EXCLUSIVE: It has been nearly a decade since Ridley Scott had a film here at the Toronto International Film Festival, but his return with The Martian has been met with the best reviews a film at this festival has gotten so far. A near fatal storm and accident results in  botanist Mark Watney [Matt Damon] left for dead during a manned Mars expedition. The drama based on Andy Weir’s novel becomes an exercise in ingenuity and problem solving as NASA tries to keep him alive for the years it will take to rescue him. Watney becomes a futuristic Robinson Crusoe, using his science background to grow food on the planet’s flat barren surface. It gives Scott an opportunity to visually create another universe, a signature of his work ranging from Alien to Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Thelma & Louise, American Gangster, Kingdom of Heaven and most recently Exodus: Gods And Kings. Though he didn’t direct his first film The Duellists until age 40, Scott has made up for lost time and shows no signs of slowing his prolific pace as he turns 78 in November. Aside from directing an epic-sized movie each year–he’s prepping Prometheus 2 to shoot in February–Scott runs the prolific commercials company RSA and produces movies and TV projects through Scott Free, both of which he started with his late brother Tony. Scott keeps a hand in all of it. Here, he talks about his career, and what drives him to greater creative heights at a time in life when most filmmakers are slowing down, only sometimes voluntarily.

the-martianDEADLINE: You are back in space with The Martian. There are themes of science, ingenuity, isolation and survival. What most sparked your interest?
SCOTT: I was offered this, I didn’t develop it. It’s always about the material, with me. The hardest thing is to get it right, on paper and if you do that, the rest for me is easy and it becomes real pleasure. When it’s only half there, it’s a nightmare. I read the script by Drew Goddard, and it was all there. I was fully engaged enough that I stopped what I was doing, and said, I will do this next. I knew right away what to do with it. I was born lucky, with an inner eye so that when I read it, I can see it. And then, making it is dead easy. But first, in a funny way, I vaguely auditioned for Matt.

DEADLINE: What’s that like?
SCOTT: Tricky. But I knew I was going to do it, anyway, and it was really about whether you get on with the guy and I did. The script was so good I didn’t read the book because I didn’t want to meddle. The subtext of humor was marvelous. The subtext of science was fascinating, because I don’t understand shit. I can barely change a light bulb.

John
10 months
Great interview, one of his best! But there are 2 minor mistakes in his recollections: (1.) In...
David
10 months
I'll check it out.
David
10 months
Terrific read. Great interview. I have been a Scott fan since seeing Blade Runner in '82, and...

DEADLINE: That really true?
SCOTT: Yeah…well…not really. I’m a great DIY guy, actually. You need your house painted, I can do it. I’ll do it better than most builders. I did all my own houses, originally.

MartianDEADLINE: You can wire an electrical outlet?
SCOTT: Yes. Change walls, floors, everything. Weirdly enough, I love doing that stuff. And this appealed to me, as a DIY guy. This is the contemporary version of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, who was marooned same as happens to our hero. It becomes, how do you survive? The difference is, our guy has nothing around him. He hasn’t got the jungle, he has to make water, along with every other goddam thing. He’s a scientist, and he works it all out, looking at the math and the maps. It’s an epic, in a real sense. It’s really four quadrants, this story. It’s NASA, a space ship, the JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory], and Mars. I didn’t want to have Matt stuck on a planet all by himself for two hours. What was marvelous is how the story moves around in the cause and effect of what they’re going to do, and how on earth they’re even going to be able to advise him what to do so they can bring him back.

DEADLINE: There’s a long time there where he is alone…
SCOTT: The character is on that planet two and one half years.

DamonBourneDEADLINE: Sandra Bullock did it in Gravity, Tom Hanks in Cast Away and Will Smith in I Am Legend, but not every actor is watchable for long periods, by themselves. How did you know he would be?
SCOTT: His body of work. I’ve watched everything he’s done and he’s a very thinking actor and he never does anything just because he thinks it’s going to be commercial. Story is as important to him as it is with me. I always say my plan is, there is no plan. I read something and say, wow, I like that, and if I can get it, I’ll do it. Matt’s body of work has been so seamless that I knew he could handle it.

DEADLINE: You were once going to direct I Am Legend. What is it with you and these solitary characters?
SCOTT: I’ve always gravitated toward that kind of individual. You always have to have conflict, even in a comedy, and The Duellists had conflict between two characters who forget what their original argument was about so it was the definitive essay on mindless violence. Alien is a survival story where there is finally one person against the creature. What made me feel I could get away with it here was that the humor is so surprising an element in the film, which is the last thing you would expect. It’s not a comedy but some of it is pretty funny.

