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Author, Guru & Martial Arts Pioneer Geoff Thompson Talks Fear, Films & Factory Beginnings

Author, Guru & Martial Arts Pioneer Geoff Thompson Talks Fear, Films & Factory Beginnings

Geoff Thompson sat on a bench

With the current state of the world in which we live, fear is an emotion that surfaces in us all with an unwelcome regularity. One man who is well versed in the debilitating nature of our fears and how they can be successfully combatted is Geoff Thompson.

During one particularly difficult bout of depression, Geoff had an idea to write down everything he was afraid of and confront it. He called this the ‘Fear Pyramid’. It’s a technique he’s utilised to great effect over the years to achieve great things in a storied life. A life detailed in his fascinating and incredibly honest memoir, Notes From a Factory Floor: How I got from there to here.

Now a BAFTA-winning screenwriter, with stage plays and a musical to his name, Geoff has also penned over forty books and has been named as one of the most influential martial artists in the world. Not bad for a lad from Coventry who used to work in a factory by day and then as a bouncer by night. In fact, it was that latter job that led to his first published book, Watch My Back, which relayed visceral accounts of his often violent experiences working on the door of a nightclub in his home city. Which in turn acted as stepping stones on his road to a major spiritual awakening and expansion of consciousness that made Geoff as much healer as hard man.

We spoke to Geoff about his inspiring new book and what it was like to confront his demons by writing it. He also spoke to us about how to use the ‘Fear Pyramid’, what it was like taking tea with Chuck Norris and how he came to be an award-winning screenwriter working with screen luminaries like Orlando Bloom.

TM: You must be proud of the result of this very personal book?

GT: It’s my burnt offering. It’s been something I’ve been putting off for a long time. I told myself I was putting it off because it was so varied, so many things had happened to me I didn’t know where to start. I kidded myself that it might be difficult to remember, but actually when I came to write it, I realised I was putting it off because I was afraid.

I was afraid to look at it because there were a lot of dead bodies there, a lot of unfinished business. And to be the writer I want to be, I knew I’d have to be brutally honest, otherwise there would be no point in writing the thing in the first place. Other people wouldn’t learn anything from it and neither would I. The book took me eight weeks, originally it was 150,000 words, all hand written and it came out as quickly as I could write it.

TM: Almost like a stream of consciousness?

GT: Exactly. It wrote itself in the order in which it wanted to come out. The day I finished it another book came to me immediately, 20 chaptered headings dowloaded in my head while I was walking. I started on the Monday and wrote another book called, The Divine CEO. That book felt like the reward for removing the obscuration that was present. I am really proud of it.

People who are important in my life have been saying for years that’s the book you need to write. I knew I had to but never got round to it until now. It was a great relief to get it out. But I did have a bit of a breakdown afterwards (laughs)!

TM: I bet. Bringing up all those old demons and reassessing things can’t have been easy? Of course it’s a healthy thing to do and I imagine cathartic?

GT: In the Old Testament they call it the burnt offering. If you want to make room for consciousness or a greater awareness you need to get rid of the things that are obscuring the view. The things that are obscuring the view are the unfinished business. It’s no good me going through the rest of my life being the hero that wrote Watch My Back, because although I love that book it was absolutely wall-to-wall violence. I rationalised the violence, I was ignorant, I didn’t understand causation and that at some point I’d have to meet this.

But I was a damaged soul, most of my violence was displaced, I was trying to protect myself against the world cause I’d been told at a young age and  I’d had the parasite implanted in me that the world couldn’t be trusted, the people you love couldn’t be trusted, especially the people you love.

This isn’t a defence of what I did cause I was an adult and still did it. But while I was in that violent place I thought I was doing the right thing, that I was protecting myself and other people. To paraphrase Nietzsche I became the dragon that I was hunting for.

This is me readdressing the balance and of course a lot of things came up that I’d forgotten and it was really hard work reliving all of that, it was painful. My wife typed it all out for me. That was part of the cleaning as I wanted her to see how hideous I’d been. She knew a lot of my past, but I didn’t want to hide anything from her. If I’m going to share it with the general public my wife should know (laughs).

