My first experience with writing was as a lyricist in a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band called ‘Ricochet’, which was formed in Birmingham, England. Our first hit single blew up in 1980, which led to a tour in Germany playing to the American soldiers, millions of pirate downloads via Torrents and the acclaim of being the ‘holy grail of rock singles’. Later down the line in 1982, now living in Germany, I set up a German-Anglo Rock band, called ‘Damien’; our hit song eventually reached #19 in the German Album Charts – only one place above Queen!
By 1987, the Cold War was over and ‘Damien’ had slowed down, so I returned to England to work on the Stock Exchange after an exciting 6 years of working for the US Department of Defence in Germany. However, after the crash of the Stock Market on 19th October 1987, I retreated back to Germany to work on the German Electronic Markets. After 2 years, I eventually moved on to the Swiss Markets, living on Lake Geneva – Heaven!
After years of working on various Stock Markets, the financial bubble burst and burnout was rife so I retreated back to Birmingham in 1991 to set up a recording studio and rehearsal rooms, ultimately playing for another NWOBHM band – ‘Handsome Beasts’.
Having learned about computers through my time in the Stock Market, I then decided to take a computer degree at the University of Brighton. As part of my year out, I worked in the Bosnian War for the UNHCR. After this year out, I returned to England in 1998 and began a new career path, working in data security for Citibank. It was around this time that I developed the concept for my very first film. This epiphany came about during a severe case of food poisoning, in which I experienced a full, multicoloured film in my head; this later became ‘Shooting Gallery’.
Because of my profound experience in Warsaw, I decided to delve into the art of screenwriting and completed a 2 year diploma at UEA. Over the following 12 years, I took numerous screenwriting, directing and producing courses at Open University, Raindance, City University, AUB and LSF to refine my knowledge and skills to be where they are today. During this time, ‘Ricochet’ had another revival and, with the rise of YouTube, we now needed music videos for our newly-recorded album. The problem was that, because we rarely played live gigs, we struggled with footage so we resorted to using a mix of Common Creative content and pre-existing footage of the band to create our first music videos.
5 years later, we released the music video for our track ‘Maid In His Image’, thanks to the collaboration of Steve Johnson, the LA-based Special FX expert who worked on classics like Spiderman and Transformers. ‘Maid In His Image’ went on to win ‘Best International Song’ at the American Tracks Music Awards in 2017. Our biggest music award was awarded for our top single, ‘Wake Up’, which reached #1 in the Top 40 World Music Charts in 2015. The song was inspired by my screenplay ‘Indian English’.
My first film award was in 2012 at the Bristol Film and Video Society, where I entered my Short ‘5 Minute Rock Star’ and won 2nd place. In 2014, I attended the Monaco Film Festival, where I won best Epic/Historical. I attended again the following year to collect the award of Best Comedy for ‘Chocolate Potato’ and met a like-minded Producer. We put our heads together and created ’15’ with an extremely low budget which, in 2018, won Best European Film at the Malta Film Festival. Over the following years, I continued to collect various other awards for a number of my scripts and shorts, which you can find here on my website.
And that brings us to today. With multiple script and film awards under my belt, I have now decided to produce my first Feature Film, ‘Chocolate Potato’, with hopes to eventually produce my other scripts in the future – the ones listed on this website. So, if you would like to get involved, in any capacity, with any of my projects, get in touch!
Best regards, Neil O’Neil