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Are you sick of negative comments about your ambitions? Geoff Thompson went from floor sweeper to film maker. We reveal how.

Are you stuck, crippled by negative comments like “stop dreaming, you can’t make a living from your passion”? That’s exactly what Geoff was told. He was once a floor sweeper with ambitions above his station. However, he didn’t let their dismissive comments deter him. He wrote his first book on the toilet with no money or resources!

Read on to learn how you can move forward with your goals if you’re willing to pay the price and use your 24 hours wisely.

geoff thompson talks to subvert magazine about winning a bafta

Geoff after winning his BAFTA with wife Sharon

So who is Geoff to give you advice on success? Well he went from sweeping floors in a factory to the brawling nightclub doors, to standing on stage winning a BAFTA in front of the worlds glitterati. And more importantly he did it with fewer resources than you have at your fingertips RIGHT NOW! As well as award winning script’s, he’s the author of over thirty popular books and was polled the number one self-defense instructor in the world.

Geoff, thank you for inviting me to your lovely house. Lets jump right in. What inspired you to become a writer?

I had lots of depression when I was younger. I had this particular bad depression and it kept visiting me. I think it was because I was root bound. I had all this creative energy and I wasn’t placing it anywhere. Every time I tried doing something with it people would say “Who do you think you are! That’s not for the likes of us. Just be grateful for what you’ve got”.

I had a lot of fear and I didn’t know why. I read a lot to figure it out and none of the books told me what I wanted to know. They were written by people who seemed to be frightened to actually say why they were scared. I thought if I ever discover what this is, I’m going write it down and tell people.

Film set PINK - Geoff Thompson talks to subvert magazine about script writing

The spot light is on Geoff

So you didn’t find the answer in the books, how did you combat your fears?

I thought I’m sick of this I’m going do something about it. I decided if I can overcome all my fears I won’t be frightened anymore. So I wrote all my fears down on a pyramid and systematically confronted them one by one. My final challenge was to face my fear of violent confrontation. I became a nightclub doorman and that’s where everything started.


“Bouncer” – Artwork by Julian Kimmings

Before we go into your experience on the doors, lets back track a little. You say you had a lot of depression when you were younger. Tell me about the things you used to do as a child, what were you interested in?

I was one of those strange kids who would go off on my own and dare myself to do challenges. What I was really into as a kid was climbing trees. I had to climb every tree on the estate and they were huge oak trees. I would climb right to the top. I didn’t want to hammer nails in and give myself foot holes. I wanted to find my own way up, a different way, so it’s always been in me to do that.

I used to go scrumping on my own, climbing over garden walls and pinching peoples apples. Sometimes I would be terrified that I’d get caught. I’d be overwhelmed and panic, but I would still go and do it all over again.


“Scrumping” – Artwork by Julian Kimmings

Was this in your own neighborhood?

No I never stayed on my own estate. I was one of these people that enjoyed going off and breaking the boundaries. Hanging around miles and miles from where I lived. I was never comfortable just staying where I was. I always thought there was more. I wanted to break out of that cast and experience all sorts of different things and meet different people. I was overwhelmed at times and I was completely out of my depth, but that excited me.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a world class goal keeper. When I got to senior school I changed my mind and got into martial arts and put all my energy into that.

geoff thompson talks to SUBvert magazine about doing martial arts

Geoff is a black belt in several different martial arts

What initially sparked your interest in martial arts?

Bruce Lee, I watched him and that changed my life. I’m still grateful for that now. He liberated me. It gave me an outlet for my energy and I heavily immersed myself in it. In fact it was like an obsession. It ended up becoming my career. It even took me to the world stage and I arranged to give up my day job, just so I could train and tour.

What job did you have at the time?

Oh god, loads, everything from selling carpets to laying roads and making pizzas. I also worked at a chemical factory, hod carrying, brick laying and floor cleaner at a factory. And then working on the doors.

