Oscar winner Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”) directs the action adventure “In the Heart of the Sea,” based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s best-selling book about the dramatic true journey of the Essex.
In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story. “In the Heart of the Sea” reveals the encounter’s harrowing aftermath, as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade.
“In the Heart of the Sea” stars Chris Hemsworth (“The Avengers,” “Rush”) as the vessel’s veteran first mate, Owen Chase; Benjamin Walker (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) as its inexperienced Captain, George Pollard; Cillian Murphy (“The Dark Knight Rises”) as second mate Matthew Joy; and Ben Whishaw (“Spectre,” “The Danish Girl”) as novelist Herman Melville, whose inquiries into the event three decades later helped bring the story to light. Tom Holland (“The Impossible”) also stars as young seaman Tom Nickerson, and Brendan Gleeson (“Edge of Tomorrow,” “Suffragette”) as the elder Nickerson, 30 years older.
Howard directed the film from a screenplay by Charles Leavitt (“Blood Diamond”), story by Charles Leavitt and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Jurassic World”), based on the book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick, winner of the 2000 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
The film was produced by Joe Roth (“Oz the Great and Powerful”), Paula Weinstein (“Blood Diamond,” “This is Where I Leave You”), Will Ward, Oscar winner Brian Grazer (“A Beautiful Mind”) and Ron Howard. The executive producers are Bruce Berman, Sarah Bradshaw, Palak Patel, Erica Huggins and David Bergstein, with William M. Connor serving as co-producer.
The behind-the-scenes creative team included Oscar-winning director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “Rush”); production designer Mark Tildesley (“The Fifth Estate”); Oscar-winning editors Mike Hill and Dan Hanley (both for “Apollo 13”); costume designer Julian Day (“Rush”) and composer Roque Baños (“Evil Dead”).
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a COTT Productions-Enelmar Productions, A.I.E. co-production, a Roth Films/Spring Creek/Imagine Entertainment Production, in Association with Kia Jam, a Ron Howard Film, “In the Heart of the Sea.”
The film will be distributed in 2D and 3D in select theatres and IMAX, by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
We were heading for the edge of the Earth.
We left home behind with a sliver of hope…searching for the truth.
It is one of the greatest seafaring tales of all time: the Nantucket whaling ship Essex was attacked by a leviathan—a white whale of singular size and intent—leaving only a few of its crew to overcome near-impossible odds and live to recount their experience. But in the almost 200 years since that harrowing voyage, the truth faded into history, eclipsed by the celebrated novel it inspired, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Now, with acclaimed director Ron Howard at the helm, the legend of the Essex, her courageous crew, and that mythic white whale comes to the big screen for the first time in the epic adventure “In the Heart of the Sea.”
Moby-Dick is fiction; however “In the Heart of the Sea” brings to life the powerful saga that would fuel Melville’s defining and enduring novel. Howard says, “The true story of the Essex is fantastic. It’s visceral; it’s rich and cinematic at its core, with lots of twists and turns along the way. And though the film is set in the past, it touches on ideas about relationships, survival, humanity and nature that are relatable and thought-provoking, and connect to our own sensibilities about who we are as people.”
Howard initially received the screenplay from actor Chris Hemsworth when they were working together on “Rush.” Hemsworth, who stars in the film as Essex First Mate Owen Chase, remarks, “I loved the script from the start. ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ is about heroism and people being tested beyond their limits in absolutely every way. I was also captivated by the psychological thriller aspect of the whale turning the tables on them. There is something incredibly mysterious about how this animal is portrayed—why the whale goes on the attack, which was unlike anything the Essex crew had ever encountered. The hunter becomes the hunted.”
Benjamin Walker, who plays the role of Essex Captain George Pollard, posits that the mortal clash between the whalers and the whale is only one component. “There are three great trials encompassed in this story: man against man, man against nature, man against self. How can you overcome those trials and survive? That’s the question of the movie. But there’s beauty in that; you see the endurance of the human spirit.”
Howard acknowledges that when Hemsworth initially approached him about the project, “I didn’t know anything about the Essex and didn’t know the script was based on events that were very real. But when I learned this had actually happened, it was mind-blowing. I instantly began to visualize a movie that would be raw and intense…a movie that I would want to see, which is the crucial litmus test for me.”
The extraordinary journey of the Essex and her crew was chronicled by Nathaniel Philbrick in his book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. The author and historian, who calls Nantucket home, had a long-held fascination with the industry that had put the small Massachusetts island on the map. “The book grew out of my curiosity about how it was back in the day when Nantucket was the capital of American whaling. This was a story that got under my skin.”
Philbrick’s detailed account of the ill-fated voyage had a similar effect on the filmmakers and cast. Producer Paula Weinstein attests, “The book was absolutely riveting; I couldn’t stop reading it, and when that happens, then you know it’s going to be a project you can be passionate about. I also found the subject matter to be very contemporary. You could just change the clothes and the setting and it would become as current a story as you could find right now, exploring timeless themes of ambition and sacrifice, men and their fathers, women and their husbands, animals and nature, and life and death.”
Howard’s producing partner Brian Grazer offers, “It’s experienced through the perspective of men doing what they believe is right and worthy, and we see the moral complexity of that. But it’s all beneath the surface of a seagoing action drama that is extremely dynamic.”
“It’s not only a tale of these men and the journey on which they embark,” says producer Will Ward, “but it’s also an incredible story of survival and the lengths a man is willing to go to save his own life and the lives of others. While reading the script and researching this world, what astounded me was that these guys did this for a living. They sailed out in the open ocean on these 80- to 100-foot vessels for years at a time, and when they spotted whales, they would go after these mammoth beasts in small rowboats. It’s really unbelievable.”