DEADLINE: You are masterful at creating worlds around these good scripts. To what do you owe that ability and how fast do the visuals come to you when reading the script?
SCOTT: It’s quick. When I read, I get pictures in my head and I always have. It goes back to school, where I was not an academic at all. In History, I’d be doodling and I’d get my head slapped because I’d be totally engrossed in the doodle. I would rather be somewhere else than listen to what Napoleon did in the Peninsula War. My brain just works that way. I’m a visualist who evolved and learned the importance of screenplays and that the most important thing you can do is get the writers you really want, and stay as close to them as possible.

blade runner final cutDEADLINE: How has the development of visual effects technology helped you do things here that weren’t possible when you made Blade Runner and Alien?
SCOTT: In the days of Blade Runner and Alien, there were where I would call matte paintings. We did pretty well with those paintings with Blade Runner, but when you look at them today you can see the seams. In those days, it was good enough, and digital effects didn’t exist. To do Alien, I literally had to have a guy in a black rubber suit. That’s why the film is like Jaws, where you don’t see much of the shark, and you don’t really want to look that closely. In Alien, the scariest of all the films in that series, you don’t see much of the monster, mostly because I was so limited in what I could do. The head. The helmet he had to wear, we went through industrial design and got it down to five pounds, but you wear five pounds and turn your head, and you’re going to crick your neck. Everything was a problem. How do I get the suit to be so tight so that it doesn’t look like a guy in a rubber suit? Today, I can digitally represent that, perfectly. There’s a downside to that as well. If everything can be done perfectly, it gives you massive capability as a filmmaker. You’ve got to watch that you don’t make something so dramatic it becomes not feasible or dramatically dodgy. If I’m going to have an explosion, it can’t be too big that the guy wouldn’t survive.

blackhawk downDEADLINE: You still build a lot of sets, rather rely on green screen that is so common in these kinds of movies. 
SCOTT: If I can afford it, I like to have as much set as I possibly can because my actors need it. Any actor would rather have solid proscenium around them than a green screen, where you tell them the monsters are coming and they’re about to jump off this awful abyss and there’s no abyss there at all. I’d rather have them on the abyss. Black Hawk Down was pretty much me shooting actual guys going through exercises with blanks coming out of 50 caliber shell cases. There were no visual effects there. When those ship things landed in the bloody high street, we landed in the bloody high street. The RPGs were real flying objects; we used this polystyrene thing sprayed black to look exactly like an RPG, with a lead weight in the front, on a wire that was taut and rigged up. You remember Ewan McGregor in that scene where it looked like the side of a house comes down on him? He sees an RPG come at him, it clips off a column and comes right at him? Those are two lines of flying objects and when he ducks, and we ignited the wall, and the whole side of the house falls. That whole side of the house is cork, painted and when it dropped, I thought we’d killed him. I said, You alright, Ewan? When you see him come up, that was real. I said, you alright Ewan? Yeah, I’m fine.

DEADLINE: Alien stamped the way outer space movies are shot. It came not long after Star Wars, which is being revived later this year. Can you recall how seeing that movie the first time affected you?
SCOTT: Absolutely seminal for me, that first one that George Lucas directed. So creatively brilliant that he decided to make it the flip side of the coin to 2001, and it certainly became the flip side of Alien which I would do two years later. George made a fairy tale story, with a princess, the young prince, and the cynical Harrison Ford playing Han Solo. To me, it was an absolutely perfect rendition of a great comic serial. I learned to draw from comic strips, the better ones. I always remembered the early Supermans were better drawn than the later one, and the early Tarzans were spectacularly well drawn, the anatomy of the jungle was great. There’s artistry in comic strips and George was obviously a devotee of that and what he did was brilliant.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Chewbacca Han SoloDEADLINE: What was your take away?
SCOTT: I canceled the film I was going to do, after I saw Star Wars. I’d finished The Duellists, which upon reflection is a good film that got a prize at Cannes. God bless Paramount for giving me $800,000 to make it, but they didn’t know what to do with it. If it had been 25 years later, you’d have had Harvey Weinstein or someone. But after it got the Grand Jury Prize, some bright spark saw the film and said, why don’t we give Ridley Alien? God knows why, but I had been a designer; my first job in television was as a set designer, and I was a devotee of comic strips. I enjoyed making The Duellists so much that I decided, with David Putnam, that I’d do Tristan and Isolde. I was in LA to show The Duellists and David said, there’s a film called Star Wars at the Chinese. I can get two tickets, do you want to go? I think you should go.

