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Fred Schepisi Edit Profile

director , Producer , screenwriter

Frederic Alan "Fred" Schepisi is an Australian film director, producer and screenwriter. His credits include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Plenty, Roxanne, Six Degrees of Separation, Mr. Baseball and Last Orders.


Frederic Alan Schepisi was born in Melbourne, Victoria, the son of Loretto Ellen (née Hare) and Frederic Thomas Schepisi, who was a fruit dealer and car salesman of Italian descent.


He began his career in advertising and directed both commercials and documentaries before making his first feature film, The Devil's Playground, in 1976.


Throw in the attempt at a Western (Barbarosa) and science fiction (Iceman), as well as the trip to Japan for Mr Baseball, and one can view' Schepisi's journey as adventurous or wayward, in search of something, working with American money but never yet coming to ground in Hollywood. The coziness of Roxanne seems the more out of place once one grasps Schepisi’s interest in misplaced people driven to violence or irrationality bv contusion. Jimmie Blacksmith was not just a film about race and sex, but a study of Australia’s muddle. A Cry in the Dark had the same impact and the same inner concern: it was about disinte-gration, and the woeful attempt to impose plastic- order on unheeded or denied savagery.

Most intriguing of all, Plenty is a kind of aghast celebration of a woman who will not settle for popular answers about what she wants or what it is to be English. With Hare’s text, and Meryl Streep’s very brave performance, Schepisi showed us a woman helplessly drawn to terrible, dangerous gestures. Perhaps one needs to have been or to have wanted to be English to feel the movie’s pain. Plenty seemed to me at first a failure, too tied to self-pitv and too blurred in writing and casting. But I cannot get the film out of my head, and I’m still not sure how much of that comes f rom 1 hire, Streep, or Schepisi. My only answer so far is that there are three profound, unstable talents, drawn toward difficulty and discomfort.

Sean Connerv’s Barley in The Russia House could have been should have been? as much of a disaster as Susan Traherne in Plenty. That the film winds slowly toward a happy ending seems finally a little unworthy of Schepisi. But along the way we see so many unexpected tilings there is something effortlessly wandering in Schepisi. He is like an absentminded surgeon. The Russia House is a fine Cold War thriller, and one of the gravest recent love stories.

Wandering became a very intricate dance in the exhilarating Six Degrees of Separation, a small story that explodes in range and implication, and that showed Schepisi’s unexpected capacity for comedy.

By now, though, one has to see that Schepisi has never really made a successful American film. I.Q. was a strange piece of whimsy coming from him, while on Fierce Creatures he was brought in late as a rescue act and how rarely that works. But then he took Graham Swifts novel, Last Orders, and made a superb, very touching picture of it with an assurance that suggested (yet again) that Schepisi has to feel comfortable with the social setting he is examining. Which British director has made three films that get Englishness better than Plenty, The Russia House, and Last Orders?



Fred Schepisi has been married three times and has seven children. He had four children with his first wife Joan; his second wife Rhonda died of cancer, after they had two children. His third wife, Mary, whom he married in 1984 and with whom he had a seventh child, is an American.

He supports Australia becoming a republic and is a founding member of the Australian Republican Movement.