In recent years, modern society has come to understand that whales are sentient beings, with highly developed intelligence and emotions. But screenwriter Charles Leavitt, who also shares story credit with Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, points out that you have to view the livelihood of these men through the prism of times past. “This is not a movie that glorifies whaling; on the contrary, it shows how brutal it was,” he states. “The whaling industry of the early 19th century was essentially the oil industry before someone figured out how to drill a hole in the ground to get oil from the earth. Whale oil lit the lamps of America and Europe. They rocked their babies to sleep in cribs made out of whale bone; their furniture, women’s corsets, and a myriad of other essentials were by-products of whales. But the lives of the men on board these whaleships were expendable, nothing more than entries on a company balance sheet.
“The story has been described as ‘man versus nature,’” Leavitt continues, “but the fact is there should really be no ‘versus’ because humans are a part of nature. However, that was unfortunately not the prevailing attitude of Western society at that time. They believed man had dominion over nature and that included all animals. Whales were nothing more than a commodity to be harvested.”
“The audience’s ability to understand the culture of these whalers relies so much on Ron’s talent for creating a world cinematically,” Grazer observes. “He is particularly good at humanizing characters and making them multi-dimensional. So you will see all the different sides of these men as they metamorphose while struggling to survive on this vast ocean.”
Weinstein concurs that the film could not have been in better hands. “I cannot say enough about the experience of working with Ron. He is the most extraordinary director—strong and clear, hardworking and collaborative and inclusive. As a producer, it isn’t hard to hand over a project if you are handing it to a master filmmaker, and Ron brings that and so much more to the table.”
The cast, led by Hemsworth, shares her sentiments. “Ron has the biggest heart of anyone I know and has the best work ethic,” says Hemsworth. “As a filmmaker, he is always pushing the envelope. You look at the movies he’s done in his career and you can’t put them in a box—from huge comedies to compelling dramas to big action, he’s done it all, and done it with integrity and intelligence. ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ was a demanding endeavor for all of us, and when you go through something like that, you need to be arm-in-arm with one another, and supporting each other. He constantly kept us on our toes, but that’s what you want as an actor—to be challenged and inspired.”
Walker affirms, “Ron likes things to be spontaneous and fast, so he expects you to be prepared when you get to the set. I respected that and responded to it. He shot with multiple cameras on every take because he wanted to capture how capricious life and death could be for these men on the ocean, and I think you can feel that when you’re watching the movie; it’s almost seems like you’re part of it, like you’re hidden on the mast and witnessing these events going on around you.”
Howard reveals that is always his goal, noting, “When I go to the movies I want to be transported, and I saw ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ as an exciting opportunity to transport audiences. I wanted to take them on a ride in a really vivid, cool way. I realized that telling the story the way it should be told was full of challenges, but they were challenges that could now be met. We could put it on the big screen in a way that was convincing, exciting and lived up to the promise of what the film could offer.”
To carry moviegoers effectively to another place and time, the filmmakers recreated the Nantucket of the early-to-mid 1800s at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden in England. They also shot pivotal scenes on the open waters off La Gomera, one of the smallest Canary Islands, with many of the actors getting a taste of 19th-century sailing on a full-size replica of the Essex.
“It really is an amazing adventure,” Howard says, “but one with a lot of heart, a lot of soul and interesting ideas to express. And who better to express those ideas than our remarkable cast?”
Joining Hemsworth and Walker in the central ensemble were Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Tom Holland and Ben Whishaw.
“Our actors endured some real physical trials over the course of production,” says Howard, “but they were determined to get it right because they wanted to respect the truth of the story and the lives of the individuals they were portraying.”
The tragedy of the Essex is the story of two men:
Captain George Pollard and his first mate, Owen Chase.
Captain George Pollard and his first mate, Owen Chase.
The Nantucket of the early 1800s was very prestigious due to the wealth of the whale oil industry. And, in turn, there was one group of men on the island who commanded the most respect. Philbrick details, “The whalers of Nantucket were very much like the fighter pilots of today, with the ‘right stuff.’ They had a swagger when they walked down Main Street. They were explorers who went to places no one had ever been to battle the mightiest creatures on Earth. I mean, these guys were cool and kind of arrogant, too. They looked down on landsmen and even on other sailors as inferior mariners, so if you were a young Nantucket boy, you wanted desperately to become a whale man.”
But within the whaling community, there was a distinct caste system, based more on blood than on water. Owen Chase was a skilled whaler who had repeatedly delivered record amounts of oil to port. Nevertheless, not having been born to a whaling family, he is passed over to captain the Essex.
Chris Hemsworth offers, “Chase is a working-class guy who has the skill set and qualifications to be captain but not the birthright. Because he is not from a privileged family and doesn’t have the right name or background, he is pushed aside for captain to be first mate to George Pollard, much to his frustration and anger.”
“Chase is heroic, noble and charismatic,” Howard says, “but he’s also flawed. He is driven by a need to prove himself and is single-minded about it to a fault. Chris is such a courageous actor who conveys every facet of the character, sometimes without a word. Through his performance, we really come to know Chase at a profound level.”
Chase’s simmering resentment toward George Pollard is only exacerbated by his new captain’s total lack of experience. Hemsworth confirms, “There is a lot of friction between the two of them due to Chase knowing full well he should be the captain, and Pollard likely realizing it, too, deep down. When they both try to exert their authority with the crew, it sets the stage for a pretty dangerous scenario because they have conflicting opinions about how to do things. The men question whom they should trust because Pollard is the captain, but Owen Chase has more knowledge.”
