Hamish is a double-BAFTA Award winning British director. He has produced and directed some of the biggest live shows on the planet, and is best known for directing concerts and award shows from the Oscars, to the MTV Video and Music Awards, to the Super Bowl halftime shows (having directed no less than 6 shows since 2010 including the most recent 2017 show starring Lady Gaga).
His name is featured on over 30 million DVD boxes around the world as he has directed live concert DVDs for U2, Robbie Williams, Britney Spears, The Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne, Mötley Crüe and Phil Collins.
Additional credits include Directing and Executive Producing the televising of the opening and closing ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games, working with Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry. He has a Peabody Award for recognizing excellence in public service in journalism for CNN Heroes, Multiple Moonmen, and both Grammy and Emmy nominations.
I chose Stirling because the campus was beautiful and had a great energy. I wasn't really a city boy and had spent my teens walking in the Pennines and Lake District, so Scotland's landscape appealed. Stirling completely changed my life. I made some great friends – they were positive, friendly, supportive and all had big dreams.
I thought I'd become an accountant, because I was good at economics and maths. I got involved in Radio Airthrey and the Students' Union and began DJ-ing at the Grange and the Gannochy almost immediately. I was the social secretary, or entertainments officer in those days, so I was quite active on the social side but when I got involved in the business side of the Union, I gradually realised accountancy was not what I wanted to do. In second year I was in Radio Airthrey when a lady from the BBC phoned needing people to help with a radio show and a small group of us got involved in a project for Radio Scotland. Two years later, when I applied for a trainee job at the BBC that same lady was there on the panel - and so began a career in broadcasting, working for 5 years with the BBC before moving to MTV.
I've always had a strong work ethic but Stirling helped me to broaden my personality and social skills. Directing is all about getting your ideas and vision across to people who need to understand them, need to be motivated by them and need to believe in them. I went from a very shy, somewhat awkward teenager and graduated a more rounded and confident individual.
A typical year for me now might involve eight or nine events ranging from the glamour of a Victoria's Secret fashion show to the madness of the video music awards. There's a great deal of travel, crazy hours, a lot of talking and selling people ideas. You need to be able to understand technical, safety and financial issues. One of the best things is the variety of people I work with - some are crazy, some funny, but all are really talented and passionate about what they do. I'm a big fan of U2 and have been since I was a teenager. It was strange to be in a Boston recording suite with them and a really special moment for me. I've worked closely with Robbie Williams over the years. He's an incredibly good guy and a great performer. I've done some amazing shows with him and I've learned a lot working for him. Madonna is an interesting lady to work with, incredibly focused, highly creative, supremely demanding and someone who pushes you to be your best. When you work with her, you have to step up to the plate and beyond.
Today I think it is easier for people to carve a career in the media. You can rent or buy a good camera, edit the film and publish it on YouTube. That wasn't the case in my day. My advice to students would be to have ideas - they're the currency by which you will make or break yourself. I'd also say you need to have belief in what you do, be passionate about how you sell those ideas, be incredibly self-critical - and go for it!
BA (Hons) Accountancy, 1989