Film still - Clubbed by Geoff Thompson

A scene from Geoff’s film “Clubbed”. Actor Mel Raido who plays the lead character Danny. Photo by Kaush Bharti

You mentioned earlier that things really started when you worked on the nightclub doors. Why was that?

Doing it changed my whole life. That lovely saying by Nietzsche, “You have to be careful that when you hunt the dragon you don’t become the dragon”. I went from being a scared kid and hating bullies to becoming hugely violent and using violence as a problem solving tool. I had become the dragon and I was justifying that. And it was only when I started to write about it that I realized I was in the wrong place. Well, I was in the right place originally, but I’d stayed there too long.

geoff thompson talks about who inspired him to do martial arts

A scene from “Clubbed” actor Mel Raido learning fighting techniques. Photo by Kaush Bharti

It was very perceptive of you to realize what was happening. What was your next move?

I left the doors and that’s when I started teaching. But it was that experience of mastering myself, facing my fears straight on, that’s what completely changed my life. That experience has been my reference point ever since. I remember occasions when guys were attacking me and trying to kill me. I then think, “doing an interview on national TV might be scary, but it’s not as bad as someone trying to kill me. What’s the worst thing that can happen? I’m not going to get stabbed, my life isn’t at risk” and it puts everything into perspective.

geoff thompson talks to subvert magazine about facing his fear of violence

Geoff teaching fighting techniques to actor Mel Raido. Photo by Kaush Bharti

Talk me through the process of writing your first book?

When I was working the doors, I was still sweeping floors and would sit in the canteen and tell the lads what happened the night before. It was either very funny or extremely violent or shocking. One of my friends said, “This is great stuff, these stories are amazing, you should write them down”. Of course I’d wanted to be a writer since I was a kid.


“Inspire” – Artwork by Julian Kimmings

I would get my work done and then go into the factory toilet and just sit there and write. Interestingly my other friend, who also worked at the club, was going to write a book about the doors too. He had masses of experience and was going to call it “Watch my back”. I said, “that’s a great title”. So I used it as a temporary title. Then when I went to get the book published, I had to ring him and ask for his permission. He said “Yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever write mine” and he never did!

geoff thompson talks to subvert magazine about confronting violence

A scene from Geoffs film “Clubbed”. Photo by Kaush Bharti

It’s a shame that people have dreams and never take any action on them. What was your next step after writing the book?

I had it typed and it must have sat on the shelf for a long time. I then met a friend of mine called Ian Mclaina, he was one of those guys who can spin twenty plates; he believed you could do anything. He said “We’ll get it out” and although he didn’t get it published he got my momentum going again. I sent it out to quite a few big publishers and didn’t get anything back.

geoff thompson with actors from his film clubbed

Geoff hanging out with the actors from his film “Clubbed”. Photo by Kaush Bharti

I then took it to The Telegraph where Sue Lawry said “Before I read it, I want to tell you. There are fifteen reporters upstairs ALL of them want to write books. They don’t want to be journalists. But they haven’t taken any action. You’ve already gone and done it”.

After reading it she told me “There’s some really nice stuff here. You have an original voice, but it needs expanding, more description”. I went away and followed her advice. I then sent it to a small publisher. It turned out they were actually two lads working from their dads living room. They had just left University. But I was given the impression they were some big conglomerate. At that time they had only published one book. Now, they’re a multi-million pound business.

film still - clubbed by geoff thompson who talks to subvert magazine about what inspired him to write

A scene from Geoff’s film “Clubbed” actor Scot Williams who plays Sparky. Photo by Kaush Bharti

They had obviously marketed themselves well to give you that impression of professionalism. How did things move forward from there?

They told me “We don’t think it will make you lots of money and we’re only a small publisher. You’ll get royalties but we can’t give you an advance”. I didn’t care I was just excited about being published.