death starWe went to an afternoon performance at 2:00, I was eight rows from the front with David Putnam. I never saw or felt audience participation like that, in my life. The theater was shaking. When that Death Star came in at the beginning, I thought, I can’t possibly do Tristan and Isolde, I have to find something else. By the time the movie was finished, it was so stunning that it made me miserable. That’s the highest compliment I can give it; I was miserable for week. I hadn’t met George at that point, but I thought, Fu*k George. Then, somebody sent me this script called Alien. I said, wow. I’ll do it. I was the fifth choice. They’d been to people like Robert Altman. How could you offer Robert that movie? He’d be like, this thing comes out of his chest, are you kidding? But I knew what to do. I read it and said, I’ll do it! I’d been in Hollywood 22 hours. They said, ‘do you want to change anything?’ Nope. ‘Do you…?’ Nope. I love it. I love it. I’m in.

2001DEADLINE: So Ridley Scott’s Alien exists, thanks to Star Wars?
SCOTT: Thanks to Star Wars, and to Stanley Kubrick for the way he influenced George and definitely influenced me, with 2001. The design on 2001…that’s the threshold for everything being real. You look at 2001 and you look at Star Wars. Stanley’s design influenced everybody. I’ve never shaken it off; it influenced me even with Prometheus. Stanley really got it right. Stanley was like the Big Daddy, so I never got jealous of him. I watched his 18th Century film Barry Lyndon when I was about to do The Duellists and I’d go, wow Stanley, you did all that in one shot. Hmm. Stanley was like the godfather. There’s a certain level of director where we all feed off each other. It’s like a painter who looks at the work of a peer and goes, damn. The influences can come even from brand new work, because I look at everything. Everything. Most of it is not so good.

alien-3DEADLINE: Alien set a high bar for filmmakers like James Cameron when he made that film’s sequel…
SCOTT: He felt it was hard to follow, because it was so frightening and so fresh, and no one had ever seen that before. I remember getting into such a fight with the studio because I wanted to use H.R. Giger and they thought it looked obscene. I said, are you kidding me? Obscene is good! We’re doing an R rated movie. I want to make you uncomfortable, apart from the fact that it’s scarier than sh*t. Comics might disagree, but it’s easier to make people laugh than it is to really scare the daylights out of them. I’ve never done anything I regretted, though.

hannibal movieDEADLINE: Even when you had Ray Liotta being fed his own brain by Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal?
SCOTT: Oh, no. I thought that was great. Someone said, you can’t do this. I said, have you read the book? Not only can I do it, I want to make it quite amusing. Tom Harris is a good writer and that book was operatic in its violence and its concept. I loved going to Florence and shooting that scene where he executed Pazzi, the Italian detective played by Giancarlo Giannini. That was modeled after an actual execution of a member of the Pazzi family in the 15th Century, by the wealthy de Medici family. The reason Pazzi was executed that way, where his tripes came out of his stomach and dangled and fell to the cobblestones below, was that a Pazzi assaulted one of the family in the church where we saw the opera, and they hung him from that balcony. And then the other guy is punished, fed his own cooked brain. I thought it was fun.

pazziDEADLINE: In the Tom Harris book, Lecter and Clarice Starling ended up together as a couple.
SCOTT: I just couldn’t buy that.

DEADLINE: Prometheus ended with Noomi Rapace’s Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and the robot’s head, taking off to find the engineers, the ancient architects that created civilization. Will Michael Fassbender be lending his head, and presumably the rest of himself, for that sequel, even though it was reported he would do The Snowman?
SCOTT: Oh, yes. He and I are friends, because we also did The Counselor. And, I love The Counselor. No one else seemed to.

DEADLINE: I thought it was a wild ride.
SCOTT: The actors were great, but the writing was fantastic. That was a great narrative, wasn’t it?

counselorDEADLINE: From the time Cormac McCarthy sold his script to the get you and that great cast committing, to the start of production was incredibly fast. Why didn’t it connect with audiences?
SCOTT: I think people were horrified, but I don’t know quite why. I was very cautious about not showing too much violence, until the end. I thought the intellectual complexity of it was just brilliant, the screenplay was bloody marvelous. Fassbender read it and said, this is about the best thing I’ve ever read. But it didn’t play. I think Fox may have gotten afraid of it. I am not a believer in previews because you ask people to sit down and do something they’re never asked to, which is to become critics. At the end, the studio attempts to get scientific. I say, if you need to have a preview, ask four questions and be done. Don’t start with, what did you think of the color of his shirt? Suddenly, they get into all the ridiculous details and unpick the play. I am very proud of that film. But Fassbender will do this one with me, and it’s meant to start production in February. I’m in prep, now. I’ll either shoot in Aussie, or here.

