Orson Welles’ house cleaner. (Really!). Needed money when I was at film school and got a job cleaning Orson Welles’ London home for ten shillings an hour.
1st published piece:
A news cutting I sent to Private Eye in 1965 about US inventor Reuben Tice, who was killed when a machine he had invented for de-wrinkling prunes exploded.
Film & Television:
My first professional writing job was on Polka Dot Door, a daily TV show for pre-school children in Canada. I then turned to making films, and was involved mostly as a producer, financier and sometimes as writer on the following:
- Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (Dir. Bob Clark)
- Dead of Night (Lynn Carlin and John Marley. Dir. Bob Clark)
- Sunday in the Country (Ernest Borgnine & Michael J Pollard)
- The Neptune Factor (Ernest Borgnine, Ben Gazzara, Walter Pigeon and Yvette Mimieux. Dir Dan Petrie. Prod Sandy Howard)
- Blue Blood (Oliver Reed and Derek Jacobi)
- Malachi’s Cove (Donald Pleasence)
- The Blockhouse (Peter Sellers, Charles Aznavour, Jeremy Kemp)
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time (Isaac Hayes and Stephanie Powers)
- Find The Lady (Mickey Rooney, Peter Cook and Alexandra Bastedo)
- Spanish Fly (Terry Thomas and Leslie Phillips)
We also had substantial involvement in:
- Under Milk Wood (Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor)
- Shivers (Ivan Reitman/David Cronenberg)
- Blood Orgy of the She-Devils
- I Dismembered Mama
- The Corpse Grinders
My first novel, ‘Dead Letter Drop’ was published in 1981. From then until 2005 when I decided to concentrate totally on writing novels, I divided my time between an involvement in several businesses, including my family business, Cornelia James, and writing and developing film and television.
From 1980-1985 I bought the rights to all 93 Biggles books and was very involved in bringing to the screen Biggles (Peter Cushing, Alex Hyde-White, dir. John Huff) in 1985. The film had a Royal Premiere in the presence of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
In 1993 I co-founded Pavilion Internet plc, one of the first Internet Service Providers in the UK, which we sold to Easynet in 1998.
In 1997, together with producer and music writer James Simpson (most famed for his No 1 hit, The Chicken Song in the smash hit TV show Spitting Image) I co-founded Ministry of Vision Ltd, a film and television development company. We made the 10-part series Hypnosex, for Channel Four, and in partnership with Objective Television, the 6-part Rose D’Or nominated series Bedsitcom, also for Channel 4, and in partnership with Sony, the 10-episode series Time Travellers for network ITV.
In 2001 we co-founded Movision Entertainment Limited where I was CEO until 2005. Movision produced thirteen films on which I am an Executive Producer:
- Five Moons Square Starring: Donald Sutherland, Stefania Rocca and Giancarlo Giannini
Director: Renzo Martinelli
- Jericho Mansions Starring: James Caan, Jennifer Tilly, Genevieve Bujold, Maribel Verdu.
Director: Alberto Sciamma
- A Different Loyalty Starring: Sharon Stone, Rupert Everett
Director: Marek Kanievska
- Head in the Clouds Starring: Penelope Cruz, Charlize Theron, Stuart Townsend
Director: John Duigan
- The Bridge of San Luis Rey Starring: Robert De Niro, Kathy Bates, Gabriel Byrne & Harvey Keitel
Director: Mary McGuckian
Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel
- The Statement Starring: Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Northam
Director: Norman Jewison
- The Last Sign Starring: Andie MacDowell, Bruce Greenwood, Jacqueline Bisset
Director: Douglas Law
- Merchant Of Venice Starring: Al Pacino, Joseph Fiennes, Jeremy Irons
Director: Michael Radford
- Bailey’s Billions Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Jon Lovitz, Tim Curry, Dean Cain
Director: David Devine
- River King Starring: Edward Burns, Jennifer Ehle
Director: Nick Willing
- Guy X Starring: Jason Isaacs, Natascha McElhone, Jason Biggs
Director: Saul Metzstein (Late Night Shopping)
- Perfect Creature Starring: Dougray Scott and Saffron Burrows