Penny Woolcock

Writer and director for film and television

Theatre, Film & TV
Amanda Davis
+44 (0)20 7393 4457
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Theatre, Film & TV
Cynthia Okoye
+44 (0)20 7393 4329
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Biography

Penny Woolcock was born in Argentina and grew up in Montevideo. A former painter, she turned to film-making in her mid-30s and has since directed a string of award winning documentaries, television, feature films and opera.

Her television single, Tina Goes Shopping, was nominated for a BAFTA award, and the follow-up, Tina Takes a Break, won Best Single Drama at the Broadcast Awards. She has collected a host of awards and nominations for her other television projects and for her fearless and original documentaries.

In 2003 Penny directed her first feature film, The Principles of Lust, which was produced by Film 4 and nominated for the BIFA Douglas Hickox Award. In 2009 she released 1 Day, a gritty hip hop musical following a day in the life of an inner city hustler. The film was shot on location in Birmingham and was entirely acted by a cast of locals.

Penny has also directed Doctor Atomic - an opera about the Manhattan Project staged at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and at the English National Opera and also Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers also for The English National Opera.

In November 2010, Penny won the Grierson Trust's prestigious Trustees Award and was honoured at The British Documentary awards and at the Media Guardian Sheffield Doc/Fest. Her documentary, On The Streets, was shot over eight months with rough sleepers and vulnerably housed people and transmitted on BBC4.

Penny's film From The Sea To The Land Beyond picked up the Inspiration award at the 2012 Sheffield Doc Fest and her latest film One Mile Away won the prestigious Michael Powell award at the 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival. She is currently developing projects with Latimer Creative and Fly Film.



CV

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Theatre
Director
The Pearl Fishers 2010
The English National Opera
Director Penny Woolcock
Starring Hanan Alattar, Alfie Boe, Quinn Kelsey & Freddie Tong

Bizet's early masterpiece set on an exotic isle in an eastern sea. It tells the story of friends Zurga and Nadir who both swear to leave far behind them all thoughts of the beautiful young woman they once met, for the good of their friendship.

Dr Atomic 2008
Metropolitan Opera New York/English National Opera
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer John Adams (Composer) Peter Sellars (Libretto)
Starring Gerald Finley, Sasha Cooke & Eric Owen

John Adams's contemporary masterpiece which explores a momentous episode of modern history: the creation of the atomic bomb.

Film
Director
One Mile Away 2012
Rare Day
Producer James Purnell
Director Penny Woolcock

 
The Death of Klinghoffer Feature
2003
Blast Films
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer John Adams (Composer) Alice Goodman (Libretto)
Starring Sanford Sylvan , Christopher Maltman, Yvonne Howard, Tom Randle & Kamel Boutros

An adaptation from the John Adams opera, based around the hijacking in 1985 of a cruise liner by Palestinian gunmen.

Writer and Director
Nobody Sleeps Feature
2010
Vertigo Films
In development
Producer Chee-Lan Chan
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock

 
1 Day Feature
2009
Blast Films/Screen West Midlands/Vertigo Films
Producer Claire Bosworth
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock
Starring Dylan Duffus

Gangland community hip-hop musical set on the streets of Birmingham.

Watch
Exodus Feature
2006
Channel 4/Arts/Artangel
Producer Ruth Kenley-Letts
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock
Starring Clare-Hope Ashitey, Bernard Hill & Daniel Percival

A modern adaptation and interpretation of the story of Exodus. Official selection Venice Film Festival

Mischief Night Feature
2006
Film Four/UK Film Council/Pathe/Company Pictures/Yorkshire Screen
Producer Willow Grylls & Abi Bach
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock

Set on a deprived Leeds estate where Asian and white residents have segregated, tensions between the two communities come to a head on the unruly Mischief Night.

The Principles of Lust Feature
2003
Film Four
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock
Starring Marc Warren, Alec Newman & Sienna Guillory

 
Television
Writer and Director
YOI 2012
Endor Productions for Channel 4
In Development
Producer Hilary Bevan-Jones
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock

 
Blast Films for BBC4
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock

Feature-length documentary which gives the seen but unheard residents of London's streets a voice.