They published it and suddenly my whole belief system changed. I was thinking, “right so people like me can write and get published”. Everyone had told me I couldn’t do it. Then the floodgates opened. I wrote five books in a year. I’ve written over thirty since. I thought ”I can do anything”. That’s when I went into writing plays and journalism, everything I fancied doing I would go for it. It was really exciting.

FFilm still - Clubbed by Geoff Thompson

A scene from “Clubbed”. Photo by Kaush Bharti

How long did it take to publish your first book and how successful was it?

They had it for about 18 months and it sold quite well. They ended up with five hundred left, which they were just going to sell over time. But I said “Look I think I can do more with this, will you let me buy the copyright back?”. And they did which I think they’ve regretted ever since because it’s sold over a hundred thousand.

I reprinted it in hard back. I put it out and started doing courses and teaching and I started printing other books as well. I’d decided to self publish my other books. I looked at what they were doing, and the unit cost of printing a book. I thought, “well I could do this myself”. If I printed it myself and sell it, I can make much more money. I’ve self-published ever since.

Geoff thompson and martial arts instructor and film extra lee

Geoff with film extra and fellow martial arts instructor Lea Welsford on the set of “Pink”

You followed through on your dream of becoming a writer. Why do you think so many people like the journalists at The Telegraph, don’t end up pursuing their dream job?

I’ve seen lots of my friends who want to be screen writers who end up working other jobs because they have to cover their mortgage, and they lose their way. I discovered a lot of them have this idea only certain people can be successful. It’s not true. It’s just how much you want it.

My book “Elephant and The Twig” is an inspiring book about what you can achieve and “Shapeshifter” is a serious book about how much do you want to achieve it. It’s good to cut through layers of consciousness with people in a nice way and say “look YOU can do it AND have it all”

I think success asks everything. But it doesn’t tend to take everything. There are doors you have to go through, commitments you have to make and some sacrifices. So that book is saying are you prepared to pay the price? Most people aren’t. But rather than say “I’m not prepared to pay the price” they’ll say “it’s a closed door and people like me can’t get in, or I didn’t get my lucky break”. It’s just weak excuses.

geoffthompsonandsubvertmagazinGeoff Thompson inspiring interview with SUBvert magazine

Geoff with a copy of SUBvert magazine essential reading

So you think they’re making up excuses to cover their fear?

Exactly. I scare the shit out of them. One of my students on a scriptwriting course, came up to me and was trying to tell me how tough it is at University. Success doesn’t come on its own you’ve got to keep at it and keep pushing. The common thing people always say is “I don’t have the time” and I say, “well actually you have. You just haven’t got the will!”

I tell all my students “you get the same 24 hours as the President of the United States or the Prime Minister, as Cassius Clay or Muhammad Ali. Whatever it is you’re doing, you get 24 hours. It’s what you do with it. Your 24 hours are filled with something even if it’s filled with nothing. What you have to decide is what you want to fill it with”.

Geoff Thompson talks to subvert magazine about being a doorman

A scene from Geoff’s film “Clubbed”. The doormen marking their territory. Photo by Kaush Bharti

Geoff, previously we talked about fear, another common condition which tends to hinders people is stress. Why do you think so many people are stressed today?

There weren’t as many neurological stresses years ago. Every time you look around now, there are things which trigger stress. Bright lights, loud noises, lots of traffic, pollution, aggression and violence on the news. We are surrounded by lots of stimulus. People are more infused with adrenalin, because it doesn’t find a behavioral release. The body innately knows it’s caustic. If it doesn’t find a behavioral release, cortisol attacks the internal smooth muscles, like the heart, lungs and intestines. It travels to the brain and kills your neurotransmitters.


A scene from Geoff’s film “Clubbed”. Photo by Kaush Bharti

Stress is a killer. Even little things like a car horn or watching a violent film will trigger the adrenals. There’s lots and lots of ripe stuff out there. People are walking around in a predatory state most of the time. The body knows it needs to find a release for it. So it tries to find any kind of outlet. And the digestion system closes down temporarily. That’s why there’s so much irritable bowl or problems with digestion.