Prometheus_movie_exploring-caveDEADLINE: Where do you take the Prometheus 2 plot?
SCOTT: You can either say, leave the first film alone and jump ahead, but you can’t because it ends on too specific a plot sentence as she says, I want to go where they came from, I don’t want to go back to where I came from. I thought the subtext of that film was a bit florid and grandiose, but it asks a good question: who created us? I don’t think we are here by accident. I find it otherwise hard to believe you and I are sitting here at this table, because the molecular miracles that would have had to occur were in the trillions, since the first sign of human life that crawled out of the mud with four fingers, would bloody well be impossible, unless there was some guidance system. Also, you have the sun approximately the same distance from earth as it is from maybe millions of planets and planetoids that are almost identical distance and therefore enjoy the value of sunlight on their soil. Are you telling me there are no other planets with human life? I simply don’t believe it.

space oddyseyThat raises the question to me, same as was depicted in 2001 when that object comes hurtling through space, and lands in Ethiopia. And an ape that had been grubbing around in the water hole with all of them bickering at each other, goes up and touches it. He has a bigger thought injected into his brain than Newton got sitting under a tree and seeing an apple fall. Stanley then picks something metaphorically poetic in its violence, as the ape picks up a hip bone and brains the anteater so they can eat him. That is one gigantic, magnificent leap of a thousand years of evolution; that is where the world begins. It is pretty grand thinking, and that’s what I want to explore. You’ve got to go back and find those engineers and see what they are thinking. If engineers are the forerunners of us, and therefore were creators of life forms in places that were possible for biology to function, who created that? Where’s the big boy? You think this was all an accident? I don’t know. Even Stephen Hawking now says, I am not sure. He no longer believes in the big bang.

DEADLINE: Based on all the press I read about Exodus, I thought you were an atheist.
SCOTT: I’m not, really. I’m a logical agnostic. I keep asking questions, and keep going back to…how can this be…we’re it? Come on. But there is no perfect answer.

VFX scene from Exodus: Gods and KingsDEADLINE: Exodus was visually overwhelming, you created that ancient world and brought the plagues in all their vivid horror, and yet the fixation was on how you didn’t hire indigenous actors in the lead roles. In hindsight, is there something you might have done differently?
SCOTT: Nah. Some have said, isn’t Christ black? He could have been. It depends on what part of North Africa he comes from, but how do we know? The short sharp crude answer is, I couldn’t get a film like that mounted for that kind of budget—we were $145 million, not $260 million, so that wasn’t bad– but to make Moses black and his wife Ethiopian? They never would have made the movie.

DEADLINE: Woody Allen told me this year that he considers it a necessary luxury to not answer to anybody, show scripts or give input into casting from his backers, as seductive as working on a big film might be. He marveled over how you and Martin Scorsese navigate bureaucracy and not let it corrupt your artistic vision. What’s your view of the process nowadays of making these big films for studios going for the widest possible global audience?
SCOTT: You have to bear a responsibility to the somebody giving you all this money. Someone gave me $800,000 for my first movie, and I was very respectful of the responsibility to that entity and I have never forgotten that. Whatever they have to say, I listen to it and take it seriously. There’s a fiscal responsibility for a director who wants to do movies on this scale. You have to be that way, otherwise you’re an idiot. I’m a very practical man. Have I got an artistic side? Clearly. But I don’t carry that on my shoulder. I tend to hide it. And I run a company in RSA and [fiscal responsibility] is why we’re still here after 60 directors and 44 years. Some of those directors are logically able to do features, but a lot don’t want to bother because they don’t want to answer to everybody’s opinions. When the budgets get big, those studios will have an opinion.

kingdom of heavenDEADLINE: That said, the best cuts of Kingdom of Heaven and Blade Runner are the ones you made, and not the ones the studios released.
SCOTT: That’s true.

