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David Hickman has been writing, producing and directing single documentaries and series for broadcast television in the UK and internationally for the last twenty years. He is also a cinematographer, having worked on 16 and 35mm film, as well as a variety of video and HD formats – shooting drama and non-fiction.
As producer of the Errol Morris-directed A Brief History of Time (Triton/Paramount Pictures), he won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1992, and the film (released theatrically worldwide) was judged one the ‘ten best movies’ of the year by, among others, Time Magazine and the Los Angeles Times. More recently he directed and series produced the Emmy Award-winning The Elegant Universe, adapted from Brian Greene’s bestselling book for Nova/WGBH in the US and Channel 4.
Since joining the department in 2009, David has completed Race and Intelligence: Science’s Last Taboo, a feature-length documentary for Channel 4, which won the prestigious Grierson Award in 2010 for best science documentary, and three films for the Al Jazeera series Slavery: A 21st Century Evil (2011), which have just been nominated for an IDA (International Documentary Association). He produced, directed and photographed both productions.
As well as Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene, David has worked with onscreen talents including the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Thomas Friedman (a feature-length documentary entitled Green: The New Red White And Blue), the IVF pioneer Robert Winston (Superhuman, BBC1 & Discovery), and the American actor and producer Danny Glover (Great Railway Journeys, BBC2 & PBS).
David has also been privileged to work with some of the finest production and postproduction talent around: the Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris (who won an Academy Award for The Fog of War), cinematographers John Bailey, ASC (whose critically acclaimed cinematography on films like Mishima and American Gigolo has been deeply influential), Lance Gewer (who photographed the Academy Award-winning Tsotsi) Robefrt Chappell (The Thin Blue Line; The Fog of War) and Stefan Czapsky (best known for his photographing Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood), editors Brad Fuller (Gary Oldman’s Nil by Mouth and Tom Swartwout (who edited the legendary director Sydney Lumet’s last film, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead), composers Philip Glass (Mishima; The Hours) and Asche and Spencer (Monster’s Ball) re-recording mixer and sound designer Randy Thom (the Harry Potter films) , and sound recordist Peter Handford (a regular on Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘British’ movies, as well as The Go-Between, Out of Africa, Frenzy and Heaven’s Gate).
In the Department of Theatre, Film and Television, David is Programme Director of the MA in Digital Film and Television Production. He also teaches on the BSc in Film and Television Production, supervises PhD students (including PhD by Creative Practice), and has given talks to students on the undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in the Centre for Applied Human Rights at York.
He continues to work as a producer, director, writer and cinematographer.
David is a film-voting member of BAFTA and a member of Directors UK.
He has delivered masterclasses in documentary film and factual television at the international Film School in Cologne, has spoken on radio and television about his films on race and slavery, and more recently was a panel member in a Guardian discussion on ‘routes into film direction’.
In 2012, David was a keynote speaker at the 6th Art of Management and Organization Conference, held at the University of York, and a speaker at the official launch of the Centre for Advanced Studies at the University of Nottingham.
AWARDS FOR DAVID HICKMAN'S PRODUCTION
2012 Nominated for an IDA Award (International Documentary Association), for Slavery: A 21st Century Evil. An Al Jazeera Production.
2010 Grierson Award, Best science Documentary, for Race and Intelligence: Science's Last Taboo. A Windfall Films production for Channel 4.
2005 Nominated for a Gemini Award - Best History Program, for Zero Hour: Massacre at Columbine High. A 3BM production for Discovery.
2004 Cine Golden Eagle Award, for The Bridge on the River Kwai: Revealed. A Windfall Films production for Channel 5 and PBS.
2004 Silver Screen Award, US International Film and Video Festival, for The Bridge on the River Kwai: Revealed. A Windfall Films production for Channel 5 and PBS.
2003 George Foster Peabody Award, for The Elegant Universe. A NOVA/David Hickman Films production for PBS and Channel 4.
2003 Emmy Award for Outstanding Editing, for The Elegant Universe. A NOVA/David Hickman Films production for PBS and Channel 4.
2003 Silver Dragon, Beijing Film Festival. The Elegant Universe. A NOVA/David Hickman Films production for PBS and Channel 4.
2003 Gold Medal, New York film Festivals. The Elegant Universe. A NOVA/David Hickman Films production for PBS and Channel 4.
