Having steadfastly refused to contemplate retirement, Richard Attenborough is marking his 84th year by embarking on an entirely new venture. As Chairman of Dragon International Studios, he has assembled a team of professional filmmakers to design and build a state of the art film and TV studios in South Wales. This multi million pound development will be operational by 2009.
In 1993, Sir Richard Attenborough was created a Life Peer for services to cinema, becoming Lord Attenborough of Richmond-upon-Thames.
Richard Attenborough was born in Cambridge in 1923 but spent his childhood in Leicester. At the age of 17 he moved to London to take up the Leverhulme Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, making both his first West End stage appearance and his screen debut in 1942 while still a student. He has starred in numerous West End theatre productions and more than 60 films. He was first seen on the screen playing the young stoker in the Noel Coward/ David Lean film In Which We Serve and went on to star in such international classics as Brighton Rock, The Angry Silence, The Great Escape, Séance On A Wet Afternoon, Guns At Batasi, The Flight of The Phoenix, The Sand Pebbles, 10 Rillington Place and Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players.
More recently he has played the lead in John Hughes’ Miracle On 34th Street, appeared in Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur adventure, Jurassic Park and its sequel Lost World and as Sir William Cecil in Shekhar Kapur’s historical drama Elizabeth. Attenborough became an independent film producer in 1959 and made a triumphant directorial debut in the sixties with the satirical musical Oh! What a Lovely War which won 16 international awards including a Golden Globe and the BAFTA United Nations Award.
As a film maker, he is undoubtedly best known for Gandhi, 1982 winner of eight Academy Awards and five BAFTA Awards, personally receiving the accolades for ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’ on both sides of the Atlantic as well as the Director’s Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. He has also directed Young Winston, which earned another Golden Globe, A Bridge Too Far, winner of the Evening News Best Drama Award, Magic, A Chorus Line and Cry Freedom, which was awarded the Berlinale Kamera and BFI Award for Technical Achievement.
His next film, Chaplin, earned its star, Robert Downey Jr, an Oscar Nomination for Best Actor and, actress Debra Winger received an Oscar Nomination for Best Actress in Attenborough’s acclaimed Shadowlands which received a BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year.
Attenborough’s love of biographies continued with In Love and War and most recently Grey Owl starring Pierce Brosnan, both of which he produced and directed. In 1971 he led the consortium which won the franchise to establish Capital Radio, Britain’s first independent entertainment station, and remained Chairman of the highly successful company until he retired at the age of 70 to become Life President. He was also one of the leading figures in the creation of Channel 4 Television, serving first as Deputy Chairman and then as Chairman between 1980 and 1992. Contemporaneously he was also Chairman of the British Film Institute (1981-92), the European Script Fund (1988-96) and the British Screen Advisory Council, (1987-96) of which he is now President. He has served as BAFTA’s Chairman (1969-70), Vice-President (1971-94) of which he is now President. His involvement in the British film industry continued when he became the government’s advisor on the structuring of the new Films Council.
He served a year’s tenure as Visiting Professor of Drama at Oxford during 1996 and was Pro-Chancellor of Sussex University for 18 years prior to his installation as Chancellor in 1998. He was Chairman of RADA between 1972 and 2003 and now serves as its President.
Attenborough was awarded the CBE in 1967 and a Knighthood in 1976. He is a Freeman of the City of Leicester, Fellow of Kings College, London, the University of Wales, Bangor and Manchester Polytechnic and holder of honorary degrees from Cape Town, Leicester, Kent, Sussex, Newcastle, the American International University, London and Dickinson College, Pennsylvania. He is Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. He has received the Martin Luther King Jr Peace Prize, been awarded a Padma Bhushan in India and is the recipient of the 1998 Japanese Praemium Imperiale Award. He is actively involved in many different charities. He is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, President of the Muscular Dystrophy Group of Great Britain, The Actors’ Charitable Trust, the Combined Theatrical Charities Appeals Council, the Gandhi Foundation and the National Film and Television School. He is Governor of Waterford Kamhlaba School in Swaziland and President of their UK Trustees, Patron of the Centre for Disability and the Arts, Leicester University and Trustee of the King George V Fund for Actors and Actresses.
Now in his 84th year, this ardent Socialist and pro-European is still an active film maker who continues to campaign vigorously for a viable British film industry and on behalf of disabled and disadvantaged people in every walk of life.
