From directors to producers, my choice for this month’s installment of Britain’s Most Noteworthy Film Professionals hails from Durham, England. After being awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire at the 2003 Queen’s New Year Honours for his contribution to the British film industry, it is only right to acknowledge Ridley Scott as one of the movie industry’s most famous directors/producers.
Born on November 30, 1937, Ridley Scott was born the middle child of three boys in an army family. His father served as an officer in the Royal Engineers and was absent most of his early life. Ridley wanted to follow in the footsteps of his brother and father and join the Royal Army, but his father encouraged him to develop his artistic side instead. Following that advice, Scott first went to West Hartlepool College of Art and then to London’s Royal College of Art where he aided in the origination of the film department.
Ridley Scott took on his first job as a trainee set designer for the BBC in 1962 and worked on several high profile series. He went on to attend a trainee director’s course where he landed his first directing job on an episode of a popular BBC police series. Scott continued his work until frustrated by the small financial rewards where he decided to go into advertising. Along with Tony Scott, his younger brother, he formed Ridley Scott Associates, an advertising production company in 1967. There Scott spent the next ten years making some of the best-loved and known television advertisements on British television.
During the 1970s, Ridley jumped into developing ideas for feature films with producer David Puttnam. Their first project, The Duellists (1977) successfully launched Ridley Scott’s feature film career. His next project, Alien (1979) — a sci-fi horror, dynamically established Ridley’s worldwide reputation as a movie director. From there he went on to direct Blade Runner (1982). While the immediate response was less than excited, the movie’s reputation grew over time as one of the most important sci-fi movies ever made. He went on to create many successful films such as Thelma & Louise (1991), Gladiator (2000), Hannibal (2001), and American Gangster (2007).
Although Scott’s career has seen a few movie flops, such as Legend (1985), his successes have actively offset them leaving his reputation as strong as ever.
In 2004, a BBC poll named Ridley Scott as the tenth most influential person in British culture. On July 3, 2015, Ridley was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Royal College of Art in a ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in London.