David Lawson set up the production company Smoking Dogs Films with director John Akomfrah and producer Lina Gopaul in 1997. Since its conception, he has produced a range of highly acclaimed and award winning films, as well as several films for art gallery installations including John Akomfrah’s The Genome Chronicles about the artist Donald Rodney (1961-1998) which was on show at the Rivington Place Gallery in Shoreditch.
Lawson is developing a cinema feature documentary on the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, as well as a feature film set across five Afican countries and producing a feature documentary on an ecological disaster for the BBC. Previously he was head of distribution, marketing and festivals for the seminal film group the Black Audio Film Collective which was started in 1982. Their first film Handsworth Songs (1986) explored the events surrounding the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London through a charged combination of archive footage, still photos, and newsreel, followed by Testamrnt (1988).
Lawson continued to produce award film including: URBAN SOUL –THE MAKING OF MODERN R n’ B (90 minutes BBC) featuring in depth interviews with Beyonce, Wycleff, Mary J Blige and Bobby Brown; STAN TRACEY – THE GODFATHER OF BRITISH JAZZ ( 70 minutes BBC ) Grierson Award nomination; RIOT, a film on the 1981 Riots in the UK,(60 minutes Channel Four UK); THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG (75 minutes BBC TV/BRAVO) narrated by Hollywood actor Danny Glover; GOLDIE – WHEN SATURN RETURNZ ( 60 minutes , Channel Four ) and MARIAH CAREY -THE BILLION DOLLAR BABE ( 50 minutes, Channel Four UK). He has also produced the music video Walking for Lauryn Hill, directed by John Akomfrah and co- produced with Lina Gopaul
His feature film The Nine Muses was screened at the 2010 Venice Biennale and subsequently at the 2010 London Film Festival. Lawson has sat on various awards and festival committees including the Royal Television Society Arts documentary awards panel and the PACT Diversity Committee.