We chat to much-loved TV favourite Martin Kemp about helping 10-year-old avid film fan, Beth Ward, transform her homemade holiday film into a movie masterpiece…
It all started when we received a heart-warming letter from 10-year-old film fan, Beth Ward, telling us all about her holiday to First Choice’s Azul Fives by Karisma in Mexico and urging us to watch her homemade holiday film. We decided to make her dream of becoming a filmmaker a reality, and enlisted the help of actor and director Martin Kemp. He gave Beth a special masterclass in directing, and even helped her to edit her very own holiday film. You can read more about Beth’s story here and watch our film below.
In between putting together Beth’s film, we chatted to the British star about his amazing travels, extensive career, and how to make a great holiday movie…
You must have travelled all over the world throughout your career. Where are your favourite places?
If I wanted to go on holiday to relax, I’d probably go to Barbados, but I’m kind of easy really. Once I’m on the beach and I’ve got my eyes shut and a cocktail in my hand, then I’m just really relaxed and could be anywhere. So sometimes we’ll plan holidays to far off places like Hawaii and sometimes we’ll stick close to home and do Spain, it’s just whatever takes us in the moment. But saying that, the older I get, the closer to home I like to be.
The most exciting place that I ever go to is Hong Kong. That for me has got everything that I love about the East – just how nice the people are – and it’s got the excitement of New York, so it brings the two things together. Whenever I’m there I just feel this buzz that I don’t get anywhere else.
Where would you jet off to for a short break?
For a short break, I would go to Italy. I’m in love with Italy. I spent a lot of the eighties touring up and down the country with Spandau Ballet and we pretty much covered it all, because that was our biggest fan base outside of the UK. We just toured there two years ago, and played all of the old Gladiator arenas like Verona Arena and the one in Sicily. It’s the most incredible country, and if I moved abroad I would move to Rome. I love the food there, the restaurants are unbelievable, the people are amazing and I like their lifestyle.
What kind of traveller are you? Do you prefer the beach, city sightseeing or activities?
I prefer to mix it up a bit. I like to go somewhere that has a beach, definitely, but also where you can get out and have a bit of adventure. I couldn’t go to the beach every day – although when I was a bit younger I probably could have. I’ll usually do a couple of days of exploring the nearby cities, and then get stuck into mountain biking or whatever the area has to offer. And then, when I’m completely knackered I go to the beach or pool – a good swimming pool is really important! But, I like to come back from a holiday feeling like I’ve achieved something other than just a suntan.
You’re a well-known face on British screens – both from performing with Spandau Ballet and playing Steve Owen in Eastenders – but how did you move into working behind the camera?
The very first thing that I bought with my wages from Spandau Ballet, which was £70 at the time, was a Super 8 camera. That camera went with me everywhere around the world. And in fact, lots of the footage I took on that camera ended up on the Spandau Ballet documentary we had out recently, called Soul Boys of the Western World.
Cameras have always been a part of my life, thanks to my career, and whenever I go away I take one with me. It’s something I’ve always done, and when I get home, I edit the footage into short two-minute movies so people don’t get bored of the 45 minute shots. What I love about making films is that it involves everything I do in entertainment. It involves photography, music, acting – it’s everything that I do wrapped up in one big bubble.
Do you have any memories of yourself or your children growing up on film?
Not of me unfortunately, no. I don’t have anything on film from when I was a kid, as my mum and dad barely had the money to take us on holiday. It was expensive to take still pictures and get them developed in those days as well. How they got us on holiday in the first place I’ll never understand to be honest, they must have saved up a lot.
So, my early memories aren’t on film, but maybe that’s why when I go away with my kids, I take a GoPro and film as much as I can. But even when we get back and I’m looking at the films I’ve taken of my kids, no matter how many I’ve got on there, I always want more. You just can’t film enough of your kids and those holidays, because they’re such great memories.
Your daughter Harley, 27, is also a photographer, has she given you any tips over the years and vice versa?
Well, I gave her all of my tips, and now she’s teaching me hers. Harley’s a photographer, my son Roman is in the entertainment business, and my wife Shirlie is a photographer as well. So in my house we’re all in the same industry and we all share the knowledge. But Harley is a really good photographer, so that’s her specialist area.
Your son Roman, 24, is a keen Instagrammer, what are your thoughts on today’s social media generation?
I think it has got its good sides and its bad sides. The good sides are that people are doing something artistic, cutting footage together on their phones, and making great little videos for people to watch online. Everyone has access to that medium and the chance to become a presenter, even if just ten people watch it. But, obviously, there’s a danger that goes with social media and we all know what those dangers are and have to be aware. I use Instagram and Twitter, but just to upload onto and put stuff out there.
What was the best part of editing Beth’s holiday film?
It was Beth absolutely. She comes from that YouTube generation where all the kids know how to turn the camera on themselves and present. She did it with such charisma that when I was editing her film, I kept as much of her in as possible, because she is the driving force and charm of the film.
Did you learn a lot from her then?
I learn from all kids. When you watch kids do anything, they do it with a kind of naivety – they just do it for fun and say what they think without worrying about the way they look. I think all adults can learn a lot from kids, actually.
What word would you use to sum up Beth’s holiday film and why?
Exciting. I think it was really exciting. What she was showing us, the holiday in Mexico she was on with her family – you could feel how happy they were. It came across as really exciting.
What advice or tips would you give to somebody who wants to create a memorable holiday film?
There’s a few tips really. My big one is to always shoot something in a wide angle, a medium angle and a close-up. If you use those three angles in the same variant, like filming a conversation, you will be able to cut together something that’s fantastic. When I’m looking through a camera I will always try and capture those three angles of a single scene. Also, hold the camera steady when filming and move it slower than you think.
Who are your favourite film directors?
I think Martin Scorsese, easily. Goodfellas is my favourite film, and that’s directed by him. Another old classic that I love is Sunset Boulevard.
Quick fire questions:
Sun or snow
Beach or pool
Short haul or long haul
Both – there are some amazing places to travel to long haul, but the Med is just easier to get to.