Fred Schepisi

Fred Schepisi

Melburnian "Fred Schepisi" is an award winning Director, Producer and Writer and one of Australia's most celebrated and successful exports.

The son of a car salesman, Fred Schepisi interesting life includes time as a priest, and then directing several television commercials before documentary filmmaking, winning an Australian Film Institute award.

His highly respected production company The Film House has produced some of the most memorable films including our favourite Roxanne.

Frederick Alan Schepisi was born on 26th December 1939 [Boxing Day] in Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Frederick Alan Schepisi - Biography

A former director of TV commercials who made his mark in the late 1970s and early 80s with sensitively handled dramas which defied easy categorization and were therefore somewhat underrated.

Schepisi is generally attracted to stories pitting strong outsiders against small-minded establishments. He recounts these tales with a smooth and straight-forward filmmaking technique even when shifting back and forth between flashbacks, time zones and diverse locations.

Schepisi dropped out of high school and began his professional career in advertising. Literally working his way up from messenger to copywriter, he eventually directed commercials and ultimately headed his own agency.

Schepisi's first fiction film was a 30-minute segment for the episodic feature, Libido" (1973). His short "The Priest" was a collaboration with Australian writer Thomas Keneally and earned them a Silver Award from the Australian Film Institute.

Encouraged by the recognition, Schepisi wrote, produced and directed his first full-length feature, "The Devil's Playground" (1976). Drawing from his own 18-month experience at a Marist Brother monastery, it was a deft look at the repression and hidden undercurrents of seminary life.

But it was the probing race study about a half-caste aborigine based on a novel by Keneally, "The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith" (1978), that brought him international attention and paved the way for his first US produced feature, "Barbarosa" (1982) starring Willie Nelson as a legendary outlaw on the lam.

Next he directed the haunting sci-fi parable, "Iceman" (1984), sensitively capturing a resuscitated Neanderthal's battle with the inhumanity of the scientists studying him.

Schepisi continued to demonstrate his mastery of atmosphere and dramatic rhythm in the intriguing, if slightly overwrought, adaption of the David Hare play, "Plenty" (1985).

He teamed with Steve Martin on "Roxanne" (1987), a witty update of the "Cyrano" story, and directed "Plenty" star Meryl Streep for the second time in "A Cry in the Dark" (1988), a skillfully rendered thriller based on the true story of a mother falsely charged with killing her own infant.

His stylish adaptation of the acclaimed play "Six Degrees of Separation" (1993) cinematically opened up the story of the escapades of a young con artist who convinces wealthy benefactors that he is the son of star Sidney Poitier.

Schepisi's fanciful romantic comedy "I.Q." (1994) had celebrated physicist Albert Einstein playing matchmaker for his unmarried niece. Although he provided back-up support to Roger Young on "Fierce Creatures" (1997, both received onscreen credit as director), Schepisi remained away from the big screen until he agreed to helm "Last Orders", an ensemble drama featuring a stellar cast including Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren.

Film Credits [to date]

Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Current)
Last Man (2006)
Empire Falls (2005)
It Runs in the Family (2005)
Last Orders (2001)
Fierce Creatures (1997)
I.Q. (1994)
Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Mr. Baseball (1992)
The Russia House (1990)
Evil Angels (1988) (A Cry in the Dark)
Roxanne (1987)
Plenty (1985)
Iceman (1984)
Barbarosa (1982)
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)
The Devil's Playground (1976)
Libido (1973) (The Priest)


Golden Globe Best Miniseries or TV Movie "Empire Falls" 2006
Australian Film Institute Raymond Longford Award 1992
Australian Film Institute Best Film "The Devil's Playground" 1976
Australian Film Institute "The Priest" 1973

The Victorian College of the Arts has presented one of Australia’s finest and most internationally successful film directors, Fred Schepisi, with an honorary doctorate of Visual and Performing Arts from the University of Melbourne – the first honorary doctorate to be awarded by the VCA.


Father of actress Alexandra Schepisi. (boring bit of trivia)
Can't stand being called "Frederick".

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