Although Pollard has the power of command, he is plagued by the doubts that come with knowing it was given but not earned. “George Pollard did not get to choose what he wanted to be,” Walker elaborates. “He is the scion of an established whaling family and has grown up with the responsibility of living up to the Pollard legacy…whether he has the aptitude for it or not. There is a lot of pressure on him, and understanding that pressure is understanding George Pollard.”
“Ben Walker is an excellent actor,” states Howard. “He has the intelligence and insight to comprehend the complexity of a character like Pollard, who is driven not by a need to conquer, not to hunt whales, but to measure up to some ideal with which the family name burdens him.”
Walker relates, “He gets the opportunity with his first captaincy, which is all well and good…until he is assigned Owen Chase as a first mate. From then on, there is a struggle between the two men that forces Pollard to figure out who he is as a man as opposed to who he is within the context of his family. And I think that is fascinating…someone discovering themselves in the midst of being tested by the circumstances of nature.”
Hemsworth agrees, noting, “The before and after is what I find to be one of the most compelling aspects—how the men who survive respond to what they’ve been through. All of them are far different at the end from who they were starting out. Coming home, how do they look at themselves and at the world? How do they look at whaling? Are they going to go back out there and do it again…? Or perhaps they are going to think, ‘Maybe this is wrong. Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here.’”
The conflict between the captain and first mate leaves Second Mate Matthew Joy to try and smooth the waters between them. Cillian Murphy, who plays the role, shares, “Matthew tries to be a mediator within the tense relationship between Chase and Pollard. What I liked was the sense of history you get about him. He’s obviously close with Chase; they’ve been sailing together since they were about 13. You also see that he’s a reformed alcoholic who has turned over a new leaf. He was quite an interesting character to play.”
Murphy adds that he was equally drawn to the script and the director. “I read the script and it felt like the kind of great, muscular adventure that we don’t see too many of these days. It was one of those scripts you can’t put down, and you’re still thinking about it when you go to bed and when you wake up the next day.
“Then there was the idea of working with Ron, whose films I’ve loved over the years,” Murphy continues. “I’ve always said the director sets the tone for the set and it percolates down to the cast and crew. On a Ron Howard set, there is such positive energy and he’s so involved in every detail of the production and each character. And that enthusiasm and joy of filmmaking is infectious. That’s what you get from him.”
Two actors of different generations play the role of Thomas Nickerson, separated by three decades. Young Tom Holland plays the 14-year-old cabin boy setting off on his first whaling expedition, on the Essex. Veteran actor Brendan Gleeson portrays the man who still bears the scars of his ordeal, although most of them are invisible.
Howard explains, “Our two Nickersons gave us a chance to explore individual aspects of the story that are both interesting and emotional. There’s the danger and the excitement of the adventure seen through the eyes of a boy, and the trauma of the tragedy as remembered by the man.”
Tom Holland describes the younger Nickerson as “one of the hardest kids I’ve ever come across. He’s an orphan, he has no one, and he sets out on this voyage with a bunch of hardened men who have been doing this for years, and he genuinely has no idea what he’s doing. So he heads into it wide-eyed and ready to go, but he doesn’t really know what he’s in for.”
Thirty years later, we see Nickerson—now the last remaining survivor of the Essex—as he is being pressed to recount the events that continue to haunt him. Brendan Gleeson remarks, “He was only a child when he witnessed this awful thing and has never spoken about the horror of what he went through. It’s something he’s suppressed for years upon years, and it’s essentially killing him. When he is able to bring himself to a place where he can finally confront it, it’s quite cathartic.”
The person who entreats Nickerson to talk about the disaster is a young author by the name of Herman Melville. In creating the framework for the screenplay, Charles Leavitt says, “I wanted to meld the true story of the Essex with the fictional account of Melville going through the writer’s process of giving birth to his great American novel, Moby-Dick. The narration of the film is from Nickerson’s point of view, but we can begin to imagine where Melville’s imagination will take off.”
Cast as the now-legendary author, Ben Whishaw notes, “The film begins with Herman Melville’s hunger for the truth. He has heard whisperings and believes there’s been a cover-up about what really transpired on the Essex. In a way, my character is the catalyst of the film in that he is ultimately able to get Nickerson to tell his story. What transpires between them is a kind of dark night of the soul—they talk all through the night—and by the end they have to look at themselves in a new light.”
Nickerson might never have opened up to the author were it not for the support of his wife, played by Michelle Fairley. Gleeson attests, “She encourages Melville to get her husband to unleash the story because she feels it’s the only hope for them. She doesn’t quite know the extent of what happened, but she has been living with this darkness hanging over them and with him closing in on himself.”
Howard relates, “‘In the Heart of the Sea’ actually has a lot to do with the women in these men’s lives because in the history of Nantucket and the whaling industry, the women were the true survivors. As the men ventured out for years at a time, it was the women who made the place work. It was more than raising the kids and keeping the house; they ran the community.”
Charlotte Riley plays Owen Chase’s loving wife, Peggy, who is pregnant with their first child when her husband leaves, promising he will return to her. Howard says, “Seeing Owen’s relationship with his wife in the beginning is vital to understanding his character. When the story becomes about finding a way home, we have to know there is something that’s so much more meaningful to fight for, not just his own life. It’s the idea of family and the woman he loves that’s important.”
