Ray Lawrence (born 1948) is an Australian film director, best known for his 2001 film Lantana.
All his films are made in Australia with predominantly Australian casts. He has made only three films in two decades, yet they have been some of the most critically acclaimed works in Australian cinema during that time. He is famous for his one-take shoots and use of natural light. He makes commercials in between films.
Lawrence was born in London, England, the son of a painter who painted the royal coaches at Buckingham Palace, and later spray painted London buses for double the salary. He moved to Australia with his family in 1958 at age 11 and they settled in Victor Harbor, South Australia after spending three years in a migrant hostel in Gawler. When he left school he moved to Sydney and began working in advertising. He worked for a number of years in London producing commercials. Then he returned home, established Window Productions with Glen Thomas, and became one of Australia's top directors of TV commercials.
Lawrence's unique cinematic style has established him as one of the most respected dramatic directors of contemporary Australian cinema. While only producing three films in his 25-year career as a feature film director, all of his features have meditated around the slippery and often painful nature of 'real' human interaction. It is Lawrence's ability to illustrate intensely personal interactions between characters as they navigate through the less than 'cinematic' terrain of real life situations that has engaged his audience and earned the respect among cinema goers and critics alike.
His second feature, Lantana (2001), is one of the highest grossing Australian films ever made winning critical and popular recognition including Best film, Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards. Examining human relationships and the notion of trust, the film weaves the mysterious disappearance of a wealthy psychiatrist across the fabric of three Australian families, with each family representative of a different social class existent in contemporary Australian society.
His son, Ben Lawrence, is also a film director.