Meet the Filmmakers: Scott Hicks-- 'GLASS: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts'
Over the next few weeks, we at IDA
will be introducing our community to the filmmakers whose work will be
represented in the DocuWeekTM Theatrical Documentary Showcase, August 8-14 in New York City and August 22-28 in Los Angeles. We asked the filmmakers to share
the stories behind their films--the inspirations, the challenges and obstacles,
the goals and objectives, the reactions to their films so far.
So, to continue this series of conversations, here is Scott Hicks,
director/producer of GLASS: a portrait of
Philip in twelve parts..
Synopsis: Filmmaker Scott Hicks gives us a unique
glimpse behind the curtain into the life of a surprising and complex man. GLASS: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts
is a remarkable mosaic portrait of one of the greatest-and at times
controversial-artists of this or any era.
IDA: How did you get started in documentary
Scott Hicks: As a young filmmaker, I formed a
production company to bid for government contracts, which resulted in a number
of documentary assignments. Later, in the early days of Discovery Channel, they
commissioned me to write and direct a number of large documentary series on ambitious
subjects like the Chinese Army or submarines, and I enjoyed considerable
success with these. They proved to be high-rating programs, and I won an Emmy
and a Peabody for the work.
What inspired you to make GLASS: a
portrait of Philip in twelve parts?
SH: I had known Philip for a number of years when
his manager Jim Keller reminded me he would be turning 70 in 2007. At his
suggestion, I decided to embark on the project absolutely on impulse. I knew
Philip to be a fascinating, multi-faceted person and artist, and had no doubt the
journey would be an intriguing one.
IDA: What were some of
the challenges and obstacles in making this film, and how did you overcome
was the perdurable problem, but with the partnership of my friend and colleague
Susanne Preissler of Independent Media, we underwrote the early shooting of the
film. I had to learn how to use an HDV Camera, as I had to keep crewing to a
minimum by shooting the film myself. Ultimately, a number of valued partners
became involved, including American
Masters and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and, along with
investment from a number of Australian individuals, we were able to complete
IDA: How did your vision for the film change over the course of the
pre-production, production and post-production processes?
SH: What started out as a necessity-shooting the
film myself-soon made itself evident as the best approach, because of the
intimacy of contact with Philip and the other subjects of the film. Even when
we had raised a budget, I decided to stick with the approach I had started
with. The post-production, too, was an enormous challenge. Editor Steven Jess
was a tremendous collaborator, making a huge contribution to the film. As he
was in New York and I was in Adelaide, South Australia,
a lot of our work together was done on the Internet, another novel process for
me with such a big project. Oasis Post in Adelaide
handled the tremendous technical complexities of finishing the film from
As you've screened GLASS: a portrait
of Philip in twelve parts-whether on the
festival circuit, or in screening rooms, or in living rooms-how have audiences
reacted to the film? What has been most surprising or unexpected about their
SH: As the film
has played in theatrical release around the country, I have been delighted by
the emotional response people have shown towards the film. Many have described
it to me as inspirational, seeing in Philip's journey and outlook on life
something to contemplate in relation to their own lives. Even people who
profess not to be fans of his music have told me how the film has affected
them, and even caused them to reassess their reaction to his work.
What docs or docmakers have served as
inspirations for you?
Herzog is a perennial inspiration, with his restlessly insatiable curiosity
about humanity. I saw the Maysles brothers' Grey
Gardens in 1976, and have carried the impact of that with me ever since. Other
filmmakers like Michael Apted, who has also successfully alternated fictional
features with his documentaries, are also very inspiring.
GLASS: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts will be screening at the Village East Cinema in New York and the Arclight Theater in Hollywood.
the DocuWeek schedule in New York City,
the DocuWeek schedule in Los Angeles,
purchase tickets to DocuWeek at the ArcLight Hollywood, visit www.arclightcinemas.com.