Geoff Thompson giving a Ted Talk
Geoff giving a TED Talk

TM: The central theme of the book is that of atonement…

GT: It’s even stronger than that, and I didn’t realise till after I’d written it, that the central theme is repentance. And when I say repentance I mean it in the Buddhist term of return. Or the Judaic meaning of refuge. So, I was out to the left hand side of my life because of the aberrations and I was returning back to my homeostasis or natural balance.

It’s really a book of repentance and that’s what it taught me. We all have the gift of repentance, the ability to return back to our human nature. Not the nature of our personalities that is twisted and distorted by conditioning, but our actual human nature which is connected to our source nature, our grounded being.

But to return to that balance you have to go past all the dead bodies, all the unfinished business, then you have to be as honest as you can and you literally feel the offering burning away inside of you, like a flame. It’s a very painful process, but also cathartic and also one of atonement as well, in the sense you’ve gone from being divided many times to a place of being just one. Instead of being twenty personalities bouncing around inside in my head all fighting for sovereignty, there’s just this one being looking through these eyes. There’s not the conflict or division anymore.

TM: Obviously there are parts of your life that you’re clearly not proud of, especially that violent period as a bouncer. But in many ways it made you who you are. Would you change that route if you could go back or are you at peace with the fact that it was who you were then and helped mould the man you are today?

GT: I wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t want to repeat it, because people got caught in the crossfire. But I would never want to change anything. Because of the extremity of my violence, there are certain people in the world who will listen to me, I’m able to say I was like you and talk to kids in prison, as I have done. I can say that I’ve done the things you’ve done, but you can return to who you were. There’s a possibility of repair for everybody.

So, I feel as though it was ordained, if I hadn’t have gone through that I would never be able to sit in front of someone and say categorically that violence, even when it’s well intended, always rebounds on itself. This is the realm of causation. What you put out will return. There’s a history of that in biblical literature. In Buddhism you have Jetsun Milarepa, the murderer turned saint. He killed 35 people in a revenge attack and was so bereft afterwards that he decided he wanted to find enlightenment in one lifetime.

Then you have someone like St Paul who wrote many of the books in the New Testament, these are books of philosophy. He was a persecutor of Christians and a violent man. After his epiphany on the road to Damascus, he became this balanced loving man with a profound understanding of the world. People listened to him because he’s been violent and changed.

You have modern day examples like Nelson Mandela. In his inaugural speech as President of South Africa he spoke of using a new energy. People listened to him because he had been a terrorist, he used violence. I was fortunate to meet and spend a bit of time with his bodyguard, Chris Lubbe. He told me about a lot of the spiritual experiences Mandela had inside that encouraged him to find a peaceful solution to the problems of apartheid.

I feel in my own small way, because of the levels of violence i’ve known, there are certain levels of society who will listen to me that might not listen to a priest or any kind of guru. For me it’s a real gift.

TM: I’d like to talk about fear. It’s a subject that you’ve written and spoken about extensively, especially in this book. Maybe tell us about the concept of the ‘Fear Pyramid’, which is essentially writing down your fears so you can then confront them…

GT: I’ve been plagued by depression all my life. With me I think the cause was partly this interruption at the age of eleven where I was sexually abused by a beloved teacher. When he abused me he stole something from me, he took an innocence, he took a spark, he replaced it with a fear of the world. I was naturally ambitious and wanted to create, but I was afraid to go out into the world because the world had shown me it was dangerous and that people you love could abuse your trust. It made me afraid to be creative and this created a logjam which triggered a series of depressions.

I had one particularly debilitation depression where I was literally on my knees. I was waking up at four in the morning in a cold sweat and thinking it was going to be a long day, it felt like this parasite would never leave me. From somewhere I felt a moment of anger, of courage, where I decided I wasn’t going to have this anymore. That was my first communion with my highest aspect. I had this idea that if I wrote down everything that I was afraid of and confronted it, I would, if not become fearless, I might at least develop a little desensitisation to the rush of adrenaline I felt anytime there was any confrontation.

