Tim McCanlies Biography

Tim McCanlies photo

Born: January 01, 1953


Date of Birth: 1953

Tim McCanlies studied filmmaking at the University of Texas, then went to Texas A&M University where he majored in drama. He finished his studies in film and creative writing at the Southern Methodist University graduate school. While at university, he first had a part time job loading trucks each morning before classes began, then joined the Dallas police department. After graduating, McCanlies packed everything he owned into a van and moved to Los Angeles to break into the film business. He wrote a number of scripts and after three or four years of writing and meeting people, his work finally caught the attention of an agency. By then, McCanlies, who had only brought enough money to support himself for a year, was earning a living as a computer programmer. He signed on with the agency and first became a writer for Disney. While there, he wrote the screenplay for North Shore (1987), but it ended up being produced by Universal.

McCanlies made his directorial debut with his screenplay Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 (1998). Although he had several buyers for the film, he turned them down, insisting he wanted to direct it. He was ready to finance it himself with $100,000, but word spread and he soon received the financing needed to make the film on a bigger budget. Shot on location in Texas, the film won McCanlies a Lone Star Film & Television Award for Best Director. He then wrote the screenplay for the animated The Iron Giant (1999), and won several awards for his work, including a BAFTA Children’s Award for Best Film, an Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production and Nebula Award for Best Screenplay.

Early in his career, he was hired to flesh out the characters in other people’s action movies, and he decided that he’d had enough of that — he wanted to make character-driven films. He wrote the screenplay for Secondhand Lions (2003), about a sensitive boy who goes to stay with his eccentric uncles in Texas. This time there was no question about anyone other than McCanlies directing, and he cast Oscar®-winning actors Michael Caine and Robert Duvall as the uncles, with Oscar®-nominee Haley Joel Osment as the boy.

McCanlies lives on a ranch outside of Austin, Texas.

Filmography (director):

Secondhand Lions (2003)
Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 (1998)

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