Ray Wilkes - Keelite of the Month June 2013

1999 MA Criminology

What am I doing now?

I'm an award nominated independent film-maker specialising in music videos, shorts, and feature length movies.
Ray Wilkes How did you get to where you are now?  

As a child my mother took me travelling around Europe and got me into taking travel photos. I grew out of photography as I entered the "real world" of work. I spent long time trying different jobs from public sector work, academia, market research, sales and ran my own business until I discovered my true calling in life.  

What has been your biggest achievement so far?  

Making a feature length movie. My last is called "Molly Crows" and stars actors from films like the new "Dr Who" film, "Dead Mans Shoes", "This is England"... and "Hollyoaks". Movie making tests you in many different ways. You write a script, manage a family of actors and crew, sort out locations, sound, lighting, then post production and then promote it. It's the most challenging thing I've done to date

And your biggest mistake?

I was employed as a researcher looking into food production markets and found that convenience food was very lucrative. So I bought a manufacturing business selling to wholesalers all over the UK. I was naive and didn't know enough about cash flow and finance. We traded so successfully we "overtraded" (insufficient capital to finance the venture) and I had to sell quickly to clear the debt. I lost my house and car - pretty much everything I owned.  It was a very scary time with many sleepless nights. I then went into sales advertising and made it all back in twelve months. After the dust had settled, with suggestions and support from friends, I realised what I really wanted to do: make movies. So looking back that my biggest mistake turned out to be the best mistake I ever made.

MollyCrows What are your ambitions now?

To make movies for the rest of my life. It makes me happy and keeps a good circle of friends around me. In the movie industry you meet some great people. They tend to be multi-skilled, somewhat eccentric and come from all walks of life.

Photo: Mercy Gaiger in Molly Crows

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?  

Only do it if its your true calling in life. Movie making is extremely competitive but with modern technology these days anyone with a DSLR (digital camera), a powerful PC/MAC and editing software can become a film maker. But get educated or learn a trade to fall back on when things get tough - because they will.

What made you choose Keele University?   

The location and spectacular campus. There's no other campus in the world like Keele - trust me I checked.

What kind of a student were you?

I was very focused and worked extremely hard. The department offered me work for three years after my MA.   

How has Keele influenced your life?  

It's given me a broad outlook on life, and helped me in difficult times to solve problems.
Ray What is your favourite memory of Keele?

Being in the Students' Union when I was twelve. My father used to manage KUSU and I remember him walking me though the Union seeing all these giant students dancing in the old Mandela Bar and thinking I was in heaven.

What is your impression of Keele now?  

I'll always love the campus and the recent changes around the grounds look wonderful. I'm pleased to see that the Independent Advice Unit is till running at Keele SU. Having come from public sector I was always impressed by the level of information and support the IAU offers students. They do a wonderful job for the funding they get. (IAU is now called ASK or Advice and Support at Keele)

Anything else you would like to add?

If you want to become a film maker go for it and remember to break some rules along the way. Nobody wants to watch boring movies.