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15 June 1944 |
Auckland, New Zealand
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, producer|
|Relatives||Fay Weldon (sister)|
The son of two physicians, his first job was as a jackaroo in the Australian outback, before becoming a horse breaker and rodeo rider. Travelling to England, he joined the camera department of Lew Grade's Associated TeleVision on his 20th birthday. He worked his way up to directing, firstly in television and then via the world of commercials, into television movies and feature films.
He directed several episodes of Space Precinct, at the time the most expensive TV series ever made. One of his early films was Killer's Moon. Killer's Moon was described in the acclaimed Shepperton Babylon as the most tasteless movie in the history of the British Cinema. In spite of comments like this, Killer's Moon won a prize for best Screenplay at the Sitges Horror Film Festival, and has since become a cult film.
In the mid 1970s, Birkinshaw’s production of Alice in Wonderland ran into difficulties when the RSPCA banned him from using live flamingos in the croquet scene. In an interview with ITN, the director of the London Zoo described Birkinshaw as ‘barmy’.
In 1986, Birkinshaw went to India where he directed an award winning film on the life of Jawaharlal Nehru, entitled But I Have Promises To Keep, which had been commissioned by Rajiv Gandhi and was made for the Government of India via Doordarshan, the national television network of India.
Birkinshaw has also directed the boxing movie Punch. In the last few years, Birkinshaw's passion for telling stories has taken him to the world of sculpture, recreating some of the greatest works by the world's classical sculptors. The Creation of Adam, based on Michelangelo's work in the Sistine Chapel is one, and the story of Alexander the Great’s triumphant march into Babylon, original by the famed neo-classical sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen, is another.