When The Dog Died 1 x 90'
2010
BBC TV
In Development
Producer Ruth Caleb
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock

 
The Five of Us 1 x 60'
2000
Blast Films for Channel 4
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock
Starring Yam Man Kwok & Luke Skiff

The Five of Us examines the life, over several months, of housemates Alain, Luke, Jimmy, Kwok and Mary with learning difficulties in a flat in Notting Hill.

Macbeth on the Estate 1 x 85'
1997
BBC for BBC 2
Producer Alison Gilby
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock
Starring Ray Winstone, James Frain & David Harewood

Version of Macbeth set on a Birmingham estate.

Director
The Wet House 1 x 60'
2002
Blast Films for Channel 4
Director Penny Woolcock

Remarkable observational documentary in Providence Row refuge for the alcoholic homeless - a place where residents can drink, and do so to harrowing extremes.

Silver Darlings 1 x 50'
1998
Mentorn Barraclough Carey for BBC 2
Producer George Carey
Director Penny Woolcock

Part of the Century Road documentary series.

Kids 1 x 60'
1997
Blast Films for Channel 4
Producer Adam Barker
Director Penny Woolcock

Documentary. Part of the Vile Bodies series.

Gordonstoun 1 x 90'
1996
Channel 4
Producer Natalka Znak
Director Penny Woolcock

An Autumn term at Gordonstoun School which is undergoing changes to liberate its traditional harsh regime of cold showers and early morning runs. The real test for the school is a serious case of violent bullying.

Mad Passionate Dreams 1 x 40'
1995
BBC for BBC 2
Producer Caroline Pick
Director Penny Woolcock

Documentary. Part of the Nice Work series. Visits the Penrhys estate in Mid-Glamorgan to see how residents cope with the 95% unemployment rate.

The Peer and the Peaches 1 x 30'
1995
BBC for BBC 2
Director Penny Woolcock

Documentary showing the final year of Pat and George Peach's job as retainers to Lord Methuen at his stately home of Corsham Court, Wiltshire.

Shakespeare on the Estate 1 x 50'
1994
BBC for BBC 2
Director Penny Woolcock

Documentary following Michael Bogdanov as he spent three weeks on an inner city estate in Ladywood, Birmingham pursuading local people to rehearse and perform Shakespeare.

The Two Marys 1 x 30'
1993
BBC for BBC2
Producer Philippa Lowthorpe
Director Penny Woolcock
Starring Cathryn Bradshaw, Paul Cresswell & Jeillo Edwards

Part of the Skirt Through History series. The final programme in a six-part series that attempts to recapture the lives of ten extraordinary women through their own writings. Based on the diaries of two women who left first hand accounts of slavery: Mary Prince born into slavery in 1788 and Lady Mary Nugent, the wife of a slave owner.

From Wimps to Warriors 6 x 45'
1990
BBC for BBC 2
Producer Paul Watson
Director Penny Woolcock

Six-part documentary series examing the lives of men, particularly on sex and relationships, and some of the myths of masculinity.

When the Dog Bites 1 x 60'
1989
Channel 4
Producer Belinda Williams
Director Penny Woolcock

Film questioning the encouragement of very low paid jobs and schemes.

Writer, Director and Producer
Tina Takes a Break 1 x 85'
2001
Blast Films for Channel 4
Producer Penny Woolcock
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock
Starring Kelli Hollis , Rachel Woodhead & Mark Hargrave

Follow up to the highly acclaimed Tina Goes Shopping. Five years, Tina's kids have reached the age were getting into trouble is a way of life on the harsh Leeds housing estate where they live.

Tina Goes Shopping 1 x 75'
1999
Blast Films for Channel 4
Producer Penny Woolcock
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock
Starring Kelly Hollis, Dylan Fielding, Gwyn Hollis, Gwen Nelson & Colin Nutton

 
Radio
Writer and Director
Friday Play: YT and The Soprano Jan 2011
Crosslab Productions for BBC Radio 4
 
Producer Melanie Harris
Director Penny Woolcock
Writer Penny Woolcock
Starring Sway, Claire Watkins, Ashley Gerlach, Mark Monero & Marc Warren

Romantic comedy set in the contrasting back stage worlds of grime rap and opera