Johnny Fewings is a record and film industry veteran of over 40 years. Prior to establishing JFMC in 2010 he had been Head of Strategic Initiatives at Universal Pictures International Entertainment (UPIE), the home entertainment arm of Universal Pictures.
Starting behind the counter at Virgin Records, Johnny rose to become the first manager of the famed London Megastore in 1979 and subsequently MD of Virgin Retail in 1983, a position he held until 1988, during which time he oversaw the expansion of the chain into Europe and Australia, as well as establishing the Virgin Megastore brand.
Richard Branson, speaking at an awards luncheon in London's Park Lane in the early 1990's said “Without people like Johnny Fewings I wouldn't be where I am today".
Being 23 in 1976, he was slightly too old to be a proper punk but that didn’t stop the police arresting him, when he was running the Marble Arch shop, and charging him under the Vagrancy Act of 1824 for a Sex Pistols ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ window display. Fortunately the manager of the Nottingham shop was also arrested and that case came to court first. The judge found in favour of the album cover and Johnny’s case dismissed.
Shortly before his death in 2004, John Peel, when asked by Music Week what first turned him on to punk said ‘ a very nice man called Johnny’. Peel was a regular in the shop and would often stay for a cup of tea on a Thursday prior to recording his World Service show. Johnny would suggest records to try out and charge him for those he didn’t return.
In 1988 Johnny left retail moving into video publishing holding posts with Parkfield Entertainment and Pearson before becoming deputy MD, and subsequently joint MD, of Vision Video Ltd. (VVL), a video publishing imprint of Polygram Records UK which specialised in non-film entertainment, particularly comedy. VVL was largely responsible for creating the comedy-on-video market for which the UK was the field leader, representing artists such as Billy Connolly, Lee Evans, Peter Kay, Ricky Gervais and Eddie Izzard.
Eddie recently said "Johnny was always someone I could count on to have great input. He was always very wise with his advice and I'm sure he always will be".
Following Polygram's acquisition by Universal, Johnny became Joint MD of Universal Pictures (UK) in 2002, holding this position until 2007 when he became Head of Strategic Initiatives and was executive producer on the motion picture ‘4321’, starring, and directed by, Bafta Award winner Noel Clarke.
This subsequently led to a role involving exec productions and film acquisition and since that time he has been involved in over 250 feature films. Production credits include A Fantastic Fear Of Everything starring Simon Pegg and directed by Crispian Mills, The Time Of Their Lives starring Joan Collins and Pauline Collins and the big screen version of Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie.
Stephen McCrum, producer of the D'Movie said “Johnny has a depth of experience second to none, is incredibly generous with his knowledge, and his insight and advice contributed hugely to the success of D'Movie. I can't imagine how it would have been making my first feature without his enthusiastic support, and luckily, I now don't.”
Acquisitions he has been involved in are many and include films such as Wild Bill, Northern Soul, League Of Gentlemen Apocalypse, ‘Marley’, the Bob Marley film documentary, First Reformed, Personal Shopper, Five Feet Apart, Marianne & Leonard and Apollo 11.
Outside of his JFMC work with NBCUniversal, the company also provides help and support to other filmmakers. He is currently working with director Mark Jenkins on Enys Men, his next film after the fabulous Bait, and singer-songwriter Martha Tilston on her first picture The Tape.
The Cornish connection seems to be continually getting stronger. Mark and Martha are both Cornwall based and Johnny has been giving lectures at Falmouth University for many years. He has also gratefully accepted an offer to sit on the board of Screen Cornwall.
Johnny has developed a series of talks/lectures. There are currently three although he hopes to create more over the next 12 months. Currently the talks are:
Music still features prominently in his work and social life and he has exec produced, alongside producer Jan Leman, the feature film documentary Acoustic Routes exploring the life of guitar player Bert Jansch.
He was a founding member of, and still helps run, the music venue Whitstable Sessions - inviting acoustic musicians from around the world to perform at the club. Recent artists have included Mary Gauthier, Sam Lee, Mary Coughlin, Geoff Muldaur and the Birds Of Chicago.
In the early 2000’s he was one of the creators of the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, a cross-industry body that helps to address piracy issues in the film business. He is still actively involved in helping the Trust, in particular, its Find Any Film initiative which enables quick and easy access to legitimate film and TV content.
Johnny is available for both short term fixes and advice as well as long term strategic consultancy, applying his talent and wisdom (along with any questions you may have regarding drop thumb clawhammer banjo techniques) or whatever is right and appropriate for you, the client.