The men who sail out with Pollard and Chase also include Caleb Chappel, played by Paul Anderson; Nickerson’s teenage friend Barzillai Ray, played by Edward Ashley; the ship’s cook, William Bond, played by Gary Beadle; Ramsdell, played by Sam Keeley; Richard Peterson, played by Osy Ikhile; Benjamin Lawrence, played by Joseph Mawle; and Pollard’s cousin Henry Coffin, another member of the prominent whaling family, played by Frank Dillane. Jordi Mollá plays a Spanish whaling ship captain who had a fateful encounter with the white whale and tries to warn the Essex crew of the danger ahead.
Monsters…are they real? Or do the stories exist
only to make us respect the sea’s dark secrets?
only to make us respect the sea’s dark secrets?
Without question, the white whale plays a pivotal role in the drama, so his creation involved the combined expertise of several departments. Howard says, “The behavior of sperm whales was something we researched and analyzed as a team. We met with ocean mammal experts and marine biologists to get a better understanding of their behavior. What interested me most was why this happened. A ship being relentlessly attacked by a whale was unheard of, unparalleled; it was the most freakish thing. I came to believe that this animal was pushed to the breaking point leading to an inevitable clash.”
Production designer Mark Tildesley says, “We needed to make sure the whale feels like a living presence in the film. We tried a few images of white whales and they looked fantastic, but, unfortunately, the pure white also engendered a very ethereal, calm image. But in our research we learned a lot of older whales start to lose their skin, so we made the whale darker, but you see the white coming through in patches where the skin has flaked off.”
“He is also scarred from previous battles with humans and other predators, so his appearance conveys the harshness of his history,” adds visual effects producer Leslie Lerman.
The whale was brought to life via CGI by the visual effects team, led by Lerman and VFX supervisor Jody Johnson. Johnson comments, “It was particularly challenging, with a creature of such immense size and power, to push the envelope without going over the edge because we didn’t want to pluck the audience out of this real world and take them into a fantasy realm. Each time we conceptualized an action sequence that involved the main whale, or any of the whales, we sent it off to our experts and we’d discuss how plausible it was and what other behaviors they might suggest. It gave us a great spectrum from which to work.”
What does set this whale apart from anything in our frame of reference is his size: measuring 95 feet long, weighing approximately 80 tons, with a tail spanning 20 feet. By contrast, the other male sperm whales they encounter measure just over half as long, at about 52 feet.
Paula Weinstein remarks that the enormousness of this whale is not all that distinguishes him. “To me, he is the voice of nature saying ‘Enough!‘ He is a protector who is telling them in the only way he can to stop invading his waters and killing his family. And given the times in which we live, that’s very important. I think the audience will want Chase and Pollard and the other men to survive and make it home, but at the same time they will be cheering for the whale. It’s that mix of emotions that makes it all the more compelling.”
Since it was discovered that whale oil could light our cities
in ways never achieved before, it created global demand.
It has pushed man to venture further into the deep, blue unknown.
in ways never achieved before, it created global demand.
It has pushed man to venture further into the deep, blue unknown.
ON LAND AND SEA
“In the Heart of the Sea” was filmed almost entirely in sequence for several reasons, not the least of which was the gradual change in the characters’ appearances as they waste away from a lack of food and water, as well as shelter from the unforgiving elements.
The appearance of the men who survive the sinking of the Essex changes drastically over time, so the actors, in turn, had to lose a substantial amount of weight over the course of production. Hemsworth details, “The men were lost at sea for months, so by the time any of them were found, they were basically just skin and bones. We were eating minimal amounts of food, but we kept reminding ourselves that it was nothing compared to what they suffered. We all banded together to keep morale up and distract us from how hungry we were.”
Tom Holland suggests, “There’s no stronger glue than getting a bunch of guys to lose weight together. But it helped forge a bond between us on the set, which was really important.”
“It started out with a healthy level of competition,” Walker offers, “but there was a point at which it did become uncomfortable. We tried to keep it in perspective though. We couldn’t have pizza and cheeseburgers, but it was worth it; we were making a Ron Howard movie. And for us to be in some level of discomfort was almost as if we were paying homage to those who actually endured that horrible experience.”
The director expressed his appreciation for the perseverance of his cast, stating, “I’m so grateful for their professionalism and dedication in the midst of being hungry and exposed to the elements day after day. It was apparent from the beginning what they were going to go through, but they tackled every demand of their roles with tremendous integrity.”
The actors’ commitment notwithstanding, the filmmakers would never have allowed them to do anything that might jeopardize their health, so losing weight could only go so far. The makeup artists, led by makeup and hair designer Fae Hammond, were then able to enhance the look of malnourishment, making the men appear increasingly more emaciated. In addition, makeup was used to show the damaging effects of dehydration and prolonged exposure to the sun.
Taking it a step further, the visual effects team painstakingly removed muscle mass from each man’s frame as their characters neared the end of their ordeal—in whatever manner that would come.
Costume designer Julian Day reveals that the fit of the wardrobe also came into play. “We made the clothes slightly too big, but with a cinch at the back. At the start of the film, we cinched them all the way in and as the journey went on, we let them out more and more, so the clothes got bigger and would hang on the actors differently.”
The manifestation of the men’s deprivation was psychological as well as physical, so the filmmakers hired marine and survival consultant Steven Callahan to help the actors fully grasp every aspect of the ordeal. An experienced sailor, Callahan had been shipwrecked and survived two and a half months on a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean, writing a book about it entitled Adrift. He notes that the impact of fighting for life has not changed with time. “It was interesting to watch these guys learning about survival in terms of the mental part being affected by the physical part. All the tension and the constant swings from desperation to hope remain as relevant today as they ever were.”
Conversely, the actors had to start that journey as men whose livelihood required them to be physically fit. Hemsworth affirms, “For the men going out to sea, it was like going off to war—they would be gone for two or three years and there was a good chance they wouldn’t come back. They were in the trenches, so to speak, and it was incredibly dangerous.”
