My friend and colleague Bill Clark, who died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 70, was a videographer and filmmaker. Throughout a long career in commercials and corporate video production, he has shared his talent, enthusiasm and generosity with the creative industries.
Basically, Bill was a storyteller, drawn to fiction and cinema. The cast of his first feature film, Jonathan Toomey’s Christmas Miracle (2007) included a young Saoirse Ronan.
I had the privilege of being a producer on his second feature film, Starfish (2016)with Joanne Froggatt and Tom Riley. Bill learned from a former colleague, Nic Ray, how her husband’s near-fatal sepsis had devastated their lives. Bill’s creative approach was collaborative, bold in portraying what an individual and a family can endure.
Born in Epsom, Surrey, Bill was the son of Glenis (née Evans) and Leonard Clark, who owned a printing business. He attended Wallington High School, Sutton, then Ewell Technical College for A-levels, where as social secretary he booked Genesis and Led Zeppelin to play – and an enduring love for the music industry is not.
In 1974, after expanding the family printing business into graphic design, he was introduced to Hilary Walker, who worked in promotions for EMI Records. Bill began producing marketing material for EMI, including work on album covers for a young Kate Bush. A date at Hammersmith Odeon with EMI colleague Deborah Kirrage led to the wedding in 1979.
In 1981 Bill moved to Rutland in the East Midlands and founded the advertising and corporate video companies William Clark Productions and then Origami. The companies flourished during the 80s and 90s, providing opportunities for bright young creatives on campaigns for, among others, BMW, Lancôme and Power Rangers, as well as music promotions.
The run of commercials, which Bill always treated as 30-second feature films, was inspired by a Christmas gift to his daughter from the book The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski. Bill decided it should be his first feature film and left with more determination than experience to acquire the film rights. Development of the second film followed as he continued to work in commercials.
Bill never pulled his punches and Starfish was a searing but ultimately uplifting film. Tom Ray commented : “Society seeks to hide, shrug and ignore the experience of disability, but Starfish speaks for me and for all who suffer from sudden loss.” Following the theatrical release, Starfish expanded sepsis awareness around the world.
Other projects sprouted, such as an in-development television series based on his Welsh grandfather’s mining community, and Bill continued to give his tireless time and energy to those around him.
He is survived by Debbie, their children, Edward and Celia, a grandson, Alfie, and his brother, Paul.