Steve Piper was born in Kent in 1976, growing into an average grammar school student mostly interested in comics and making music, until a new drama teacher arrived and agreed to put the school stage crew under Piper’s control.
Filling it with musicians and art students promised a stage-sized common room, access to hidden storerooms for cigarette breaks, and a golden ticket out of homework, his backstage developed an anarchic atmosphere that won the old fashioned schools tolerance turning out creative, ambitious and popular stagings for school plays.
In 1994 Piper began work as technical producer for Naked Pony Theatre Company in Canterbury. Performing European classics in a minimalist fringe style, the company was name checked as part of a new theatre movement at the edges of London, but, unable to fund an ambitious new work with the playwright Goran Stefanovski, the company folded after four years of touring and residential work.
Coffee Films began to surface, with Piper making the short Televisual Man in 1996. Getting a ‘real job’ account managing marketing campaigns for clients like Coca Cola, American Express, and Nintendo he spent several years moving through a series of debauched houseshares and social circles experimenting with documentary films and music videos.
By 2004 Coffee Films was releasing short films, and getting involved in music management and PR. How To Disappear Completely earned Piper recognition by an international jury as one of Europe’s most exciting emerging young filmmakers, leading to an unlikely request for him to re-write a US children’s super hero film, with his introduction of a child trafficking villain selling children over the darkweb horrifying the studio executives.
Increasingly interested in wildlife filmmaking, in 2005 Piper began a two year shoot on conservation documentary Last of the Scottish Wildcats. The intent to film a critically endangered species widely considered un-filmable with a DV camcorder and some sponsorship money was met with some amusement, yet resulted in a widely praised and nationally distributed film with footage so rare it still occasionally appears in broadcasts today.
Using the film to launch a charity, the Scottish Wildcat Association, Piper became a vocal critic of Scottish Government efforts to conserve the species and pulled together a team of expert advisors to launch the Wildcat Haven project in 2008. Developing an 800 square mile threat-free zone in the West Highlands over the next decade, the project was endorsed by Humane Society International as a model example of compassionate conservation.
In the same year Piper joined ILC Productions’ Killing Joke documentary The Death and Resurrection Show as it ran into financing problems. Already passed on as impossible to complete by several other producers, the film took another decade to lock and find a way through the complex archive rights. First seeing light at festivals in 2015, the feature premiered to a sold out audience at BFI Southbank National Film Theatre 1 going on to a short cinema run and international TV, VOD, DVD and blu-ray.
Continuing to dip into conservation work Piper provided PR consultation for the launches of projects conserving rhinos and lynx, and produced several web videos on wildcats which were syndicated to major platforms worldwide.
Moving to the North of England, Piper involved himself in the local music scene becoming a founding director of independent label Young Thugs, establishing a colourful modern punk visual aesthetic through a two year churn of music videos and live events.
Piper currently lives in Yorkshire, shoots music videos for labels including Ignition Records and Warner Music Group, and is developing a range of feature films and a documentary web series on the British Government’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.
He is not New Zealand Steve Piper the location scout, US Steve Piper the actor, or Australian Steve Piper who filmed the Australian Bigfoot, or Yowie, or whatever it’s called.
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