Catherine Hardwicke has worked as a production designer and art director in Hollywood, frequently on films with "cult" status, such as Tapeheads (1989), Tank Girl (1995), and Vanilla Sky (2001). In 2003, she established herself as a person to watch by co-writing and directing the film Thirteen, which won for Ms. Hardwicke an award for her direction at the Sundance Film Festival.
When an adolescent herself, in McAllen, Texas, she was something of a self-identified geek. In seventh grade tried hopelessly to become involved with more popular students, and only learned from peers that it was commonplace in her culture for post-pubescent females to shave their legs.
She flowered as a young adult. After studying art in Mexico and architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, she began to work as an architect. Her most famous work is a townhouse complex which makes use of solar power and features an artificial lake, waterfalls, and sculptures representing the occupants. She worked for the first time as a professional production designer on 1975’s Posse, a Kirk Douglas western. Hardwicke would return to this career on a more permanent basis in the 1980s.
Interested now in film, she enrolled in University of California, Los Angeles's film school; her first short film earned a Nissan Focus Award. She made several other short films, and sought regular work in the industry.
Although she has no children of her own, she sees herself as a "safety valve for other moms" (Dixon), and often takes in the children of friends. In this way she met Nikki Reed, whose father she dated when the girl was only 5. When Nikki demonstrated a radical personality and behavioural shift at 13, Hardwicke intervened.
Initially, she encouraged her young friend to take acting classes, which provided a more wholesome distraction. As Hardwicke became more involved with the girl’s life, she decided they should cooperate on a screenplay. She did not realize that this would, in fact, become her own long-desired debut as the director of a feature film.
Reed drew on the experiences of her wild life one year earlier, and the experiences of her friends, and she and Hardwicke developed a story. They wrote the first draft over the six days of Nikki Reed’s winter break; this version would, of course, be substantially altered. They fought for funding; Holly Hunter's interest in the project helped somewhat. The movie went from premise to final cut in a remarkably short time.
Hardwicke’s second film, Lords of Dogtown (2005), deals with the lives of groundbreaking skaters in the 1970s, dramatizing material previously popularized by the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys. Made on a low budget, it has garnered an impressive, though mixed, critical response. A similar mixed response greeted her third film, The Nativity Story, but it has been embraced by the Christian family audience. In 2008, she scored a commercial hit, though mixed reviews, with her adaptation of the teen vampire novel Twilight.
Guy Dixon. "Filmmaker Throws Teen a Lifeline." Globe and Mail R1-2. August 18, 2003.
Catherine Hardwicke. Filmbug. http://www.filmbug.com/db/343565
Catherine Hardwicke. Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0362566/
Catherine Hardwicke Yahoo! Movies. http://movies.yahoo.com/shop?d=hc&id=1800196628&cf=gen&intl=us
Rebecca Murray. "Writer/Director Catherine Hardwicke talks about Thirteen." http://romanticmovies.about.com/cs/thirteen/a/thirteenhardwic.htm