“At the beginning,” Cillian Murphy says, “Ron wanted everybody to be in shape and look capable of handling life at sea. So we had a gym on set and everybody was working out together.”
Holland relates, “I had to exercise with Chris Hemsworth, right? That was pretty funny. My workout was taking his weights off the bench press,” he teases.
The cast also had to prepare to perform tasks like experienced 19th-century sailors. Stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart says, “One of the most important things was learning everything that went into crewing on a ship, some of which hasn’t changed to this day. By the end of filming, I think our actors could get on a boat and sail the world because of the invaluable instruction they received.”
Gary Beadle attests, “We practiced rigging and tying rope knots, and did a lot of rowing. Rowing back and forth, back and forth, getting the rhythm. I think I can row the English Channel now,” he smiles.
Joseph Mawle adds, “My biggest challenge was climbing up 40 feet onto a yardarm, straddling it and moving to the edge. For some guys it was effortless, but I froze the first few times. I realized I have no head for heights, but eventually I was able to do it, and overcoming that fear was a joy for me.”
He needn’t have worried. Frank Dillane explains, “Climbing up and down the rigging, they put us in a harness, so even though we trained for it, the stunt people made sure we were safe. Even if you did fall, you weren’t going anywhere.”
One cast member, however, was spared some of the more arduous tasks. Walker acknowledges, “We were taught to tie knots, swing rigging and row as a crew…and what was great about playing the captain is I didn’t actually have to do any of that. I just got to boss people around and tell them when they’re doing it wrong,” he laughs.
The dichotomy between the newly minted captain and his crew is made visually clear in their costumes. While Pollard’s pristine uniform has never seen so much as a spray of salt water, his men’s attire shows the wear and tear of a life spent at sea.
Day illustrates, “It’s Pollard’s first voyage so he has to look neat, whereas the other guys are in the hard-worn clothes they’ve probably had for years. Ron and I talked about the idea that they were more like industrial workers than sailors, so their clothing reflects that. I used wet weather fabrics like duck cotton and wax fabrics to protect them from the water. We also produced their shoes in synthetic materials rather than leather because a lot of the action happens in water. If you put leather in water it hardens and you can’t wear it again.”
Although there was no specific outfit for whalers, Day says, “I designed a blue jacket for each of the men, representing the sea and the sky. What they wore underneath was individual, but giving them a blue jacket of various shapes and sizes was what I did to create a sense of uniformity.”
They also had one other item of clothing in common. The costume designer found a knitter who had done research on the Monmouth cap worn by many whalers at that time and had her knit an authentic cap for each of the actors on the ship.
The Essex of “In the Heart of the Sea” was comprised of an actual sailing ship, used on the open water, and a replica, situated in a tank at Leavesden Studios.
“We did a lot of research,” Mark Tildesley offers. “There was obviously no photography at the time, but we gathered some visual images from paintings, drawings and the like. There’s also a whaling museum in Mystic, Connecticut, which has the last original whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan. It has been completely restored and was a fantastic resource for us.”
The production designer set out to locate a ship that could double for the film’s Essex, measuring just over 100 feet in length and divided into sections that served as the officers’ and crew quarters and a lower deck for storing the barrels of oil. The ships were equipped with four or five rowboats, approximately 30 feet long, which were lowered into the water when the lookout hollered “Blow!” upon sighting their prey.
Tildesley and his team searched the globe for a ship of suitable size and scale and soon discovered, “they’re booked years in advance. But we were lucky enough to find a ship called the Phoenix in Cornwall that’s of similar size to the Essex, though it only had two masts whereas the Essex had three. So that was a small compromise.”
The design team then constructed a replica of the Phoenix on a gimbal in the middle of a large exterior tank at Leavesden. “We made the replica slightly bigger to make it easier to work on,” says Tildesley. “It has a steel frame, but everything you will see—all the rigging and masts, etc.—were made by a company that actually builds boats. So, for all intents and purposes, the exterior is a copy of the real ship.”
The interior, however, was another story. The special effects team, led by special effects supervisor Mark Holt, rigged the replica ship with tanks that could be filled or emptied to change the buoyancy and tilt the ship to either side or even sink it. The hydraulic arm of the gimbal enabled them to rock the ship, which was especially important for the sequence when Pollard decides to test the mettle of his crew by steering directly into an oncoming squall.
Ron Howard confirms, “Filming in the tank was vital when we it couldn’t safely shoot at sea, whether it was the storm scene or the whale attacking and sinking the ship, or anything that required a significant amount of stunt work.”
Thanks to the efforts of the special effects group, the scenes were all-too-real for the cast. “It was kind of like being on a wet amusement ride from hell,” Walker deadpans. “There we were having a great time until they turned on these huge wind machines and water cannons, and then Ron calls ‘Action’ and expects you to act. The saving grace was we were all in it together.”
Hemsworth emphasizes, “We were also doing it in the middle of winter, so not the most comfortable environment. Even Ron said we didn’t have to pretend to be miserable because we pretty much were,” he laughs. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but also one of the most rewarding, because when you have Ron Howard leading with his energy and passion, everyone from the cast to the crew follows suit. No one wanted to let him down.”
Brian Grazer shared in the actors’ admiration for his longtime colleague. “Even after 33 years, I still get awestruck by how gifted he is. We were in this huge tank and there were so many variables: wind machines, wave machines, boats on a gimbal, different cameras, visual effects… But Ron was so in his element, applying all of the skills of a master filmmaker. I still love watching the pure talent of that.”
