An Accidental Studio – the History of HandMade Films

With such film greats as Life of Brian, The Long Good Friday, Withnail & I, a new feature-length documentary examines the history of HandMade Films through the eyes of the filmmakers and actors as well as the man who started it all, former Beatle and music legend George Harrison.

An Accidental Studio - AMC Poster

An Accidental Studio – AMC Poster

The feature-length documentary will air on 4 May at 9pm for BT customers, and on AMC channels internationally later this year. AMC is available in the UK free of charge to BT customers as number 332 on BT TV, and to BT Sport Pack subscribers on Sky channel 192.

Coming to the rescue of Life of Brian when the money fell out at the last-minute, George Harrison offered to fund the entire movie, mortgaging his house and his office to do so. As a Monty Python fan, he credited the Pythons’ humour for saving his sanity whilst he was a Beatle. Now it was his turn to pay them back. The film was a massive hit, so successful in fact that they decided to set up a company – HandMade Films.


In a rare moment in film history, HandMade dominated the British movie scene with its ethos of making and releasing maverick films that everyone else had rejected, from Life of Brian, The Long Good Friday, Time Bandits and Alan Bennett’s triple BAFTA winner, A Private Function to Withnail and I and the Oscar-nominated Mona Lisa.


Paul McGann & Richard E Grant in Withnail & I

Paul McGann & Richard E Grant in Withnail & I

Harrison’s generosity in helping others fulfil their dreams and his hands-off approach allowed filmmakers to shine in their work. As its films won awards and launched careers, HandMade became more than a happy accident. It became a celebration of integrity and collaboration.

George Harrison and Bob Hoskins (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

BAFTA Best Actor 1987 for Mona Lisa, Bob Hoskins with George Harrison, executive producer.

With unreleased archive interviews and footage with Harrison, new and exclusive interviews with Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Richard E. Grant and, Neil Jordan, and unseen interviews with Bob Hoskins, An Accidental Studio explores HandMade’s baptism of fire and the risks it took in producing uniquely crafted, intelligent films. Additional interviews in the film include Bruce Robinson, Ray Cooper, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, Cathy Tyson, Brenda Vaccaro, A Martinez, Richard Loncraine and Jonathan Lynn.

“HandMade Films created some of Britain’s most iconic films and gave a global platform to artists who continue to have a strong impact on popular culture today,” commented Executive Producer Harold Gronenthal, EVP of Programming and Operations, AMC/SundanceTV Global. “This new documentary is AMC UK’s first original production, and we’re excited to partner with BT, Bill & Ben Productions, Propellor Films and DCD Rights to showcase the important legacy of HandMade Films with AMC’s audiences internationally.”