In Memoriam – Mike Shaw

 

In Memory of Mike Shaw

by

Jane Oliver, OVFM Chairman

 

We were sorry to hear that Mike Shaw passed away on 8th December 2019.   Members of OVFM join me in offering condolences to his wife Annie and all the family. Our thoughts and prayers are you sad time.

Many knew Mike much better than I, but I felt an affinity toward him as a fellow ‘creative’ filmmaker who was always up to experimenting.  He was one of the few who understood the importance or ‘story’ to make a film stand out from the crowd and I became fascinated by his work.  He made some beautifully crafted ones where had no need to inject his wonderful humour.  My favourite of these was ‘Turn Around’, where pairs of footwear from baby booties through the years to grandparents slippers and round and round again to show life’s ever turning circle, morphing one pair into the next as they turned round as though hung from a mobile over an infant’s cot.  The idea came to him when he saw pairs of footwear neatly placed in a line in a hallway.  I would watch, absorbed, trying to work out how he’d made it; … what the background? … how did the autumn Maple leaves fall diagonally from the top of the screen to the bottom? … how did the shoes spin in one place? The music, as always, perfectly fitted the story he was silently telling.

The Enid Blyton Film that he made with his friends from Spring Park, Richard and Brenda Troughton, was a very special film and took years to make.  It abounds with special effects many of which you wouldn’t notice or even know existed, where for instance he took intrusive or irrelevant images out of some shots as they were inappropriate to the ‘period’ it was based in.  Many have had the privilege of seeing this film, and it is difficult not to be overwhelmed by its creative beauty.

When it came to his more humorous films, I would find myself reliving those magical moments of my childhood, watching the impossible happen right in front of my eyes; with him starring in most of them, pulling all sorts of faces in front of the camera, I wasn’t the only one who would giggle out loud.  What an artist!  He could paint his story, scene by scene without murmuring a word, such was his ability to tell story through pictures.  His perfect choice of title, font and music, together with his tight cutting to get shot of any unnecessary material, provided  an insight into the work of a master craftsman and the signing off at the end ‘Mike made it’ added that little special personal touch.

Film after film won award after award at club, national and international level and he was involved in all aspects of amateur film.  He served on Committees, held chairmanship posts and wrote in various columns, including the national IAC magazine.  He had a flair for words that made it easy for others to understand his message in a down to earth way.  He was an experienced and fair judge and provided honest constructive feedback to help individuals progress to higher standards.

He was unselfish, often helping others out on a ‘shoot’ or putting together training for the club, answering queries and helping others to resolve issues. He put a huge amount of work and energy into ‘The Viewfinder’ packing every edition with his ‘artistic flair’, colour and humour.

When it came to social events, he was happy to dress up in some bizarre outfit and make a fool of himself and offer his lovely garden to hold our summer get together…. And of course he would be appropriately dressed for the Oscars.

During the last six months, despite not being able to get to the club and frustrated that he was less able to do any editing, he remained in touch and helped me with Resolve and other technical issues.  Mike was a mentor to me and ‘sounding board’ whom I had the greatest respect for.  I am so glad that some of his films were shown in our most recent Autumn Show and although Mike was not able to be with us, he was given his own copy and thoroughly enjoyed watching the show at his leisure.

I was privileged to have known Mike and he will leave a big hole in my affections and that of many a filmmaker, friend or associate.

Rest in peace my friend.    Jane x

9 comments on In Memoriam – Mike Shaw

  1. One of our most prolific and creative filmmakers passed away in early December. Mike Shaw (FACI) was the exception to the rule that suggests “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” as he was the one who was more up to date with the latest filmmaking tricks and technology than anyone else in the club!

    A source of knowledge, advice and inspiration, Mike was always the first person people would turn to for help, ideas or guidance on how to improve their filmmaking or to learn something new, which is why I used to call him Professor Mike Shaw, as there was rarely a question he couldn’t answer or at least proffer the kernel of one before finding it out for himself.

    Always willing to share what he had learned or discovered, Mike was one of the more frequent contributors to the Viewfinder and this website with his tutorials and articles on the latest technological developments for everyone else to take advantage of, and whether we knew or it or not, we’ve all learned something from Mike and have gone on to use them in our own works.

    Mike’s many years in advertising meant he knew how to turn a phrase and produce scripts that were succinct yet still got their point across, whilst affording him the foundation of bringing it to life visually. Even though he could tell a decent yarn, tell a pithy joke, or put together a stimulating docudrama, Mike was more noted for being the special effects guy of OVFM, even before modern editing software made it easier to pull off.

