COFFEE FILMS

Steve Piper at Coffee Films
Steve Piper, film director and producer

STEVE PIPER
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER/WRITER

Steve Piper

Steve was born in Kent in 1976 and lived in the town of Sittingbourne through his youth, spending most of his younger years reading, drawing and writing comics with a small team of friends. As he progressed into his teens the comics moved towards graphic design for local companies and events, and throughout GCSE's and A levels he gained an interest in music, performing in one of the bands that performed at the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

Whilst all this was going on Piper had convinced his school's new drama teacher that he had been running the technical side of the drama department for several years, and proceeded to crew up the majority of the school's layabouts who soon learned that the excuse "I have to work on the play set" could get them out of pretty much anything and provided access to numerous disused storerooms for cigarette breaks. Something about it worked though and the school enjoyed several years of highly creative work from it's stage crew whilst putting up with the noisy array of backstage "sports" that were developed each year during pre-production.

Leaving school Piper lucked a job as a combination of stage manager, production manager, technical designer and technical producer for the Naked Pony Theatre Company. Based in Canterbury the company performed a wide variety of acclaimed plays, but, constantly underfunded, they eventually folded after three years of touring and residential work in an array of bizarre spaces across the south of England. It was during these theatre years that Coffee Films was born, if only in spirit, with Piper producing Televisual Man with best mate Dave Smith in 1996 under the production company name of Mr. Spambapstic Films.

As 1998 rolled around and Naked Pony wrapped things up by filming a short of one of their plays, and Piper got himself a 'real job' with a corporate marketing company in Kent. Films still simmered in the background though with a series of debauched houseshares forming a social circle that included many of the Coffee faithful.

The next few years were spent experimenting with films, whilst commitments now as an account manager at the marketing company were gradually taking over; handling clients such as Coca Cola, American Express, Nintendo and The Royal Bank of Scotland was sucking up increasing amounts of time. Fortune smiled down though, the marketing company relocated and Piper was more than happy to accept a redundancy payment and refocus on Coffee Films.

Putting attention on the more achievable short form Piper pulled in his regular contributors and kicked off the experimental Dealer project, whilst also working hard promoting the company on the emerging web based independent scene to try and attract stronger scripts and more experienced talent. By 2004 Coffee Arts and Media was an incorporated company and included not only Coffee Films, but a new music agency Coffee Artists and web design arm Coffee Internet (later to develop into a PR and design company, Coffee Design). Meanwhile the company's first DV short How To Disappear Completely began it's 5 year run of festivals, screenings and awards, netting Piper recognition by an international jury as one of Europe's most exciting emerging young filmmakers.

Never happy to take a logical career direction in 2005 Piper shot two documentaries on emerging US music acts signed to Coffee Artists and provided a re-write for a feature length US children's super hero film that horrified everyone who read it with its child trafficking villain. The year wound up with the announcement that a developing interest in wildlife conservation and long standing love for cats had inspired a move into wildlife documentary filmmaking with Last of the Scottish Wildcats. Not taken entirely seriously by everyone 18 months later he wrapped only the second film ever to capture footage of the critically endangered and exceptionally elusive Scottish wildcat in the wild with just a few thousand pounds in sponsorship money and a Visa card.

Following on from the film Piper decided wildcats needed more than public awareness and spent several years establishing a new charity, the Scottish Wildcat Association, quickly gaining notoriety as a highly vocal critic of Scottish Government efforts to conserve the species. Pulling together a team of the world's leading small cat specialists and using the film to build support from grant giving foundations in the US, he established a comprehensive fieldwork action plan which has since developed into a stand-alone organisation (Wildcat Haven) which has since created an 800 square mile threat-free safe haven for the wildcat in the West Highlands, gaining endorsement from Humane Society International as a model for compassionate conservation.

The filmmaking bug continued to bite though, and in 2008 he agreed to co-produce with New Zealand's ILC Productions on feature length Killing Joke documentary The Death and Resurrection Show, which ground on through an epic 8 year production period, half of which was spent untangling a labyrinthine mess of nearly 30 years worth of music and archive rights. The film finally began to see light at festivals in 2014, premiering in a sold out special screening at BFI Southbank National Film Theatre 1, and moves onto DVD and TV via AMC/Sundance later this year.

Moving into his third decade of filmmaking, Piper is currently directing and producing 0Day, a feature length drama/thriller exploring computer hacking, Internet privacy and mass surveillance, acting as visual director for Young Thugs Records overseeing a range of music videos, documentaries and live shoots, nearing pre-production on thriller feature Cards for 2017 shooting and script developing several further features for 2018 and beyond.

Piper lives in York alongside cat Coffee, and from time to time can be found giving talks and showing lolcats to emerging and young filmmakers at universities and industry events. He also still acts as a PR, communications and media consultant to a range of conservation and welfare organisations covering Scottish wildcat conservation, Eurasian lynx reintroduction to the UK, and sticking cameras and GPS units to species like rhinos to try and combat poaching; he rarely sleeps.

He is not Steve Piper the New Zealand location scout, Steve Piper the US actor or Steve Piper who claims to have filmed the Australian Bigfoot, or Yowie, or whatever the fuck it's called.