Director and Writer
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Simon Ludgate
+44 (0)7836 260405
Credits and Employment History
Mar – Dec 2015, Field Director
Food Network (USA) 'Pioneer Woman'
Field Director for top-rated cookery show carried by the Food Network in the US called Pioneer Woman, hosted by Ree Drummond. I was responsible for shooting the stories which the cooking kitchen narrative was then built around as the series is set on a very large ranch (size of Kent) in Oklahoma. We got the stories about ranch life like herding cattle at dawn, collecting hay and family-oriented activities. It also involved a fair amount of car-related filming which is used as punctuation in the show.
Jan – Dec 2014, Author and screenwriter
I wrote and self-published two books. A novel, 'Gabriel's Lyre', and a biography 'The Accidental Wizard' and then went straight into writing the screenplay for 'Gabriel's Lyre'. The books are selling steadily and the screenplay is with agents.
Jan – Dec 2013, Head of Production
The People's Voice TV
Launch of a new internet tv channel with the stories other news channels dare not run. I was responsible for the programming output of the station and sourcing and purchasing all the studio technical equipment and sets. I recruited over 100 volunteers personally as well as bringing in broadcast talent both in front of and behind the camera. Closely involved in the creative development and execution of the flagship shows as well as securing international talent.
2000 - 2013, Producer / Director
Various (see credits listed below)
I worked extensively on 250+ hours of broadcast television, almost exclusively in factual entertainment. This involved liaising with commissioners, sources creative and technical expertise behind the camera and working collaboratively with the talent in front of the camera.
1992 - 2000, Head of Film
Jack Morton Worldwide
During this time I was responsible for a £25 million annual budget and the P&L. I reported monthly figures to the board and consistently delivered an EBITDA of 10% plus. I oversaw all productions and the teams reported on creative and production issues to me. The production team fluctuated between around 25 and 200 personnel at any given time and I commissioned a great number of award-winning productions. During my tenure I developed a cutting-edge online library system which gave our editors and producers access to not only our master programmes but all the associated rushes from anywhere in the world. As far as I am aware this was the second system of its kind after CNN introduced it in 1995.
Pre-2000, Journalist / Writer / Radio Producer
Food Network (USA) 'Pioneer Woman'
I edited music magazine 'Record Mirror', developed a series of travel guides for 'Time Out' and was the first male features writer on Cosmopolitan Magazine and produced the first series of syndicated sponsored radio programming.
Broadcast Credits 2000 - 2013
(Ob Doc), Edit Producer – 'The Twins Who Share A Body'
DCD/Rize for Channel 4
Re-cut and rewrite of original programme for quick turnround. Three pairs of conjoined twins and their stories across three continents. Dicephalic parapegus twins have one body but two heads. There are fewer than ten in the entire world. The programme scored the highest rating in its time slot for the year. First transmission 2012.
(Fact Ent), Edit Producer – 'Plane Crash'
Dragonfly for Channel 4 and Discovery
I was responsible for edit producing a US version of the edit with a completely revised script which documented the three year build up and eventual crashing of a commercial jet in the Mexican desert to see what happens to a 40 ton plane on impact. First transmission 2012.
(Fact Ent), Videotext Productions for Channel 4
Food Network (USA) 'Pioneer Woman'
Final series of the archaeological dig series presented by Tony Robinson which is being axed after 20 years. I wrote and directed Oakham Castle and was 2nd Unit on Dundrum Castle. Knockabout humour and banter with the odd burst of genius from the team. First transmission 2012.
(Fact Ent), Edit Producer – 'Tallest Tower Building The Shard'
Prospect Pictures for Channel 4
Fast turnaround total re-edit and rewrite of documentary about the building of the Shard. First transmission 2012
(Fact Ent), Writer/Director – 'Aircrash Confidential'
World for Discovery
The connections between aircrash mysteries are investigated in this returning series which looks into three separate incidents per show using dramatic reconstruction and interviews with experts, survivors and relatives. First transmission 2012.
(Ob Doc), Writer/Director – 'Japan's Killer Quake'
Pioneer for C4
Japan was rocked by a massive 9.0 earthquake on March 11 2011. 20 minutes later a terrifying tsunami 10 metres high washed across 20 kilometres of farmland around the north east prefectures. I was on location with a geologist within four days while the show was already being edited back in London. It was broadcast 12 days after the tragedy on C4 in the UK and a few days later in the US on Nova. We experienced repeated aftershocks and the threat of radiation. First transmission 2011.
(Ob Doc), Writer/Director – '100 Days In The Gulf'
World and Mentorn International
In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blew up and sank 48 miles from the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf Of Mexico. What happened next is one of the biggest news stories of the 21st century. This documentary tells the story of what the truth behind "that" was with the help of Louisiana residents and workers in the oil and fishing industries – "the only two games in town." First transmission 2011.
