Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Producer, Director, Assistant director, Location manager, Script reader
This grandson of the famed Hungarian emigre screenwriter-director Emeric Pressburger worked his way up from low level jobs to become an important and influential film producer. Born in Glasgow, Andrew Macdonald was not interested in movies until he saw Franc Roddam's "Quadrophenia" (1979) and then turned to his famous grandparent for advice and inspiration. He began his career working on films made by students at London's National Film School in the mid-1980s and landed his first "professional" gig as a go-fer on Hugh Hudson's "Revolution" (1985). After studies at the American Film Institute, Macdonald worked as assistant to Zelda Barron on "Shag" (1988) before returning to his native Scotland. In the course of a few short years, he graduated from working as a location manager in film and TV to filmmaker, directing and/or producing a handful of shorts, some in tandem with his brother Kevin. A fortuitous introduction to John Hodge at the 1990 Edinburgh Film Festival led to a creative partnership that blossomed with 1993's quirky thriller "Shallow Grave." Macdonald debuted as producer, Hodge, a physician by trade, wrote the script and Danny Boyle joined the team as director.The Scottish-produced "Shallow Grave," a tale of betrayal and greed among a trio of roommates (played by Christopher Eccleston, Kerry Fox and Ewan McGregor), proved and international hit, except in the USA. Made on a budget of $2 million, it grossed $27 million world-wide, enough to catch the attention of Hollywood. The trio solidified their standing as hip British moviemakers with their sophomore effort, the splashy and surrealistic "Trainspotting" (1996). Hodge earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay adapted from Irvine Welsh's novel about a group of heroin addicts and critics praised Boyle's hyperactive direction. With Ewan McGregor heading the cast (which included Kevin McKidd, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle), "Trainspotting" proved controversial in its realistic depiction of drug use (which some critics felt was glamorized) and catapulted Macdonald to the A list. Offers from Los Angeles quickly followed, but he and Boyle opted to lend their backing as executive producers of "Twin Town" (1997), a darkly comic look at a pair of Welsh brothers who terrorize their locality. Turning down Hollywood fare like the fourth installment in the "Alien" franchise, Macdonald, Boyle and Hodge reunited with McGregor for "A Life Less Ordinary" (1997), a film that was designed in part to be an "hommage" to the Powell-Pressburger films of the 1940s but which critics and audiences dismissed. The threesome continued their creative partnership on a handful of subsequent projects including the "Alien Love Triangle" segment of "Light Years" (lensed 1998) which teamed Kenneth Branagh, Courteney Cox and Heather Graham, and the highly anticipated "The Beach" (2000), an adaptation of Alex Garland's novel that marked the first leading role for Leonardo DiCaprio post-"Titanic."Determined to resuscitate the moribund British film industry, Macdonald entered into partnership with Duncan Kenworthy (best recalled as the producer of such popular fare as 1994's "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and 1999's "Notting Hill") and formed DNA Films in early 1997. The pair were awarded 29 million pounds from the Arts Council of England to fund a slate of 16 motion pictures over a five-year period to be distributed by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment. DNA Films announced its first projects, an adaptation of the novel "Kansas in August" to be directed by Angela Pope and "Night of the Creatures" scripted by Simon Donald, in 1998 and 1999 respectively. The 1999 sale of PolyGram, however, led to a distribution deal with Universal and neither of the DNA Films had yet to go before the cameras as of summer of that year.