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Scott Hicks

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Also Known As: Robert Scott Hicks Died:
Born: March 4, 1953 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Uganda Profession: director, documentarian, screenwriter, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Australian writer-producer-director Scott Hicks enjoyed a lengthy career alternating between smaller dramatic films, informative documentaries and mainstream Hollywood features. Learning his trade under the tutelage of such acclaimed Aussie filmmakers as Bruce Beresford during the Australian film renaissance of the 1970s, Hicks debuted with his high-octane coming of age tale, "Freedom!" (1982). His follow-up, "Sebastian and the Sparrow" (1988), the story of an unlikely boyhood friendship, was as commercially unexceptional as its predecessor, although Hicks found success on television, helming documentaries like the Emmy-winning "Submarines: Sharks of Steel: The Hidden Threat" (The Discovery Channel, 1993). Universal acclaim in the feature world came at last with the musical biopic "Shine" (1996), the project that won actor Geoffrey Rush an Oscar and took the Australian director to Hollywood. The result was a pair of unremarkable dramas - the aesthetically sublime romance "Snow Falling on Cedars" (1999) and "Hearts in Atlantis" (2001), a mood piece based on one of Stephen King's lesser efforts. After a period of time spent back in Australia tending his to his winery and directing television...

Australian writer-producer-director Scott Hicks enjoyed a lengthy career alternating between smaller dramatic films, informative documentaries and mainstream Hollywood features. Learning his trade under the tutelage of such acclaimed Aussie filmmakers as Bruce Beresford during the Australian film renaissance of the 1970s, Hicks debuted with his high-octane coming of age tale, "Freedom!" (1982). His follow-up, "Sebastian and the Sparrow" (1988), the story of an unlikely boyhood friendship, was as commercially unexceptional as its predecessor, although Hicks found success on television, helming documentaries like the Emmy-winning "Submarines: Sharks of Steel: The Hidden Threat" (The Discovery Channel, 1993). Universal acclaim in the feature world came at last with the musical biopic "Shine" (1996), the project that won actor Geoffrey Rush an Oscar and took the Australian director to Hollywood. The result was a pair of unremarkable dramas - the aesthetically sublime romance "Snow Falling on Cedars" (1999) and "Hearts in Atlantis" (2001), a mood piece based on one of Stephen King's lesser efforts. After a period of time spent back in Australia tending his to his winery and directing television commercials, Hicks ventured back to Hollywood for the romantic comedy-drama "No Reservations" (2007), followed by the more heartfelt "The Boys Are Back" (2009) and an adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks love story "The Lucky One" (2012). Clearly more interested in the drama inherent in the human struggle than showy genre entertainments, Hicks continually sought out material that spoke to him on a personal level.

Robert Scott Hicks was born on March 4, 1953 in the country of Uganda, Africa to British citizens. Due to his father's work as a civil engineer, Hicks soon moved to nearby Kenya, where he was raised until the age of 10, at which time his family moved to England for a brief period. At the age of 14, Hicks was uprooted for what would be the final time, when he and his parents relocated to the southern coastal city of Adelaide, Australia. After earning a degree from Flinders University of South Australia, Hicks entered a once struggling film industry that had recently begun a resurgence, thanks in large part to government subsidies of the arts and the emergence of Australian filmmakers like Bruce Beresford and Peter Weir. Over the next half decade, Hicks learned his craft as a production assistant and assistant director on Aussie productions like the period drama "The Irishman" (1978) and Beresford's Australian rules football satire "The Club" (1980). Having also worked on a handful of short films and commercial documentaries, Hicks made his debut as a feature film director with "Freedom!" (1982), a fast-paced road movie in which a young man (Jon Blake) attempts to seize his dreams, thanks to a stolen 930 Porsche and the vast Adelaide landscape.

After shooting an impressive music video for the Australian band Vertical Hold and contributing to the documentary "The INXS: Swing and Other Stories" (1985), which chronicled the Aussie rock band's rise to international fame, Hicks wrote, produced and directed his second feature "Sebastian and the Sparrow" (1988). The tale of two young boys, divided by class differences, who bond over a quest to track down the estranged mother of the lesser privileged Sparrow, it garnered Hicks critical attention for his thoughtful treatment of material that could have easily become a maudlin tearjerker. The film's failure to attract an audience, however, did little to establish Hicks as a commercially viable director and a period of successful work on television ensued. After surpassing ratings records with the People's Liberation Army of China documentary "The Great Wall of Iron" (The Discovery Channel, 1989) - co-directed with Michael Caulfield - Hicks took another stab at feature films with the based-on-fact story of the infamous "Great Plane Robbery," "Call Me Mr. Brown" (1990). Unfortunately, it too performed poorly in theaters and backlash from a chagrined Qantas Airways banished it from TV airwaves in the years immediately following its release.

