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Alan Parker Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (13) | Personal Quotes (14)

Overview (2)

Born in Islington, London, England, UK
Birth NameAlan William Parker

Mini Bio (1)

Prior to moving into film, Alan was noted as one of London's most talented advertising copywriters. He worked for the Collet Dickinson Pearce (CDP) ad agency in the 1960's and early 1970's, and began directing his own tvc scripts in their basement. Formed a partnership with David Puttnam as his producer (Puttnam had been a photographers' agent), and left CDP to become a full time director of commercials before moving onto features.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Otter17

Spouse (2)

Annie Inglis (1966 - 1992) (divorced) (4 children)
Lisa Moran (199? - present)

Trade Mark (4)

Musical
Graphic and Brutal depiction of Violence
Films based on True Stories
His films often have a dark, noirish look to them. They are often lit in very dark colors.

Trivia (13)

Appointed a C.B.E. in 1995 and knighted in the 2002 New Year's Honours List. Now known as Sir Alan Parker.
His sons Alexander Parker and Jake Parker help their father out on a lot of his projects, e.g. composing the score for The Life of David Gale (2003).
Writes the press kit annotations for journalists at advance screenings himself. Has done so since 1981.
He was a founding member of the Directors' Guild of Great Britain and has lectured at film schools around the world.
In an interview for The Road to Wellville (1994), Parker stated that his mission as a filmmaker was to make at least one movie for each genre available.
Has published several collections of film industry-related cartoons, including "Hares in the Gate" (1983).
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 44th Cannes International Film Festival in 1991.
Usually, his films end with either the main character dying or end with a depressing down note (see Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982), Evita (1996), The Life of David Gale (2003), Angela's Ashes (1999), Mississippi Burning (1988) and Midnight Express (1978)).
Considers Oliver Stone as his strong antagonist since their collaborations on Midnight Express (1978). Parker even declined several times to give him WGA credits for his previous work on Evita (1996), but finally agreed to do so after a long deliberation with WGA's law representatives.
Is friends with director Tony Scott, whom he sponsored to direct The Hunger (1983) for producer Richard Shepard.
Has directed 3 actors to Oscar nominations: John Hurt (Best Supporting Actor, Midnight Express (1978)), Gene Hackman (Best Actor, Mississippi Burning (1988)), and Frances McDormand (Best Supporting Actress, Mississippi Burning (1988)).
One of Parker's idols Fred Zinnemann became an unlikely mentor and would often agree to see many of his films before anyone else.
Father of Nathan Parker.

Personal Quotes (14)