(Ob Doc), Director – 'World's Most Dangerous Places'
The world's earthquake hotspots can be counted on one hand. I've documented all of them at some stage and I investigated the aftermath of the Chile earthquake which was so large, the shift in the mass of Chile slowed down the rotation of the earth. Chile has in many parts moved up or down as much as 20 metres. The visual evidence of this is dramatic and we travelled down the earthquake zone in this 4,300 km long country. Beaches which were 50 metres wide before the February quake are now 250 metres, a new coastline has appeared, harbours are now beaches and the towns struck by the resulting tsunami were washed away. Our footage told the real story of the intense local destruction which wasn't even featured on the news footage at the time. In a repeat of Indonesia, lives were lost because holidaymakers, unfamiliar with the threat of tsunami following a quake, stayed in their beach front houses instead of running like most of the locals and they drowned as a result.
(Ob Doc), Producer/Director – 'Haiti Killer Quake: How It Happened'
Channel 4/Discovery
Following immediately after the Haiti quake I went in with geologist Roger Bilham to find out why the quake happened. We slept in tents and were 100% self-sufficient. Protected by armed close personal security specialists we filmed the aftermath in detail including world-exclusive footage from the air of uplifted and sunken coastline, as well as filming the epicentre and faultline from the air. We were the first team on location to do so. The programme was put together and broadcast in record time. It smelt really badly of dead bodies everywhere we went, constantly reminding us of the extent of the disaster and the thousands of people lying dead under the rubble of Port Au Prince. First transmission 2010. Peabody Winner.
(Specialist Fact Ent), Field Director
Writer/Director – 'Ways To Save The Planet Earth'
Discovery Channel US Innovative 9 part series investing in geo-engineering solutions to the threat of global warming. Flagship series presented by Jennifer Languell, Basil Singer and Kevin O'Leary designed to launch Discovery Green HD in Europe and lead fall schedule worldwide. We were set the task of developing a new technology to combat climate change. "Carbon Scrubbers" investigated the development, design, build and testing of an innovative low-energy ultra-efficient capture device which could absorb the world's transport emissions of CO2, a potent greenhouse gas. During the programme we worked with French Nuclear scientists and set up a series of scenarios and observed the results. First transmission 2008.
(Fact Ent), Writer/Director – 'Engineering Connections'
Nat Geo US and BBC
First series in the strand hosted by Richard Hammond on the intriguing links between spectacular machines and the history of engineering. I directed Taipei 101 on the Taipei Tower, tallest building in the world at the time which held the dubious distinction of pumping concrete to the highest level, thanks, originally to a British invention from the 1600s. We linked the ceramic brakes in the skyscraper elevators to the brakes in Porsche sports cars. The series presents complex science, engineering and physics concepts in a digestible format which makes high concepts easy to absorb. First transmission 2008.
(Fact Ent), Writer/Director – 'Investigation Earth'
Discovery Channel US
60 min pilot episode on Kenyan Lions for a series on disappearing species presented by Jeff Corwin on location in a variety of interactions with wildlife on location which we set up, using the wild as our studio as a vehicle for Jeff Corwin to present to camera in close proximity to some very wild wildlife. First transmission 2007.
(Fact Ent), Field Director
Travel Channel US
3 x 60 mins in 8 part series hosted by Jeff Corwin on North American travel and its wildlife. Our journey took in Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming, Arizona and Washington. We saw wolves, mountain lions, beavers, badgers and porcupine. Jeff flew in a balloon over the Rockies, kayaked rivers and drove cattle in a series of challenges he was set to use his initiative and resource to track wildlife along the lines of Bear Gryls. First transmission 2007.
(Fact Ent), Writer/ Director – 'Into Alaska'
Discovery Channel US
2 x 60 mins in 8 part series hosted by Jeff Corwin on the wildlife and scenery of Alaska where Jeff experienced all four seasons in a series of challenges in the wild which included mushing Huskies with a sled, racing a skidoo against an Iditarod husky race winner, reaching Alaska's tallest peaks in -30c and finding a game of cat and mouse between killer whales and Humpbacks close up. First transmission 2006.
(Fact Ent), Field Director
BBC (Bristol)
Returning series featuring presenter Nick Knowles and the DIY SOS team as they rescue another victim of DIY hell. First transmission 2006.
(Fact Ent), Writer/Director – 'Massive Speed'
Gamma for Discovery Channel UK
2x30 documentaries on the history of motorbikes and helicopters presented by star of Red Dwarf series Chris Barrie. Chris raced against an Isle of Man TT Winner on the actual TT course and flew in an Apache attack helicopter. First transmission 2006.
(Ob Doc), Director – 'The Year The Earth Went Wild'
Pioneer for Channel 4
Location director/cameraman for 120 minute special for Channel 4 on natural disasters in 2005. Covered Pakistan earthquake, Indonesian tsunami and European floods. First transmission 2006.
(Fact Ent), Field Director
Pioneer for National Geographic
2x60' episodes in Naked Science series for National Geographic Channel US on tsunamis and volcanoes. Filmed on Hi-Def in US, Indonesia and Hawaii. First transmission 2005.
(Fact Ent), Producer/Director – 'No Waste Like Home'
Celador for BBC2
New format eco series with new eco-warrior presenter Penney Poyzer for BBC2 examining how good or bad Brit families are on recycling and use of resources. (Answer: not very good! 11% recycle compared to 45% in Canada.) Penny set a different family every week the task of understanding their own consumption, waste and emissions better by challenging them with a variety of tasks. It was the first of its kind in eco-conscious fact ent shows. First transmission 2005.
