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Andrew Macdonald

Andrew Macdonald

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: United Kingdom Profession: producer, director, assistant director, script reader, location manager

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This grandson of the famed Hungarian emigre screenwriter-director Emeric Pressburger worked his way up from low level jobs to become an important and influential film producer. Born in Glasgow, Andrew Macdonald was not interested in movies until he saw Franc Roddam's "Quadrophenia" (1979) and then turned to his famous grandparent for advice and inspiration. He began his career working on films made by students at London's National Film School in the mid-1980s and landed his first "professional" gig as a go-fer on Hugh Hudson's "Revolution" (1985). After studies at the American Film Institute, Macdonald worked as assistant to Zelda Barron on "Shag" (1988) before returning to his native Scotland. In the course of a few short years, he graduated from working as a location manager in film and TV to filmmaker, directing and/or producing a handful of shorts, some in tandem with his brother Kevin. A fortuitous introduction to John Hodge at the 1990 Edinburgh Film Festival led to a creative partnership that blossomed with 1993's quirky thriller "Shallow Grave". Macdonald debuted as producer, Hodge, a physician by trade, wrote the script and Danny Boyle joined the team as director.The Scottish-produced...

This grandson of the famed Hungarian emigre screenwriter-director Emeric Pressburger worked his way up from low level jobs to become an important and influential film producer. Born in Glasgow, Andrew Macdonald was not interested in movies until he saw Franc Roddam's "Quadrophenia" (1979) and then turned to his famous grandparent for advice and inspiration. He began his career working on films made by students at London's National Film School in the mid-1980s and landed his first "professional" gig as a go-fer on Hugh Hudson's "Revolution" (1985). After studies at the American Film Institute, Macdonald worked as assistant to Zelda Barron on "Shag" (1988) before returning to his native Scotland. In the course of a few short years, he graduated from working as a location manager in film and TV to filmmaker, directing and/or producing a handful of shorts, some in tandem with his brother Kevin. A fortuitous introduction to John Hodge at the 1990 Edinburgh Film Festival led to a creative partnership that blossomed with 1993's quirky thriller "Shallow Grave". Macdonald debuted as producer, Hodge, a physician by trade, wrote the script and Danny Boyle joined the team as director.

The Scottish-produced "Shallow Grave", a tale of betrayal and greed among a trio of roommates (played by Christopher Eccleston, Kerry Fox and Ewan McGregor), proved and international hit, except in the USA. Made on a budget of $2 million, it grossed $27 million world-wide, enough to catch the attention of Hollywood. The trio solidified their standing as hip British moviemakers with their sophomore effort, the splashy and surrealistic "Trainspotting" (1996). Hodge earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay adapted from Irvine Welsh's novel about a group of heroin addicts and critics praised Boyle's hyperactive direction. With Ewan McGregor heading the cast (which included Kevin McKidd, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle), "Trainspotting" proved controversial in its realistic depiction of drug use (which some critics felt was glamorized) and catapulted Macdonald to the A list. Offers from Los Angeles quickly followed, but he and Boyle opted to lend their backing as executive producers of "Twin Town" (1997), a darkly comic look at a pair of Welsh brothers who terrorize their locality. Turning down Hollywood fare like the fourth installment in the "Alien" franchise, Macdonald, Boyle and Hodge reunited with McGregor for "A Life Less Ordinary" (1997), a film that was designed in part to be an "hommage" to the Powell-Pressburger films of the 1940s but which critics and audiences dismissed. The threesome continued their creative partnership on a handful of subsequent projects including the "Alien Love Triangle" segment of "Light Years" (lensed 1998) which teamed Kenneth Branagh, Courteney Cox and Heather Graham, and the highly anticipated "The Beach" (2000), an adaptation of Alex Garland's novel that marked the first leading role for Leonardo DiCaprio post-"Titanic".

