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Tony Scott and I became friends in the early days of British
Cinema. Tony asked me to join RSA to make commercials after I had designed a
few for him and Ridley, but I had just got the green light on BLACK ANGEL from
George Lucas, so I concentrated on getting that made and a film career. It was a strange time in Britain. Ridley,
Alan Parker and Tony, were especially singled out by the “serious” critics as
being commercial directors who made TV ads and were thus dismissed as
such. Time has shown that these critics
were clearly out of touch with the changes coming and cinema, after all, is a
We both got signed to Paramount under Don Simpson and
Jeffrey Katzenberg as fledgling directors, and both got our first movies at the
same time. We shot our movies back-to-back in Shepperton Studios; Tony on THE
HUNGER and myself making THE SENDER.
We both had horrendous baptisms of fire under producers who
ripped hell out if us. I’d see Tony as we passed between stages looking as
tired as I was, and he’d say how many times you been fired. “One,” I admitted.
“Two me,” he’d grin, and we sped back to work. He got up to
three and myself, two.
Tony broke through after that making TOP GUN, and who can
deny the impact this movie had on cinema. It was deeply commercial, and who
cares? That is what cinema actually excelled at, pleasing mass audiences. His
visceral style was as fast as the way Tony lived life, at 200 mph. He chose “Take
my Breath Away,” which became a massive number one, and directed the music
video in a way that created a new synthesis between pop and cinema. That was
Tony. The song won an Academy Award, and
Tony should have got one himself for that film, or MAN ON FIRE.
We’d never drive with Tony. He could have been a Formula One
driver. In fact, he was clocked at such a high speed on the M1 motorway in
Britain in his Ferrari, they thought it was a low flying aircraft. That was Tony. Bones shattered from Motorbike
crashes; he lived life fully.
He always pushed the
limits, he loved pop culture and used its influence to further influence cinema
style. When he got it right, like MAN ON FIRE, he was untouchable. This film is
arguably his best work, alongside TOP GUN, but he should be honored for always
trying to make cinema more exciting for young audiences. He experimented with
changing shutter speeds to make shots more interesting. I remember talking to
him about this, and how he did it to learn.
Cinema needs its revolutionaries and Tony pushed cinema as
pop culture. His style was different to Ridley’s and always was. His TV ads
were unique, and he made some legendary ones. People always compared them,
sometimes Tony negatively, but what is the point? Tony had his style and
developed it, and made huge worldwide hits. I admire him for sticking to his
guns and being himself. After all, that is the success.
Bless you Tony, we will miss you. The world was getting
excited about TOP GUN 2, and with cinema’s current lack of boundaries of what
can be achieved with CGI, it’s like a toy box that has been opened, I was
impatiently waiting to see what he would bring new to the table this time. A
huge loss to life, and cinema.
Roger Christian is a noted art director and filmmaker whose
decades spanning work includes 1982's
horror classic THE SENDER, which will be profiled in the upcoming FANGORIA #318
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