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Olly Blackburn

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Olly Blackburn
Man with open collared shirt and tousled hair looks upwards
Olly Blackburn
Born Oliver Blackburn
London, England
Other names Oliver Blackburn, Ollie Blackburn
Occupation Film director and screenwriter
Years active 1993–present
Known for Donkey Punch, Vinyan
Website Official website

Olly Blackburn (also credited as Oliver Blackburn and Ollie Blackburn) is a film director and screenwriter. Born in London, England, Blackburn had an acting role in the 1982 short comedy film A Shocking Accident; the film won an Academy Award in 1983 for Best Short Subject. He graduated from Oxford University in 1993 where he studied history. Blackburn won a Fulbright Scholarship and pursued graduate studies in film and television at the Tisch School of the Arts. While there, his film Swallowed received New York University's Martin Scorsese Post-Production Award.

Blackburn began his professional film career directing commercials and music videos, and became associated with the film production company Warp X. He served as Second Unit Director on the film Reverb. Blackburn co-wrote and directed Donkey Punch, which was his first film to be shown at the Sundance Film Festival. He shot the film on a £1 million budget over 24 days in South Africa. Movie critics likened his work on the film to filmmaker Peter Berg's Very Bad Things, director Phillip Noyce's Dead Calm, and Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water. He went on to serve as writer for the film Vinyan, which critics compared to two films by director Nicolas Roeg, Don't Look Now and Heart of Darkness.

Early life and education[edit]

Blackburn was born in London, England.[1] In 1982 Blackburn acted in the short comedy film A Shocking Accident directed by James Scott, based on a short story of the same name by Graham Greene.[2] The film won an Academy Award in 1983 for Best Short Subject.[3]

Blackburn received a degree from Oxford University in 1993;[4] he focused on history.[1][5] He subsequently worked in journalism.[4] Blackburn won a Fulbright Scholarship,[1] and studied television and film as a graduate student at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.[1][4][6] While at NYU, Blackburn created a short film titled Swallowed; this work was recognised with the 1996 Martin Scorsese Post-Production Award.[4][7] In an interview with IndieLondon, Blackburn stated his role models include Sam Peckinpah and Michael Powell.[8] While living in New York City, Blackburn and his co-writer for Donkey Punch, David Bloom, stayed in an apartment together for one year.[5][9] Bloom had also been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the United States.[5] In 2009, Blackburn resided in South London.[5]

Film career[edit]

Prior to his work as a film director, Blackburn directed commercials and music videos.[10] He worked on television productions at British film production company Warp X, alongside the company's founder, Robin Gutch.[10]

Blackburn served as Second Unit Director on the film Reverb, written and directed by Eitan Arrusi, and produced by Frank Mannion.[11] Reverb stars Leo Gregory, Eva Birthistle, Margo Stilley, Luke de Woolfson, Stephen Lord, and Neil Newbon.[11][12] The Guardian noted, "In the end, this looks like just another crass, unimaginative and heavy-handed British horror."[13] A review in The Daily Telegraph commented, "Eitan Arrusi's movie appears to have been shot through dirty glass and edited in a blender – it may drive you mad."[14] Total Film observed, "Hidden sounds lead to haunted rooms and tedious occult mythology".[15]

Blackburn directed the 2008 film Donkey Punch, which he co-wrote with David Bloom.[16] His total budget for the film was £1 million.[5][17] Blackburn's production team went through a casting process which took seven months;[18] the film stars Nichola Burley, Tom Burke, Jaime Winstone and Julian Morris.[19][20] He shot the film in South Africa,[18] over 24 days.[10][21] Film shooting for Donkey Punch began in March 2007;[22] during production Blackburn dealt with actors afflicted by hypothermia and tidal surges on location.[8][23] In an interview with Total Film, Blackburn commented, "I think Donkey Punch is an extreme thriller or an extreme reality-based thriller. The whole point of the film is it's grounded in reality."[18] Blackburn wrote that he made Donkey Punch, "to try to push the genre."[23] Donkey Punch received mixed reviews; the film obtained a rating of 50% based on 51 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes,[24] and a score of 43 out of 100 at Metacritic.[25] The Philadelphia Inquirer compared Blackburn's work to films including filmmaker Peter Berg's Very Bad Things and director Philip Noyce's Dead Calm, and wrote, "Donkey Punch offers a gripping mix of sexual heat and nasty menace."[26] The Los Angeles Times additionally compared Blackburn's work to Dead Calm as well as director Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water, and concluded, Donkey Punch isn't without a certain power as it gleefully turns its careless hedonists into caged, paranoid rats."[27] The film was Blackburn's first work to be shown at the Sundance Film Festival,[28] where it received a positive reception from the audience in attendance.[8]

Blackburn served as writer on the film Vinyan, directed by Fabrice Du Welz.[10] Vinyan stars Emmanuelle Béart, Rufus Sewell, and Julie Dreyfus.[29][30] Sky Movies likened Vinyan to Nicolas Roeg's two films Don't Look Now and Heart of Darkness;[31] Blackburn interviewed Roeg in 2008 for Time Out London and noted, "Nic Roeg inspires me."[23] This Is London characterised the film as, "a dark and pessimistic drama which goes slap-happily mad towards the end but keeps you watching all the same."[32] Empire Magazine also compared the film to Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, and concluded, "Horrific and harrowing but the narrative arc could leave the audience unmoved."[33]


