Like David Fincher and Michael Bay, Alex Proyas has moved effortlessly between helming TV commercials and music videos to feature films. To date, he has specialized in visually stunning action thrillers which utilize myth and iconography in compensation for any shortcomings in the script and/or acting.
Born in Egypt, Proyas relocated to Australia with his family when he was three years old. He began making films at age ten and went on to attend the Australian Film Television and Radio School along with Jane Campion and Jocelyn Morehouse. Proyas collaborated with Campion on two of her shorts, "A Girl's Own Story" (1984), for which he wrote and performed a song, and "Passionless Moments" (also 1984), which he photographed. Proyas' own short, "Groping" (1982), had earned him some attention at festival screenings in Sydney and London. Also while still a student, the enterprising novice formed Meaningful Eye Contact, a production company.
"Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds" (1989) marked Proyas' feature debut as director and screenwriter. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the film, with its stylized production design and aural texture, was atypical of standard Australian fare, more closely resembling a longform music video. Critics admired the director's vision, but felt the overall result was lacking. Proyas continued to hone his craft helming TV advertisements for products like Nike, Nissan and Swatch (earning kudos from advertising associations in both Australia and England) and directing videos for such artists as Sting, INXS and Crowded House.
In 1993, Proyas was tapped to helm the screen adaptation of James O'Barr's comic strip "The Crow" (1994). While filming, lead actor Brandon Lee died of an accidental gunshot wound (ironically the film's story revolves around his character's resurrection). His death cast a pall over the remainder of the filming and its subsequent theatrical release, although reviews were generally favorably, most singling out the production values which created a colorless rain-soaked wasteland that invoked comparisons with Ridley Scott's seminal "Blade Runner" (1982) and Tim Burton's "Batman" (1989). Made for about $14 million, it grossed close to $50 million domestically.
Proyas seemed set to move on to other projects and was announced as the director of "Casper" (1995), but left the project and was replaced by Brad Silberling. After a four year absence, he returned with another thriller, "Dark City" (1998), about an amnesiac who may or may not have been a serial killer.
Director (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Won attention for his short film "Groping"
Worked with Jane Campion on two short films; wrote and performed song for "A Girl's Own Story" and was the director of photography for "Passionless Moments"
Contributed to the omnibus film "Songlines"
Feature film debut as director and screenwriter, "Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds"
Directed first US feature, "The Crow," starring Brandon Lee; Lee was killed in an accident during filming
Helmed the sci-fi thriller, "Dark City"
Signed a three-year, first-look deal with New Line Cinema
Helmed "Garage Days," an independent film about aspiring rock and roll singers in Australia
Directed "I, Robot," starring Will Smith that is loosely based on Asimov's short stories of the same name
Directed Nicolas Cage in the sci-fi thriller, "Knowing"