So, this idea of the Fear Pyramid just fell out of the sky and floated into my consciousness like a pebble falling through water. I drew a pyramid and wrote all of my fears on each step of the pyramid. Least fear at the bottom, worst at the top. Then I systematically started to confront these fears and dismiss them. They were all illusory, but they were enough to keep me in a prison. As I started to climb this pyramid, of course hope came rushing in, cause suddenly I had something creative to do.

By confronting these fears I became desensitised to them, the nature of the fear was liberated and the consciousness that was hidden behind a fear came back to me. So with each step I took up, I became able to see a bit clearer and I had a bit more courage and a bit more experience.

TM: That must have been such a freeing experience. To stop bowing down to all these forces that had been oppressing you throughout your life?

GT: It was really freeing. We are imprisoned by, not our fear, but our body chemistry. The first thing arousal does is trigger the body chemistry. Our primal instinct which is thousands of years old, either wants us to run away very fast, or hide. We can’t fight as there’s nothing in front of us to fight, it’s an emotion that comes through us. I had to override that natural instinct. It’s because I found this higher aspect and recognised that if I could overcome these fears I could live the life I wanted. My awareness literally expanded, I started to to realise that all fears are illusory, which is fine when you’re saying it, but they remain three dimensional monsters until we absorb 99% of them. We have to completely lean into them and intercourse with them before they can give up their tenancy. Once they do that we literally expand.

It’s reclaiming parts of ourself. It worked so well I soon realised I could start doing this with everything. At the bottom of the pyramid I had a fear of spiders. A mundane fear, but enough to stop me sleeping at night if there was one on the ceiling. At the top there was a fear of violent confrontation. It might seem like they are completely disparate, but they are actually the same, just separated by degree. So, by the time I’d got to the top of my pyramid, my confidence had really grown. I discovered a lot of other fears along the way, because these fears on my pyramid were almost like placeholders. When I removed them I revealed more deep seated fears below, like a fear of my wife and a fear of my mother. I was afraid of any conflict in the home, so it meant I let myself be walked all over. So they went on the pyramid with all the other scary monsters.

I realised I was afraid of success. I was afraid of it because I didn’t know what it was. We never ever heard of university when we were at school. And a lot of the teachers were dissatisfied, they didn’t want to end up teaching kids in a comprehensive in Coventry. So, unconsciously they were passing their limitations on to us.

I started to reclaim all of these things in all aspects of my life. With success, it was talking to me asking me what it was I wanted. It forced me to expand my thinking and my awareness. I began to read and self educate, then I started to get glimpses of who I really was. Which is when I realised I’d always wanted to be a writer, always. It gave me the courage to become a writer. Being a writer is tough, but it’s not as tough as someone trying to kill you in a nightclub. I had a great perspective.

Near the top of the pyramid I have this fear of confrontation, of success, of change. And started to confront all of these anomalies, ending at the top of the pyramid with my biggest fear of violent confrontation. By this time I’d started to stand up for myself at home, I’d changed my job from continental shift work to a normal day job as a bricklayer and I took a job as a nightclub bouncer, really in the hope I could tick it off the list and say I’d confronted that now. Of course I ended up staying there for nearly ten years.

Geoff Thompson after training

TM: It’s an extreme way to face your fears, doing that for ten years…

GT: Yeah. It was. In psychology they call it flooding. You literally flood yourself with the thing you’re afraid of. The first night I worked on the door at Busters, and Coventry was a hugely violent city at the time, the first night I worked at a place called Busters, I decided there and then it wasn’t for me. It was terrifying, it was overwhelming. I’d walked from a ordinary, mundane life into this Sodom and Gomorrah.

It was fast, loud, alluring and seductive. I was stood on the door with these giants, these Gods that were just controlling it all. I could feel the adrenaline from the souls of my feet to the top of my crown. I’ve never felt adrenaline in every part of my body before. At the end of the night and believe me it was a long night, the head doorman said to me, “listen you’re a bit green, but you did really well, you stood up, you didn’t fall over, didn’t embarrass us, so if you want to come back, come back”.

He saw something in me, his name was John Anderson. He took me under his wing and taught me how to understand my body and myself, as well as my adrenals to the highest degree. How to control it and to understand the nature of violence, the immediacy of it and how to work in that environment.