I was once described by one of my critics as an aesthetic fascist.
I'm always afraid someone's going to tap me on the shoulder one day and say, "Back to North London".
Making a film is so hard that if you don't have your main actors going along with the ride with the rest of the crew it can make your life very difficult. Particularly within the Hollywood machine. They've allowed more stars to take over and it can make everyone else's life a misery. But the truth is the actors are doing their job just the same as the camera assistant and the costume designer and everybody else.
Every time I've been to Cannes, I've made up my mind never to return. Every time my vanity wins over.
[meeting an unknown Paul Thomas Anderson at a parking lot after an event at the USC film school] As I pulled away I could see in my mirror a young man chasing after me, waving a videotape. He ran alongside, banging at the window. I stopped, wound down the window, and he thrust the videotape through the window saying he'd made a short film and really wanted me to look at it. The short was The Dirk Diggler Story (1988), which I looked at and thought was quite brilliant.
[on Bugsy Malone (1976)] I had four young children and we used to go to a cottage in Derbyshire at weekends. On the long, boring car journey up there, I started telling them the story of a gangster called Bugsy Malone. They'd ask me questions and I'd make up answers, based on my memories of watching old movie reruns as a kid. I'd won a Bafta for a Play for Today, "The Evacuees", for the BBC in 1975. Now I was trying to get into movies. The British film industry was flat: nobody would finance my scripts because they were too "parochial". So I wrote an American film, choosing to fuse two classic Hollywood genres: the musical and the mob. It was my son Alex who said: "Can the heroes be kids?" I'd done plenty of adverts with children, but a feature film is a logistical nightmare: the legal constrictions, schooling, minimal hours allowed "under the lights". But I was just starting out. I was fearless and a bit naive. For casting, I lugged a video camera all over America, and even went to US airforce bases in the UK. We recorded almost 100 school Christmas shows and saw almost 10,000 kids. In a Catholic school in Brooklyn, I asked: "Who's the most badly behaved kid in the class?" Thirty kids pointed to one chubby little boy at the back. "Cassisi!" they screamed. John Cassisi put his hands up and smiled. Although he had never acted before, he yelled out lines from script with gusto. I knew right away we had our Fat Sam. Jodie Foster, who played his moll Tallulah, had made more films than I had, so probably knew more about film-making. She was 13 but had been acting since she was three, and had just filmed Taxi Driver (1976). She got on well with the cast, and certainly wasn't aloof, which she had every right to be. I suspect she relished being surrounded by kids for once, as she had spent her professional life surrounded by adults. Although Scott Baio, our Bugsy, was perfectly behaved on set, he was probably a handful for the chaperones. Each morning, he'd regale us with the antics from the night before. A starchy version of Cinderella was shooting at Pinewood at the same time we were there. Its makers constantly complained that our mini-gangsters were running up and down the corridors, terrorising the Cinderella cast in their crinolines and powdered wigs. The film was quite successful in the UK, but not in the US. Over the years, when I've done retrospectives, I've never included it, as I didn't think it fitted with the rest of my work. But curiously, as I get older, I realise it still looks modern. It hasn't dated. I'm rather proud of it. [2015, The Guardian]
[on how he wrote his first screenplay Melody (1971)] I hadn't really thought about writing a screenplay at the time. I hadn't started directing, except for a few commercials in the basement of the agency where I worked. I was quite happy in advertising and had some success as a copywriter, so to get a film made of my script was as much a surprise as a thrill. (...) David Puttnam and Charles Saatchi (colleagues at the CDP ad agency) took me to lunch in Soho (Central London). They leaned across (the table), conspiratorially, and said, "Alan, we're thinking of going into film, and today we are going to discover you." I said, "Why are you discovering me? Why can't I discover you?" The plan was for me to write a script, and Charles to write a script, and Puttnam would attempt to sell them. I had never written anything longer than 30 seconds at the time, and so it was a shock when it got financed. Puttnam had obtained the rights to seven The Bee Gees songs from Robert Stigwood. This was 1969, and pre-Saturday Night Fever (1977)/falsetto Bee Gees - and so I wrote the script around the songs. There is a lyric in the song "The First of May" that went, "When we were small, and Christmas trees were tall, we used to love while others used to play," and I framed the story around that thought, mixed in with memories of my own childhood growing up in North London, mixed with a few memories from Puttnam. The film was mostly financed by Edgar M. Bronfman. Apparently his 16-year-old son, Edgar Bronfman Jr., read the script and recommended that his father make the movie. Edgar Jr. was also a production runner on the film. (...) It wasn't a big hit except, curiously, in Japan. I still get letters from fans of the film in Tokyo and Osaka. Creatively, it got us all started. Up to this point, I had no intentions of a film career, but on "Melody," I directed a small second-unit sequence, which was used, so probably I was bitten by the film bug then. Creatively, it has had an impact on other directors, as I have had many overtures, over the years, to remake it. Wes Anderson acknowledged that his film Moonrise Kingdom (2012) was inspired by "Melody." [Variety 2015]
[in a January 1988 interview] It's not my job to make you comfortable in the cinema.
One of the reasons I try to do one festival a year as a jury member is mostly because I know that I will see a dozen films and two-thirds of them I probably would never get to see other than at a festival. Sometimes you can see a really bad film from a culture that you really don't know or understand and it doesn't matter how bad the film is. You enjoy it because you're gaining other things from it. [Nov. 2016]
I'm very suspicious of people who make films just for festivals. The most difficult film to make is a film that has creative integrity and reaches a wider audience. If you're making a personal, intellectual, serious, art film that will only be seen at festivals, it's okay, but it's not really what cinema is supposed to be. Particularly if you're making a political point. Because if you're making a political point, you want to reach the biggest audience you can. [Nov. 2016]
[on editing] Because of the new technologies, younger filmmakers are being forced to make them [films] much quicker. The editing process is so fast - we used to think nothing of working a month to a year to cut the film. That allows you time to think about what you're doing. Now they have to be cut so fast because of the economies of things. [Nov. 2016]
[on digital cinematography] The nature of things now - you can make a movie on this DSLR dead easy, it's that small - and I think that with this new generation...I have a 12-year-old who makes films. He shoots, he wouldn't think of having anyone else shoot it. In other words, the whole collaborative thing might not be so great in the future. (...) When I first started, the camera was a mysterious thing. Only certain people understood it. It was technically really difficult. And certain people were really good at understanding that but they weren't any good at understanding writing a script or directing or working with actors. They were very different skills, you know. Now the mystery of the camera is gone - everybody, technologically, can make their own movie. On their iPad. The cinematographer/director may be much more of a thing you see in the future. (...) It depends, I suppose, on the ambition of the piece. Because the more advanced technology has made these cameras so small, you get ease of use rather than pushing around this washing machine. But then there is an argument regarding the stylistic choice of ease. They move the camera so much it never stops. And that can be very bothersome or it can give a fluidity and an energy to the storytelling. [Nov. 2016]
[on working with his long-time cinematographer Michael Seresin] People think of long-term relationships of the director and cinematographer as regarding the work, which is correct. Actually, what's more important is, you're usually away from home and you want it to be someone you can have dinner with as well. And when things get difficult as they do on every single film - there's always a moment when you get brain freeze where you say, 'I've done a thousand shots and I can't think of a thousand and one' - he's there to help you through those difficult times. Not just as your collaborator but as your pal. (...) If you don't get on with a cinematographer, well if there's conflict between a director and a cinematographer, you will undoubtedly get a bad film. That's why it's so important to be with someone you've known for so long. And the language is easy, the vocabulary. He knows exactly what you want. Also, we've got so many reference points, whether previous work, previous situations with regard to the light, the shot, the lens, what can go wrong, what will enhance it and make it better. For all those things you've got either reference points from the work you've done. Also, the interesting thing is we grew up together because we started so young. We went to the same photographic exhibitions, we went to the same art museums. Our visual sensibility grew and developed in parallel, really. [Nov. 2016]
[why he is against directing from 'video village'] It should be you - the director - and the actor, and the camera should be by your side. The video village pushes you away from the two most important elements in the film. A lot of actors really don't like it because disembodied voices are... to me the most precious thing is, if I watch an actor or actress do something and I say 'Cut,' the first thing they do, they should look at you. And you go, 'Fantastic' or you go, 'Almost fantastic' or you go, whatever - 'Let's take a break and we need to talk about it.' If they're not looking at you but looking at the AD or they're looking at one another, your director ceases to be of help to them really. [Nov. 2016]

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