My name's William Marler...
I'm 23 years old, I'm an award-winning animator, I'm a keen runner, I do stand-up comedy, I have a huge Michael Jackson obsession, and I have Cystic Fibrosis. That's pretty much how you'll hear me start every episode of Straight from the Lungs and you'll notice that CF is right at the end of a list of other ways you can describe me. Like a lot of people with CF, although it certainly shapes my life and is in part why I am who I am, it's just one part of me. There'll be plenty of opportunities to hear about my Cystic Fibrosis, so I thought I'd tell you about all the other things in my life.
I'm an animator.
Ever since I was a child, I've had a huge love of Pixar. Strangely, I was never much of a Disney fan in general, but Pixar films were a mainstay in my house. My favourite is The Incredibles and I still vividly remember my mum travelling directly from a long day at work to come and watch it with me, my dad, and my brother on opening night. When I got my first mobile phone a year later, I started making silly videos with my friend Matt. That turned into a love for making films with a proper camera, which led me to learning animation, which led me to learning graphic design, which then led me back to animation again. I studied Film & Animation at Birmingham City University and made around 10 films in that time, the most meaningful of which was Pep Mask, a film that explores my relationship with my parents through my CF physiotherapy routine. Pep Mask has been screened at various festivals in England and North America and in part led to me winning the Viscom Student of the Year Award when I graduated.
I'm a keen runner.
When I was young, my parents made a huge effort to make sure I was regularly exercising and as such, I was part of the local swimming club. Apart from a couple of friends I made along the way, I never really enjoyed swimming – especially competitive swimming – because I'd often be stuck training with people half my age. I left the sport behind when I was 16 and a year later, my mum and I started Couch to 5K. We both went from never running at all to running 5km three times a week. I motivated my mum and she motivated me. I've since done numerous 5k races, a few 10k races, two half marathons, and in 2015 I ran the London Marathon (42km) in 6:40:55. It's one of the most incredible experiences of my whole life, certainly not something I'd ever thought I'd be able to do.
I do stand-up comedy.
In January 2018, I took a comedy course run by the very funny (thank goodness) James Cook. I've always loved watching stand-up, comedy panel shows, and sitcoms. Cystic Fibrosis has given me a huge drive to just do what excites me instead of being too scared to, so I thought "why the hell not?" Since then, I've been doing a couple of gigs a month and it's been really fun. The response I've had from the audiences has been generally very positive and I've met some great people along the way. You'll be able to hear some of my CF-related stand-up in various episodes of the podcast.
I love Michael Jackson.
I say this as if there isn't a huge population of the world that doesn't also love MJ. I do also need to make clear that I'm not claiming to be his 'biggest fan', nor do I have a whole room in my house dedicated to his memorabilia (anymore), but I am fascinated by the detail of his craft with both his music and his dance. Dance class at school was something I never cared for, but then I started listening to Michael Jackson and just found myself wanting to move. I watched his live performances and music videos to see the dance routines for each song and try and copy them myself. I even performed a routine and won BCU's Got Talent in 2016. There's always something new to find in his art and I'm sure he'll be an inspiration for me for years to come.
I'm getting married.
At university, I met Vicky. We started dating and on our 3rd anniversary in January 2018, I proposed and she said yes. She's my favourite person in the world and I'm so happy that she's working on the podcast as an illustrator because she's so talented. Aside from that though, she is incredibly supportive when it comes to my CF and I know that she'll stay by my side no matter what comes our way. I couldn't be happier to marry her.
That's a quick introduction from me! Like I said, I'll be posting a lot about my Cystic Fibrosis lifestyle and of course you'll have the chance to hear from my by listening to Straight from the Lungs.