PETER WOODWARD - Writer
Peter Woodward has pursued a varied and busy career across the arts and media in the United Kingdom, before his recent decision to live and work in the United States. He has achieved success in four major fields both on stage and screen: as actor, writer, fight arranger, and producer.
Included among his recent writing credits is the forthcoming trilogy of fantasy movies, Runelords, directed by Christian Duguay. He also wrote, produced, and acted in the feature The House of Angelo, a groundbreaking production for the BBC and SKY in the UK, and Atlantis Films in the US. For the History Channel, he created and wrote the series Conquest, and presented and co-wrote the series Masada, the forthcoming Alexander the Great, and the Emmy-nominated Egypt beyond the Pyramids. Woodward was a writer on the Fox series Brimstone and the TNT series Crusade.
Woodward has also written for the theatre. His play Wilfred, about the poet Wilfred Owen, has received four productions in England, including those at Bristol, Birmingham, Salisbury, and on National Tour. Outside Broadcast, his play about the clash of theatre and television was presented at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, as was his musical version of The Jack Buchanan Story, in which he also played the lead. His comedy thriller Bulldog Drummond was produced at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton. Additionally, he adapted and directed the audio version of Dracula with Christopher Lee.
Woodward was born into an acting family, the son of Edward Woodward (who among many other roles played “The Equalizer” for CBS). He spent his childhood in New York and London. Since his decision to move to the United States in 1998, he has lived in Los Angeles at Venice Beach, and has worked all over the world
JO GILBERT - Producer
Jo Gilbert was born in Leicester, England. Having obtaining a place at Keele University to take a degree in Film and Television and the new (at that time!) revelatory, video technology, she abandoned this formal situation to work in the heart of London’s Soho, at one of the major studio facilities as a sound engineer and film music technician. This marked the start of a 34 year career in the film, TV and media industry. Jo became a London based Casting Director, working within the commercials and film industry - which led to having her own highly successful theatrical agency with her sister, Judy for 14 years, in the heart of the Capital. During this time, she went into film production with writing/producing partner, John Howlett - together they worked in both the UK and USA with companies such as Paramount Pictures, RKO, Granada TV and independent producers and directors in London and Rome. Jo worked in London on productions including Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado about Nothing and Peter’s Friends and she Associate Produced and cast, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which, together with Leon the Pig Farmer, helped to kick-start the then very depressed British film industry in 1992. In the mid 1990s, Jo was instrumental in setting up the highly successful tax incentives on the Isle of Man, bringing the first movie The Brylcreem Boys, onto the island, under a new exclusive tax credit scheme formulated and based there. Over the subsequent three years, she produced major feature films (Waking Ned, The Harpist and Darkness Falls) utilizing this Irish based tax credit scheme. Jo moved from London to Northern Ireland, in 1999. Incepting the Paint Hall Studios as a major independently financed resource for incoming international film and television producers, in Belfast’s historic docklands area. Jo has focused her production work in Northern Ireland, and is passionate about this new location for the International film industry. Since the Painthall Studios, Jo and Judy also opened the TITANIC STUDIOS in Belfast, again proving that facilities for production are a vital a part of the new Northern Irish film industry, augmenting the new finance incentives incepted there as a UK/Irish location. Jo is also a director of Spinster Ltd, her own producing company, with Sister Judy Gilbert.
Jo has two children Hal and Bridie Sinden, Hal is an acclaimed ‘Goth’ rock musician based in London and Bridie is still at school in Northern Ireland; Jo was married to theatre producer and actor, Marc Sinden, son of respected award winning stage, film and TV actor, Sir Donald Sinden, and continues to work with Marc on film and theatre productions in the UK and Monaco.
MARTIN F KATZ - Co-Producer
Martin F Katz is President and founder of Prospero Pictures, a Toronto-based film production and finance company specializing in international co-productions.
Katz has a 20-year history in all aspects of media production and finance. Prior to founding Prospero Pictures, Katz was President and Chief Operating Officer of Grosvenor Park Film Financing Corporation. Previously, he served as Executive Producer at The Microsoft Network, and as a Producer and Executive Producer at Alliance Atlantis. He has also served as Head of Business Affairs at CBC Television.
