Celebrating his dedication to filmmaking over the past 50 years.
50 years of powerful storytelling and filmmaking is no small feat, especially at the level of expertise, precision and creativity that Director Ridley Scott has operated at so consistently. It is something that has resonated within the industry and we’re pleased to share the latest issue of AdAge features Ridley on the cover! Included in the issue is an exclusive interview covering everything from The Ridley Scott Creative Group and his approach to storytelling, down to why he’s simplified his wheels and still likes to get his hands dirty.
Below are a few excerpts from the full interview between Ridley and AdAge’s Ann-Christine Diaz.
You started out at the BBC. Did you think that was the direction you’d stay in?
I was at BBC [for three years] and enjoyed it enormously, but I saw that it wasn’t for me. And very quickly—I’m very proud of this—I learned to moon-light. I worked for the opposition: commercial TV, as well as independent directors, particularly one guy, Keith Hewitt. He was excellent and he did commercials. And I thought, “That’s what I want to do for a living.”
What was the first commercial you directed?
It was for Gerber baby food. The little chub refused to eat, kept sploshing food all over me.
When did you decide to go out on your own?
After the BBC, I worked for a company called Natural Breaks and [they] asked me to be its director. I accepted and told them, “I’m 29. I’m going to give you one year’s notice. I’m leaving in a year. I’m going to start my own company.” I’ve always been a little bit of a cowboy. You learn by yourself, you never forget the mistakes. You can have any teacher tell you, “Don’t do this” or “Don’t do that” and it’ll go right over your head. When you’re doing it yourself, if you make a mistake, you never forget.
So what’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
Oh, I was warned about the evolution of digital. I didn’t pay attention. I was too busy enjoying myself making films.
Did it matter, though? You’re still here, 50 years later.
Well, it did matter. We were wrong. You’ve got to catch the tiger by the tail.
How did the film work start?
I had thought, “God, I’m never going to make a movie.” I had been going day to day, was constantly busy and [RSA] was growing. When Tony and I started Scott Free, which we wanted to be the long-form side, film people didn’t want commercial-makers, they didn’t think they could do it. But feature films looked archaic, and we knew we could improve the whole quality and level of feature filmmaking. Then I [directed 1977’s] The Duellists and it won at Cannes [for best first feature], and I thought, “That was easy.” And then I did Alien, which was very successful, and I thought, “Gee, this is really easy.” I was applying everything I’d done as a businessman to the process of bring creative.
Talk a little bit about Blade Runner. It was a difficult film to make.
The beginning was terrific. Blade Runner is a very good example of a collaboration between a very good writer [Hampton Fancher] and a very good visual director. I constantly threw problems into the pot and I needed someone like Hampton to be able to write that stuff. He was very, very good. I knew we were making something special because every night there’d be 300 people [coming to] the set. I’d say, “How the hell did these people get through the gates?”
Does all the activism in the world, the people fighting for social justice— there’s Black Lives Matter, Me Too, March for our Lives—affect you as a storyteller?
It has to. We can use media to really great and powerful effect. If we do one more end-of-the-world film, I’ll shoot myself. Being obsessed with issues is only healthy if you try and fix them, right?