2003 Grand Prize, Image et Science, for The Elegant Universe. A NOVA/David Hickman Films production for PBS and Channel 4.
2003 Nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Science Program, for The Elegant Universe. A NOVA/David Hickman Films production for PBS and Channel 4.
2003 Nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Documentary, for The Elegant Universe. A NOVA/David Hickman Films production for PBS and Channel 4.
2003 Nominated for a Grierson Award - Best Science Documentary, for The Elegant Universe. A NOVA/David Hickman Films production for PBS and Channel 4.
2001 Wellcome Trust Award for Medicine and Biology, for Superhuman. A BBC/Discovery production for BBC1.
1997 Award for Innovation, Jackson Hold Wildlife Film Festival, for The Ultimate Guide: Elephants. A Windfall Films/David Hickman production for Discovery Channel.
1997 21st International Wildlife Film Festival.
Best of Festival, for The Ultimate Guide: Elephants
Best Long Television Series, for The Ultimate Guide
Best Scientific Content, for The Ultimate Guide: Elephants
Series produced by David Hickman Films for Discovery.
1996 Cine Golden Eagle Award, for The Ultimate Guide: T Rex. A Cinenova production in association with David Hickman Films for Discovery.
1996 Nominated for Best Educational Special or Series, 19th Annual CableAce Awards. for The Ultimate Guide: Snakes. A David Hickman Films production for Discovery.
1995 Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing, for A Baby's World. A Wall to Wall Television production for Channel 4 and TLC.
1995 Finalist Award, the New York Festivals, for A Baby's World. A Wall to Wall Television production for Channel 4 and TLC.
1995 Nominated for Best Environmental/Nature Documentary Special, 18th Annual CableAce Awards for Ultimate Guide: Elephants. A Windfall Films production in association with David Hickman Films for Discovery.
1994 Nominated for Directing a Documentary Special, 17th Annual CableAce awards, for A Baby's World. A Wall to Wall Television production for Channel 4 and TLC.
1994 Nominated for Best Documentary Series, 17th Annual CableAce Awards, for A Baby's World. A Wall to Wall Television Production for Channel 4 and TLC.
1992 Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival. A Brief History of Time. An Anglia Television/Gordon Freedman production for Triton Pictures and Channel 4.
1992 Distinguished Documentary. The International Document Association, for A Brief History of Time. An Anglia Television/Gordon Freedman production for Triton Pictures, NBC, Channel 4 and TBS Tokyo.
1992 One of 'Ten Best Movies' of 1992, Time Magazine and the Los Angeles Times, for A brief History of Time. An Anglia Television/Gordon Freedman production for Triton Pictures, NBC, Channel 4 and TBS Tokyo.
1992 Golden Panda Award for Best Film, Wildscreen Film Festival, for Madagascar: Island of Ghosts. A Survival Special/Anglia Television production for ITV and PBS.
1990 Special Award, Wildscreen Film Festival, for Antarctica: the Last Frontier. A Survival Special/Anglia Television for ITV and PBS.
2011 - Slavery: A 21st Century Evil - Producer, director, writer, cinematographer
Three 30-minute documentaries, shot in Haiti, Pakistan and India, on forms of slavery (child slavery, bonded labour, bride trafficking). Presented by Rageh Omaar.
Al Jazeera English
2009-11 - Holy War - Co-writer
A five-part series for major German broadcaster ZDF, marking the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I co-wrote scripts for the series, which went into principal photography in early 2011, and was transmitted in September 2011.
A Gruppe 5 production for ZDF
2009 - Race and Intelligence: Science’s Last Taboo - Producer, director, cinematographer, co-writer
A feature-length documentary that tells the story of the fall-out from Dr James Watson’s controversial remarks about race, and the troubled history that lurks behind them. Presented by former BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar. The film was the centerpiece of a season on race, and was broadcast in October 2009.
Windfall Films for Channel 4
2009 - Broadside - Drama director
A lavish drama-documentary about the largest sailing-ship battles ever fought – the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the mid-17th Century. The drama focuses on the battle of minds between Charles II and Johan DeWitt. Filmed at various locations in southern England, including the 17th century splendour of Ham House.
A Docema production for PBS
2008 - Locked Up Abroad - Writer, director, producer, lighting camera
Drama-documentary about British-born Sikh and investigative journalist Amardeep Bassey, imprisoned by Pakistan border police and accused of being an Indian spy. Behind the headline is a story of friendship with his Pakistani guide, for whom tribal honour meant he had to accompany him to jail. Filmed in HD on Sony F900 & HDW750 cameras.