DEADLINE: On which did you wage the toughest battle to see your vision end up on the screen?
SCOTT: I think Kingdom of Heaven, in a funny kind of way,  is one of my better movies. The one regret was removing 17 minutes. My reference before, about being blunt, sitting in the editing room, night after night after night, and usually you end up with a drink in you after shooting all day…well, I was persuaded by the studio that this 17 minute departure wasn’t necessary.

kingdom of heaven eva greenDEADLINE: What happened in that scene?
SCOTT: It fundamentally explained the death of Sybilla’s son. Bill Monahan and I had read this historical note that her leper king brother died at 25. By the time he was 19, he had to wear a silver mask because you could not look on him. He was tied into the saddle and would go into battle with the sword in his hand. He contracted a virulent form of leprosy at 15. She saw the last of her brother before he put the mask on, which is why I had her going to his death bed, raising the mask to look at him, and loving him, nevertheless. What I cut out was, her son, signing documents because he would now be the prince regent. Somebody lifted the wax seal and the hot wax speckles across his hand, and the kid doesn’t even notice. He’s signing away and you cut to the bed and someone is distracting the child with a doll, making the kid laugh. A doctor has his foot, and is poking him with a needle and the kid doesn’t notice. And so we get that he might have leprosy. And from there, she euthanizes the child, which is like, [he gasps]. That we got from history, where it was said the boy died mysteriously. Rumor is, the mother could not bear to see him go through what his uncle went through. I took that out. Quite rightly, the French actress who played her [Eva Green] was furious with me, and I got a right verbal lashing. But it came out in the digital long version. I regretted that, but I still love that film.

Blade Runner: The Final CutDEADLINE: Blade Runner?
SCOTT: Well, that was a nightmare. The biggest problem, is, I was the new kid on the block in Hollywood. I had done The Duellists, which a lot of studio people would never have made, but loved that it got made because it was such a beautiful film. Then I made Alien, which was like, wow, formidable in terms of box office. So now I’m doing a film in Hollywood, and I’m driving through the studio gates, thinking I’m in seventh heaven. Don’t forget, I’m 44, with an office in New York and L.A., I’m a businessman. And suddenly people are saying, what are you doing here, why did you do that for, and why is it always raining? And the questions start to irritate the sh*t out of me, because I’m not used to it. I respond by saying, no, I’m doing it my way. They said, you’re taking too long. I wasn’t allowed to use the crew I had, I was forced to use new crews and not my guys, after I’d been the camera operator on my two movies and 2000 commercials. When I got into Hollywood, the process I had to go through drove me crazy. I went up against a big wave, I stood my ground and so I became very unpopular. I knew what I had but Blade Runner previewed disappointingly. A few people came up and said, fantastic movie. But they whispered it. It only resurrected by accident 15 years later, when there had been a groundswell of fans, probably through MTV and some freaks…

DEADLINE: There were many videos on that channel that lifted the look of Blade Runner…
SCOTT: Yeah. They asked for a film print to open up the Santa Monica Film Festival, and what happened was, Warner Bros had lost the print and the negative. Someone went to a drawer and found a print that didn’t have the score, but rather a bit of Jerry Goldsmith and Vangelis on it. They sent that uncut version, before I mixed it and it got into trouble. And people loved it. That’s how that happened.

DEADLINE: Why didn’t you direct the sequel?
SCOTT: Alcon bought the title, and asked if I had any ideas. I did. So fundamentally it’s my essay about what happens and what the film is about. I was going to get writers, but decided to call up my old buddy Hampton Fancher because he walks the walk and talks the talk, albeit in these awful sandals. We came up with a nice tight target. He said he wouldn’t write the screenplay, but wrote a short novel. This was one of the writers I had the best experience with, on the original Blade Runner, meeting him every day, polishing the script. We’d solve one problem and there would be another. It drove him crazy but what happened is that what started off as a small contained play inside an apartment, and into an epic. The new one, we’ve got a very good director in Denis Villenueve. He has taken my script, from Hampton and Michael Green, and that’s what he’ll make. I can’t direct them all, and I have to do Prometheus.

The CartelDEADLINE: Then you just signed on for the adaptation of the Don Winslow novel The Cartel, about the drug war in Mexico…
SCOTT: And there is also Flashman, the George MacDonald Fraser novel, set in the 1850s in the Charge of the Light Brigade. He’s a rutter, a cad, a ne’er do well, asshole, totally charming, shags every lady who sets eyes on him, and actually is a coward but always comes up smelling like roses. Even after the Charge of the Light Brigade, where his horse got away from him and everyone thought he raced to the front line when what happened is, he lost the reins. Fox bought that series of books for me. Cartel is, in a word, The Godfather, in the subtext of what makes that sick business tick. I’ve been getting to the heart of it all because you aren’t going to stop them. It’s becoming an army problem, and they have their own armies. It’s this melting pot of evil; you can’t call that business anything other than evil, and the idea a guy trained special forces goes to work for the cartel is disgraceful. Leo’s company, and Marty, all pursued it but Fox got it for me.

