Hicks at the Australian premiere of The Lucky One
Robert Scott Hicks
4 March 1953
|Residence||Adelaide, South Australia|
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter|
Kerry Heysen (m. 1971)
Robert Scott Hicks (born 4 March 1953) is an Australian film director and screenwriter. He is best known as the screenwriter and director of Shine, the Oscar-winning biopic of pianist David Helfgott. Hicks's work has been nominated for an Academy Award as well as winning an Emmy Award. Other movies he directed include the film adaptations of Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis and Nicholas Sparks's The Lucky One.
Hicks was born in Uganda, the son of a housewife and a civil engineer. He lived in Kenya, just outside Nairobi, until the age of ten. His family then moved, first to England and, when he was 14, on to South Australia's capital, Adelaide. Though British citizens, his father and grandfather were born in Burma and the West Indies respectively, and spent their lives in far-flung locales as civil engineers building railways, bridges and harbours. His mother is Scottish. Scott lives with his wife and collaborator/producer Kerry Heysen in Adelaide, where they maintain their own Yacca Paddock Vineyard on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Their two sons, Scott and Jethro, also live in Adelaide.
Hicks graduated from Flinders University in South Australia (BA Honours) in 1975 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1997. He graduated into an industry which was emerging from decades of inactivity, stimulated by renewed government support for the arts. South Australia was at the forefront of this Australian film revival, with established directors Peter Weir and Bruce Beresford, central figures in the Australian New Wave, coming to Adelaide to shoot their films. Hicks worked as a crew member on a dozen features over the next few years. At the same time, he was successful in bidding for contracts to write and direct short dramas and sponsored documentaries.
In his very early working years in the early 1980s, Hicks worked three times with INXS (and its members), firstly the movie Freedom filmed in and around Adelaide in 1981 and featuring the music of Cold Chisel's Don Walker and the vocals of INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence. He then directed 3 pivotal film clips for INXS in 1982-83 for their new label (WEA Australia), "Spy Of Love", "To Look At You" and "Don't Change" (which went on to become their biggest hit single, at that time). Following this, Hicks made a (very expensive for its time) film clip utilizing 16mm film, not videotape, for popular South Australian band "Vertical Hold" who had a No.1 single in 1981 (& another top 5 hit in 1982). Hicks's late 1983 film clip for their third single "Shotdown (In Love)" was also showcased at the U.S. "Aussie" Music Festival in Los Angeles, alongside Mondo Rock and INXS videos.
He is, however, best known as the director of Shine, the Oscar-winning biopic of pianist David Helfgott. Geoffrey Rush won the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his portrayal as Helfgott, and the film was also nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Armin Mueller-Stahl), Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Original Dramatic Score, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. The AFI Awards gave it significant recognition as well, with nine nominations total.
Hicks's first Hollywood studio film Snow Falling on Cedars (1999) starring Ethan Hawke, Max von Sydow and Sam Shepard, and based on David Guterson's novel of the same title, also received an Academy Award nomination. This was followed in 2001 by the adaptation of Stephen King's novel Hearts in Atlantis starring Anthony Hopkins.
After working on Hearts in Atlantis, Hicks decided to take time off and enjoy living at home. In that time, he fell into working on television commercials. Hicks also enjoyed success in the world of American television commercials (which he terms "multi-million dollar mini-movies") - one of which was inducted into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
More than six years later, Hicks resurfaced as a director in No Reservations. He followed that up with a more personal project, shooting a feature-length documentary on the iconic composer Philip Glass, glass: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts. This film premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, to great acclaim, and has since been released in the U.S. and at film festivals around the world. His latest project The Boys Are Back, an Australian-UK co-production which stars Clive Owen.
In 2014-15, he made the documentary Highly Strung about the Australian String Quartet, documenting the musical rehearsals and performance processes, the breakup of the group, and the copying of the Giovanni Battista Guadagnini cello by a leading luthier in Italy.
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