Like the replica of the Essex, the smaller whaleboats were crafted by real boat builders. Initially constructed out of wood, they were then cast and duplicated in fiberglass “because the wooden ones were too heavy to lift on the set,” Tildesley explains. “We then trimmed them in wood so it looks exactly like the wooden boats.”
Every ship or boat, whether on the ocean or in a tank, was rigged with multiple cameras, enabling Howard and his cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle, to give moviegoers the feeling of having a firsthand view of the action. Howard notes, “Anthony has a great eye and brought a very contemporary cinematic sensibility to this classic story. The fact that the cameras were right there on board makes it feel very organic and immersive. We want you to get the sense that you’re right next to these men, sharing in the experience.”
With lights, cameras and other modern equipment cluttering the decks, Tildesley came up with an ingenious way to hide all the cables, fabricating rubber ropes that could be clipped over the wires, hiding them from view.
The filmmakers, cast and crew then moved to the island of La Gomera, one of the smaller Canary Islands, becoming the first production ever to shoot there. The Phoenix sailed from the UK to the location, giving members of the visual effects department the opportunity to shoot ocean plates from the deck of the boat during the voyage. Those plates gave them a library of images at different times of day and in a variety of conditions to fill in and expand the panorama of seagoing scenes.
The island location provided everything the film needed, especially a breathtaking expanse of calm, blue water. The production took over the tiny port of Playa Santiago, from which the Essex and her crew set sail…surrounded by a flotilla of camera boats, shuttle boats, hair and makeup boats and a catering boat. Everyone on the island was extremely welcoming to the cast and filmmakers and a number of locals even got jobs on the film.
After five weeks on the waters of La Gomera, the production moved to a beach in Tenerife for a week of filming on what will appear to be a deserted island. The area chosen was El Golfo in Yaiza because of its interesting rock formations and the beautiful green lagoon that was formed by a now-extinct volcano.
Bookending “In the Heart of the Sea” are pivotal sequences that unfold in the whaling hub of 19th-century Nantucket. We arrive in 1850, as Melville seeks out Tom Nickerson, and then flash back to August 1819, when the Essex departs on her final voyage, which will soon become the stuff of legend. At the end of the film, we are returned to 1850, when Melville, armed with the story he so fervently sought, leaves to write what remains one of the most widely read books of all time.
After scouting a number of port cities in the UK, the filmmakers realized that, although they could establish the period in England, the architecture was nothing like New England. “In the end,” Tildesley recalls, “we decided it was best to build the town at Leavesden, turning the existing tank into the harbor.”
However, because the scenes are separated by three decades, Tildesley and his team had to dress the set in two different time periods. Our Nantucket, circa 1819, has muddy, dirt roads and the buildings are more sparse. To denote the progress of 30 years, the designer details, “We cobbled the street and put a train track down the middle of it to evoke the mechanization that has happened over time. There are also steamboats in the harbor because we were now in the steam age.”
The set was surrounded by blue screens enabling the VFX team, working with Tildesley’s designs, to extend the backdrop of old Nantucket to the horizon.
Nathaniel Philbrick was duly impressed by the set, remarking, “My wife and I travelled from Nantucket, where we’ve lived for 28 years, and then stepped into the Nantucket of the 1800s. It blew our minds. It’s amazing to think that this small area was basically providing the world with light, but they really had a blind spot when it came to the whales themselves. Today, the people of Nantucket are proud of their background, but they have an entirely different attitude toward whales. They want to do everything they can to save them, and I think that’s the importance of learning from the past and hopefully making a better future.”
After the completion of principal photography, Howard relates, “The complexity of this film extended into post-production because everything was about finding the right equilibrium—the balance between the old and the new, the classic and the cutting-edge—which was a challenge for me and editors Dan Hanley and Mike Hill, as well as Roque Baños, who composed our amazing score.”
The director continues, “During production, Roque and I met to talk about the blend of traditional and contemporary that I wanted to engender. Roque is an outstanding, classically trained musician who has scored a wide range of films, so I knew he had the ability to mine every facet of adventure and drama. And I was right. His music is incredibly strong in its power and emotion.”
Howard reveals that Baños went beyond conventional instruments in musically harkening back to the maritime setting. “His percussion incorporated props from the film, including harpoons, ropes, sharpening stones and other tools from the era. Together with the orchestra, it all worked to infuse the score with qualities that were intrinsic to the journey.”
“In making ‘In the Heart of the Sea,’” Howard reflects, “I wanted the period to fall away, for people to relate to the characters and be swept up into the drama as it’s happening. I used everything I’ve learned over the course of my career to try and transport the audience into this world and take them on this ride. By experiencing the adventure, they will hopefully connect even more deeply with the human side of the story…and the human story of the Essex can inspire us in entirely unexpected ways for generations to come.”
ABOUT THE CAST
CHRIS HEMSWORTH (Owen Chase) has become one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood. In 2012, he starred in the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time, Marvel’s “The Avengers,” joining an all-star cast, also including Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson. That same year, he starred in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” which debuted at #1 at the box-office. Upcoming in 2016, he stars in the title role of the prequel, “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” opposite Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, and Emily Blunt.
Hemsworth recently starred in the second installment of the global juggernaut “The Avengers” franchise, “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.” He previously worked with “In the Heart of the Sea” director Ron Howard in “Rush,” portraying Formula One driver James Hunt. Hemsworth had earlier been introduced as the hammer-wielding super hero in the 2011 hit “Thor,” directed by Kenneth Branagh. He reprised the title role, starring in the second installment of the franchise, “Thor: The Dark World.”
