PHILIPPA ARMSBY-WARD > 52 > FILMMAKER DEVON

Wild horses can't hold her back.

 

Philippa Armsby-Ward has never been afraid to ask for what she wants. When she and her school friends met Duran Duran, they asked Simon LeBon for an autograph. Philippa asked for a kiss. She got it.

Restless and ambitious, she left school the moment she could and moved to London. Philippa had no idea what she wanted to do. She just knew she wanted to be creative. She landed an assistant job with top photographer David Montgomery and quickly discovered she had the knack of organising big shoots and the confidence to handle big-name celebrities. But London got too small.

"I flew to New York with £200 and 4 phone numbers."

One of those numbers landed her a senior producer role at one of New York's biggest live events company. She produced all the top shows and managed all the top names.

Then the company went broke and she went home. She took a 'corporate job'. But to this wild child that meant making ads and station idents. It didn't take her long to turn the job to pay the mortgage into the job of her dreams. Her brilliant ideas saw her on the set of every nineties show you can think of. Yes, including Friends.

Then she fell in love, had a couple of kids and wanted to raise them in the country. She stuck a pin in a map and ended up the mistress of a grand country manor in Devon looking forward to a life of leisure and horse riding.

She lasted a month.

The next few years saw her on the train to London and on jets around the world. She was producing, directing and succeeding.

Then she started to disappear. The phone stopped ringing.

Philippa was having none of that. She was being replaced by kids straight out of film school. So she started again at the bottom. She bought herself a broadcast camera, taught herself to edit on youtube and started shooting.

She made films about her mum, her brother, her daughter's pony club and her son's rugby team.

Within three years, she had five TV credits, won at the Equus Film Festival in New York and was commissioned to direct a feature.

Then she turned 50 and reflected on what she wanted the second half of her life to look like. She didn't want to stay making little films she wanted something bigger. Philippa walked away from her marriage, the country pile, and every ounce of security.

"I got to the point when I realised all I had was my belief in myself."

She also knew if she was becoming irrelevant to the broadcast industry she wasn't alone. She reached out to the female filmmakers like her in Devon, created alliances and rented a spectacular Exeter office on her credit card. At first, she sat there alone, her phone calls echoing around the elegant room.

Three months later, eight people sit at desks beside her. Surrounded by whiteboards filled with development ideas and shooting schedules.

Wildhorse Films are out of the gate and are galloping to a spectacular future. Watch them fly!

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stephanie