A Raw Television production for Five & National Geographic
2008 - Escape from Alcatraz. The True Story - Writer, director, producer, lighting camera
One-hour drama-documentary film retracing the route and methods of the famous escape in 1962, and conducting new experiments that shed light on whether the three convicts could have made it to the mainland. Filmed in HD on Panasonic Varicam cameras.
A Blink Film & Television production for Channel Five & The Smithsonian HD Channel (US)
2008 - Indiana Jones. The True Story - Writer, director, producer, lighting camera
The story of two men – an American adventurer and a German archeologist who joined the SS – who between them were the ‘DNA’ of the fictional character.
A Blink Film & Television production for Channel Five & The Smithsonian
2007 - Saira Khan’s Pakistan Adventure - Writer, director, producer, lighting camera
Two one-hour films, shot in HD, with Saira Khan, traveling from Karachi, through the Indus Valley, the Karakorams and Himalayas, to Kashmir and her home town.
A BBC Birmingham production for BBC2’s “Indian Summer” season
2007 - Green: The New Red, White & Blue - Producer, director, lighting camera
Feature-length documentary on the ‘green revolution’ in America and its economic consequences, presented by three-times Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.
An Optomen USA production for Discovery US
2007 - 2057 - Writer (with Uwe Kersken)
Three screenplays developed for a landmark three-part, heavily dramatised documentary series set fifty years into the future.
A Gruppe 5 production for ZDF & Discovery US
2006 - Zero Hour: SAS Mission Impossible - Writer, producer, director (& documentary photography, including lighting camera & sound on Interviews)
Drama built on exclusive first-time interviews from both sides of a terrifying hostage crisis In Sierra Leone, West Africa.
A 3BM production for Discovery
2006 - Zero Hour: North Hollywood Shoot-out - Writer, producer, director (& documentary photography, including lighting camera & sound on interviews.)
A forty-four minute war fought out on the streets of suburban Los Angeles.
A 3BM production for Discovery
2005 - Zero Hour: Capturing Saddam - Writer, producer, director (& lighting camera on interviews)
A real-time drama based on exclusive interviews with those who there during the hour leading up to Saddam Hussein’s capture. The story told is substantially different to the official version released to the media at the time.
A 3BM production for Discovery.
2005 - Zero Hour: The Bali Bombing - Writer, producer, director (& additional photography in Bali & interviews)
Reconstructed from the detailed confessions of the bomb plotters, this is the inside story of the conspiracy and its terrible consequences.
A 3BM production for Discovery.
2004 - Zero Hour: Massacre at Columbine High - Writer, producer, director (& lighting camera on interviews)
A real-time factual drama that records the most violent school shooting in American history. The film uncovers a ‘perfect storm’ of events that caused the massacre.
A 3BM production for Discovery.
2004 - Zero Hour: The Last Hour of Flight 11 - Writer, producer, director (& lighting camera on interviews)
A factual drama of what went on inside the first aircraft to strike the twin towers on 9/11. It contains new information, some of it gleaned from off-the-record briefings with a US government agency, about how the aircraft was taken, and how the cabin crew fought back. UK broadcast on five as The Plane that Hit the Tower.
A 3BM production for Discovery.
2003 - The Bridge on the River Kwai: Revealed - Writer, producer, director (& super-16mm camera, recons)
Documentary, with dramatic reconstructions, that discovers the location of the real ‘bridge’, and reveals how the railway was successfully attacked using the Allies’ first ever ‘smart bomb’.
A Windfall Films production for Channel Five, WNET (Secrets of the Dead) & National Geographic.
2003 - The Theory of Everything (aka The Elegant Universe) - Series producer & director
A three-part documentary series that unravels the surreal world according to ‘string theory’ – including eleven dimensions and multiple universes.
A Nova/David Hickman Films production for Channel 4 & PBS.
2000 - Superhuman - Series producer & director
A six-part documentary series, presented by Robert Winston, on the human body, its capacity for self-repair, and modern medicine’s novel exploitation of this capacity.
A BBC Science production for BBC 1 & Discovery.