Year Film Director Screenwriter Other Notes
1982 A Shocking Accident Yes Actor, (Jerome, aged 9)
1997 Swallowed Yes Yes
1998 Wonderful World Yes Yes
1999 Rabbit Yes
2005 Survivors: Flying Blind Yes
2008 Donkey Punch Yes Yes
2008 Vinyan Yes Director: Fabrice du Welz
2008 Reverb Yes Second Unit Director
2010 One Hundred Years of Evil Yes
2014 Kristy Yes
2016 Victoria Yes TV series (episodes 1.6 to 1.8)
2017 StartUp Yes TV series (episodes 2.1 to 2.5)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Work Category Result
1996 Craft Award To Go Excellence in Production Won[7]
Martin Scorsese Post-Production Award, New York University Swallowed Film Won[4][7]
1997 Telluride International Film Festival Award Swallowed Spielberg's Filmmakers of Tomorrow Won[4]
Craft Award, New York University Excellence in Screenwriting Won[7]
Excellence in Direction Won[7]
Excellence in Production Won[7]
1999 British Television Advertising Craft Award Rabbit Television Won[34]
UK Creative and Design Award Portfolio Best Newcomer Nominated[4]
KinoFilm Short Film Festival Wonderful World Best British Film Won[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Park City '08 Interview – "Donkey Punch" director Olly Blackburn". indieWire. SnagFilms. 7 January 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  2. ^ James Scott; based on the short story by Graham Greene (1982). A Shocking Accident (Film production). United Kingdom: Columbia-EMI-Warner. 
  3. ^ Irving, David K.; Peter W. Rea (2006). Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video. Focal Press. p. 328. ISBN 0-240-80735-9. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Craft: Portfolio Olly Blackburn". MediaWeek. Haymarket Brand Media. 14 May 1999. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Olszewski, Tricia (13 February 2009). "Interview With Donkey Punch Director Olly Blackburn". Washington City Paper. Creative Loafing. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Blackburn, Oliver (2012). "About Olly". Olly Blackburn official website. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Olly Blackburn". United Agents. 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c "Donkey Punch – Olly Blackburn interview". IndieLondon. 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "Olly Blackburn and David Bloom on Donkey Punch". Film4. Channel Four Television Corporation. 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d Gillespie, Michael (10 November 2008). "Director Olly Blackburn talks Donkey Punch". The Skinny. Scotland: Radge Media. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Eitan Arrusi (2008). Reverb (Film production). United Kingdom: Frank Mannion (producer); Reverb Productions, Swipe Films. 
  12. ^ "Reverb". AllRovi. Rovi Corp. 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (5 March 2009). "Film review: Reverb". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  14. ^ Robey, Tim (5 March 2009). "Film reviews: Surveillance, Reverb, Flame and Citron". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  15. ^ Fletcher, Rosie (24 February 2009). "Reverb review". Total Film. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  16. ^ Maher, Kevin (15 July 2008). "Murder most torrid". The Times. Times Newspapers Limited. p. 15. 
  17. ^ Wilkinson, Amber (18 July 2008). "Giving British films some Punch". Eye for Film. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c "Exclusive interview with Oliver Blackburn". Total Film. Future Publishing Limited. 2011. Archived from the original on 10 December 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  19. ^ Oliver Blackburn (2008). Donkey Punch (Film production). United Kingdom: Warp X. 
  20. ^ "Donkey punch (DVD video, 2009)". WorldCat. Online Computer Library Center. 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  21. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (15 January 2008). ""Donkey Punch" co-writer-director, Olly Blackburn". Filmmaker Magazine. Independent Feature Project. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  22. ^ Olly Blackburn (20 June 2008). "News – Self portrait: Olly Blackburn". Edinburgh International Film Festival. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  23. ^ a b c Olly Blackburn (9 July 2008). "Olly Blackburn meets Nic Roeg". Time Out London. 
  24. ^ "Donkey Punch". Rotten Tomatoes. 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  25. ^ "Donkey Punch". Metacritic. 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  26. ^ Rea, Steven (6 February 2009). "Donkey Punch". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  27. ^ Abele, Robert (23 January 2009). "'Donkey Punch' is a cautionary tale for wild girls set". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  28. ^ Mr. Disgusting (2011). "Interview Donkey Punch: Writer/Directory Olly Blackburn". Bloody Disgusting. Bloody-Disgusting LLC. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  29. ^ Fabrice Du Welz (2008). Vinyan (Film production). France: Wild Bunch Distribution, Sony Pictures Releasing. 
  30. ^ "Vinyan (DVD video, 2009)". WorldCat. Online Computer Library Center. 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  31. ^ Evans, Tim (17 October 2009). "Vinyan – Sky Movies HD". BSkyB: Sky Movies. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  32. ^ Malcolm, Derek (2 October 2009). "Parents' jungle terror in Vinyan". This Is London. ES London Limited. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  33. ^ Parkinson, David (4 October 2009). "Empire's Vinyan movie review". Empire. Retrieved 23 February 2009. 
  34. ^ "Oliver Blackburn Biography". Rotten Tomatoes. 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]