Australian-based Patrick Cotter’s love of film peaked when his eldest sister (actress Eliza Taylor) gifted him the equipment and that was just the beginning.
His new work, a documentary on Thailand’s Koh Tao Kids school premiered to audiences in Melbourne and Gold Coast last month. We caught up with Patrick while home in Melbourne to chat creating the documentary and co-founding a production company.
What made you start creating content on film? Where/how did you get your start?
When I was 12 I began watching a lot of different YouTube creators that based their content around travel and adventure including Louis Cole (Fun for Louis), Ben Brown, Jack and Finn Harries (JacksGap). They spent their YouTube careers creating daily/weekly content exploring all aspects that the world has to offer, giving an invitation to their viewers of a non glamorised travel lifestyle with all of the rough edges and raw experiences. It broke the barrier for me as I spent years watching TV that has been meticulously scripted and made to look like a far reach fairytale. After a couple of years of trying to film family trips and put videos together, my eldest sister Eliza saw the passion that I had for film and photography and bought me my very first DSLR camera, a Canon 700D. This coincided with me finding Sean William McLoughlin’s channel Jacksepticeye. The work ethic he had for YouTube as well as the pure passion and fun that he had making videos completely drew me in and was the last push of encouragement I needed to get me on the track to making my own channel, and then with the added bonus of Eliza helping me get equipment that was perfect for good video content, I was ready to go.
Tell us about how the idea of making a documentary about Koh Tao Kids came about?
In early 2018, my sister Eliza contacted me to say that she was thinking of making a trip to Thailand, Koh Tao especially, as she had her school on the island and wondered if I wanted to come and see it all, experience life on the island. At the start that is all it was meant to be – a fun brother-sister getaway, exploring the island and volunteering at her and Claire’s school. However after hearing more about the school from Eliza and all the efforts that have been put forward by the pair and the crowd funding from Eliza’s fans, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to work on a film project to keep sharing the powerful message they have. I did not picture it becoming a documentary though, I thought it would only be a short video series for me to showcase on my channel for a few people to watch. After talking to Claire and Eliza about it all and how I wanted to film it, we all came up with the idea of making a project that gives a deeper dive than just a few short YouTube videos. From there the planning started of my first major film piece.
What do you hope people will take away from the documentary?
I would love for people to gain an insight into how these people around the world, not just on the island of Koh Tao but in thousands of other struggling communities – they are all just like us at the end of the day, we are all human who deserve the same basic human rights. As education is so important to help develop someones future – being able to read and write, it puts them ten steps ahead in their lives than where they were previously. So if this film is able to get people to gain a better understanding to then give the confidence to donate to the cause and similar causes worldwide and be apart of the teaching of these growing minds then that is amazing. If people are at least talking about these topics and issues, that is just as good as a donation in my eyes, the topic is being put into everyday conversations and not left aside as it does matter. It can help these causes gain a louder voice and change can slowly be made, day by day.
What kind of project/collaboration would you love to work on next?
My business partner Stephen Jeffery and I are working towards producing a documentary later this year that discusses the topic of mental health, depression and more in Australian men. Telling real stories and allowing men to be open about what they have gone through – in their own experiences or if they know/knew someone who dealt with mental health problems. We feel like the topic is still one filled with bad stigma where men don’t feel comfortable about talking about their emotions and troubles so we wish to be able to put the conversation in the public eye, whether nationally or internationally and to connect with at least one person to help them understand they are not alone and that it is okay to speak up.
What is your favourite part of travelling and where is somewhere you would like to travel?
What draws me to travelling the most is being able to incorporate myself into another way of life and completely indulge in a new area. The food, the way the locals spend their day, new activities and languages – it all interests me and I love the learning behind it! Even the small differences between other cultures and Australia – common breakfast foods, transport, any random variation, it’s fun to learn and get 100% into my surroundings. Change is fun for me, I always want to be learning each day and progress in where my career and personal endeavours are headed.
Do you recall what career you wanted to have in the future when you were growing up?
Growing up I always wanted to be a comedian. Jim Carrey and Australian comedians Carl Barron, Frank Woodley and Colin Lane were people I looked up to most and would watch on repeat. I grew up with a lot of comedy in my house so being a stand up or comedy movie star was something I used to aspire to be.
If you had to pinpoint a highlight in the past year (personally or professionally), what would it be?
My biggest highlight is something that has happened very recently and it has been a few years in the making – something I didn’t think would happen for a few years but that is the creation of the production company I founded with my good friend Stephen, ‘We Are Wild Ones.’ Being able to create content and keep expanding where I am going with this line of work was something I’ve had burning inside me for a while, so finally setting up our own company so that we can explore personal projects as well as work with all sorts of clients and businesses to do the same for them… it fills me with all sorts of emotions but mainly overwhelming joy and excitement.
What piece of life advice / mantra do you live by?
Never take failure as a negative. For me, failure is the biggest positive to take away especially in the line of work I am in because it shows you where to work next to fix things and you make yourself work ten times harder so that you can come out on top and don’t repeat your mistakes. By failing, it only means that you tried and that’s all we can do, but now you know exactly where you need to be headed – stronger and more resilient than before.
Where do you see yourself in one year, five years time?
In one year I would love to see myself with a project being on a major network television station or even on a platform such as Netflix. In five years it would be amazing to have taken We Are Wild Ones team global, travel to a new destination each month working with all sorts of creatives and businesses – such as touring with bands, working on nature and travel projects, anything that gives us something new to explore and keep growing our skills as well as our bucket list!