Introducing Mike Cunliffe
Our newest ambassador, but a man who has been with us almost since conception.
I have known Mike from my days of living in North Cornwall and sharing an office with The Surfers Path Magazine. Always popping up in the water, and always throwing great ideas for films around. It’s our shared passion for the ocean, surfing and Mike’s storytelling ability which makes for such an interesting fit for this project. He has worked in all areas of film, but particularly in factual documentaries, so here is a brief introduction to the man you’ll be hearing a lot from –
Mike is a director and filmmaker who has spent a lifetime in and around the ocean, sailing, windsurfing, surfing, and diving. His love of the ocean came early when his gung-ho 70’s parents thrust him out to sea to sail small boats single handed from the age of 8. Later he graduated to crewing on workboats at 12 before falling in love with windsurfing and surfing, scuba diving and free diving. At university in Liverpool, he got a degree in Genetics and also started exploring the East Coast reefs, Scotland and the Lleyn Peninsula. Cold water became just water.
A career in television followed, with a first job researching a genetics and ethics programme before settling into ten years of comedy and entertainment producing and directing including seminal Channel 4 formats The Big Breakfast and The Word and ITV’s Survivor studio shows.
By 2003 Mike moved to Cornwall with his young family and started working in documentary and ideas development, eventually forming a company specialising in commercials, content creation and campaign creation. Broadcast TV still holding an allure throughout, has seen Mike, exec producing, producing and directing various projects for Discovery, Nat Geo, TLC, ITV and the BBC.
Some Recent Projects
Mike directed Britain’s Whales and Britain’s Sharks for ITV1- first shown Easter 2016.
The programmes are also going out on Animal Planet as ‘Operation Whale’ over Christmas 2016.
The shows studied the importance of sharks and whales to the marine ecosystem. Including how billions of calories are reverted back into the food chain when a whale dies. The films follow this process and the big surprise is the sheer number of sharks that turn up to feed. Working with scientists from the University of Plymouth, the team filmed with humpbacks and multiple shark species over a period of a year. The series paints a picture of the extraordinary life present in UK waters and also shows the potential for disaster if the fragile balance of whale and shark numbers is significantly altered by man’s actions.
The shows also led to a successful Crowdfunder Campaign raising money to help stop uncontrolled Blue shark fishing in the North Atlantic
Mike has also recently directed ‘Precision – The Measure of all Things’ series – it started on BBC4 and is now on Netflix
Mike also directed “Cold Reality” along with surfer Micah Lester for O’Neill
So why get involved with this project though?
“The Plastic Project is a passion project for everyone involved. It’s more than a film, more than photos and we want it to make a real difference – Tim and I have spent a year planning, researching, meeting people and finding the right partners. We’re itching to start the next phase where everything goes public and we start the proper dialogue about how to solve the problem of ocean plastics. We’re not natural publicists for our own work, but for this project we have to be: we want to effect real change and as surfers we think we can make people care, see the beauty that we take for granted, and change how they act to protect the ocean”.