After directing several episodes of the children's fantasy series "Finders Keepers" (ABC TV, 1991), Hicks continued with a string of lauded documentaries for the Discovery Channel, including the Emmy-winning "Submarines: Sharks of Steel: The Hidden Threat" (The Discovery Channel, 1993), "The Space Shuttle" (The Discovery Channel, 1994) and "The Ultimate Athlete: Pushing the Limit" (The Discovery Channel, 1996). It was Hicks' return to features, however, that would suddenly catapult the director into the upper-echelon of international filmmakers. Based on the life and career of Australian concert pianist David Helfgott, "Shine" (1996) chronicled the gifted musician's struggle with mental illness and a chronically abusive relationship with his father. One of the most acclaimed films of the year, it received several Academy Award nominations, including a Best Director nod for Hicks and a win for Geoffrey Rush in the role of Helfgott, who eventually returned to public performances after years of institutionalization.

Now officially on the A-list, Hicks was given a chance to co-write and direct his first mainstream Hollywood feature with an adaptation of "Snow Falling on Cedars" (1999), based on the novel by David Guterson. A drama involving anti-Japanese sentiment on a Puget Sound island community shortly after World War II, it revolved around the ethical dilemma of a young newspaperman (Ethan Hawke) covering a murder trial and his love for the wife (Youki Kudoh) of the accused (Rick Yune), a local fisherman of Japanese descent. While praised for its hauntingly beautiful cinematography, "Snow Falling on Cedars" attracted none of the attention or commercial success "Shine" had enjoyed. Loosely based on a novella in a story collection by Stephen King, "Hearts in Atlantis" (2001) starred Anthony Hopkins as a mysterious drifter who befriends and influences the young son (Anton Yelchin) of his landlord over the course of one mystical summer. "Hearts in Atlantis" was another underperformer for Hicks, who chose to stay close to home in Adelaide for the next several years, focusing on lucrative commercial work and the operation of a wine vineyard, overseen by Hicks and his wife and creative collaborator, Kerry Heysen.

When Hicks did return to Hollywood it was to direct the culinary romance "No Reservations" (2007), starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart as mismatched chefs thrown together in a busy Manhattan restaurant kitchen. A far less commercial film by Hicks that year was the documentary "Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts" (2007), a passion project for the director, who spent a year immersing himself in the daily life of yet another obsessive pianist, famed composer Philip Glass. Two years later, Hicks helmed the male-dominated family drama "The Boys are Back" (2009), in which Clive Owen played a father unexpectedly faced with the challenge of being a single parent to two sons after the sudden death of his wife. He later made another foray into the territory of mainstream Hollywood romance with "The Lucky One" (2012), an adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. Cast as an Iraq War veteran struggling with survivor's guilt, Zac Efron seeks out a woman he knows only from a photograph he acquired under mysterious circumstances during his harrowing tour of duty.

By Bryce P. Coleman

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
4.
  Hearts in Atlantis (2001) Director
5.
  Snow Falling on Cedars (1999) Director
6.
  Shine (1996) Director
7.
8.
  Freedom! (1981) Director
9.

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born in Uganda and raised in Kenya
1978:
Worked as production assistant on "The Irishman"
1978:
Served as assistant director on "Dawn!" and "Money Movers"
1981:
Feature film debut as director "Freedom!"
1988:
Debut as producer and as screenwriter (also directed), "Sebastian and the Sparrow"
1986:
Began directing documentaries for The Discovery Channel
1996:
Gained international success with the award-winning Australian film "Shine"
1999:
Co-wrote and directed the film adaptation of "Snow Falling on Cedars"
2001:
Helmed "Hearts in Atlantis," adapted from a Stephen King novel
2007:
Directed the romantic comedy "No Reservations"
2008:
Filmed the documentary "GLASS, a portrait of Philip in twelve parts" about composer Philip Glass
2009:
Directed the drama "The Boys Are Back," starring Clive Owen
2012:
Directed "The Lucky One," a romantic drama based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Flinders University: -

Notes

"Shine" created controversy after its screening at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival when Fine Line purchased the US distribution rights. Harvey Weinstein of Miramax had claimed to have an agreement with the company handling the international sales. Ironically, both Fine Line and Miramax had turned down Scott Hicks requests for financing.

In discussing "Shine", Hicks has stated his goal was to make a film "that would take an audience on an emotional journey. The story had so moved me, so possessed me for so long, that I that if I could just tell it right, it would speak to people with the same power." --quoted by Peter Burnette on the website Film.com.Inc.

"The way it's put to me, I can make anything I want now. Suddenly, the other side of the world is offering its best ideas. I could make a $40 million studio production with everybody that I ever wanted to work with. Suddenly, it's like the ceiling blew away. And it's 'Welcome to the pleasure dome. What is your deep darkest wish?' The thing is, I know I have to be really careful. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said something like 'If there's one thing worse than not getting what you want, it's getting it." --Scott Hicks on success, quoted in GQ, December 1996

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Kerry Heysen. Creative consultant. Married in 1971.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Jetro Heysen-Hicks.
son:
Scott Heysen-Hicks.

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