T o n y   S t e y g e r

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I was brought up in a reasonably devout Catholic family and educated first by nuns and then by Christian Brothers. If nothing else, these strict moral codes gave me both a robust social conscience and a drive to buck any kind of system. I have two disabled brothers, stricken by deafness and mental illness, bookending my childhood and, once university was over, my empathy and personal ambition was ready to be unleashed.


My first films as a freelance director in the early days of Channel 4 focussed on disability themes. These were followed by access programmes - with camcorders - at the BBC Community Programmes Unit, giving voices to those previously unheard, including transsexuals, teenagers and New Age travellers. With these small-ish cameras, ordinary people with great stories could record their own lives, unfolding in real time. Inspired by dreams of even more editorial freedom for the individual, I devised the Video Nation project for the BBC, based on the well-established principles of Mass Observation from the 1930's and 1940's.


By the mid 1990's, the independent production sector was booming and I co-founded Maverick Television, extending this new language of 'authentic' first-person storytelling, with projects such as Trade Secrets and Comic Relief Diaries. But, it wasn't until the Internet arrived at around the same time that the promise of unmediated representation on screen looked like it might revolutionise broadcasting. I became excited by projects like Jennicam and digital interactivity and was head-hunted for a role at the BBC as Managing Editor of New Media Programmes. This led to a move to Brighton where I helped launch Big Brother's online streaming with Victoria Real and Endemol.


As a producer and director, I've always thrived on the confluence of technological innovation and the potential for media to distrupt the balance. My ongoing work with Steve Hawley challenges me to experiment with ideas and form and my roles at Solent fulfills this deep-seated need to empower others whilst exercising my own creative drive.


Tony Steyger


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