1999 - To the Ends of the Earth: The Lost World of Mulu - Writer, producer, director
British explorer Robin Hanbury Tenison goes in search of a Penan tribesman and friend in the jungles of Borneo. What he finds leads him to attempt to rebuild the shattered lives of the nomadic Penan.
A Triple Echo production for Channel 4.
1999 - Great Railway Journeys: St Louis to Dogon Country - Writer, producer, director.
Hollywood screen actor Danny Glover journeys through Senegal and Mali in search of his ancestral culture. To the music of Ali Farke Toure, Rokia Traore, Baaba Maal, Yousou N’Dour and Cheikh Lo.
A BBC Manchester production for BBC2.
1997 - Space Colonies: Living Among the Stars - Writer, producer, director
Exploring the wilder ideas to do with colonizing other worlds – such as ‘terraforming’ Mars. Contributors included Kim Stanley Robinson, author of one of the great achievements of modern science fiction, The Mars Trilogy.
A David Hickman Films production for Discovery
1995-97 - The Ultimate Guide - Series Producer
Ten films made by wildlife and science specialist production companies in the US and UK. My company coordinated 3-d visual effects, music and script editing, and oversaw a series that became a long-running franchise for Discovery Channel worldwide.
In association with David Hickman Films for Discovery
1994 - Baby It’s You - Series producer and director
A series of six films on how the key stages of human development – the ability to walk, talk, think – are passed through before the age of three, and before our capacity to remember how we did it.
A Wall to Wall Television Production for Channel 4 and TLC
1992 - A Brief History of Time - Producer
From Stephen Hawking’s bestselling book, director Errol Morris follows up his extraordinary ‘non-fiction feature’ The Thin Blue Line with a reflection on the convergence of biography and scientific insight, in a story told entirely through the narration of Hawking himself and the testimony of friends, family, colleagues and rivals.
Shot in 35mm and released theatrically.
An Anglia Television/Gordon Freedman production for Triton Pictures, NBC, Channel 4 and TBS Tokyo.
1992 - Madagascar: Island of Ghosts - Producer, director, writer, music producer
Madagascar is a laboratory of mammalian evolution, an island colonized by people whose cultures were lost long ago in the places they journeyed from, and an ecological disaster. Combining documentary material, wildlife photography (by the brilliant Doug Allan) and a music soundtrack by Rossy, one of Madagascar’s most celebrated musicians, the film reached an audience of nine million when it was broadcast on ITV. Music from the soundtrack, released by Peter Gabriel’s Real World label, has appeared many times since – for example, on the renowned classical guitarist John Williams’ album The Magic Box, and in an episode of The West Wing (‘Burnam Wood’, episode 2, series 6).
A Survival Anglia production for ITV and WNET/Nature.
1990 - Antarctica: The Last Frontier - Co-writer and co-director
Working with Graham Creelman, the executive producer of Anglia Television’s legendary Survival series, this two-part series blended a wildlife narrative with an examination of the fate of the continent at a time when mineral rights were being contested by world superpowers and regional rivals.
A Survival Anglia production for ITV.
1986 - Reasons: Six Debates - Associate producer
My first network series, and one that startled critics who discovered six programmes on philosophy in the ITV daytime schedules. Presented by the late Paul Sieghart and featuring Ronald Dworkin, Ted Honderich, Simon Blackburn, Jerry Cohen, Alan Ryan and Mary Warnock, among others.
An Anglia Television production for ITV.
David’s research is largely defined by the substantive subjects of most recent documentary works, most recently in the field of human rights. He is also preparing a book, provisionally entitled Triumph of the Real, which examines some of the dominant arguments that film and television programme makers, commissioners and executives, all use for the ways in which they make and justify their work. The book will argue that we – producers and audiences – have accumulated a ragbag of rules and expectations that are ideologically constricting as well as corrosive of rich (non-realist) cinematic traditions. A few of these arguments are outlined in a review essay about the Kony 2012 phenomenon, entitled ‘Jason and the Internauts’, published in the Journal of Human Rights Practice (OUP, Vol 4, Issue 3, 2012).
David is presently co-supervising research students on film and surveillance and the filmmaking processes of Richard Linklater. He welcomes research proposals from students interested in studying for a PhD by Creative Practice, especially in documentary, but is interested in proposals that focus less on film-as-'text' and more on 'process' (or in industry parlance: production).
As director of the department's theatre, film and television PhD programme, he does of course welcome all proposals - even those that use the term 'text'.