So, I ended up staying in that place for quite a few years and then I ended up working all over Coventry and becoming a head doorman myself. I got lost on the way, I started to become very violent myself.

TM: A point I just wanted to touch on was the tools that you used. You had a huge knockout punch, but perhaps just as effective was your use of voice, shaping sound. That was something you started to implement to stop the violence…

GT: Yes. As I got more confident with the physical violence I was able to use the voice a lot more. Working on the door, led to my first metaphysical experience, or at least the most visceral. I learned these esoteric miracles like the use of the voice. In Japanese Aikido they call it Kototama, meaning the use of magic sound. In Egyptology they call it Heka. It’s the same thing, the use of sound.

So, I learned to use sound as a way to talk people down and if I wanted to climb into them with sound and trigger their adrenals and control their endocrine system. I could climb inside their mind and control their thought process. I know it might sound exaggerated, but I could use sound to project somebody into the future, show them the consequence of an encounter with me, send them back to the present and force them to step away from the affray. I’d do that by saying something like, If you insist on staying here I’m going to find out where you live, find out where you work and I’m going to come round your house while you’re having tea with your Mum and I’m going to f**k you up. Now, forgive the language, this is the vernacular of the environment. This person would then think, this isn’t just a little skirmish with a nightclub bouncer, this is someone I’m never going to get rid of. Nobody wants that. So, I started to use sound actually to protect people. I realised these were human beings, someone’s husband, someone’s son.

Sometimes my sound was so efficient I could literally knock people backwards with it. They would move physically away from me. It would invade their body, take over their endocrine system, it would flood them with an adrenal dump and it would trigger the flight response and they would run away. I saved them from a beating with the use of sound. Later, after I left the doors, as a spiritual teacher I would use sound to heal. I would talk to people and would use a line sound to inspire people, to connect them to spirit, to their still centre. Here healings can take place. You could pull someone out of a depression. We’d have people that were suicidal and were able to use sound to bring them back to a centre and show them a better way.

The sound I used on the doors as a defence I learned to use later as a means of healing. So sound did become my main tool. I started to get really good at it and experiment with it. I started to discover it hidden within the esoteric arm of the martial arts. I started to realise it was in all the hidden works of the bible and studied more on it, but what I studied was what I’d already learned, I just didn’t have a name for it. And once I realised how potent it was I didn’t want anyone to leave my company without being effected in a positive way by my sound.

TM: You mentioned martial arts there. Your dedication to learning different disciples is incredible, a serious commitment to learning…

GT: I dedicated my whole life to it. I gave up my job and started to teach and write full time. Because I had a profile because, I’d got a book out there, I attracted teachers from everywhere in the world. And most of them wanted to teach me for nothing. I had 18-months full judo with the best occidental judo practitioner of his generation, Neil Adams. I bought five judo suits and basically camped out at his dojo and learned from him. That was available to me as I’d gone into another sphere of awareness and I was noticed.

I picked up teachers in Thai boxing, all the different forms of wrestling. At one point I used to have a guy called Chris Whelan training me who was the All-American Greco Roman wrestling champion. He was over here teaching and he used to come and stop at my house and teach me privately. I experienced a lot of miracles once I intended to learn. With wrestling, I learned greco, freestyle, collegiate, the very old catch as catch can. I started to discover books from historical teachers like Georg Hackenschmidt, Karl Pojello and Stanislaus Zbyszko, amazing people that are almost lost to history. It was like they climbed out of the pages of history to teach me.

It’s not difficult when you’re not working. I gave up my job which was one of the hardest things I’d had to do cause I wasn’t quite sure how to do it. When most kids were at the factory for 10 hours, I was training with ascended levels of instruction. I was always at the bottom of someone’s class.

Geoff Thompson performing a karate kick

TM: We have to talk about you getting invited to teach in Vegas by Chuck Norris. That must have been a significant experience in your life?

GT: I experienced a massive epiphany afterwards, so it was a great experience. Mostly because I realised when I got there, Chuck was a very beautiful man, but he was very ordinary. In fact he said to me that he was just an ordinary bloke who saw an opening and went through it. He said I could do this, anyone could do this. I like that about him. Not that he wasn’t brilliant, as he was World Champion several times and enjoyed a stellar career in action movies, but he was very generous with me.

