FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL — Preparation is key to any artistic creation or business venture. So remember that luck is simply preparation meeting opportunity.
PLAY THE GAME — Sometimes you have to engage with people whose energy you don’t agree with and that willingness to adapt emotionally can be essential to cultivating certain relationships.
EXPRESS YOURSELF — Don’t be afraid to go against the grain and never try to fit in with what other people want you to be.
I had the pleasure to interview Adam Morse, a legally blind British film director and writer.
How do you direct a movie when you are legally blind? Writer/Director of ‘LUCID’ starring renowned actors BILLY ZANE (Curfew, Titanic), and SADIE FROST, (Absolutely Fabulous), Adam Morse, started losing his sight ten years ago at the age of nineteen due to a rare mitochondrial disease called LOHN (Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy) that has left him with partial peripheral sight. Adam used screen reader and magnification software to write his screenplay before going out to pitch his first feature film project whilst keeping his condition a secret from others in the industry. Adam used a 60-inch director’s monitor on set to follow the action, frame the shots and direct the actors. Adam publicly revealed that he is legally blind one week before the film made its festival premiere in Edinburgh and he is now championing diversity by blazing a trail for differently-abled artists around the world.
After premiering at the 72nd Edinburgh International Film Festival where it was nominated for the prestigious Michael Powell Award in the Best of British category, Lucid went on to win best picture along with best actor for Billy Zane and best director for Adam Morse at the 2019 Gold Movie Awards in London. Lucid received official selection at the New Port Beach Film Festival, Sedona International Film Festival, and Galway Film Festival. The film tells the story of an introverted young man named Zel (Laurie Calvert) who gets the opportunity to drastically change his life when his enigmatic neighbor Elliot (Billy Zane) introduces him to the art of Lucid dreaming. Lucid stars Laurie Calvert (Episodes), Billy Zane (Curfew, Titanic), Sadie Frost (Absolutely Fabulous), Sophie Kennedy Clark (Philomena), Felicity Gilbert (Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1”) and Cristian Solimeno (Rush).
Morse is also now working as an actor and is set to appear in Season 2 of the Apple TV+ Series SEE starring Jason Momoa. Adam has been cast for a recurring role as a new witchfinder character FRYE who is tasked by the queen to hunt down the sighted. Adam already filmed the first three episodes before lockdown and was insistent on doing his own stunts. He learned how to horse-ride and sword fight for his own action sequences despite his visual impairment as he wishes to set an example for all differently-abled actors. Adam has also just acted in a short film called Suppression opposite British star Gary Beadle. This short film is being made to raise awareness for mental health and is being directed by Adam’s Lucid Producing Partner Julia Varvara.
As well as keeping busy as an actor and filmmaker, Adam is releasing his first single “When Do We End” (feat. Isaac) Friday, September 18, 2020, which is during International Mitochondrial Disease week. He has been recording music for his debut mixtape, which is expected to come out in December 2020. Lucid was released digitally on September 7 2020 in the UK where it can be downloaded on Sky, Virgin, Amazon, iTunes, Play Station and Xbox. Lucid is available now in the US to download on VOD platforms including; Apple TV, Google Play and iTunes
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?
