Golden Rules – Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was 30! with Lee Hall

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From March to May 2021, Lord Puttnam will lead six seminars on all aspects of the screen industries.

About this Event

University of Sunderland and Northern Film + Media present a series of seminars "In Conversation with Lord Puttnam" supported by Pinewood Group.

In the first of the series Lord Puttnam and Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, Rocket Man) will consider the A-Z of what to do – and what not to do! What are the different roles that are needed to bring a film or programme to the screen? How can people make themselves more useful/employable at entry level by learning to drive, taking health and safety training (especially in an era of Covid)? As Hall and Puttnam will discuss, entry level jobs don’t necessarily determine the areas where filmmakers eventually find themselves. This session is an essential guide for everyone working, or seeking to work in the creative content sector.

About the speakers:

Lee Hall was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Started writing for youth theatres in the North East in the late 1980s. He then wrote several award-winning radio plays in the 1990s including Spoonface Steinberg and I Luv You Jimmispud.

During this time he was writer in residence at the RSC and Live Theatre, Newcastle where his play Cooking With Elvis was a success, transferring to the West End. He has adapted many plays from Leonce and Lena for the Gate Theatre to The Good Hope and Network for the RNT. A Servant to Two Masters for the RSC, Brecht’s Mother Courage (Shared Experience) and Mr Puntila and his man Matti (Almeida), Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (National Theatre of Scotland) and Shakespeare in Love (Sonia Friedman Productions) all transferred to the West End. Other adaptations include Barber of Seville and Pinocchio.His first screenplay was Billy Elliot, which subsequently became a stage musical for which he wrote the songs with Sir Elton John. It ran for over 12 years in the West End and has been produced in over 40 countries. Lee also wrote the biopic, Rocketman, about the early life of Elton. Work on other screenplays include War Horse (Stephen Speilberg), Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright) and Victoria and Abdul (Stephen Frears).

TV work includes adaptations of Wind in the Willows, Nigel Slater’s Toast and an original screenplay The Student Prince.

He has had a long and enduring relationship with Max Roberts and Live Theatre, Newcastle and has worked consistently with many of the actors he first met in youth theatre. The most successful play from this relationship is probably The Pitmen Painters which transferred to the National Theatre, the West End and moved to Broadway before touring the UK.

He is currently working on a musical about Bob Marley, Get Up Stand Up, and a musical adaptation of Its A Wonderful Life with Sir Paul McCartney for which he’s written book and lyrics; and the libretto for the Royal Opera House of the film Festen, which is to be composed by Mark-Antony Turnage.

Lord David Puttnam is Chair of Atticus Education, an online education company founded in 2012 that delivers audio-visual seminars to students around the world. In addition, he is a member of the House of Lords where he pursues an active role in a variety of areas, from educational and environmental issues to digital skills. In 2019, he was appointed Chair of the Democracy & Digital Technologies committee to investigate the impact of digital technologies on democracy. He spent thirty years as an independent producer of award-winning films including The Mission, The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, Bugsy Malone and Local Hero. Together these films have won ten Oscars, 13 Golden Globes, nine Emmys, 31 BAFTAs and the Palme D’Or at Cannes. Lord Puttnam is President of the Film Distributors’ Association.

Places are free but limited. Priority will be given to those with a North East base and or be a student or alumni from University of Sunderland. You must be over 18 years old.

More information about the series

Delivered over Cisco’s WebEx system, the ninety-minute seminars will follow an ‘in conversation’ format and will be fully interactive, using film clips, archival footage and images to illustrate the exchange. Questions will be taken from the audience throughout. WebEx links will be sent out prior to the event.

We are committed to working to support and develop an inclusive workforce in film and television and strongly encourage participation from under-represented groups and diverse backgrounds.

The University of Sunderland welcomes all with talent into higher education and supports them in reaching their potential.

The University has 20,000 students based at campuses in Sunderland, London and Hong Kong, as well as with global learning partnerships in 15 countries.

Working to shape the city and region, the University is proud of its positive contribution to economic and social change. Its graduates leave equipped with the knowledge, skills, confidence and connections to make a positive difference in the wider world.

Find out how the University of Sunderland can change lives at

This event is supported by the BBFC. The BBFC is independent and not-for-profit, and here to help everyone in the UK – especially children and families - choose age-appropriate films, videos and websites, wherever and however they watch or use them. Now, as well as classifying films released in UK cinemas and on DVD and Blu-ray, it’s providing age-ratings for Video On Demand and music videos online, and helping mobile phone operators set parental controls at the right level. The BBFC takes corporate responsibility seriously and is a proud supporter of the charity and voluntary sector.

Northern Film + Media is the creative industries development agency for the North East of England.

Find out more about NFM at

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