It was very strange sitting in Las Vegas having a cup of tea with him, hearing him talk about when Bruce Lee used to ring him up and ask if he wanted to come round and spar. He mentioned about the time Bruce Lee rang him and said, “I’m going to make a film, do you want to be in it? Chuck said to him, “so you want to beat the World Champion on screen do you?” He knew exactly what he was doing, he was great.

I’ve been invited over to teach him three times. I went over twice, I didn’t do the third time as I’d moved onto other things by the time that came up. That was another great realisation, I had lots of resistance from things trying to stop me from going, but once I got there I just expanded exponentially, I knew anything was possible.

TM: It also made you much more perceptive. You write in the book about learning how to read people better…

GT: After this epiphany everyone became like an x-ray to me. I could just tell what they needed to work on and fix. Again it was an expanded awareness. I’d had lots of fears and by going to Vegas to teach, I removed those fears and experienced an expansion of consciousness as a result. With that I was able to read people’s minds, see things they couldn’t see and heal as well.

I wouldn’t say I did the healing, but the healing happened around me. I was also able to see agenda and masks. I could see my own agenda, that was still there, that enabled me to start eschewing agenda and start peeling away the masks. It’s a perspective thing. I thought if I’m able to do this, what else can I do?

TM: What’s striking in the book aside from your thirst for knowledge, is your unwavering belief in limitless possibility. Do we all have that potential inside of us?

GT: If it’s true for one it has to be true for all. It’s possible, that doesn’t mean it’s probable. Most people don’t want to challenge the beliefs that hold them in place. They don’t want to challenge them, let alone let go of them. Because my belief in my own small world is connected to my wife, my kids. It’s connected to my workplace. It’s connected to everything. So, to challenge anything is to challenge everything.

It’s not just a matter of saying, well, I’m not going to believe that anymore. Because suddenly the next day you’re not the person your wife went to bed with. Even just a little thing, like I gave up alcohol as an exercise in cerebral strength. And it decimated about 95% of my social circle. Because people didn’t know who I was anymore, they felt I was tilting the lance at them. Of course I was going into the pub with friends as usual, but I was having a coffee or a soft drink. Within two drinks I was talking to complete strangers. It was uncomfortable for them, it was uncomfortable for me. Some people were offended that I’d made this one small change, people attacked me because of it. I haven’t drunk for nearly twenty years, it’s just not a part of my life, I’m not campaigning for people to stop. By the way alcohol killed my brother in 1999 and killed my sister three months ago. Two of my siblings were killed by the ignorance of what alcohol does in the extreme. When I let go of alcohol, I reclaimed a part of myself and I expanded. I could see and understand more. I was picking up books that I could just understand at different levels.

I recognised that everything referred back to the self, this body and my mind was a microcosm of the macrocosm out there. If I could effect me, I could effect that. If I could change me, I could change that. So, I recognise it’s for everybody and I’m trying to leave my experiences in the marketplace. Hopefully they can help someone who thinks it’s possible, but might not have the belief quite yet. So my experiences can act, if nothing else, as intellectual proof that it is possible.

Geoff Thompson sat in an empty cinema with actor James Cosmo
Geoff with actor James Cosmo

TM: You open the book by writing about change and people not always reacting positively to the fact they may not recognise the most recent incarnation of your self. Was it a difficult thing to lose friends when they maybe perceived you differently to how they might have know you?

GT: At first I was offended cause I didn’t understand it. But as my intelligence grew I learned to take it into consideration. I knew that if I changed it would effect the people around me and good friends would become keen enemies. That was an uncomfortable thing to witness, but it has happened to me a lot. People make a voodoo doll out of you and stick pins in you with Twitter posts and Instagram pictures. That’s part of their fear and that’s part of moving on.

People think you’ve left them behind, but you don’t leave anyone behind, you haven’t got the power to do that. What you do is you move forward and not everyone comes with you. My job is to try and fulfil my own potential. I think it’s the reason I delayed my growth for so long because I must have innately known that I would lose people along the way. My wife always jokes that all my friends are dead as their all historical figures, gurus and prophets from the past. But they come alive in my front room. Their sound comes out of books and they teach me and guide me.

