Been reading – in a slow kind of meditative way – an Andrew Yule biography of David Puttnam – producer of such films as Chariots of Fire, The Killing Fields, Local Hero and The Mission. These days he’s Lord David Puttnam – as one wag friend of his put it “Every time someone reached for the butter knife, David would go down on one knee.” Coincidentally I’ve just discovered that the good Lord Puttnam is coming to New Zealand to speak to our local producers’ conference later in the year.
Some gems from David’s mouth that I thought were worthy of sharing:
“I believe passionately that only by being specific do you become global. I hate those films that aim for some nebulous mid-Atlantic market. Cinema is about the transference of personality to that of someone on the screen and you can only do that if they have a fixed, clearly -rooted identity.”
“In essence, it comes down to this, my enthusiasm for our project stems from the fact that the entire picture exists in my mind, and what I have to find is a writer with whom I can communicate and who can put down on paper the film as I see it. My job has only been worthwhile when I’ve had alongside of me contemporaries whose lives contain the same dreams, resonances and points of departure.”
“I genuinely believe that there is wonderful material for film-makers in the area of people’s emotional crises. Cinema offers the ability to sit in darkness, to watch people something like five times life-size on the screen, and to lend them your identity. It seems pretty silly to me that one should go through that process only to offer them an identity which they find repellant.”
I like this emphasis he puts on vicarious identities through the power of cinema, and the consequent ability of people to grow and evolve through what they are watching on screen.