SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS
SCOTT HICKS (Director/Co-Screenwriter) was propelled to the forefront of
international filmmakers in 1996, following the release of his film Shine.
Its triumphant premiere at the Sundance Film Festival was just the beginning of
world-wide box office success and numerous honors, including seven Academy Award
before Shine, however, Hicks had made his mark as a documentarian. He won
an Emmy in 1994 for Submarines: Sharks of Steel and a coveted Peabody
Award in 1989 for The Great Wall of Iron.
The progeny of adventurous parents, Hicks was born in Uganda and 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 Adelaide, Australia. Though British
citizens, his father and grandfather were born respectively in Burma and the
West Indies, and spent their lives in exotic, far-flung locales as civil
engineers building railways, bridges and harbors. His mother is Scottish.
Though Hicks had limited exposure to cinema while growing up, he did go to
theatre and concerts, as available, and was an avid radio listener, particularly
of classical music and plays. Youngest of four, he recalls his childhood as
At 16 he had completed high school and was about to enter Adelaide University
for a law/arts degree when a chance encounter spun him in a different direction.
"After a performance of the anti-war musical, Vietrock, there was a
discussion, led by a long-haired, denim-clad, philosophy professor from Flinders
University. He instantly exploded my stereotypical notions about philosophers -
and awoke me to the existence of another university nearby."
Newer and more liberal, Flinders attracted drama students from all over
Australia. Intrigued, Hicks entered Flinders to major in English and Drama
without realizing that cinema studies were part of the curriculum. Instantly
attracted to the medium, he threw himself headlong into the study of great
directors, film movements like German Expressionism (a favorite) and filmmaking
techniques. The demands and pleasures of hands-on filmmaking were to dominate
his entire Honors degree.
Four years later, 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 coming to Adelaide to make
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.
Between then and now, Scott Hicks has always had a job in some aspect of
filmmaking, but the 20 year stretch between graduation and Shine often
felt labyrinthine and lonely. By the mid-1980s, he had managed to make a couple
of low budget features, one for the South Australian Film Corporation. In 1988,
he came to Los Angeles for the American Film Market with his children's movie, Sebastian
and the Sparrow, about a rich kid and a poor kid who decide to swap lives.
"But I could not figure out how to break into the filmmaking environment.
You can drive around the streets of LA and never see a sign of the film
industry. There's a whole world going on, a parallel universe, to which you're
Hicks began to make non-fiction films. The Great Wall of Iron explored
the incredible secret world of the
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