My meeting with legendary film producer David Puttnam

Portrait of David Puttnam by Pete Bartlett Photography

This is a portrait I shot of David Puttnam a while ago. I’ve just been reworking it for my portfolio. I’ve got fond memories of the shoot. We met at his club in Westminster. He was really generous with his time, we spent something like an hour and a half together, very unusual for a portrait sittings.

I always read up on the people I shoot before meeting them. I grew up in the eighties so I well remember his films: The Mission, The Killing Fields, Local Hero, Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, some of my favourites of that period. What I hadn’t realised was that his Dad had been a photographer, and that also, before he went into advertising and then film-making, he was an photographer’s agent. He represented David Bailey and Brian Duffy, the giants of the day. I asked him about those parts of his life and we were off and running. It turned into a really fascinating conversation and he ended up telling me about a lot of his adventures in the film industry as well as memories of his Dad and why he went into politics. I remember him going over to Hollywood in the eighties and taking over Columbia Studios, which he described as a nightmare experience. I can’t remember exactly why but I think he was viewed as an outsider and he never felt succeeded over there. He was very modest considering what he’d achieved. I liked him a lot and I hope it shows in the picture.

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