What can people do to combat stress in their daily lives?

Meditation or yoga calms everything down, changing your physiology back to where it should be. Understanding how your body works is beneficial too. You have to recognize that you don’t need to be stressed. Start making a conscious effort to think about what you read, and what you watch on television. So you’re not triggering your body all the time.


Geoff was polled the number one martial arts instructor in the world

Currently, most people’s physiology is stuck in fight or flight, and of course, that promotes all sorts of illnesses. Specifically cancer. Mainly because the immune system closes down during this process. If you think back to when we were living in caves. The body was designed to prepare you, for when you encountered a saber tooth tiger. You had the option of stay and fight or run away, and it would have lasted for seconds. But today we’re marinating in it all day. So our immune system is on, then it’s off, and then on again. The door is open so lots of illnesses can get in.


It’s imperative you find a way to physically release that stress. The wrong food, or too much of one type of food, acts as a stressor and will trigger the adrenals. People are constantly wired, and they take it out on whoever is around at the time. It’s good to step outside of all that and think. “I’ll go do some exercise that will get rid of my stress. I’ll change my perception of the world, so it doesn’t have to be stressful. I’ll do some yoga and meditation to change my physiology back”.

Film set PINK - Geoff Thompson talks to subvert magazine about script writing

Scene from Geoffs film “Pink” just before a fight erupts. Photo by Mark Allen

What about diet. How important do you think it is to eat healthy food?

It’s just about moderation. I’ve practiced different things from complete abstinence, right through to the other side, where I eat whatever I want. I think the best thing is abstaining from EXCESS. Having discipline. You can indulge now and again, but don’t eat what you haven’t earned. I don’t have anything which is really bad for me. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink alcohol. I do like a cake sometimes, and a curry once a week. But I train every day and I keep myself in great shape.

geoff thompson talks to SUBvert magazine about doing martial arts

Geoff doing martial arts

Why do you think, even though people know what they should be doing, they often do the opposite?

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff said that people have no self control. He talks about the fact that we think we’re free. However, we’re controlled by the opinions imposed on us by others. Someone says your work is good you feel great. Someone says your work is terrible you have a shit day. He talked about self sovereignty. Controlling the self, so you become immune to the slings and arrows, of internal and external phenomena. Only then can you call yourself a true individual.

Geoff Thompson inspiring interview with SUBvert magazine

Photo montage from Geoff’s film “Clubbed”. Photo by Kaush Bharti

How do you gain this control of yourself?

Gandhi believed that if you could control the palette, all other senses fall into line. Once you govern your senses, you gain self control. You literally control the world. This is a man that changed the course of history on that simple philosophy.

People are out there looking for huge philosophies. But really there’s only one thing to do, and that’s to master yourself. For example; being in control of what you eat, drink, listen to, read and watch on television. We become what we allow to influence us. I’m very careful about what I take in, who I speak to, certainly what I read. I don’t read tabloids or porn magazines. It’s not a moral or ethical judgment, it’s just about what is good for me. It’s about controlling my senses.


Geoff Thompson reading SUBvert magazine. Keeping his mind healthy and happy

You mention tabloids. Do you think people have become indifferent to the messages from the media? And the powerful effect it has over them?

The fourth fuel of the brain is information. People have an idea about physical food, and may think, ‘this is good for me and that isn’t’. But that’s not the most important thing we ingest. What’s more essential, is the information we take in. Information feeds the brain literally. I think people are being force fed junk everyday, almost every minute, and we don’t realize it.

When you have information it becomes a physical part of your brain. The brain takes it in. These neurons fire back and forth. If you receive the same information enough times, it leaves an indent. A groove in your brain. That’s how it works. So what you’re taking in every day, becomes your reality. It’s unconscious conditioning.

