Australian filmmaker Scott Hicks achieved international prominence thanks to his acclaimed biopic about musical prodigy David Helfgott, “Shine” (1996). The film brought him both an Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Director and another Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for his story contribution, among other honors. Hicks previously won an Emmy Award for the documentary “Submarines: Sharks of Steel” (1993), one of a series of his work for The Discovery Channel. Other films he has directed include “Sebastian and the Sparrow” (1988, also produced and wrote), “Snow Falling on Cedars” (1999, also wrote), “Hearts in Atlantis” (2001), “No Reservations” (2007) and “The Boys Are Back” (2009).
Currently, Hicks lives in Adelaide, Australia with his wife Kerry Heysen. He is the father of two.
Childhood and Family:
Robert Scott Hicks was born on March 4, 1953, in Uganda, to a civil engineer and a homemaker. He was raised in Kenya, just outside Nairobi, until age 10. His family next moved to England before eventually settling in Adelaide, South Australia. At the time, he was 14 years old. Scott graduated with Honors from Flinders University of South Australia, in 1975, and later, in 1997, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater.
Scott married Adelaide native Kerry Heysen (born May 30, 1945) in 1971. They have two sons, Scott Heysen-Hicks and Jetro Heysen-Hicks.
Submarines: Sharks of Steel
Scott Hicks made his directorial debut with “The Wanderer” (1974), a 58 minute black and white experimental film about a young drifter who drops out of university and goes bush only to later return to his girlfriend. He returned in the following year with the drama film “Down the Wind,” which he produced and co-directed with Kim McKenzie, who also wrote the screenplay. The film starred David Cameron, Penne Hackforth-Jones and Ross Thompson. Hicks then became part of miscellaneous crew of the AFI Award winning film “Storm Boy” (1976), directed by Henri Safran, served as assistant director on such films as “ Money Movers” (1978), “Blue Fan” (1978), “Dawn” (1979), “ The Plumber” (1979, TV) and “Harvest of Hate” (1979, TV) as well as as production assistant on “The Irishman” (1978). In 1979, he directed and produced a documentary short called “You Can't Always Tell.”
In 1980, Hicks became first assistant director on the independent film “Death Games,” directed by Ross Dimsey, and the film adaptation of David William's play, “The Club,” directed by Bruce Beresford. The same year, he also directed the video “Assertive Skills Training Series” and the documentary short “Bert Flugelman: Public Sculptor.” He continued to lend his directing skills for “No Going Back” (TV documentary short, 1981), “Women Artists of Australia” (TV series documentary, 1981) and “Festival of Mirrors” (documentary short, 1982) before directing the 1982 teen road movie “Freedom,” featuring the music of Cold Chisel's Don Walker and the vocals of INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence. The film was shown at the Manila Film Festival in January 1982 and released theatrically in Australia in April 1982 and in the United States in February 1985. In 1983, he directed a film clip for favorite South Australian band Vertical Hold's third single, “Shotdown (In Love).” The clip was shown first on TV in Australia and then abroad including Switzerland, Hong Kong, and at a U.S. “Aussie” Music Festival (in Los Angeles). He went on to direct the documentary shorts “One Last Chance” (1983) and “Family Tree” (1985).
1985 found Hicks starting an affiliation with the American cable network, The Discovery Channel. He directed several acclaimed documentaries for the network, including the 1989 award winning “The Great Wall of Iron,” examining China's People's Liberation Army, and 1993's “Submarines: Sharks of Steel” (also co-wrote), from which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in a Craft in News and Documentary Programming – Directors. He also directed and wrote “The Space Shuttle” (The Discovery Channel, 1994) and directed “The Ultimate Athlete: Pushing the Limit” (The Discovery Channel, 1996).
Hicks made his debut as producer and as screenwriter with “Sebastian and the Sparrow” (1988), the story of the supposed friendship between two teenage boys from immensely different cultural backgrounds. The drama/family film, which he also directed, won Hicks Lucas' Children's Section at the 1990 Lucas - International Festival of Films for Children and Young People. He returned to feature films by directing and co-writing (with Terry Jennings) the Australian crime movie “Call Me Mr. Brown” (1992), starring Chris Haywood. In 1991, he directed the family/science fiction television series “Finders Keepers.”