Katz’s feature film credits include Nick Hurran’s It’s a Boy Girl Thing, Terry George's Hotel Rwanda, Philip Saville's The Gospel of John, David Cronenberg's Spider, Michael Winterbottom's The Claim and Bronwyn Hughes’ Stander, which the London Observer called “the greatest heist film since Reservoir Dogs.”
An internet pioneer, Katz was employee number 3 at Microsoft's MSN Canada where, as Executive Producer, he created the first episodic "web-umentary." The web-based documentary entitled Splice examined the work of Marshall McLuhan in the context of a society in transition from an analogue to a digital world. He developed and produced innovative interactive programming in collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carol Shields, celebrated director David Cronenberg and comedians Jean-Guy Moreau and Rick Mercer. He also created the first 3-D internet experience, a Halloween special based on the successful YTV kids' series, Freaky Stories.
Katz has extensive experience as a producer of international treaty co-productions involving Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
Katz holds degrees in law from the Universities of Toronto and Paris and has served as professor of law at the French-language University of Moncton and Special Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Toronto.
ROGER PRATT BSC - Director of Photography
Roger Pratt earned an Academy Award nomination for his work on Neil Jordan’s End of the Affair, which also brought the first of his two BAFTA nominations. He earned his second BAFTA nod for Chocolat, for which also received the third of his three British Society of Cinematographer nominations. He most recently directed photography on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Troy.
Pratt grew up in the British Midlands, the son of a minister. He became interested in movies as a child and earned a degree from the London Film School. He began working on television commercials and documentaries then got his first movie job as an assistant cameraman on My Childhood in 1972. He worked as a lighting designer and camera operator before serving as cinematographer on The Dollar Bottom in 1981, which won an Oscar for Best Short Subject. In the mid 1970s, Pratt began a long association with director Terry Gilliam, which led to his serving as cinematographer on The Crimson Permanent Assurance segment of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life in 1983, and DOP on Gilliam’s Brazil in 1985. Among Pratt’s other credits as cinematographer are Iris, The Fisher King, 12 Monkeys, Shadowlands, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Mona Lisa and Batman. Pratt is a member of the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC).
TOM McCULLAGH - Production Designer
Tom McCullagh work on MickyBo & Me was nominated for Best Production Design for Film at last year’s Irish Film and Television Awards. This moving story about the friendship of two young boys was set during the troubles in the seventies. He also designed Michael Bassett’s Wilderness, Heidi, which was filmed in Slovenia and Wales, and The Mighty Celt, with Gillian Anderson and Robert Carlyle. Other films include The Boys from County Clare, The Closer you get and A Further Gesture. He worked in Rajasthan last year designing SHARPE’S CHALLENGE for television. He lives with his family in Belfast.
LESLEY WALKER - Editor
Lesley Walker previously collaborated with Richard Attenborough as editor on Cry Freedom, Shadowlands, Grey Owl and In Love or War. Walker made her entrance into feature film editing as an assistant to John Bloom on Silvio Narizzano’s Georgy Girl. A three-time BAFTA nominee, she has edited such films as Derek Jarman’s The Tempest, Mike Leigh’s Meantime and All or Nothing, Chris Bernard’s Letter to Brezhnev, Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa (for which she won the Guild of British Editors Award), Doug McGrath’s Nicholas Nickleby and Emma, David Green’s Buster, Lewis Gilbert’s Shirley Valentine, Stephen Gyllenhaal’s Waterland, Luis Mandoki’s Born Yesterday, and Stephen Frears’ Mary Reilly. She has also had a long association with director Terry Gilliam, serving as editor on The Fisher King, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Brothers Grimm and Tideland.
Hazel Webb-Crozier won the Best Costume Design Award at last year’s Irish Film and Television Awards for her work on Mickybo & Me, a coming of age period drama set in 1970's Belfast. Everything in This Country Must, on which she worked as costume designer, was nominated in 2005 for an Academy Award for Best Short. She has recently worked with Michael Bassett on Wilderness. Other films include The Mighty Celt, with Gillian Anderson and Robert Carlyle, The Boys from County Clare and In like Flynn directed by Niall Heery. Webb-Crozier created and animated the magical figures in Clothears, a short film for children she wrote and produced herself. She lives with her family in Belfast.