Andrew Birkin, the screenwriter and director, is selling a never-seen-before look behind the scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Birkin, who us coincidentally the brother of actress, singer and model Jane Birkin, began his career as a runner on 2001: A Space Odyssey. The aged just a teenager, Birkin attracted Kubrick’s attention in May 1966 when he suggested a location in England – Formby Sands – that could serve as a desert for filming The Dawn of Man.
Impressed by his insight, Kubrick quickly promoted Birkin from runner to location scout and, eventually, the first assistant on special effects. With mounting pressure by MGM to complete the film, Birkin suggested the idea of shooting footage from a helicopter over Scotland to be later transformed to stand in for alien landscapes for Dave Bowman’s ‘Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite’ sequence. Kubrick agreed, allowing Birkin to hire a helicopter and shoot the 65mm footage himself, several minutes of which made it into the final cut of the movie.
Given Kubrick’s reluctance to fly, the director then sent Birkin to the Namib Desert, in South West Africa, as first to scout and then supervise the shooting of 10”x8” plates by a succession of photographers for the ‘Dawn of Man’. Now, with his wealth of archival images and footage, Birkin is selling his work at a new auction with Sotheby’s.
With 79 polaroid photographs taken by Birkin during production, a box file containing c.400 carbon copy typescript special effect report sheets, listing shots with technical details, a lever-arch file containing: 31 x 3-frame 65mm clips (all from out-takes), a screenplay photocopy with 232 pages, revised 1 March 1966, Birkin’s archive has been estimated to sell for an eye-watering £30,000 – £50,000.
Click here to see the auction and view a sample of the work, below.