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. He began his career in advertising and directed both commercials and documentaries before making his first feature film, The Devil's Playground, in 1976.
In 2011 Schepisi directed The Eye of the Storm. Filmed in Melbourne, Sydney and Far North Queensland, and based on the novel by Patrick White, The Eye of the Storm stars Charlotte Rampling, Judy Davis and Geoffrey Rush. The story is about "children finally understanding themselves through the context of family".
Asked about the "gypsy-like existence" of a filmmaker, Schepisi has said: "It's the hardest thing. I think we're today's circus people. It's very hard on your family. [His wife] Mary travels with me and when everyone was younger and it was possible, I liked them to travel with me and be with me. Fortunately, Mary's an artist; she paints, and often finds inspiration from our locations." Schepisi has seven adult children and one grandchild.