It seems fitting that Alan Bond’s final interview was with a pair of Bond University alumni working on an experimental documentary series funded through Kickstarter.
Business graduate Hugh Minson and Law/Journalism graduate Jack Morphet sat down with Alan Bond in February 2014 to interview him for The Thread – a ten-part series only now being released on YouTube, that focuses on Aussie icons who have “broken away from the pack”.
“The series isn’t so much about ‘success’,” said Hugh, who is now based in San Francisco as Senior Product Marketing Manager for cloud computing company, Salesforce.
“It’s about deconstructing the stories of people who have excelled across different fields to find the commonalities or ‘threads’ that connect them.”
As a passion project governed by limited funding that Hugh and Jack undertook in their spare time, the ten videos were filmed over three years, with the Alan Bond interview taking two years just to set up.
“Before he died, Alan was dividing his time between the UK and Perth and I kept getting him when he was either in the UK or about to travel to the UK,” said Hugh.
“I finally just said ‘Look, Alan, I think young people will want to hear your take on the decisions you’ve made in your life. Can we make this happen?’ – and we locked it in.”
The budding documentary-makers experienced similar difficulties persuading other Aussie icons to talk to them but they ultimately ended up with a broad cross-section of the top one-percenters in fields as diverse as business, medicine, law, sport, adventure, finance and the arts.
“We persisted with Alan Bond because we felt it was important for viewers to understand the full spectrum – which, for his episode, looks at the thread of ‘failure’ and handling setbacks,” said Hugh.
“When we finally sat down with him, he was friendly and happy to engage with the line of questioning but it was slightly disappointing not to hear more remorse for some of his more dishonest dealings. He pinned all of his shortcomings on the 1987 stock market crash, despite the fact that, a year later, he was funding a replica of Captain Cook’s ship and purchased the world’s most expensive painting – all with borrowed money.
“He had an insatiable appetite for risk with an ego to boot which he admitted got the better of him.
“Having said that, his determination and refusal to take ‘no’ for an answer has to be admired and led to great things like founding Bond University (which he acknowledged as the highest point of his career) and winning the America’s Cup.”
Six episodes of The Thread have been released on YouTube to date: Racehorse trainer Gai Waterhouse, retail giant Gerry Harvey, plastic surgeon Dr Fiona Wood, former High Court Judge the Honourable Michael Kirby, solo sailor Jessica Watson and Alan Bond.
“Justice Kirby really liked his episode and hopes it may inspire LGBTQI Australians to reach their full potential, and Gai Waterhouse said it was one of her favourite pieces that she has ever seen about herself, which was very flattering,” said Hugh.
The final four, to be released over the next month, include adventurer Alby Mangels, investment banker Simon McKeon, tennis great Pat Rafter and author/academic Germaine Greer.
“My personal favourite was Gerry Harvey. Having studied entrepreneurship at Bond, I like how he trusts his gut. His approach to making things happen in your twenties also really struck me. Hearing pieces of advice like that helped me go full-time with my own startup, Nexus Notes, and give it my best shot.
“I also found it empowering to hear Dr Fiona Wood encouraging people to ‘step out and feel the breeze on your face; feel what it’s like to make your own decisions and be in control’, while Alby Mangels had a refreshing take on finding internal happiness.
“But the most interesting aspect of interviewing all these people from so many different fields, backgrounds, ages and genders was discovering the threads that connect them all: Their approach to prejudice, luck and failure; the role their parents played in shaping them; their supporters; their levels of motivation, drive and self-belief.
“Meeting them taught me that achieving great things is more within our reach than any of us give ourselves credit for. I truly believe that stigmas like tall poppy syndrome and even just a general sense of complacency hold a lot of us back from reaching our full potential.
“I hope The Thread plays a part in changing that.”
The Thread can be viewed on YouTube.