Filmmaker with Asperger Syndrome swaps Hollywood for the Tate

jake2A life-changing redundancy led to a filmmaker in his 40s discovering he had Asperger’s and building a new career preserving digital art for the Tate.

Jake Astbury, from London, toured with The Corrs and was a consultant for Hollywood movie 8mm during a successful 20 year career as an 8mm film specialist and independent filmmaker.

But when he lost his job at the height of the 2008 banking crisis and his partner began to notice how much he was struggling to adapt to change, Jake investigated further and discovered he had Asperger Syndrome.

The experience led to Jake channelling his talents into a new career path, working as a technical conservator for Tate London and Liverpool. Jake’s knowledge was helping to preserve time-based media artworks in analogue video, 16mm and 8mm.

Now, Jake continues to work with the Tate alongside studying for an MA Fine Art Practice at Wrexham Glyndwr University after relocating from London to live in North Wales.

“For as long as I can remember the way I approached my whole life was very fixed,” said Jake. “But I never recognised this as a problem. Then when I lost my job and had to think more about what I was going to do I became frightened.

“Through personal experience of being a filmmaker I understand all the kinds of media and the job with the Tate really helped me to come to terms with having Asperger’s. It made me realise that the skills I had were applicable to a much broader range of careers than I’d originally thought.”

As work with the Tate gathered momentum Jake also started lecturing in film production at two higher education institutions in Oxford.

He then received a preliminary job offer from the Guggenheim Museum in New York – which he turned down in order to focus on making his own films.

Jake is currently scriptwriting for a new independent film, which he describes as similar in style to the film Pi.

“For the first time in my life I was presented with an opportunity to live in a city I’ve always wanted to live in, with a bigger salary than I’ve ever had,” Jake says of the opportunity.

“And it was at that moment I realised what I wanted out of life. I don’t believe that money is the thing we should always be chasing and I wanted to maintain the work life balance I had which allows me time to carry on being creative with my own films. I want to be a bigger filmmaker than I have been to date.

“We made the decision to move to North Wales and it’s been fantastic. The MA at Wrexham Glyndwr has given me an opportunity to reflect critically on the films I’ve made so far and it will help to further my lecturing career, which is something I’m very passionate about.

“I’m very excited about what I can achieve here as a creative professional, with so many open spaces and scenery coupled with the ease of travelling to Liverpool and Manchester.

“I love the Glyndwr University space. Everyone is friendly and I enjoy coming here, which is very beneficial for my work.”

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