I grew up watching entertainers like Michael Jackson and found myself falling in love with performing at a very young age. I would act in school plays and later do a lot of fringe theatre after leaving school. My obsession with cinema started when I saw Star Wars, as a six-year-old it blew my mind and made me want to find out how it was possible to create such magic on screen. I decided to use a career in filmmaking to be a vehicle for myself as an actor which led me to writing and directing my first short film The Window (2014). Storytelling has always been my biggest passion and I’m always happy to be creating as an artist, be it behind the camera or in front.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
I was at a garden party for afternoon tea at an investor’s house back when I was pitching Lucid to potential financiers. It was a very posh affair with catering staff, finger sandwiches and champagne and everyone was a lot older and more successful than me so I felt a little out of my depth. Everyone around me in this beautiful West London garden was raving on about this cute dog that I had seen running around in the corner of my eye. I love animals and wanted to go and play with this popular pooch, but when I tried calling it over, it didn’t move. I tried whistling and calling it over again… No dice. I may be legally blind, but I could feel the eyes of everyone staring at me. I went a bit closer to the dog and tried calling it to come to me one last time, but again, nothing. Now people are laughing at me. To hell with this I thought, I went over to the white fluffy puppy and reached down to pet it, but as I put my hand behind its ear to give it a stroke the unimaginable happened and it morphed into a human child. A small white toddler with blonde hair. I froze in shock on the spot and heard a voice in my ear say “what are you doing?” I look up to see a man towering over me. “Get away from my son,” he said. Speechless, I went inside the house and locked myself in the bathroom where I gave myself a pep talk in the mirror-like John Travolta does in Pulp Fiction “Its fine. No one saw that. Go back out there and have a drink. It’s okay.” I had experienced one of my daily hallucinations which was a result of Charles Bonnet’s Syndrome. Humiliating at the time but hilarious in hindsight.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working with a wonderful company called Radar Pictures on a very exciting project that is being Executive Produced by American Media Mogul Ted Field. It’s a sci-fi/comedy about cancel culture in the future where the market is completely oversaturated with content, it also deals with isolation and fake news so it is very much on the pulse of what we are experiencing today.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I would have to say meeting Robert De Niro at the Cannes Film Festival is high on the list because he is one of my favorite actors of all time. The interaction, however, was not that interesting because all I did was shake his hand and shower him with praise for being such a phenomenal talent! This happened despite my best efforts to play it cool and I have no doubt he would have quickly forgotten the encounter.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
One of the most influential figures in history to me is Michael Jackson because he was the ultimate entertainer and storyteller. I’m pretty sure that he was not of this world because he was able to do things that not many humans have done before, or since. Watching him perform with such intensity and sincerity made me feel so connected to him, even from a far and I always remember him making me want to give other people that feeling.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I have one good reason that I believe is more than enough for why there needs to be a change. We live on a melting pot of a planet where cultures are constantly colliding and until this is truthfully represented in movies, we will continue to live in a prejudiced world.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If we all try to help each other more and share what we have with others then that would do a great deal of good. You don’t even need to share money or any kind of physical assets to make a difference in someone else’s life. It can be as easy and straightforward as connecting two people together who are like-minded or have the capacity to benefit each other. Every week I try to think about who I can connect within my own network because every time i do this, it seems to result in a beautiful flourishing relationship that somehow leads to success on both ends. That’s why I propose we start a global trend called #PIFF (Pay It Forward Friday). If everyone was to take a minute to do this every Friday instead of flashing back to old photo memories of them posing on a nice holiday, then we could all expand our networks to merge and connect as a global community.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- ONE, DON’T BE PRECIOUS — I found my default position whenever being criticized was to defend myself, but the key is to remain open-minded. TWO, FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL — Preparation is key to any artistic creation or business venture. So remember that luck is simply preparation meeting opportunity. THREE, PLAY THE GAME — Sometimes you have to engage with people whose energy you don’t agree with and that willingness to adapt emotionally can be essential to cultivating certain relationships. FOUR, CONNECT THE DOTS — Stop thinking about who you know and start thinking about who other people know, broaden your horizons by paying your own contacts forward in the hope that these introductions will be reciprocated. FIVE, EXPRESS YOURSELF — Don’t be afraid to go against the grain and never try to fit in with what other people want you to be.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Elon Musk because his relentless ambition and ability to innovate and pioneer is massively inspirational to me. I can totally relate to his insatiable drive to change the future and I feel that he is going to be remembered as a very important figure in history. It would be fascinating to pick his brain about his NEURALINK COMPANY (and all of his companies, even the BORING COMPANY) and learn more about the current possibilities of automated driving because I am registered blind with an incurable and untreatable mitochondrial disease.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My dad once said to me that you only get one life and there is no dress rehearsal, so make the most of this one. I actually believe many of us have lived multiple lives (myself included) but it makes a lot of sense to make the most of this one which is why I used these words to motivate me after I lost my eyesight at the age of nineteen. I decided that in this life, I would make my dreams a reality.
How can our readers follow you online?
Adam’s Instagram: @themorseforce