    If there was a trick to be used to make something happen in a film that seemed impossible, Mike would be the one to make it happen, yet he was never flashy or doing it for the sake of it – the story or concept was always the basis of his films and the effects were the icing on the cake.

    When delivering feedback during our film screening evenings Mike was honest but never scathing, explaining what was wrong and how to improve rather than criticise for the sake of it, or if he didn’t get what the filmmaker was trying to do or say, he would ask for an explanation.

    Over the last couple of years Mike’s health meant he was less active at OVFM but prior to this he was usually one of the first people to volunteer to participate in a project, either as an actor, writer, cameraman, director or editor, bringing his expertise and humour with him in equal measures.

    Despite the clear dedication to his craft, Mike never took himself seriously and would happily dress up, fool around off camera, or be the fall guy in a comedy film because that was his personality.

    It’s fair to say that there have been many large holes left in OVFM with the passing of prominent club members over the past few years and Mike will certainly leave one of the biggest, both on and off screen. The sign off on his films would say “Mike Made It” – we can argue what “it” was but I’d prefer to think he made it “better”.

    R.I.P Mike. Thanks for laughs and the lessons, and condolences to his family.

  2. Mike was an inspiration to me. His often quirky films, usually incorporating several special effects resonated with me, as did his sense of humour and I’ve little doubt that without his films, several of mine would never have been made.

    I’ve enjoyed several lengthy chats, all about film making, with Mike over the years: when he’s come to Staines Video Makers (once to present his films – he was certainly one of our more popular guest speakers – and several SVM Inter-Club competitions) as well as at a number of SERIAC festivals, BIAFF and the NvS. He was great company and I think that he appreciated that I understood, perhaps more than some others, the sort of work that went into the effects mentioned above by Jane Oliver as well as the more obviously deliberate ones.

  3. I never got to know Mike the person very well but his films always left an impression upon me….how did he do that? It was amazining. Thank you Mike we will all mis him.
    Kath Goodwin

  4. Mike was one of those people everybody seemed to know and yet he never pushed himself forward.
    Although he’d been a top man in advertising he remained modest, rarely giving a true insight into his years in such a demanding job.
    As a BETA tester for film making software he was always seeking to get hold of the latest editing equipment, thus becoming an expert in special effects.
    Ever into technology, and unable to leave the house recently, he took to a VR (virtual reality) head set that allowed him to experience the world from his own home.
    Although well known in the club for his short little comedies featuring himself, he was always happy to share his knowledge and worked successfully with others to produce first class documentaries and dramas.
    A Fellow of the Film and Video Institute, the IAC, he travelled the U.K. supporting festivals, visiting other clubs, judging competitions and giving talks.
    Mike was full of fun, often playing a comedy rôle in films and dressing up whenever the occasion arose.
    He came to OVFM having been chairman of Spring Park where he remained a member, telling us he wanted to simply “sit quietly in the audience”.
    However, he couldn’t help but get involved, becoming a valuable member who will be greatly missed by us all.
    A kind and generous man who was always offering to share his car, even taking Reg and me down to the Kent Festival in Canterbury on several occasions.
    Reg and I join with everybody else in sending our condolences to all Mike’s family, and especially his wife Annie.
    Annabelle and Reg

  5. I have always admired Mike. His knowledge about almost anything but especially our special interest in film making was astonishing. He always gave constructive and helpful comments at our competition evenings and produced many great films over the years. Mike was a “Character” who had many facial expressions to fit a scene when being filmed.
    We will all miss him greatly and I am sure he will be watching us from the great film studio in the sky!

    John Bunce

  6. I have known Mike for many years outside of OVFM through his association with
    the Kent Film Festival but most of all through SERIAC. When he was chairman of
    SERIAC and the year we were putting on the IAC AGM at the Beach Hotel Worthing.
    As we were planning the weekends events he announced it was to be a fun event,
    for instance on the evening of the festival dinner there was to be a midnight paddle
    in the sea, well I have photographs to prove it did in fact take place, in the case of one
    person knotted handkerchief on head and rolled up dinner suit trousers and bare feet,
    no that was not Mike it was a hardy person from the north.

  7. Although I hadn’t seen Mike for some time he was often in my mind as we were round about the same age, a year or so older, we had that in common but much cleverer than me as far as film making was concerned. His knowledge of animation was second to none, I often wondered when he made one of his “specials” how on earth did he do that, he had that gift of knowing how he was going to set about making his films something that would take me for ever.
    I’m sure he will be greatly missed at the OVFM.
    God bless you old timer. RIP

  8. I never got to meet Mike, but I’ve been inspired by his films and feel had we met we would have produced some fun and quirky results together.

    I’m sure his films will inspire many more over the years.

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