Biography of Amy Heckerling

Amy Heckerling is a prominent American film director, producer, and screenwriter. She first started to make films in the early 1980s, and is known for her work on the classic movies Fast Times at Ridgemont High, European Vacation, Look Who's Talking, and Clueless. She is renowned for her witty dialogue, her expertise with comedy, and her special treatment of the genre of "teen comedy."

Raised in the Bronx by Jewish parents, Heckerling grew up obsessed with television and film, which she consumed avidly. When her family moved to Queens, Heckerling struggled with the transition, eventually transferring to the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, where she discovered that she wanted to become a filmmaker. She attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, studying film, where she says she made a number of strange, semi-counter-cultural musical films, which gained her acceptance to the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, where she earned an MFA.

Following grad school, Heckerling's first film was Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a teen comedy based on the undercover work of acclaimed journalist Cameron Crowe. The film was an instant classic and launched the careers of a number of young actors at the time, including Sean Penn, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Forrest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage, and Eric Stoltz. She followed the film up with the satirical Johnny Dangerously, National Lampoon's European Vacation with Chevy Chase, and the talking babies comedy Look Who's Talking (as well as its sequels). In 1995, she sought to update Jane Austen's Emma for the MTV generation, with Clueless, which, like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, became an immediate teen classic.

Since Clueless, Heckerling has had moderate success as a filmmaker, with films like Loser, I Could Never Be Your Woman, and Vamps. She is currently collaborating on a musical version of Clueless. She is an outspoken critic of Hollywood sexism, and is one of the few female directors to have had multiple box office hits.

Study Guides on Works by Amy Heckerling

Clueless is a coming-of-age teen film loosely based on Jane Austen's classic novel Emma written and directed by Amy Heckerling. It stars Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Brittany Murphy, Stacey Dash, and Breckin Meyer. The film is set in Beverly...