Thursday, February 19, 2015

Living the dream: Longevity in Hollywood

With a strong showing by British nominees for this year's Oscars, Hollywood is once again hailing British talent in the film industry. It is a familiar story. Colin Welland famously proclaimed at the 1982 Academy Awards ceremony that "the British are coming". That was the year Chariots of Fire swept the board with four Oscars, including Best Picture. It was also the year that Arnold Schwartzman won an Oscar for Best Documentary. London-born Schwartzman grew up in 1940s England with a childhood dream that he would one day work in Hollywood.

He started as an assistant projectionist in Margate. He was infatuated with the movies, but launched a career as a graphic artist. In television he made logos for the seminal pop show Ready, Steady, Go! He also worked in the music business, rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. His big break came when he was offered a job in Los Angeles as a graphic artist. He was soon making films. A collaboration with the Simon Wiesenthal Center led to the production of Genocide, a film about the Holocaust, which won him the Academy Award. 

He later went on to develop a long relationship with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, designing Oscars posters, billboards, cinema trailers and printed programmes for the Awards ceremony. To mark Schwartzman's six decades in film and graphic art, an exhibition of his work is on display at the Christopher Guy Showroom in West Hollywood until 25 February.