Michael Lawrence: Garage Entertainment: Manly

I have been able to develop feature documentaries with real heart and soul and work with emerging filmmakers with the support of adventurous brands and philanthropists to take their films to next level.

Michael Lawrence is the Co-Founder, (along with Nicholas Cook, his best friend for the last 30 years after meeting one their first day of Uni) of the action sport digital distribution house, Garage Entertainment. In a nutshell, lots of epic extreme, adventure sport, films available online for your eyeballs to get very red and sore with excitement. 
Upon meeting Michael, you instantly get open arms and his full attention. You can’t help but have a whopping, big smile on your face whilst he tells you of all the adventures he has created for himself and when I say “created for himself” it’s because that’s exactly what he did. There has been no challenge too big that he didn’t grab the bull by the horns and go for it.
As a young kid script writing was  his passion (and still is) but through life experiences, he realised that producing was going to get him closer to the creative experience so he began to pursue this . leading him onto one of his most known productions, the Australia Documentary, Bra Boys: Blood Is Thicker Than Water, narrated by Russell Crowe.
Michael prides himself on his relationships, family, and corroboree. Sharing stories with film is such a personal experience. Michael is one the most inspiring people AR has met and we hung out with him and the Garage Entertainment crew in their Manly office…

 

Name: Michael Lawrence
Occupation: Founder Garage
Hometown: Maroubra
Current Location: Manly

When I was a kid I wanted to be…a Film-maker and a businessman. Now I finally know what that means. I remember Glenys Rowe saying to me when I was younger, ‘I know you think you’re a director but you’re really a producer and it’s not a bad thing. You’ll actually have way more fun”. And she was right.

My earliest, fondest memory is…Definitely sitting in the dark watching movies in the cinema and thinking…. I could just sit here forever and I just wanted to make all these films. You know I’m talking Indiana Jones, Star Wars, I wanted to be there when the first funny joke was made on set. At 50 I still get that feeling when I go to the movies and the lights go down.

The studies I took to get where I am…BA business marketing international marketing at UTS and then every professional Short course at every film making institution in Australia. Loads of AFTRS courses in writing, producing and directing.

I’m most creative when…At risk of sounding strange, my creative time is actually in the shower. I start the day in the shower, as soon as I get in everything is planned in my head, my to do list goes into overdrive. My full day is lived in shower, my mind just races with everything I have to achieve that day and I cement that all in with my first cup of coffee. Doesn’t always go to plan but I am very big on to do lists. I generally like
to have breakfast on my own, I make notes on my phone and will do that at least twice a week. You need that quiet space to really focus on what’s important.

I started Garage because…I saw the opportunity for investment in what we predicted would be a digital revolution so we set specific measurable goals for next five years and then most importantly, we backed ourselves. We achieved our final goal in 2016 and sold the company to the Surf Stich Group. As the Garage Managing Director, my role now is media business development in three key areas, local content production, global content distribution and key brand partnership.

We deliver on this firstly through our film and TV production department which focuses on entertaining and meaningful content that represents our core values. This is where I have been able to develop feature documentaries with real heart and soul and work with emerging filmmakers with the support of adventurous brands and philanthropists to take their films to next level.

Secondly, our blog engages with our audience, a place were we can live, laugh and unlock adventure daily. We have a young team of writers, photographers,graphic designers, editors and outdoor enthusiasts who are passionate about delivering a slice of life everyday with the people in your life that really matter. They are inspired to get people out of their armchairs and out into some of the most exciting places around the world.

Finally through our VOD department we distribute the best action sports film from all over the world through a streaming service called Garage Entertainment. It’s come along way since our Netflix of action adventure. Often the best ideas start in the garage. We also have our own 24/7 TV channel through the sky cable network in 1million homes and soon to be in Australia.

I choose this career because…I ran two companies for 20 years in the fashion space and loved it. It was when we threw caution to the wind that I really went for it. Film making was where my heart was and it made sense to me and my family that if we were going to go out on our own and make something that we could call ‘ours’ it needed to be something that aligned with our true passion.

