1989 was the year of Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" and Steven Soderbergh's "sex, lies and videotape" and Oscar was supposed to pay homage to independent films, yet Tom Schulman won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for "Dead Poet's Society" and even the most vocal supporters of the indie world kept mum. It was also Schulman's first feature film, although that same year he co-wrote (with Ed Naha) the highly successful family film "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids". The latter was an amiable comedy about an inventor who creates a machine that accidentally reduces his and a neighbor's children. "Dead Poet's Society" starred Robin Williams as an iconoclastic instructor at a boarding school who inspires his students but also creates frustration in one of them, leading to tragic consequences.
Schulman began his career working in industrial films. His first Hollywood credit was as one of the executive producer of the TV-movie "Gladiator"(ABC, 1986), in which Ken Wahl becomes a highway vigilante. Schulman's first produced writing credit was as story contributor on the ABC TV-movie "A Father's Revenge" (1988), in which Brian Dennehy goes after the terrorists who kidnapped his daughter.
Among Schulman's other big screen credits are the comedy "What About Bob?" (1989), with Bill Murray as the psychiatric patient from hell, and "Medicine Man" (1992), co-written with Sally Robinson, with Sean Connery as a researcher in the Amazon seeking a rare plant that can cure cancer. Additionally, Schulman was executive producer of "Indecent Proposal" (1993), the Robert Redford vehicle about a millionaire who offers a man money to sleep with his wife.
Schulman, who directed a critically acclaimed Actors and Directors Lab West Coast stage production of Harold Pinter's "The Caretaker", made his feature directing debut with the black comedy "8 Heads in a Duffel Bag" (1997), which he also scripted.