Pen Densham

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Pen Densham
CFC in L.A. 17(Pen Densham).jpg
Pen Densham attends The Canadian Film Centre cocktail reception celebrating the Telefilm Canada Features Comedy Lab held at Avalon Hotel on 9 March 2011 in Beverly Hills, California
Born (1947-10-14) 14 October 1947 (age 71)[1]
Ruislip, Middlesex, United Kingdom
OccupationFilm and television writer, producer, and author

Pen Densham (born 14 October 1947, Ruislip, Middlesex, United Kingdom) is a British-Canadian film and television producer, writer, director, author and photographer,[2][3] known for writing and producing films such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves[4] and television revivals of The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone, as well as writing, producing and directing MGM's Moll Flanders.[5]

Early life[edit]

Born in England in 1947, to parents Raymond Densham who both worked in the British film industry,[4] Densham left school at age 15 and was hired by British TV to photograph The Rolling Stones, selling pictures to national magazines. At 19 he moved to Canada where he directed commercials and documentaries, working with Marshall McLuhan.

Densham went on to found Insight Productions in Toronto with John Watson. The company gained recognition for documentaries such as Life Times Nine, one of two Insight films that earned Academy Award nominations. In total, Densham and Watson received over 70 international awards for their works as well as medals from the Queen of England for their contribution to the Arts of Canada. The first drama Densham wrote and directed, If Wishes Were Horses, won 14 awards, was reviewed by TV guide as "The best film of any length shown on Canadian TV", and brought Densham's work to the attention of Norman Jewison. Jewison, with Telefilm Canada, sponsored Densham to move to Hollywood.

Career[edit]

Trilogy Entertainment Group[edit]

In Hollywood Densham and Watson founded Trilogy Entertainment Group.[6] They were employed as creative consultants on films such as Rocky II and Footloose. In 1988 Densham directed Trilogy's first studio feature, The Kiss,[7] for Tri-Star. In 1990 Densham re-envisioned the Robin Hood story, creating a new characterization and adding new concepts. Densham and Watson sold their spec script for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and produced the film for Morgan Creek Productions and Warner Brothers. The film became one of Warner Brothers' largest grossing movies ever, spinning off games, toy lines and the No. 1 music single from Bryan Adams, "Everything I Do, I Do It For You". In the same year they were producers on Backdraft with Ron Howard directing for Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures. Backdraft generated one of the longest-lasting attractions at the Universal Studios Tour.

Inspired by the loss of his mother, Densham wrote and directed a personal version of Moll Flanders for MGM and Spelling Entertainment, based loosely on the novel by Daniel Defoe, starring Morgan Freeman and Robin Wright. Densham also wrote and directed Houdini, an $8 million TNT feature for television starring Johnathon Schaech, Mark Ruffalo and Emile Hirsch.

In television Densham wrote and supervised the re-franchising of The Outer Limits science fiction anthology series, which he executive-produced with his partners for its award-winning seven-year-run on American television. In the process Densham earned the unique distinction of being named number eight in the 50 Most Powerful People in Science Fiction list compiled by Cinefantastique magazine. In 2003 he re-introduced The Twilight Zone fantasy anthology series to American audiences on UPN.

Emergence as an author[edit]

Densham became a published author with his book about screenplay writing and selling creativity in Hollywood, Riding The Alligator: Strategies for a Career in Screenplay Writing (And Not Getting Eaten), published by Michael Wiese Books in January 2011.[8] The title comes from the cover photo of Densham at the age of four astride a live seven-foot alligator in one of his parents' theatrical short films. Written with the goal of supporting emerging creative people finding their own voice and path through the Hollywood industry as well as artistic endeavors in general, the book includes supportive essays by professional screenwriters Shane Black, Nia Vardalos, Andrea Berloff, Eric Roth, John Watson, Robin Swicord, Todd Robinson, Alan McElroy, Anthony Peckham, Ron Shelton and Laeta Kalogridis. The book received positive reviews from Academy Award-winning writer-director-producers like Paul Haggis and Ron Howard, as well as actors like Jeff Bridges, Morgan Freeman, Robin Wright and Emile Hirsch.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Film Producer Director Writer Other Notes
1973 Life Times Nine Yes Documentary short

Nominated - Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film

Streetworker Yes Documentary short
1974 Thoroughbred Yes Yes Yes Yes Documentary short
Also cinematographer
1978 F.I.S.T. yes Creative Consultant
Directed by Norman Jewison
1979 Rocky II Yes Supervisor: Fight and Training Montages
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
1980 Coal Miner's Daughter yes Creative Consultant
Directed by Michael Apted
Don't Mess with Bill Yes Documentary short
Directed by John Watson

Nominated - Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject)

1981 Escape to Victory yes Creative Consultant
Directed by John Huston
Nighthawks yes Creative Consultant
Directed by Bruce Malmuth
1984 Success Is the Best Revenge Yes Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski
Footloose yes Creative Consultant
Directed by Herbert Ross
1985 The Zoo Gang Yes Yes Yes
1988 The Kiss Yes Yes Nominated - Fantasporto International Film Festival Award
1990 A Gnome Named Gnorm Yes Yes Directed by Stan Winston
1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Yes Yes Directed by Kevin Reynolds
1994 Blown Away Yes Directed by Stephen Hopkins
1995 Tank Girl Yes Directed by Rachel Talalay
1996 Moll Flanders Yes Yes Yes
2002 The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys Yes Directed by Peter Care
2005 Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story Directed by Akbar Khan
2007 Just Buried Yes Directed by Chaz Thorne
2013 Phantom Yes Directed by Todd Robinson
2019 The Last Full Measure Yes

Television[edit]

Year Program Producer Director Writer Other Notes
1976 If Wishes Were Horses Yes Yes Television special
1993 Lifepod
Taking Liberty Yes Yes Television film
1993-94 Space Rangers Yes Yes Series creator
1995-2001 The Outer Limits Yes Yes 87 episodes

Won - CableACE Award for Dramatic Series
Nominated - Gemini Award for Best Dramatic Series

1996-99 Poltergeist: The Legacy Yes 70 episodes
1997 Buffalo Soldiers Yes Television film
1998 The Wonderful World of Disney Yes 1 episode
The Magnificent Seven Yes Yes Series creator
Creature Yes Miniseries
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Yes Television film
Houdini Yes
2002 Brother's Keeper Yes
The Twilight Zone Yes 3 episodes
Breaking News Yes 13 episodes
Carrie Yes Television film

Books[edit]

  • Why We Write (contribution) – 1999
  • Riding The Alligator: Strategies For a Career in Screenplay Writing – 2011

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards[edit]

CableACE Award[edit]

Fantasporto Fantasy Film Festival[edit]

Gemini Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Profile: Pen Densham", filmreference.com
  2. ^ "Pen Densham". www.cfccreates.com. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  3. ^ "Pen Densham". www.writersstore.com. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  4. ^ a b Kasindorf, Jeanie. "Million Dollar Babies: How a Bunch of Hollywood Screenwriters Struck It Rich." New York Magazine. 23.24 (18 Jun 1990): 40–50.
  5. ^ "Artists - Pen Densham". Schoos Night Gallery. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  6. ^ Parke, Catherine N. "Adaptation of Defoe's Moll Flanders." In Eighteenth-Century Fiction on Screen. Edited by Robert Mayer. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 58.
  7. ^ Puchalski, Steven. Slimetime: A Guide to Sleazy, Mindless Movies. Manchester, UK: Critical Vision, 2002. 174.
  8. ^ Michael Wise Books website

External links[edit]