Film set PINK - Geoff Thompson talks to subvert magazine about script writing

Behind the scenes on the set of “Pink”. The director Michael B Clifford briefs the stunt man Peter Pedrero

It’s about stepping aside from that and thinking “is this having the effect on me that I really want?” And then you start choosing your own information. There is a plethora of it out there. Library’s are full of great information and everyone has access to them.

What do you think are the main barriers to people believing they can be successful?

You look at people like Leonardo Da Vinci. One of the reasons he was so successful, was because he didn’t know the concept of limitation. Most people have a formal education and they’re told ‘these are the possibilities’. Leonardo didn’t have this type of education. So he came out with all these amazing ideas; the parachute, the helicopter, submarine. He was a mathematician, sculptor, writer, gymnast, weight lifter. He had this amazing polarity of intellect and physicality. He was doing it because he wasn’t taught any restrictions.


How often do we really think about what we allow to influence us?

Leonardo also recognized that most people were scuppered by uncertainty and ambiguity. No one really knows what’s going to happen, if they’re going to be successful or not. He recognized in order to be successful, he needed to develop a high tolerance to both. He became massively successful because he said, “life would be pretty plain and dull if there was no uncertainty”.

Thanks Geoff that’s definitely given us a lot of food for thought.

So, ambitious readers, just like a plant needs specific conditions to flourish and bear fruit. So do you. Those television programs, those magazines and books, are they positive influences? Or are they having a negative effect on your mood and attitude? The food you’re putting into your body, is it nourishing you? Is it giving you the strength and energy you need?

Interview by Angel Greenham


  1. I love these posts from Subvert Mag…..excellent look and feel and they’re a pleasure to read.

    This post is full of inspiring stuff re: talking action and making multiple dreams come true – eventually, after putting in the graft, and refusing to crumple under the weight of negative comments or setbacks.

    Thanks for putting this stuff out and spurring us on to action.



    • Thanks Ian. Geoff is a real inspiration. His film “Clubbed” is superb. Think British gangster film with a positive message. I also want to give a big shout out to the very talented Julian Kimmings who created the amazing illustrations of Geoff.

  2. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read/hear. I really respond to Geoff’s last quote about 24-hours. He has a brilliant way of putting things in perspective. Excellent, excellent interview.

  3. Im across the pond, reading from southern california, just goes to show people have the same battles across the globe. thanks for sharing this, you guys are an awesome publication.

    • Thanks for the comment Kingshuk. Most of our readers are actually from California, New York second, the UK third, then about 50 other countries at the last count. You’re right about us all having the same challenges. It’s interesting though, the determination to overcome those challenges isn’t the same everywhere. I’d certainly say some countries are more ambitious than others. Not the ones you might think either. Having comfortable surroundings can make people soft!

  4. On the topic of fear, have you read The 50th Law, by Robert Greene? Greene and 50 cent become friends, and he basically tails the rapper for 3-4 months. The book is about how 50 built an empire of music, art, clothing etc, despite growing up in queens with no parents, surrounded by the drugs and violence. It is more about fear than 50, but its a very applicable book. Just about the whole book is about conquering fear. I think its worth reading. Both of them would be great interview material as well…



    • Yes I have, it’s a great book and we will be doing at least one if not more articles on it in the next couple of weeks. We have a couple of copies to give away as well. Stay tuned.

  5. Angel, great interview…really is something that I ajm going to use in reaching my goals…many times during the course of “24 hours” I overcomplicate the processes of writing and it is at those points that I accomplish nothing…one of the best pieces of advice that I make myself go back to time and time again is “So you want to be a writer? Then forget everything else and write and fill pages. Sooner or later those gems that win Pulitzers show up.” Those are words from one of the greatest teachers of writing, Natalie Goldberg. Thank You!

