Dolphin Award Profile: Graeme Clifford

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Malibu local Graeme Clifford directs the upcoming Malibu Playhouse production, “God of Carnage.”

Malibu has always been more than just a bedroom community for Graeme Clifford, a motion-picture and television jack-of-all-trades. From the beginning, the 40-year-resident has continually been involved in numerous community organizations and projects that have helped enrich local culture and the lives of Malibu residents.

Although many of Clifford’s involvements have focused on creative and artistic projects for the community, he also takes a keen interest in various civic issues. 

Longtime resident Kathy Horn wrote, “Graeme has remained dedicated to the enrichment of our community in many diverse areas. He’s passionate about the arts, but is equally involved in Public Safety, Planning and Public Works, and is passionately committed to retaining and maintaining our rural heritage…He tirelessly gives of his time, effort and gifts as a director and citizen.”

Clifford boasts an exhausting résumé. He served on the board of the Malibu Playhouse for seven years; was a board member of the Malibu Township Council from 1998 to present, serving two terms as president; was vice-chair of the City’s Cultural Arts Task Force from 2010 to 2012, and then became an ex-officio member of the Cultural Arts Commission; has been on the Pepperdine University Crest Advisory Board from 2010 to present; served as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner for five years and is a former PTA member. 

Clifford was the only Malibu resident appointed by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission to a committee formed to select the artist who created the mosaic tile mural on the front of Point Dume’s newly remodeled Fire Station 71. 

He regularly attends and speaks at City Council, Planning Commission and Public Safety Commission meetings, sometimes representing the Malibu Township Council, and sometimes his own points-of-view. 

“I feel I need to help represent the unincorporated areas of Malibu,” Clifford said. “If you’re not involved as a citizen, then you don’t have a say in what happens. I don’t want to just sit at home and complain about stuff.”

He donated his time and expertise to direct four critically acclaimed plays for the Malibu Playhouse in recent years, including “A Soldier’s Play,” “Rabbit Hole,” “Kimberly Akimbo” and the currently running “God of Carnage.”

Clifford currently serves as an ex-officio member of Malibu’s Cultural Arts Commission, which has launched the Malibu Salon Series, described by the city as “exclusive and intimate events where high profile professionals in the arts industry share insight into their particular fields.” The ongoing events have featured world-famous local artists, architects and musicians. 

His membership on the Pepperdine Crest Advisory Board has gotten him involved in the university’s community outreach efforts, especially in regard to the Weisman Art Museum, student volunteer work and mentoring programs. Clifford has also been an adjunct professor in the Communications Division of Pepperdine since 2011. 

Born in Sydney, Australia, Clifford first became a leading film editor with credits that include Norman Jewison’s “F.I.S.T.,” Sam Peckinpah’s “Convoy,” Bob Rafelson’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and the cult-classic, “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” 

His directorial debut, “Frances” (1982), the real-life story of actress Frances Farmer, resulted in an Academy Award nomination for Jessica Lange. Directing credits also include “Gleaming the Cube” (1989) and “Deception” (1992). Also active in numerous television projects, he’s directed 13 movies/mini-series and eight series. His mini-series “The Last Don” received two Emmy nominations.