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The Filmmakers

Michael Wood on a boat

Michael Wood talks to villagers

Michael Wood on a train

Michael Wood

is the writer and presenter of many critically acclaimed series on television, including Art of the Western World, Legacy, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1998) and Conquistadors (2000). He is author of over 70 TV films, which have been shown worldwide and of several best selling books. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Oriel College, Oxford where he did postgraduate research in Anglo-Saxon history. Since then he has worked as a journalist, broadcaster, historian and filmmaker. His films have centred on history, but have included travel (Great Railway Journeys of the World (1982); the BAFTA-winning Great River Journeys (1984); The Sacred Way (1990)); politics (Saddam's Killing Fields (1991): an award winning account of the destruction of the Marsh Arabs of South Iraq) and cultural history (the award winning Hitler's Search for the Holy Grail, (1999): a study of the abuse of history and archaeology under the Nazis). Conquistadors (2000) followed four epic journeys during the Spanish Conquest of the New World and came top in the Guardian's "Review of Reviews" for the year 2000-2001.

Among Michael Wood's special interests, Greece has always figured prominently. He has made 15 films in Greece and among his publications are the number one bestsellers, In Search of the Trojan War (on the archaeology of Homer and the Bronze Age) and In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great. These books have been translated into a number of European languages, including Greek. Indian civilization has also long been a special interest: Over the years Michael Wood has made a dozen visits to India, and in addition to his films Darshan and Legacy, he has written The Smile of Murugan (John Murray) about a small town in Tamil Nadu and its annual pilgrimage. He is also a contributor to Chidambarnm and Naturaja, a series of essays on the cult of Shiva in South India (Marg, Bombay, 2004).

His academic background was in early medieval English history; among his publications in this area are In Search of the Dark Ages and Domesday. (both no 1 best sellers in the UK) He was also a contributor to Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society (Blackwell 1983). He lectured recently at academic conferences on Anglo-Saxon history in London and Kalamazoo, and is a contributor to Lay Intellectuals in Early Medieval Europe (Cambridge UP 2005). Recently, he published a series of medieval essays concerned with English identity: In Search of England. (Viking and University of California Press). Of this book The Times Literary Supplement said: 'Better than any historian for decades, Wood brings home not just the ways in which buildings, landscapes and written texts may be read, but the sensual beauty of encounters with them'.

Michael Wood has had a lifelong interest in Shakespeare. As a student he toured the US with Shakespeare, working with directors such as Richard Cotterell and Jonathan Miller. He made three films for the BBC about the history plays, and contributed to Shakespeare in Perspective (1985). His controversial series "In Search of Shakespeare" (BBC/PBS 2003) was the first TV documentary life of Shakespeare. Of the book that accompanies the series, academic Jonathan Bate wrote in the Sunday Telegraph, "It is a great pleasure to report that, thanks to the author's gifts as story-teller, populariser and interpreter of the past, Shakespeare's world is brought alive more vividly than in any other biography of him that I have read." (Sunday Telegraph 12/6/03)

Michael Wood was elected a fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2001.

He lives in North London with his wife and two daughters.

 


Rebecca Dobbs

Rebecca Dobbs, Series Producer

Rebecca Dobbs is a founder director of Maya Vision and has produced or directed over 50 films for cinema and television. She worked as a research psychologist and academic before moving into television production in 1983. Her documentary films include Ricochet with David Bowie (South East Asia 1984), Childhood (13 films about the experience of childhood throughout the world; 1985-1988), Simon Ngubane Still on Strike (South Africa: Best Documentary Leipzig 1986), Desire (Audience Prize Turin and Berlin Film Festivals; 1990/1991), Barcelona with Robert Hughes (Architecture and history in the Olympic City 1992), Comrades in Arms (1991 American Film and Video award).

Since 1988, Rebecca has also worked closely as producer to historian Michael Wood on a number of projects including, The Sacred Way (1988), Darshan: An Indian Journey (1990), Saddam's Killing Fields (1991), In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1997), Conquistadors (2000), In Search of Shakespeare (2003) and In Search of Myths and Heroes (2005). Her dramas for cinema and television include Nocturne (1990) starring Lisa Eichorn, Three Steps to Heaven (1995) starring Katrin Cartlidge, James Fleet and Frances Barber and A Bit of Scarlet (1996) narrated by Sir Ian McKellen. She is an occasional lecturer at the National Film and Television School and has been invited to speak at many international festivals.

 


Sean Smith

Sean Smith, Director Shangri-La and Jason

Sean Smith is a documentary maker who has worked on numerous history, science, travel and adventure documentaries, including King Solomon's Stone for BBC2's Horizon strand, and currently The Great Race, also for BBC2 which is a six-part recreation of the race to the South Pole between Captain Scott and Norwegian Roald Amundsen. Sean likes to shoot his own material, on anything from PD150 to Digi Beta and HD, and used to work as a stills photographer before getting into shooting news reports on mini DV when the VX1000 came along to transform small camera video shoots.

From shooting and producing news reports for Channel 4 news and other outlets, Sean came to directing documentaries through Channel 4's Short Stories strand with The Bridge in 1997. Since then he has been working continually on a variety of projects for both UK and American broadcasters. Sean has travelled extensively around the world both as a filmmaker and also in his previous incarnation as a Himalayan mountaineer and mountain guide, which has made him very familiar with the high mountains of Tibet, Nepal, India and Pakistan, as well as the wilds of Patagonia in South America. He currently lives in not-so-wild South London with his partner and five-year-old daughter.


Jeremy Jeffs

Jeremy Jeffs, Director Sheba and Arthur

Jeremy Jeffs is a documentary filmmaker with a passion for travel and history programmes. Working on Myths and Heroes proved to be one of the most interesting and satisfying projects he has worked on. With the rest of the crew, he got to travel to some of most fascinating places in the world. Highlights include the ancient mud brick towers of the Yemeni city of Shibbam the Manhattan of the desert; and the hilltop monastery of Debra Damo, high on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, a spot so remote that the only way in is by climbing a 30-meter rock face aided solely by a cowhide rope. The biggest challenge of the series was to make sure that beauty of the British landscape (in King Arthur) could match up to the more exotic vistas in the rest of the series.

Jeremy trained at the BBC where he was a member of the award-winning Correspondent Team and since then has travelled and shot all over the world. He started the year by filming a documentary about modern slavery in Amazonian Brazil (for UKs Channel 4 Television). Then he spent six months filming with notoriously secretive Opus Dei organisation, villains in the famous novel The Da Vinci Code. The exclusive filming took him from Rome and London, to Boston, Chicago and New York.

Jeremy is currently working with Michael Wood, Rebecca Dobbs and the rest of the team at Maya Vision on a new major series about the Indian subcontinent. He lives in South London, with his wife and two children where in his spare time he enjoys making pizza.


Howard Davidson

Howard Davidson, Composer

Howard Davidson is a prolific composer of music for film, television, radio and the theater and is in great demand for both drama and documentary scores with over 300 to his credit, including many orchestral scores performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, and both the Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras. Recent theatre productions include Vita and Virginia by Eileen Atkins, After Mrs. Rochester and Madame Bovary for Shared Experience. Radio credits include Iris Murdoch's Under the Net, Nabakov's Laughter in the Dark and Terre Haute by Edmund White. For television, recent productions include Titanic-Birth of a Legend and Michael Wood's In Search of Shakespeare. He is currently visiting Professor of Composition for the Screen at the Royal College of Music, London.

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