My soul is my teacher now, my intuition, my inner teacher. It is so possible for everybody, but they have to be prepared to make that burnt sacrifice. In order to achieve wider levels of understanding you have to get rid of the narrow confines of ignorance and fear. You have to be prepared to challenge your beliefs and even go up against your family, your friends and your teachers. You have to go against social mores. People are rightly afraid of that, we’ve all seen how frightening it can be to be kicked out of your tribe, we’ve all seen death by tabloid. The media plays a large part in constructing peoples reality. That’s neither good nor bad, but there’s a lot of subjective information out there and I want to challenge it. I want to find some objective information. You won’t find that from a newspaper and you won’t find it from a book or a guru. You’ll find it through yourself.

But those things can direct you, and when I learn lessons I’m going to tell everyone about them. That’s my vow. It’s not just a self less thing, it’s a very selfish thing. The universe has got this little caveat. It’s shows you 98% of the truth, but you’re not going to get the other 2% unless you share it with others. There is a hidden bounty in sharing. It’s what Charles Handy would call ‘proper selfishness’. It’s good for them, but it’s also very good for me.

TM: Part of sharing your wider experience has been your extremely successful screenwriting career. That’s been another way to reach people…

GT: Before I got my first book published I thought it was impossible for something like that to happen to a man like me, I had no evidence of it. But once I started to look for proof I realised that there were loads of kids like me who’d published books, I just didn’t know about them. But when I started to see myself as a published author, I couldn’t visualise that because I saw myself as a piece of shit. I thought I was a working class snotty nosed kid who should know his place. This is what we were weened on, there was thousands of years of that in our blood.

But eventually I was able to challenge these objections and as I started to share the bits of writing I was doing with people my confidence grew. The moment I was tipped into certainty that it was possible was when I had that published book in my hand, that certainty stayed and it never ever left. But it didn’t just open me up to a published book. I knew that if I could write one, I could write ten, or twenty. I could write articles, I could write for The Times. If I could write a book I could write a stage play. If I could write that I could write a film. So, all of these things were open to me, it was just a matter of expanding and learning how to do them.

I noticed when I was writing, it was in my own voice, so most would work well as monologues or stories, as it had a natural rhythm. I decided to start going towards film and theatre. As it turned out I started to bump into people that were fans of Watch My Back, like Jim Cartwright, the acclaimed playwright. He actually came to seek me out in Birmingham when I was doing a martial arts demonstration. He introduced himself and I didn’t know him, I didn’t really understand theatre or the actual process. But he said to me, “you’ve really got something in this book”. Me and Jim became very good friends and nurtured me and encouraged me to write theatre and film. He also encouraged me to send my plays to the Royal Court’s Young Writers’ Group. So I wrote a stage play and sent it to them and suddenly I got invited in there to work in one of the best theatres in the world for new writers.

Once I recognised it was possible to write a book, I realised it was possible to write plays and films. I was writing a feature film for Jim and Martin Carr his business partner and while I was doing that I wrote a short film called Bouncer for a producer called Natasha Carlish, that actually got made before the feature. Because I had a voice it attracted a stellar cast. We had Ray Winstone, Paddy Considine, Sean Parks, Ronnie Fox. We had an amazing cast working our script in a Coventry nightclub and suddenly we’re at the BAFTAS.

I just knew it was all possible once the book was published. It was just a matter of figuring out and learning how the industry of film and theatre worked. I even wrote a musical last year! Cause it’s all possible if you believe it. Belief is everything.

Geoff Thompson at the BAFTAS with Rene Zellweger
Geoff at the BAFTAS with Rene Zellweger
Geoff Thompson at the BAFTAS with LL Cool J
Geoff at the BAFTAS with LL Cool J

TM: You mention genetic inheritance in the book. Do you believe that’s something we all have to deal with in a positive and negative way?