  6. Great article. Fantastic quote about everyone’s 24 hours. Brilliant illustration by Julian Kimmings too

  7. Very insightful. It’s true, you have to fight for what you want. Or fight to stay sane doing what someone else wants.

  8. The people who ‘make it’ follow their dreams till the end; the people who judge others for their dreams tend to be people without hope and desire for something; and those who look back with regret because they didn’t get their dream, may well have given up up to easily.

    If you dream of being a writer, a singer, a actor, a professional athlete, an artist or whatever your dream may be, then you are no different than those people who are at the top of their game… you have a dream just as they did. People who doubt need to realise that those at the top aren’t Gods, they are simply humans with a dream who worked hard to achieve it.

    Geoff truely does show people what they can achieve if they put their minds to their goals. Meeting Geoff was an inspiration and I’ve almost finished my first screen play… would I have done that if I didn’t meet Geoff? who knows? But thanks for the inspiration. x

  9. SUBvert Magazine! You have done it again.

    I arbitrarily stumbled across your website sometime within the past year; it has succeeded in providing a life force of energetically stimulating material to contemplate. The encouragement in each article has provided an optimistic faith amidst a myriad of excuses, pessimism, apathy, and overall energy sapping attitudes that bombard me from too many different directions each day.

    I am in my senior year at University and it is so easy to just fill myself up with fear and uncertainty over what the future will bring. Recently I have undergone a personal transformation of sorts and have a hard time relating to people around me simply because…well it actually may not be so simple to describe, but can perhaps be attributed to different levels of awareness, values, and lifestyle. To know that there are people like you, who are living with passion and pursuing their dreams, is incredibly comforting and provides a much longed for source of human connection – even if only through the computer!

    The recent interview of Geoff Thompson was stuffed with poignant insight. He is a pragmatic dreamer, a true example of self-mastery. There were so many times when he faced opposition head on, or could have perceived his situation pessimistically. He didn’t doubt his ability to be a writer, or even think about the fact that he could be a great writer…he just wrote. You once sent out a series of emails giving tips on how to turn your life around and fulfill your creative dreams. I think the first one said: Simply Act. You can analyze your situation, attempt to find some sort of insight that will help you navigate your way through or understand your current reality, but in the end it is indeed action that takes you up the mountain you seek to climb. Truer or better advice may never have been spoken.

    So thank you, SUBvert for your continuous commitment to communicating the “secrets” of successful artists. Each article I read brings its own positive energy into my life. Keep up the GREAT work!


    P.S. I forgot to mention the illustrations of each of your articles…WOW they are AWESOME. Intriguing images, every time.

  10. thats great, very inspiring…. peace):):):):):):):)

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wow! This is great. I am a great admirer of Geoff Thomspon. His book ‘The Elephant and the Twig’ is on my book shelf. That book was a great inspiration to me, and I am a huge believer in positive positive thinking. I read that book inbetween calls in an old call centre job – and it really did motivate me. I’m looking forward to part 2 of this interview!

    If you really put your mind to it, you can achieve pretty much anything.

    This is a great interview SUBvert, and it was a real pleasant surprise! As you know, I am a huge fan, and it’s also great to see who you interview.

    And it’s also great to see so many comments!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I have trained under geoff in the martial arts and have achieved highly with him. He inspired me to be a script writer which I am avidly working on now, I have written about fourty. After attending geoffs monthly course I have been inspired to study media at degree level in film making.

    I am always inspired by people who achieve it keeps me on track. This is my ninth year of sobriety free from alcohol and its people like geoff and sites and publications like this that keep me going.
    Top stuff, If you ever get the opportunity to speak to Geoff in person jump at the chance he will help you realise potentials you never knew you had.
    Thanks again.

  13. great story about actually taking action on your dreams – thanks for sharing

    • hey Daniel, thanks for your comment, I see you’re a fitness
      instructor. I’d love to hear in the comments your number one tip to
      help the average creative person, (who spends most of their day sat