Adrian Wootton OBE: A tribute to Tony Elliott

Latest 10 Aug 2020

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Headshot of Time Out founder, Tony Elliott

Tony Elliott, Time Out founder

Tony was a force of nature. A brilliant businessman with real acuity allied with an alternative counter culture sensibility. I loved his insight and empathy.

Today marks the 52nd anniversary of world-renowned listings publication Time Out. Time Out is also this week dedicating the first post-lockdown issue to its late founder, Tony Elliott. So it’s fitting that we, too, dedicate this edition of the Film London newsletter to our late friend and a founding father of our organisation.

Tony was a kind and thoughtful man, a dear friend of mine and patron of Film London from its very beginning. I first met Tony when I was working at the BFI, running BFI South Bank in the early 1990s, where Tony was a Governor and on the BFI Production Board. A keen cinema-goer, Tony assiduously attended events at the BFI, from screenings at the London Film Festival, with Time Out supporting, togeneral events throughout the calendar year. It is through this that I came to know and like Tony enormously.

Some years later, when I was appointed to set up Film London, Tony was recruited as a founder Board Member by our Chair Sandy Lieberson (a life long friend of Tony’s). Incredibly supportive, Tony gave large amounts of his time to the organisation, with particular interest in our talent development programmes for young people, championing our Microwave feature film scheme and our ‘FLAMIN’ Artists Moving Image programme.

Tony also supported Film London’s efforts in international creative exchange. One year, we collaborated with the New York Film Festival, hosting a discussion with director Mike Leigh to coincide with the premiere of Happy Go Lucky. Enthusiastic and determined to help, Tony arranged that Time Out New York would be a partner and produced a special supplement to promote the event, which was a big success. This is just one of many examples of Tony’s dedication and practical support, highlighting how serioushe took his responsibilities for his voluntary non-profit activities.

Even after he finished his term as a Film London Board member, Tony remained an active advocate as one of our ambassadors, continuing to take a keen interest in everything we did.

Tony was a force of nature. A brilliant businessman with real acuity allied with an alternative counter culture sensibility. I loved his insight and empathy. I will, like everyone who ever encountered him, be grateful for being blessed to have known him, and will miss him terribly.

Sir Alan Parker at the Film London Launch

Sir Alan Parker at Film London Launch

I first met Alan in the early 1980s. He was already a very prominent filmmaker, but incredibly kind and generous. He never forgot that I had interviewed him all those years ago.

I would also like to extend my tribute to the late Sir Alan Parker. A filmmaker with outstanding versatility and capacity for big screen story-telling, Parker’s films spanned and defined genres, from first feature and musical Bugsy Malone, through thought provoking thrillers like Midnight Express and Mississippi Burning to major musicals such as Fame and Evita. He was also a vital figure in helping to break down barriers between the UK and US film industries, paving the way for now well-known British creatives to pursue Hollywood careers.

I first met Alan in the early 1980s. I was a 19-year-old student, and a friend and I interviewed the director for a student newspaper, off the back of his making Shoot The Moon. We were gauche young students and he was already a very prominent filmmaker, but incredibly kind and generous. He never forgot that I had interviewed him all those years ago. I also had the pleasure of working with him when he was Chair of successively the BFI and the UK Film Council where in the latter role he helped launch Film London. I echo many in saying he will be sorely missed.

Adrian Wootton OBE

Chief Executive, Film London and the British Film Commission