“Nothing is ever going to be the same again. Shine (1996) was a unique experience and very few people are ever lucky to feel that degree of universal acceptance. Very seldom can you say that films change people's lives. As far as the world was concerned, this film came out of nowhere, it really sort of barnstormed across the world. It projected me into a new arena and in the process made a star out of Geoffrey Rush, completely changed David Helfgott's life and Lynn Redgrave's career was kick-started again. There were a number of us involved in this film whose lives were never going to be the same again. It was unique, not in the sense of some sort of fluke, just that it was a dark horse.” Scott Hicks
However, Hicks did not gain international attention until he directed the biographical movie “Shine” (1996), based on the life of pianist David Helfgott, who suffered a mental breakdown and spent years in institutions, with a screenplay by Jan Sardi. Starring Geoffrey Rush, the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 1996, and was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Rush's performance. The film also received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Original Dramatic Score and Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Apart from Oscar honors, “Shine” also brought Hicks various awards and nominations, such as an AFI Award for Best Director, a Golden Key Art Fiction for Best Direction from the 1997 Art Film Festival, Fantasporto's Directors' Week Award for Best Director, the Jury Award for Best Film at the 1996 Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival 's Audience Award, St. Louis International Film Festival's Audience Choice Award, Toronto International Film Festival's Metro Media Award and People's Choice Award, BAFTA nominations for Best Film and the David Lean Award for Direction, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director - Motion Picture, a Humanitas Prize nomination for Feature Film Category, a DGA nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, a Golden Satellite nomination for est Director of a Motion Picture and a WGA nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. At the box office, “Shine” grossed $35,892,330 against a budget of $5.5 million.
Following his international success, Hicks co-wrote and directed his first Hollywood film, “Snow Falling on Cedars” (1999), based on the novel of the same title by David Guterson. The film, which starred Ethan Hawke, Youki Kudoh, Reeve Carney, Anne Suzuki and Rick Yune, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. He earned a 2000 Golden Satellite nomination for Best Director for the film. In 2001, Hicks directed Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Mika Boorem and David Morse in the drama/thriller “Hearts in Atlantis,” which was loosely adapted from Stephen King's novella “Low Men in Yellow Coats,” from his story collection “Hearts in Atlantis.” The film received mixed reviews from critics and was not a box office hit.
Following a six year hiatus, Hicks returned to the director's chair when he helmed Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin and Patricia Clarkson in the American romance/drama film “No Reservations” (2007). The film grossed $43,107,979 in the US and $49,493,071 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $92,601,050. The budget was $28 million. The same year, he also produced and directed the documentary film “Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts.” Two years later, Hicks directed Clive Owen, Laura Fraser, Emma Lung, Nicholas McAnulty and George MacKay in the Australian/British drama film “The Boys Are Back,” based on Simon Carr's book, “The Boys Are Back In Town.”
Hicks has completed directing the upcoming drama film “The Lucky One,” which is set to be released in the US on April 20, 2012. Zac Efron, Blythe Danner and Taylor Schilling wil star in the film.
Art Film Festival: Golden Key, Art Fiction: Best Direction, “Shine,” 1997
Fantasporto: Directors' Week Award, Best Director, “Shine,” 1997
Rotterdam International Film Festival: Audience Award, “Shine,” 1997
Australian Film Institute: AFI Award, Best Director, “Shine,” 1996
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Jury Award, Best Film, “Shine,” 1996
St. Louis International Film Festival: Audience Choice Award, “Shine,” 1996
Toronto International Film Festival: Metro Media Award, “Shine,” 1996
Toronto International Film Festival: People's Choice Award, “Shine,” 1996
News & Documentary Emmy: Emmy, Outstanding Achievement in a Craft in News and Documentary Programming – Directors, “Submarines: Sharks of Steel,” 1994
Lucas - International Festival of Films for Children and Young People: Lucas Children's Section, “Sebastian and the Sparrow,” 1990