Dean of Whistling Woods International, John J Lee has brought 27 years of experience as a film mogul in Hollywood to Bollywood. His industry knowledge is immense based on success as a global media and entertainment executive, director, producer and screenwriter. The scale of his achievements is monumental – responsible for business, funding and distribution of film and TV productions costing over $470 million and generating global rights income of more than $4 billion.
He has just finished the third edition of the bestselling The Producer’s Business Handbook, a set text in every film school throughout the world and a professional standard reference. But his business expertise is just one side to multi-faceted and multi-talented individual who is also a deeply compassionate humanitarian, inspirational teacher, devoted family man and dedicated surfer.
People feature very highly on his agenda and he donates all the profits from his book, Fulfilling Relationships to fund humanitarian work with women and children. He has also written historical fiction - The Last Zion: Road to the King and is currently working on a new book.
All these elements of John’s interest have combined during the two years that he and his wife, Darylann, have lived in Mumbai. As well as passing on his passion and expertise to aspiring film makers on campus, he and Darylann have worked to help local people. He explained, “You see the difference for the whole family if you give a woman a sewing machine. If a woman can sew all at once the family’s income substantially increases and you change the economics of the extended family. Transforming and being able to make a lasting difference to anyone’s life, whether they are students or those less fortunate, is such an uplifting experience.”
John regards the relationship between Bradford College and WWI as being most fruitful and full of promise. He said, “It has been very successful. To witness the contuining culturisation of students here and see them coming to Bradford and literally fall into the arms of students here shows the depth of the relationships. When the Bradford students visited India they all visited each others’ homes and the Bradford students have done the same here. The exchange means that elements of each culture are shared. The process attracts the most positive things and contributes them. The positives rub off and students feel enabled on both sides. They receive this value in addition to their other studies and development. They all become professional motivators and catalysts.
As they graduate and go into the industry they retain their links and as these become long term relationships. The tide ebbs and flows with new students coming to both campus each year but we are now creating more sophisticated schemes and coming up with whole new lists of ideas. The Music of Life was a huge step but it was just the beginning. Anything can be achieved if you have the vision and the outcomes are so positive. Future students in each faculty will be involved in more projects. Now we understand how we how we can do live action on both campuses and it is obvious what we can achieve with one another, there are major possibilities.
In Mumbai we have the advantage of an aggressive economy. The demand for our students in the Indian film industry means that they are often poached before they can even finish their course, whereas at the moment there is a lack of opportunity for talent in the UK. Our association is a good thing for both directions and we now have great connections between our two campuses. As an English speaking institution in Mumbai, this relationship is invaluable access to English culture. In this respect Trevor Griffiths has made such a positive impact on campus
The first time Trevor came to deliver lectures to our students he was surprised when they all stood up when he entered the room. This showed they had respect but also expectation before he even started. This is a privilege but also a responsibility but Trevor always over delivers. There is a duality in his teaching and a drive to improve every individual, not just in technical terms, but in from a concern to make them a better, more responsible person.
Students don’t always get all this at the time but just know his lectures make a lasting impression. It is like when you go to the movies to escape and you see a film that contains such rich and informative lessons for life within the story that you don’t realise at first, but you know you love the film. That’s the Trevor experience. Our students are deeply grateful that he has spent time with them. So for Trevor to be on campus at WWI as an emissary of his culture means that they expect everyone else to be of his calibre.”