Owen Carey Jones is the director of six films, including A Mind Of Her Own, which won a much-coveted Crystal Heart award at the Heartland Film Festival, and two angel awards from the Monaco International Film Festival.
His film, A Mind of Her Own, is inspired by a true story, and chronicles the poignant and moving struggle of a young girl who fights to become a doctor despite being severely dyslexic.
A MIND OF HER OWN tells the poignant and moving story of Sophie, whose dream of becoming a doctor is obstructed by the fact that she is severely dyslexic. But Sophie, encouraged by her closest friend, Becky, has never been one to give up and, despite being advised by parents and school teachers to be realistic and pursue something less academic, she remains determined to achieve her ambition and refuses to settle for anything less.
When Owen Carey Jones was told to slow down or lose his life after a heart bypass operation he knew he had to take the warning seriously.
But his idea of life in the slow lane might not be everybody’s idea of taking things easy
Owen, now 57, from Yeadon, was 49 When he enrolled at the Northern Film School. After graduating in 2000 he produced and directed his first film, Baby Blues, which has been seen by an estimated 35 million people in countries on four continents, including China and the USA.
Born in Belize, Owen spent his childhood in Africa, where his father worked with the colonial service, before coming to Britain at the age of 16. He left school with O-levels but no A-levels and although he wanted to write he took a job in banking, the only think that looked vaguely interesting’, in order to earn a living.
After a career which included international banking he launched his own company publishing specialist magazines for the UK retial banking market and he remains an acknowledged expert in this field.
But with five or six bi-monthly magazines and short deadlines the strain of running the business along with the effects of being overweight, having high cholesterol and smoking – was taking its toll on his health.
“I started getting an ache in the jaw and I would come over all hot and clammy,” he said.
After seeing a doctor he was seen by a cardiologist within days and underwent a bypass operation the very next day. “They said if I didn’t have the operation I wouldn’t be there the next day, ” he said.
But despite undergoing a major operation Owen had no plans to quit his job until he was told he had not option.
“Within a couple of months I was back at work and when I had a check-up with the cardiologist he said you will have to change your lifestyle or you are not going to survive. I sold what I could of the magazine and signed on the dole..”
He applied for countless jobs, but despite a number of interviews had no success and found himself seemingly unemployable in his mid-40s. But he put his forced unemployment to good use by writing a book, which he sent to a professional reader.
“She sent back 14 pages of comment all negative,” he remembers now. “The only thing she liked was the title. I did it again and re-sent it and this time only seven pages were negative, so I thought we are going in the right direction.’ ”
“I looked around for a writing course and I got into films by default because it was the only writing course available locally.”
After he left Film School he produced the work Baby Blues, which was selected for the Belize International Film Festival, and which tackled the serious subject of the most acute form of post-natal disorder, puerperal psychosis.
The grim, but perhaps little understood, topic was inspired by the experiences of Owen’s wife, Jill, who found herself spiralling into the disorder after the birth of their first child.
“She was hospitalised for six weeks in a psychiatric hospital and had ECT which was barbaric but it cured her. I think what it did was change the chemical balance in her brain.
” She was doing weird things. In the middle of the night she would get out of bed and run a cold bath and get into it wearing pyjamas. She would also get her sentences jumbled. One of the things that Jill did was make a tape of all the thoughts in her head I played it to the psychiatrist, and he said I know what that is.”
But Jill, who met her husband at Aireborough Grammar School, recovered and the couple went on to have two more children. It is the experiences of their youngest daughter, Kathryn, which has inspired A Mind of Her Own. It was her ambition to become a doctor despite her dyslexia, which forms the core of the work.
The character, Sophie in the film, goes on to find a cure for paralysis, an outcome which Owen points out is not fanciful.
“A woman in Pakistan is curing paralysis now but she is using stem cells, and it’s not possible to do that in this country.”
And he says in other parts of the world doctors are on the verge of major breakthroughs in the treatment of paralysis.
But the film he is planning now is on the altogether less serious topic of synthetic diamond fraud and will be an action thriller. Big budget for Owen although small beer for any American backers it is based on his unpublished book which led him into the world of films.
“Maybe when the film is made I will be able to get the novel published,” he laughs.