Born and raised in Australia, Hemsworth made his U.S. film debut in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” playing the pivotal role of George Kirk. His additional feature film credits include the comedy “Vacation,” Michael Mann’s “Blackhat,” the Joss Whedon-scripted “The Cabin in the Woods” and the remake of “Red Dawn.”
Among his favorite charities, Hemsworth supports the Australian Childhood Foundation.
BENJAMIN WALKER (George Pollard) graduated from the prestigious Juilliard Actor Training Program in 2004. He made his Broadway bow in the 2007 revival of “Inherit the Wind,” playing defendant Bertram Cates, opposite Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy. The show enjoyed a sold-out 10-week run and was nominated for four Tony Awards. The following year, Walker starred in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony-nominated production of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” with Laura Linney.
Walker originated the title role in the musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” during its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles. He later reprised the role on the New York stage, first off-Broadway at the Public Theater, then moving to Broadway. He more recently starred as Brick in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” opposite Scarlett Johansson.
He made his feature film debut in Bill Condon’s acclaimed biopic “Kinsey,” with Liam Neeson and Laura Linney. His early film work also includes “The Notorious Bettie Page” and Clint Eastwood’s World War II drama “Flags of Our Fathers,” playing Harlon Block, one of the men in the iconic photo of the American flag being raised on Iwo Jima.
Walker’s additional film credits include “The War Boys”; “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer,” starring in the title role; and Stephen Frears’ “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight,” playing Kevin Connolly, the Supreme Court clerk who wrote the legal briefs that resulted in Ali being officially designated a conscientious objector.
Walker has several films upcoming, including the indie features “The Moon and the Sun,” with William Hurt and Pierce Brosnan; “Look Away,” with Chloë Sevigny and Matthew Broderick; and “The Choice,” opposite Teresa Palmer.
CILLIAN MURPHY (Matthew Joy) has starred in both major studio hits and award-winning independent films, in addition to roles on television and on the stages of London, New York and around the globe. He is currently starring in the acclaimed BBC Two drama series “Peaky Blinders,” created by Steven Knight. Now in production on its third season, it is available in the U.S. on Netflix. During his hiatus from the show, he filmed two upcoming features: the crime drama “Free Fire,” directed by Ben Wheatley, and the World War II thriller “Anthropoid,” for director Sean Ellis.
Murphy first gained international attention for his performance as Jim, the reluctant survivor in Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later...” In 2005, he made an indelible impression as Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” for which he received a London Film Critics Circle Award nomination. He reprised the role in Nolan’s blockbusters “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” and later reunited with the director to play the billionaire heir-apparent mark in the critically acclaimed hit “Inception.”
He earlier received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as the transgender outcast Patrick “Kitten” Brady in Neil Jordan’s “Breakfast on Pluto.” He then garnered consecutive British Independent Film Award nominations in the category of Best Actor, for his performances in Ken Loach’s 2006 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner, “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” and the 2007 sci-fi thriller “Sunshine,” reteaming him with director Danny Boyle. He recently earned his third British Independent Film Award nod, for Best Supporting Actor, for his role in “Broken,” which opened the International Critics’ Week section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and won Best British Film at the British Independent Film Awards.
His diverse filmography also includes Claudia Llosa’s “Aloft,” Rodrigo Cortés’ “Red Lights,” Andrew Niccol’s “In Time,” “Perrier’s Bounty,” Wes Craven’s thriller “Red Eye,” John Crowley’s “Intermission,” Peter Webber’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” Anthony Minghella’s “Cold Mountain,” and John Carney’s “On the Edge.”
He also regularly returns to the stage, often collaborating with Irish playwright Enda Walsh. Murphy recently starred in the world premiere of Walsh’s play “Ballyturk,” first presented at the Galway International Arts Festival before moving to the National Theatre in London.
Murphy first made his mark on stage with a stunning performance in Walsh’s “Disco Pigs.” After receiving commendations for Best Fringe Show at the 1996 Dublin Theatre Festival and the Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 1997, “Disco Pigs” toured extensively in Ireland, the UK, Canada and Australia. Murphy went on to star in the film version, directed by Kirsten Sheridan. He later starred in Walsh’s “Misterman” at the National Theatre. For the play’s earlier run at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, Murphy received the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance. He also garnered The Irish Times’ Theatre Award for Best Actor for the original production in Galway.
Murphy made his West End debut in 2006 in John Kolvenbach’s “Love Song,” directed by John Crowley. His stage collaborations with Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes include “The Country Boy,” “Juno and the Paycock,” and “Playboy of the Western World” at Dublin’s Gaity Theatre. Murphy also starred in the Edinburgh Fest production of “The Seagull”; Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things,” at the Gate Theatre in Dublin; and “Much Ado About Nothing,” at Kilkenny Castle.
BEN WHISHAW (Herman Melville) is currently starring as Q in the latest successful installment of the James Bond franchise, “Spectre,” starring Daniel Craig as 007. He first played the role of the MI6’s gadget genius in “Skyfall.” Whishaw is also in three more films opening this year: “Suffragette,” with Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep; “The Lobster,” which premiered to critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival; and “The Danish Girl,” starring Eddie Redmayne.
Whishaw has been honored for his work on both the stage and screen. He won the Independent Spirit Award’s prestigious Robert Altman Award for the acclaimed feature “I’m Not There,” shared with director Todd Haynes and his co-stars, including Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Richard Gere and Heath Ledger. Early in his career, he won a British Independent Film Award and several film festival awards for his performance in “My Brother Tom.”
