Amanda Bluglass: The Storyteller

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amandabluglass
Storyteller

British filmmaker Amanda Bluglass's documentary portrait films – often focusing on fascinating characters in the world of adventure sports – have bagged her over 30 awards. Discover Amanda's motivation, hopes for the future, and how she copes with constantly balancing the knife edge of fear.

"I started by drawing stories, then cartoons, then using audio on the radio. Moving image came later."

What got you into filmmaking?

I was a creative kid who loved drawing, making things, music and photography. I was pulled into studying English and journalism. Eventually, I worked for BBC broadcast TV and radio, which gave me useful filmmaking basics, but when I left broadcasting I knew I had to return to my creative roots. I realised I could combine my journalistic instincts with my visual, musical and storytelling creative side to make films.

Why did you choose film as your method of storytelling?

It wasn’t my first method. I started by drawing stories, then cartoons, then using audio on the radio. Moving image came later. Filmmaking ticks my boxes as a very instinctual, creative, visual, aural and yet technical way of storytelling. I'm always learning.

"Don’t fret, enjoy every moment, say ‘yes’ to everything as long as it is legal and ethical. Appreciate your knees, they will get creaky."

What was the defining moment that set you on your current creative path?

In 2011 I was offered a commission to make a documentary about a 75-year-old deep sea diver, Ray Ives, who has an amazing trove of treasure salvaged from the ocean.

I made a conscious decision to tell Ray's story in the most cinematic, beautiful way I could. I teamed with a student of mine, Danny Cooke, and we turned out to be a great team. The film screened at festivals all around the work, and has been a big internet hit. That really helped launch my career and love of filmmaking. Danny is now a successful director of photography, and Ray still dives.

If you could meet with your 15-year-old self, what would you say to her?

You are going to have a great time and a very satisfying career, but it will take a while to get going! Don’t fret, enjoy every moment, say ‘yes’ to everything as long as it is legal and ethical. Appreciate your knees, they will get creaky.

©Amanda Bluglass
"In the summer I swim in outdoor pools nearby to my home. Yoga and cycling also help keep me sane."

Sharing creative work can be scary. To what extent do you feel that?

I'm always balancing the knife edge of fear. Fear of lack of work. Fear of too much work. Always wanting to do the very best job I can. Fear of not making budgets stretch far enough. I never have fear around my creative ideas, but I worry a lot about how they can be made to work. There’s always a lot of problem-solving required.

How do you approach problem-solving?

I manage it by spending time with my wife who can always see the wood for the trees and my dog, Arla, who is hilarious, cuddly and needs a lot of exercise. I have to get out with her most days and that helps me manage the mental pressures. In the summer I swim in the outdoor pools nearby my home. Yoga and cycling also help keep me sane.

Back to the subject of fear, what else are you afraid of?

Being mediocre. Not making enough money. Losing my health. You know, the usual!

"I want to be remembered for compassionate, moving, beautiful and inspiring storytelling that made a difference to people’s lives."

What do you want your legacy to be?

I want to be remembered for compassionate, moving, beautiful and inspiring storytelling that made a difference to people’s lives.

What do you hope people get from your films?

Inspiration, insight, compassion.

What’s next for you?

If Covid-19 doesn’t scupper my plans, a short documentary about a 72-year-old pickleball champion in Florida and a trip to the 5Ppoint Adventure Film Festival in Colorado. My film Chasing the Sublime is playing there and I’m also making their festival trailer. Fingers crossed it goes ahead. Difficult times….

©C Milo
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