Determined to resuscitate the moribund British film industry, Macdonald entered into partnership with Duncan Kenworthy (best recalled as the producer of such popular fare as 1994's "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and 1999's "Notting Hill") and formed DNA Films in early 1997. The pair were awarded 29 million pounds from the Arts Council of England to fund a slate of 16 motion pictures over a five-year period to be distributed by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment. DNA Films announced its first projects, an adaptation of the novel "Kansas in August" to be directed by Angela Pope and "Night of the Creatures" scripted by Simon Donald, in 1998 and 1999 respectively. The 1999 sale of PolyGram, however, led to a distribution deal with Universal and neither of the DNA Films had yet to go before the cameras as of summer of that year.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1984:
Had first experience working on student films
1985:
Had paying job on a film working as a go-fer on "Revolution"
1985:
Studied at the American Film Institute
1988:
Worked as assistant to director Zelda Barron on "Shag"
:
Returned to Great Britain
1989:
Was assistant director on "Venus Peter"
:
Served as location assistant or location manager on "The Big Man" (1990) and "The Long Day Closes" (1991) as well as the TV series "The Advocates" and "Taggart"
1990:
Met future collaborator John Hodge at the Edinburgh Film Festival
:
Began making short films as both producer and director, including "Doctor Reitzer's Fragment" (1991)
:
Collaborated with brother Kevin on the seven-part Scottish TV series "Shadowing"
:
Established Figment Films
1993:
Feature debut as producer, "Shallow Grave"; first collaboration with director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge and actor Ewan McGregor
1996:
Produced Boyle's second feature "Trainspotting"; scripted by Hodge and starring McGregor
1997:
Reteamed with Boyle, Hodge and McGregor for the disappointing "A Life Less Ordinary"
1997:
Joined with Duncan Kenworthy as partner in DNA Films
2000:
Reteamed with Boyle as producer of "The Beach", starring Leonardo DiCaprio
2001:
With Kenworthy, was producer of "Strictly Sinatra" and "The Final Curtain"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

AFI Conservatory: Los Angeles , California - 1985

Notes

"Emeric [Pressburger] was definitely an inspiration. He made high quality European films which were aimed squarely at the international market and he never just did a film for the money--never compromised." --Andrew Macdonald quoted in the press material for "Trainspotting"

"All these people just gave us the money and then left us alone. Anything you see is our complete doing, mess or success. We had control on every level from the script to the casting, and to get that we had to make the film for a price." --Andrew Macdonald on working with Danny Boyle and John Hodge, quoted in SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, November 7, 1997

Just before filming on "The Beach" began in Thailand, the filmmakers were sued by environmentalists who claimed that the movie would destroy the national park. Reacting to the lawsuit, Macdonald told EMPIRE (April 1999): "The argument used against us is that if it's meant to be the most beautiful place in the world then why touch it? Well, it certainly is one of the world's most beautiful places, but it had been touched by a lot of people before we got there. One of the things we had to do was tidy it up: we took three tons of rubbish off that beach."

In response to charges that the producers paid kickbacks to the local government, he said: "Because the authorities have raped their land to a certain degree, and the government's been corrupt, the vast majority of people here [in Thailand] have no idea that anyone in authority would grant permission to anyone unless they'd taken bribes and lined their own pockets. That just isn't true. . . .

"It's become a bit of a nightmare of local politics, to be honest. But hopefully when everybody sees the film, they'll realise it was worth it, and see why we wanted to come here so much." --From EMPIRE, April 1999

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Rachel Fleming. Costume designer. Mother of Macdonald's son Archie.

Family close complete family listing

grandfather:
Emeric Pressburger. Director, producer, screenwriter.
mother:
Angela Carole Macdonald.
father:
William Macdonald.
brother:
Kevin MacDonald. Producer, director, author, documentary filmmaker. Born c. 1967; wrote biography of Emeric Pressburger; won 1999 Best Documentary Feature Oscar for "One Day in September".
son:
Archie Macdonald. Born on February 28, 1998; mother, Rachel Fleming.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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