DEADLINE: Quentin Tarantino told me he plans to retire before it’s not possible that his next film could be his best film because he has gotten to the point where he is repeating himself. He noted you and Tony as rare exceptions to that rule. As one so prolific at 78, what is your philosophy?
SCOTT: I’ll put it this way. I think that dogs are better than people, but this is better than walking dogs.

DEADLINE: What do you mean?
SCOTT: I mean, what are you going to do all day if you’re not working, walk the spaniel? That’s boring. Bring the spaniel with you. This work is invigorating. To work is life. I live to work, not work to live, you know?

DEADLINE: What do you understand now about how to make yourself happy, that you didn’t when you were on the way up?

Four Oscar nominations and two wins over the years and a DGA nomination this year but despite Best Picture and Best Actor noms there was no Best Director to make the American Sniper helmer’s day.

SCOTT: To be confident. I’m more confident now because, this sounds awful, but I’m questioned less because I’ve been around longer than anyone else except Clint Eastwood. I had dinner with him four years ago. The first thing is, he’s a big guy. I told him, when I’d just started art school at 18 or 19 I’d get back just in time to watch something called Rawhide on the black and white TV. He goes, mmm, hmm. I said, yeah. You were Rowdy Yates and he goes, mmm, hmm, Rowdy Yates. I don’t think he liked being reminded that he’s been in the business 60 fu*king years. I said, yeah, it was a good show. The best of the Westerns and I always wanted to do a Western because of that show. There was a guy who drowned during shooting, fording a river with horses and cows as they used the real thing in those days, and the horse fell on him and he drowned. And Clint said, that’s why he stayed in Italy and there he met this guy named Sergio Leone who said, you want to do a Western? It’s unbelievable. Clint’s 84. And how old is Woody? A year older than me?

DEADLINE: You are all going strong. What is it that gives you such stamina at 78? Genetics? Do you live a monastic life? Do you drink wine? What’s the secret?
SCOTT: I don’t know. I do drink wine, but I control it. Because I have a vineyard and you have to. But if you drink wine, decant it, pump out the air and save the other half till the next day because it’s too easy to go through a full bottle of wine. I also drink vodka and I paint, quite seriously. That goes back to my time at the Royal College. I was there the same year as David Hockney, whom I have great admiration for and who is one of the most important painters today. A lot of fine painter came out of there, but I couldn’t handle a blank canvas every day with a pack of cigarettes. It’s a bit like playing golf, in that you’re playing yourself. You can go out one day and hit it down the green, and painting is the same. You do what you did yesterday, look at it and go, aw, shi*t, and start scraping it out again.

tony_ridley_scottDEADLINE: Your late brother Tony would talk about how much he owed his big brother for inspiring him. Which of his films and his visceral kinetic style did you find most inspiring?
SCOTT: I loved all of his films, all of them. They were so busy. I would look, and say, no, it’s too busy, why is the camera doing that [he shakes in a herky jerky motion]? And he would say, why is yours so still? So Tony and I would never, ever produce something together, because there would be blood on the tarmac. But we were the best of friends. Back in 1959, the beginning of summer holiday, I said, get out of bed, we’re going to make a movie. This was 5 AM, and if I didn’t do that he would lie there until 2 PM. I said, get up. Dad’s given us the car. I had this little camera and I’d written a script. I said, you’re the actor. Have you ever seen Boy And Bicycle? Oh, it’s really good. I went out with an instruction book about filters and stuff like that. He was 15, and I was 21. He would carry equipment, go get cigarettes and these horrible sandwiches for lunch, and then we’d shoot and I’d edit the film in the archives of the British Film Institute. The great thing was, I gradually watched the cause and effect of making that movie. It was a training ground for him, his path to life. He took it up, followed me and got into the Royal College of Art and when he was done, I said, alright, we’re going into business together.

boy-and-bicycleDEADLINE: So you helped light his fuse?
SCOTT: Oh, yes. I could see him going, hmm, this is better than fu*king around for six weeks on summer holiday.