(Fact Ent), Writer/Director – 'Surviving Nature'
Pioneer for National Geographic US
60' documentary for new broad-based science flagship series Naked Science. Second episode I directed in the series for National Geographic TV US. This one is on the emotional personal cost of extreme weather. Filmed mainly in the US. Host Louise Brady was set a variety of challenges to illustrate different aspects of the danger being exposed to nature represent. We electrified, froze, boiled and tried to drown her. And tried to wash her away in a flooding river. She was still smiling at the end and looking for another challenge. First transmission 2004.
(Fact Ent), Writer and Director –'Bermuda Triangle'
Pioneer for National Geographic US
Writer and Director of 60' science programme in Pioneer's Naked Science series for National Geographic TV US on the legend of the Bermuda Triangle. We set out to discover the facts behind the myth of the Bermuda Triangle with some surprising results including re-flying the famous Flight 19 course in an original Avenger Bomber identical to the planes which disappeared made famous in Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters". First transmission 2004.
(Fact Ent), Director – 'Gadgets & Stuff'
Black Diamond for Bravo
Writer, director and producer of 13x30' series for Bravo about hi-tech gadgetry from solid state video cameras to executive jets and racing cars. A sort of gadget- obsessed Tomorrow's World presented by Liz Bonnin who has now gone onto a similar show The Big Bang Theory for the BBC. Each week Liz was tasked with testing examples of new technology in comparative tests and explaining the science, appeal and trending behind them. This included high tech stunt planes, cars which were also boats, tiny mp3 players, private jets the size of commercial airliners and radio controlled model aeroplanes and helicopters. First transmission 2003.
(Fact Ent), Director – 'Top Gear'
Programme director working with presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond on items on new 13x60 minute format. Guests included Jamiroquai, Jonathon Ross, Sir Michael Gambon, Tara P-T, Gordon Ramsey, Ross Kemp, Harry Enfield. We were never quite sure how factual it was but it was certainly entertaining.
Mar – Dec 2015, Field Director
Food Network (USA) 'Pioneer Woman'
Field Director for top-rated cookery show carried by the Food Network in the US called Pioneer Woman, hosted by Ree Drummond. I was responsible for shooting the stories which the cooking kitchen narrative was then built around as the series is set on a very large ranch (size of Kent) in Oklahoma. We got the stories about ranch life like herding cattle at dawn, collecting hay and family-oriented activities. It also involved a fair amount of car-related filming which is used as punctuation in the show.
Project Management
Hong Kong Handover
When the lease on Hong Kong was returned to China I was responsible as producer for the television coverage of the event for worldwide use. Using 72 cameras, the event, which was like a mini Olympic opening games, was focussed around the Hong Kong Army Barracks parade ground. I liaised with the event choreographer, production managers and event organisers to ensure the smooth running and execution of the event which was five hours long. It was broadcast live around the world and included speeches by the then Governor of Hong Kong, MEP and BBC Board of Governors Chairman Chris Patten, His Royal Highness Prince Charles and China's Premier Li Peng.
British Government G8 Summit
Britain hosted the G8 Summit and I was event producer, liaising with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Metropolitan Police, the City of London and the Security Forces like MI5. The event was run with the highest level of security screening and I was responsible for the speaker support, video content and live staging.
Toyota Yaris Launch
This was an enormous live event in Barcelona staged in the Olympic Stadium over two days for 30,000 Toyota employees worldwide who came to Barcelona for the event. I was responsible for media content like videos and audio visual materials and I worked as part of the production team onsite who had designed and planned the event and the logistics surrounding it like the transport, hotel registration and event registration. The new car models were driven on stage by famous rally drivers like Carlos Sainz who was a Toyota Team star at the time.
Price Waterhouse Coopers Merger
When accountancy firms and arch rivals Price Waterhouse and their competitor Coopers and Lybrand merged, I was asked to attempt the impossible. The Chief Executive of each company were lifelong rivals and I was to find a way of them appearing together in a video which would address the combined workforces and present a united front – for two men who couldn't stand one another. We found a solution by taking a musical approach after I discovered they were both fans of Frank Sinatra and the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. I managed to persuade the two gentlemen to mime a duet of "Love & Marriage" dressed as their comedy heroes. It proved to be a really successful pairing. The video opened the conference, brought the house down, and set the tone for the merger as convivial and friendly. There's nothing like leading from the front!
Loral Military Prime Contractor Programme
Loral are the largest prime contractor in the world and we were involved in a ten year series of events and press launches for a wide range of new products which would be showcased at events like the Farnbrough and Paris Air Shows. This incorporated top secret developments like the EH101 Merlin Helicopter Platform, the new Sidewinder missile and Raytheon's Synthetic Aperture Radar system which is widely-used by satellites and aircraft today. Associated events and audio visual media support materials were developed and run by a small security-screened team I led on behalf of Loral, who are a very strategic and highly-confidential organisation.
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