A self-made millionaire with investments in restaurants, magazines and property, Simon Jordan now wants to be a British film mogul.
Already a minor celebrity in the UK and popular with the tabloids as the young, outspoken owner of Championship football club Crystal Palace, Jordan is taking his first steps in celluloid as the financier and producer of Telstar, the directorial debut of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels actor Nick Moran.
Telstar is a biopic of the eccentric UK record producer Joe Meek, starring Con O'Neill, Kevin Spacey, Pam Ferris, James Corden and Ralf Little and set in the seedy Soho of 1960s London. His most famous work was The Tornados' hit Telstar in 1962, which became the first record by a UK group to hit the top spot in the US Billboard Hot 100.
The film premiered at the London Film Festival and picked up a sales agent in Fortissimo, which pitched it internationally for the first time at last month's AFM.
Produced and wholly financed by Jordan's Aspiration Films, set up as a vehicle to make Telstar, the wannabe mogul had to bankroll the project his way. 'I shut the door on every aspect of the industry,' says Jordan. 'If it's your money, you get to do it your way. I didn't have to do some apologetic British compromise. I wouldn't have even been able to audition Con O'Neill.'
Telstar began life as a critically acclaimed play by Moran and James Hicks - directed by Moran and backed by Jordan - and has been a labour of love for Jordan and Moran ever since.
Moran wrote a screenplay of Telstar for another UK production story, which ultimately decided not to make the project and so Jordan bought the screenplay. 'With the script, I could see it clearly. The film I wanted to make was in my mind's eye,' Jordan recalls. 'I could see the point-of-sale (he used to own a mobile-phone company). I phoned Nick and said, 'Let's go.''
Moran brought in two Lock, Stock contacts, first assistant director David Reid and producer Adam Bohling, to work on the project. Moran's directing experience at that point consisted of a BBC production in Nigeria.
'The BBC dropped me in Lagos and asked me to make a Nollywood film,' explains Moran. 'It was hostility level 1A. But I was determined and belligerent. I knew then I could in-camera edit in my head. I was an over-curious, opinionated bastard.'
Jordan now plans to keep Aspiration Films going to finance Moran's future projects. 'We want to make more great British films, true stories or based on true stories,' says Moran. 'In the UK, it's all about class and wit and there's a grandeur about London. I want to do something big and bold, Victorian and funny.'
'Every film will be made as a going concern,' says Jordan. 'I believe in myself. I need to have control over something. I made (Telstar) because I related to the subject matter. It was about a genius and stories of genius should be told.'
Jordan likens film-making with running a football club. 'Football is very similar to making films,' suggests Jordan. 'With one you have a football manager, with the other it's a director. Their job is to extract the right performance from either the players or the cast.'