From his days as a production assistant on 2001: A Space Odyssey to his later work as a successful screenwriter and director, Andrew Birkin has defined his cinematic career with an uncanny eye for detail, both written and filmed. Birkin's penchant for deeply disturbed characters is evident in virtually every production with which he is involved; he has proven himself a master of slow-burning inner torment with such features as Burning Secret (1988) and The Cement Garden (1993). Born in London in 1945, Birkin entered the film industry in the early '70s. After making an impression on audiences by penning such features as The Pied Piper (1972) and Flame (1975), Birkin cemented his status as a gifted writer by putting ink to paper for the acclaimed British miniseries The Lost Boys, which detailed the life of author J.M. Barrie and the origins of his timeless children's fable Peter Pan. In 1981, Birkin frightened audiences with the horror sequel Omen III: The Final Conflict, and it wasn't long before he was looking to expand his responsibilities behind the camera. Though Birkin would make his directorial debut with the 1981 short Sredni Vashtar, it wasn't until his feature debut with 1988's Burning Secret that audiences were treated to his true vision as a filmmaker. A searing and remarkably personal drama documenting a young boy's growth into manhood, the film successfully put Birkin's name on the map by taking home awards from both the Bavarian Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.
In the years that followed, Birkin frequently alternated between writing and directing, with the occasional acting job thrown in for good measure. His screenplays for Bruce Beresford's King David and Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Name of the Rose (1986) found his reputation continuing to flourish, and his screenplay for the following year's Kung Fu Master (with his sister Jane in the lead role) explored the fragility of an age-disparity romance on tentative and sensitive terms. In 1992, Birkin once again stepped behind the camera for the romantic drama Salt on Our Skin, and his subsequent film, The Cement Garden (1993), took home the Silver Berlin Bear at that year's Berlin International Film Festival. Although Birkin remained fairly inactive throughout the 1990s, he worked closely with French filmmaker Luc Besson late in the decade on the script for the historical war drama The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999).