Scott Hicks

Scott Hicks

Robert Scott Hicks was born 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