EXCLUSIVE: Terry O’Neill, the British photographer behind legendary photographs of Faye Dunaway and Elton John, is getting the feature documentary treatment.
Oliver Murray, the filmmaker behind docs including Bill Wyman film The Quiet One and Ronnie Scott portrait Ronnie’s, will direct Iconic: The Terry O’Neill Story.
The feature-length film will be produced by Round World Studios and Iconic Images, the Authentic Brands-backed company that owns O’Neill’s photographic archive. Murray’s Orofena Films will take a co-producer credit and it will be exec produced by Terry Byrne and Eric Woollard-White for Round World Studios, which is also financing, and Robin Morgan, President Iconic Images.
Production is due to start imminently on the film, which will tell the story of O’Neill, who captured frontline of fame over six decades and died in 2019.
From working class London to Hollywood, Terry O’Neill’s candid shots of the famous are now among the world’s most collectable photographic works of art
It will not only chronicle the late photographer’s life, career, and his huge legacy of highly sought-after photographs, many of which now hang in national art galleries and private collections all over the world, it will investigate the photographer’s unique talent to get up close and personal to the most famous people on the planet to earn their trust so much they were happy to drop their guard for him; to capture them in public, in private, on stage or back stage, in their homes, on their tour planes in their most intimate moments and at their most alluring, or vulnerable or powerful.
Famous shots taken by O’Neill include one of his ex-wife Faye Dunaway the morning after her 1977 Oscar win for Network (above), as well as shots of Elton John (left), Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, The Beatles, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Amy Winehouse.
The filmmakers have been granted exclusive access to O’Neill’s complete archive of more than five million images – many of which are still being discovered and digitised – as well as contact sheets, filmed footage and work diaries. Producers will also have access to a retrospective exhibition of his work, which is being planned for 2022.
“Only Terry’s closest friends know the real Terry O’Neill and the secrets that were buried with him. He had a bewitching influence over the most beautiful and influential women on the planet,” said Robin Morgan, who was O’Neill’s closest confidant for more than 30 years. “He had film star looks himself and an easy going, charming but respectful rapport. He once told me he learned everything about women from his friend Frank Sinatra. He even pulled off the impossible – making Her Majesty The Queen drop her guard and chuckle mischievously into his camera.”
“Terry’s personality and creative mind was behind every image, turning musicians, actors, politicians and sports stars into cultural icons, but his own life started a million miles away from this glittering fantasy,” added director Oliver Murray. “This is the story of a working class boy who became one of Britain’s most iconic creatives. With unprecedented access to his images, some of which will be digitised for the first time for this film, and interviews with people who knew him best, we will reveal an intimate portrait of the man as well as his work and legacy.”
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