The tools I can’t live without…Firstly my Iphone. Although I don’t know how to use it, Ha!. Secondly, my family and friends and the team around me. Most important, a few good holidays a year where you don’t have any technology. The best things that have ever happened to the business have been when I have been holidays. My wife Dianne always makes sure I get away throughout the year so I stop thinking about doing, that’s when the creation comes. Looking at shop windows, watching people, talking to friends all over the world. Understanding what’s fashionable, that’s when the ideas come. I come home and get straight to talking with my business partner Nick Cook and tell him the next big plan.

I’m inspired by…People and things and not often related to work. My ultimate thing is collecting amazing people, amazing relationships. Who needs a new pair of shoes or a new bag….collecting a new mentor or creative peer who inspires me, that’s the most exciting thing to me. The only thing that comes close is watching trailers. Movie trailers are my cocaine. I still get that buzz every time the lights go down in a cinema and the trailers come on.

I’m currently reading…I am a prolific reader. When I am overseas I take a new book and I can read it in two days. I want to read Taipan by James Clavell again. There is a level of nostalgia, family, friendship that I love and the best last line is the best ending to any book I have ever read. It’s about reaching your full potential and everything is going to be all right. There is a level of cultural tolerance and significance that feels really relevant for my son right now. One of my favourite books is Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. It’s the history of the Zappos business. At the darkest hour this book turned up with a friend of the family and a Chinese banquet and that night changed the way I was thinking about the future.

The website I hang out on the most…I look for technology disconnected moments as much as possible. I am drawn to a book or a film if I have the spare time.

The Instagram accounts I dig…of course the best is GarageFilms but other best of class inspirational leaders include – Chris Burkard + Mark Mathews + Clark Little +Nat Geo + WSL + JS_Photography + Aqua Bumps

I’m currently listening to…Love The Smiths and The Cure and The Doors, still rocking old school.

The last film I watched was…Batman Dark Night with my son, and then 30 th anniversary of Ferris Buller’s day off. Save Ferris! Also, the new DEUS film “South To Sian” – which is like the new “Endless Summer” meets “Long Way Round” … that’s how I got to meet Carby.

Travel is…Ieverything. Outside movies travel is the ultimate thing my myself and my family, we have been to over 40 countries.

My travel essentials are…Phone a credit card and passport. I’m pretty low maintenance. Oh maybe good after shave. You can’t control what you look like but you can control what you smell like. Ha!

One thing I would like to do but haven’t got around to it yet…Making an international hit drama series. And a big feature drama film. That is my Everest. I want to really shake it up. I am currently working on both.

The challenges of being a creative… The biggest challenge would be bringing the creative and commercial teams together. There is only a limited amount of money and I only want to go through the difficult process of raising money for things that I love.

The highlights over the past 12 months have been…I was really honoured to be involved in a feature documentary called You and Me. It was so beautiful watching a man I admired achieve his goals. It was one of those projects that get your whole family involved and everyone is working together to achieve the impossible. Don’t Crack Under Pressure was a totally different film. It was a real thrill to launch what I think is the most the most innovative and soulful action sport films of the year. This kind of film is what garage really is. We are focused on innovation and development but not without heart. Developing our team so they can reach their goals

Advice I have to share for those who want to follow in my footsteps…I wouldn’t follow my exact footsteps, I could have led you off a cliff. You are who you hang out with. Hang out with people that challenge and inspire you and have the same belief system as you. Never be scared to ask for help and say I don’t know. Can you help me? – has been the greatest weapon of my life.

Do What You Want…but make sure it’s fucking amazing

Website // Facebook // Instagram // YouTube

 

Photo: Katie Kaars

Words: Almost Real

3 Comments

  • July 17, 2016

    Caroline Tynan

    Michael Lawrence has his feet firmly on the ground – he achieves from his heart and deserves the sun, moon and stars!

  • […] People” by Surfer Magazine, Surfer Magazine Photographer Todd Glaser and Executive Producer Michael Lawrence, co-founder of Garage Productions whom produced one of Australia’s most successful […]

  • […] Michael Lawrence and Nicholas Cook have been mates since university and went on to create Garage Entertainment aka the Netflix of Action sport. Lawrence has had acclaimed success producing films such as Bra Boys, Fighting Fear, You and Me and TV series The Crew. After working closely with Taylor for close to a dozen years and creating 3 films together (This Time Tomorrow + Missing with Mick Fanning + Proximity) they have come together to form This Film Studio.  […]

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