GT: Yes. It’s a gift. Even if it’s a negative inheritance it’s still a gift, it’s still an energy. If a genetic fear rises up in you it’s still only a conceptualised energy form and if I’ve got the intelligence to see it as a concept with a form and an aspect and wipe them out and just bring it back to raw energy that’s rising up in me, I can do anything I want with it. It takes a lot of self-control to do that, but if I’ve got the understanding and the courage, if any emotion rises in me, whether it’s inherited or learned, if anger rises in me, or racism, or prejudice, or even murder, if I’m able to see it as a conceptualised form of energy with a specific aspect, then I can observe that until it dissolves back into its component parts and create something amazing with it.

That’s what you look at when you read any of my books. It’s just taking all of those conceptualised energy forms and creating something beautiful from them. This film I’ve just done with Orlando Bloom in America is getting him the best reviews of his whole career. It was made three years ago and has just come out in the states. It was called Romans when we made it, but it’s called Retribution now. That was a classic case of alchemy.

I’ve taken a course and base energy form with a concept, a form and an aspect, broken it down into its component parts and channeled it into a very powerful, visceral story. Which has enabled Orlando to create one of the best performances of his life. He is amazing in it.

TM: You spoke about the creative process of sitting down with Orlando and him nitpicking everything. What was that like?

GT: It was painful (laughs). Genuinely I was so nervous going, not because of Orlando, who is a lovely guy. It was just to do with the fact I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work with a Hollywood star and him not be professional. I knew he would want to know about every aspect of this story and he’d want to pick my insides like a pin in a crab shell. And he did.

It was great because he made me really look at everything that was hiding inside of me. All of these shadows that were hidden in the crevices of my psyche, he pulled them out and made me look at them. I wouldn’t have seen them without that process, without Orlando. I went there and I thought I can go and just do two hours, I’ll be ok and can get back to my wife and have my safety back as I was so afraid. Of course three hours went by, four hours. I thought who am I kidding, I just have to resign myself to this. I’m going to stay here as long as it takes.

We ended up doing about twelve hours on it and then I saw him a couple of other times. He was a big part of my process of cleansing. You have to get everything out or else it’s going to reseed and reroot.

Orlando Bloom and Geoff Thompson

TM: Do you believe the best work is confessional? 

GT: For me definitely. I can only talk from my position, but if a piece of writing doesn’t frighten me, then I’ve got no right being there. I don’t want to write any tat, I don’t want to flirt with this, it’s too painful a process to be doing anything light. For me it always has a confessional element. The film I won a BAFTA for (Brown Paper Bag) was about the death of my brother.

The film I got nominated for was my first stab at writing about the violence and the reciprocity of working as a bouncer. I wanted to write from a place of love to say these people are violent, but they’re vulnerable. Because it was so honest it found an audience very quickly. With Romans 12:20, we won awards from film festivals we weren’t even supposed to go into.

They liked the film that much that they created an award just for our film. It’s different, it talks about the metaphysical power of forgiveness. I wanted to show aspects of the world that I’d experienced, that other people weren’t looking at, that people were afraid to look at and I was afraid to look at as well.

TM: What do you hope people learn from reading this book?

GT: I would say that they don’t need to concern themselves too much about the world, they need to be concerned about their own reality. It’s not about fixing the world, the world is Whack-a-mole, you push a problem down here and it will resurface there. The world is a workout system for the soul. They need to stop looking out and start looking in and get their own balance right.

There’s a lovely saying from the Bhagavad-gita that I like to quote,

“Lift the self by the self never let the self droop down the self is the selfs only friend the self is the selfs only enemy”.

We just need to work on ourselves. It’s not about improving ourselves or being on our best game, it’s about revealing who we are. The only way to reveal who we are is to have the courage to look at who we’re not. It’s not difficult cause it’s obvious. Even if you just take time to look in the mirror you’ll see aspects of who you’re not. If you see your recent Twitter posts you’ll see aspects of who you’re not. Anything that includes unkindness is who you’re not.

So if you stop feeding who you’re not, who you are will be reclaimed and revealed. It’s a case of working on revealing the self. Cause if you can find out who you are at the back of all these masks, once you reveal who you are, who you are will tell you what to do. He has the blueprint to your purpose on this planet. It’s a panacea, reveal the self and you save the world, very literally.

Notes From A Factory Floor: How I got from there to here by Geoff Thompson is out to buy now

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