Artistic Director

Artistic Director

25/07/11

Hamish Jenkinson is a man of many talents. Not only is he the Artistic Director of the brilliant Old Vic Tunnels – where our performance weekender, Coming Up Later, was held – but he also works for Free the Children UK and the Kevin Spacey Foundation. He tells us why you should say yes to everything...

Full name/age/job title:

Hamish Jenkinson, 32, Chairman of Free the Children UK, a trustee of the Kevin Spacey Foundation and Artistic Director of The Old Vic Tunnels.

Please give us an overview of your average day

My alarm goes off at about 8am. I turn on Radio 4 and I check what’s happening on Facebook. I then get on my super-expensive, unbelievably lightweight, incredibly fast racer bicycle.

I cycle from Peckham to The Old Vic Tunnels, which is underneath Waterloo train station. I then walk around the tunnels and just check that they’re still there. Then I sit down on my Apple Mac – there are usually about 60 to 100 unread emails waiting for me to have a look at. I have a whole bunch of meetings every day. I have a lunch with someone interesting and exciting. And then I would go out to an art gallery opening or a theatre performance or a drink with friends. Then at about 11pm I’d cycle home, kiss my girlfriend goodnight and then stay up for another two hours answering emails.

What is the most common misconception about your job?

That I have a job. The reality is that I have lots and they’re all a massive joy. People who have a job go to work from 9 to 5 and forget about it when they go home. For me, work is a pleasure.

When did you decide what you wanted to do and how did you go about achieving it?

At first I wanted to be an actor. That really started when I was 12 years old; I was pulled out of the school production and put on stage at the Coliseum performing to 2,500 people a night.

During my last year at university I directed a play and at that point I decided I wanted to be a director. So, this year I directed the opening ceremony to the UEFA Champions League final. I wanted to be a film director, but I’ve directed lots of things from short films to theatre productions to music videos.

What can you do to get a head start?

Say yes to everything and then figure out how to do it afterwards. To anyone who’s serious about making a career in the arts I’d say: be sensible. If you can’t read, get an audio version, if you can read go down to the library and get a copy of How to Make Friends and Influence People, get a copy of Seven Habits of Highly Successful people, read Malcolm Gladwell. There is a lot of literature that can teach you the very basic things. 

Can you describe the creative element to your job?

I went to a Rudolph Steiner school so I had a very different system of education. It engaged the right hand side of my brain – co-operation, creativity, music, art, drama. I think also being dyslexic means that my brain is wired in a slightly different way. A problem to me is just an opportunity to find a solution – it’s never the end of the story.

What’s made me successful is being a yes man. When I started working with Madonna and Guy Ritchie I just said yes to everything they asked me to do. And then I’d run outside the office, get on the phone to my mum and my brother and say, “How do I do this?”

I mean, you can’t say yes to everything, because then you start to let people down. But at the start of your career it’s the best way to get ahead. I got that job with Madonna and Guy Ritchie by working for free on a short film for a week. The producer knew Guy and so at the end of the week they put me forward for this job with him.

Don’t always be motivated by money. I’m impressed by people who have created amazing experiences for themselves and that’s what I’ve been lucky enough to do.

What one thing do you wish you’d known at the start of your career that you know now?

Big grown up men are just kids dressed up as big grown up men.

Which websites, resources would be useful to people in your industry?

Can I say IdeasTap? From personal experience I’ve used IdeasTap to find a photographer for the tunnels – over 100 photographers from all over the country entered the competition and Guilherme [Zühlke O’Connor] who got it is completely unbelievable.

I found 250 dancers who were absolutely amazing for when I directed the opening of the UEFA Champions League final.

 

Would you like to be featured in Job of the Week? If you work in the creative industries and would love to share your advice, expertise and experience with IdeasTap members, get in touch with our deputy editor at Luiza@ideastap.com.

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