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The Films of Fred Schepisi

The Films of Fred Schepisi

By Brian McFarlane
Hardcover : 9781496835352, 194 pages, November 2021
Paperback : 9781496835307, 194 pages, November 2021

A thorough treatment of the Australian director’s methods, output, and brilliant global arc


Fred Schepisi is one of the crucial names associated with the revival of the Australian film industry in the 1970s. The Films of Fred Schepisi traces the lead-up to his critical successes in feature filmmaking, via his earlier award-winning success as a producer in advertising commercials in the 1960s and the setting up of his own company. Unlike some directors, he derived from this experience a sure sense of the commercial aspects of filmmaking, as well as its aesthetic considerations. The volume also considers stories of his early education in a Catholic seminary, which he drew on in his semiautobiographical film, The Devil’s Playground, the success of which launched him as an exciting new feature director.

The volume expands on Schepisi’s success story to chart his development as a director in demand in other countries, notably in the US and the UK, as well as continuing to make major films in Australia. Brian McFarlane argues that Schepisi’s career is symptomatic of Australian directors who have made their presences felt on the international stage. Whereas other key directors of the Australian film revival, such as Peter Weir and Bruce Beresford, have been the subject of book-length critical studies, Schepisi’s career has not to-date been so explored. McFarlane takes a critical account of Schepisi’s film output—including such standouts as The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Plenty, Roxanne, Six Degrees of Separation, Mr. Baseball, and Last Orders—and he augments analysis with interviews with the director. By discussing the production histories and both critical and popular receptions, McFarlane’s study shines a new light on Schepisi’s work and his rise to prominence in the global film industry.


"The Films of Fred Schepisi fills an important and surprising gap. It draws on new interviews with the subject and much of the popular critical literature on Schepisi, and it is the first work to deal with the entirety of Schepisi’s career. Overall, the volume provides an insightful and necessary contribution to the study of both a contemporary director working across different film industries and to Australian cinema during the last fifty years. "

- Adrian Danks, associate professor at RMIT University and coeditor of American-Australian Cinema: Transnational Connections

"The Films of Fred Schepisi is a lucid, timely introduction to the work of one of Australia’s finest and most distinctive filmmakers that explains how he has found a place in world cinema. "

- Janet Wilson, professor emerita of English and postcolonial studies at University of Northampton

"Schepisi as a chameleon is the premise of this engaging survey of the director’s considerable and remarkably diverse output by Brian McFarlane, whose capacity to produce a cinematic catalogue raisonné of this kind is unrivalled."

- Simon Caterson, The Age