x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

'Life is as fun as you make it'

This much I know Rupert Chesman is managing partner of Clipps, a Dubai-based video production house.

Rupert Chesman is the founder of the Dubai video production house Clipps.
Rupert Chesman is the founder of the Dubai video production house Clipps.

Rupert Chesman is managing partner of Clipps, a Dubai-based video production house. I was born in London, in the same hospital in Hammersmith as my father. I'm one of those rare Londoners with parents who are both from there as well. I grew up in Kew Gardens, one of the poshest parts of London - so quite possibly one of the poshest parts of the planet. My sister and brother are seven and eight years older than me, so I'd try and get involved in their games which were too difficult for me, and involved tantrums and medical treatment. Luckily my brother and his friends blazed a trail of amusingly bad behaviour, so anything I did later on in life tended to never be quite as bad.

I really didn't like school much. I was in an expensive private school that made me feel like I was a number rather than Rupert Chesman. It was lovely going back to the school reunion and being able to say that I have my own production company and live near the beach. Suffice to say, I don't think I'll bother going to the 20-year reunion. Until I was 18, I lived in London and then moved to Tianjin, China and taught English there for six months, I then took the boat from China to Japan and translated French for a while. Then I travelled round China after that for two months, before I started uni back in Sheffield, still jet-lagged from Hong Kong.

I studied Japanese at Sheffield University and had a year in Tokyo during my course. It's nice being able to read and write Japanese, at least it's something a little different from the norm. I know French as well as the Arabic alphabet, but haven't really had the chance to learn much else of the language since I arrived in Dubai. I hate not being able to communicate at all in a language, and always try to learn a few sentences or letters wherever I am.

After I graduated, I was at home, bored and unemployed, and went to play tennis with someone who writes for EastEnders. He was making a short film and needed some help, I wasn't doing anything in particular, and offered to help him. The rest, as they say, is history, one that has so far involved a goat, a fat man, a bungee cord, an iceberg and a leopard-skin print motor-powered sofa going at 65km/h. I moved to Dubai, after a few years of working in production in London.

I've seen most of Europe, Phoenix in the US, China, Japan, South Korea, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, the UAE. The thing is, I've never really felt like one of those people who has the travel bug - I'm not that fussed about where I am as long as life is interesting. My job takes me around the world a bit - filming in Sana'a and Cairo were certainly interesting experiences. Getting Yemen TV to work with a slick production crew from Japan was a surreal yet successful few weeks.

Working with Hamaki, one of Egypt's most popular artists, on his music video was great fun. He's a really nice guy, and to keep the video alive and entertaining I made sure that I danced during every take behind the camera. It certainly gave the video an enthusiastic vibe. As a producer, I have ultimate responsibility from beginning to delivery of top-quality videos from initial pitches to the final edit. Toyota tends to have a very clear concept of what they want and I arrange their locations, permissions, equipment and staff. Other clients may be looking for a creative concept, or interpretation of a concept that they have. One week I might be leading a goat through Covent Garden, the next day bouncing a fat man upside down on a bungee cord, then dune bashing a new Land Cruiser. Parking in the middle of Sheikh Zayed Road in rush hour with a police escort was the most interesting thing this year.

Learning Japanese taught me that if you're stubborn, work hard and have a little help from your friends, there's no limit to what you can achieve. Dubai taught me about living and working with different nationalities and I'm sure I'm a more confident person than I was when I arrived here. Setting up Clipps made me understand what it's like to be the boss and realise what it's like being truly independent. I like it. Working as a producer has taught me that lateral thinking can get you anywhere. When a client wants something, I have to arrange it. If they want an iceberg on the creek, I have to put it there. Somehow. Whether it involves CGI graphics, or a very, very big freezer, or a lot of white cardboard, I have to do it.

My philosophy is life is as fun as you make it. Watching anything I've organised happen successfully, whether it's a weekly game of Frisbee or a huge production for Nokia makes me happy. I play football, ski, swim, the stuff that I enjoy the most doesn't involve going out to clubs. But I enjoy that aspect of life too.