 As I said earlier I have the two local true stories I really want to make. They are very doable I know how to make them - pretty low budget but I reckon they can make a good return.

I have my secret epic myth project that is my ultimate dream to make. I think it has real legs and power. I also have a couple of tentpole movies I think have a fresh angle in them, one is a dark phycological  mystery thriller and the other is lighter, funny but not the less intriguing with a technology and concept I have not seen explored before.

I believe films are as important as ever to give perspective and insight into the lives of others and the cultures within that. Cinema is unique in that you have so many disperate folk in that darkened room sharing a common experience, fundamentally we are all the same despite our background or ethnicity. As filmmakers we have to be true to our hearts and  never short measure our audience

I believe with all my heart that Cinema is the last cathedral.

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