Exclusive Interview With Anthony Geffen

Exclusive Interview With Anthony Geffen

Another night and another red carpet premiere. This time for The Wildest Dream, a dramatised documentary following mountain climber Conrad Anker as he retraces the final steps of the legendary George Mallory to the top of Everest. Narrated by Ralph Fiennes, the late Natasha Richardson, Hugh Dancy and Alan Rickman, the film is directed by Anthony Geffen in his first collaboration with executive producer Mike Medavoy.

Held at the BFI IMAX, the charity premiere was in memory of Richardson with proceeds going to NAT (National AIDS Trust) where the actress was an ambassador. The event was attended by Leo Houlding, the British rock-climber, also featured in the film. To kick things off, Leo performed a daring stunt which involved him scaling the outer glass walls of the IMAX before cracking open a bottle of champagne with a sword!

Also in attendance were former Bond girl Maryam D’Abo, Sir David Attenborough and the director Anthony Geffen whom I managed to get an interview with.

Geffen has been making documentary films for the past 25 years. Before founding Atlantic Productions in 1992 he worked for the BBC and his credits include the Emmy-winning feature-length documentary Jerusalem: City of Heaven, Hirohito: Behind The Myth and The Promised Land. The Wildest Dream is his first theatrical release and I was eager to catch up with him and find out about his fascination with George Mallory. Mallory of course, disappeared while on his way up Everest in 1924, never to be seen again until Conrad Anker discovered his body 75 years later.

PATRICK: Would you say that George Mallory was a kind of childhood hero of yours?

ANTHONY: Yes! I would say he was. He’s someone I grew up with, like a lot of English kids and I was fascinated by him, fascinated by the mystery of the story.

The mystery being whether or not Mallory made it to the summit. Had he made it to the top, he would have been the first man to climb Everest. What makes his story so fascinating is that he was torn between his love for Everest and his devoted wife Ruth. He carried a picture of her with him and promised to place it on the top of Everest when he got there. 75 years later when Conrad found him, Mallory’s personal effects were still in tact, but Ruth’s picture was nowhere to be found. Did he make it to the top of Everest after all?

PATRICK: Now that you’ve been to Everest, what is it like to stand there and look out at the world?

ANTHONY: Slightly weird because you kind of push yourself to the limit and you go to the limit and to the edge as it were and when you come back you sometimes think “well, things don’t matter” because six people died while I was on Everest, not on my expedition, but there’s 200 bodies up there. It’s a very tough place and when you come back you rationalise things a bit.

PATRICK: At which point did you decide that you wanted to film with Conrad Anker?

ANTHONY: As soon as he found the body. I realised that the two lives had been connected; Mallory’s and his life. He had sort of been driven on by the whole thing.

PATRICK: Now that you’ve formed Geffen Medavoy Pictures with executive producer Mike Medavoy, what kind of films can we expect?

ANTHONY: Well, I think there’ll be more of these kinds of films; big large scale documentary dramas, but there’ll also be some 3D films and we will collaborate on some drama films. I think the films we’ll concentrate on are very powerful, personal stories, like for example the Shackleton story that we’ve got in development at the moment which will be shot on a big scale; a theatrical scale. So strong stories, big theatrics and probably 3D and that’s what we feel we should be bringing to the world’s cinemas right now.

Also in development is Dinosaurs Resurrected, a 3D presentation which will use a blend of scientific discoveries and CGI animation to shed new light on the dinosaur world.

PATRICK: Is the Shackleton story likely to be first one released or Dinosaurs Resurrected?

ANTHONY: They’re both in the pipeline, so there’ll be one very soon.

Very exciting news indeed, so keep your eyes peeled for more Geffen Medavoy Pictures. In the meantime, we’ll have a review of The Wildest Dream for you very soon.

The Wildest Dream opens at the BFI IMAX and select cinemas across the UK from 24th September, 2010.

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