He has collaborated with director Tom Tykwer in three films, starting when he played the lead role of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in Tykwer’s “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.” He went on to star in Tykwer’s action thriller “The International,” followed by “Cloud Atlas,” which Tykwer co-directed with the Wachowskis. Whishaw’s other film credits include Julie Taymor’s “The Tempest”; Jane Campion’s “Bright Star”; Julian Jarrold’s “Brideshead Revisited”; “Stoned,” in which he portrayed Keith Richards; Matthew Vaughan’s “Layer Cake”; and Roger Michell’s “Enduring Love.” He also lent his voice to the title character in the animated hit “Paddington.”
Whishaw recently won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor for his performance as Richard II in “The Hollow Crown.” He previously won an International Emmy Award and a Royal Television Society Award and received a BAFTA TV Award nomination, all for Best Actor, for his work in the BBC series “Criminal Justice.” His other television credits include the series “London Spy,” “The Hour” and “Nathan Barley,” and the telefilm “The Booze Cruise.”
For the stage, Whishaw received an Olivier Award nomination for his performance as Hamlet in Trevor Nunn’s electric youth version of the play at the Old Vic. He appeared at the National Theatre in the stage adaptation of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials,” Katie Mitchell’s 2006 presentation of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” and 2008’s “The Idiot,” in which he played the lead. His additional theatre work in the West End includes starring roles in “Cock”; John Logan’s “Peter and Alice,” opposite Judi Dench; and Jez Butterworth’s “Mojo.” He most recently completed a run in “Bakkhai” at the Almeida.
A native of Hertfordshire, England, Whishaw graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2003.
TOM HOLLAND (Thomas Nickerson) recently completed work on the action adventure “Captain America: Civil War,” in which he stars as Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man. The film is due out in Spring 2016. His upcoming films also include “The Lost City of Z,” with Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller and Robert Pattinson, and the independent features “Pilgrimage” and “Backcountry.”
Holland made an auspicious feature film debut in the critically acclaimed true-life drama “The Impossible,” with Naomi Watts. His performance as a young boy who survived the devastating 2004 tsunami brought him a number of honors, including London Film Critics Circle, National Board of Review and Empire Awards. He subsequently appeared in the film “How I Live Now.”
A dancer as well as an actor, Holland first came to fame on the stage in the hit show “Billy Elliot the Musical.” He made his West End debut in June 2008, playing the role of Billy’s best friend, Michael, before landing the title role in September of that year. Holland rotated in the title role with two other young actors, but in March 2010, he was selected to be the lead in the fifth-anniversary performance of the show. He finished his run in “Billy Elliot the Musical” in May 2010.
BRENDAN GLEESON (Tom Nickerson) recently won a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor for his performance as Father James in John Michael McDonagh’s “Calvary,” which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. He also earned Golden Globe, Evening Standard, and London Film Critics Circle Award nominations for his work in McDonagh’s “The Guard.” He is currently co-starring with Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan in Sarah Gavron’s “Suffragette,” for which he received a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Gleeson’s upcoming films include “Trespass Against Us,” with Michael Fassbender; “Alone in Berlin,” opposite Emma Thompson; and “Assassin’s Creed,” with Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
Gleeson is well known to audiences around the world for his portrayal of Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody in three of the “Harry Potter” films: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.”
Gleeson made his feature film debut in Jim Sheridan’s “The Field,” followed by small roles in such films as Mike Newell’s “Into the West” and Ron Howard’s “Far and Away.” He first gained international attention for his performance in Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning Best Picture “Braveheart.” He went on to appear in Neil Jordan’s films “Michael Collins” and “The Butcher Boy,” and starred in the independent film “Angela Mooney,” executive produced by John Boorman.
In 1998, Boorman directed Gleeson in the role of real-life Irish folk hero Martin Cahill in the biopic “The General.” For his performance, Gleeson won several acting honors, including the London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor. He has since collaborated with Boorman on the films “The Tailor of Panama,” “In My Country” and “The Tiger’s Tail.”
Gleeson received Golden Globe, BAFTA Award and British Independent Film Award nominations for his performance in Martin McDonagh’s “In Bruges.” He also won an Emmy and received a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the 2009 HBO movie “Into the Storm.”
Gleeson’s additional film credits include John Woo’s “Mission: Impossible II”; “Harrison’s Flowers”; “Wild About Harry”; Steven Spielberg’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”; Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later…”; Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York”; Anthony Minghella’s “Cold Mountain”; Wolfgang Petersen’s “Troy”; M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village”; Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven”; Neil Jordan’s “Breakfast on Pluto”; Robert Zemeckis’ “Beowulf”; Paul Greengrass’ “Green Zone”; “Perrier’s Bounty”; “Albert Nobbs”; “The Cup”; “Safe House”; “The Raven”; and Doug Liman’s “Edge of Tomorrow.” His voice was also heard in the animated features “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” and “The Smurfs 2.”
Born in Ireland, Gleeson started out as a teacher but left the profession to pursue an acting career, joining the Irish theatre company Passion Machine. His theatre credits include productions of “King of the Castle,” “The Plough and the Stars,” “Prayers of Sherkin,” “The Cherry Orchard,” “Juno and the Paycock” and “On Such As We.”
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
RON HOWARD (Director/Producer) is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and one of today’s most esteemed directors, who has helmed some of the most popular films of the past four decades. From the critically acclaimed dramas “A Beautiful Mind” and “Apollo 13” to the hit comedies “Parenthood” and “Splash,” he has created some of Hollywood’s most memorable films.
Howard won an Oscar for Best Director for his work on “A Beautiful Mind,” starring Russell Crowe, which also won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Connelly). The film also garnered four Golden Globes, including the award for Best Motion Picture Drama. Additionally, Howard won Best Director of the Year from the Directors Guild of America (DGA). Howard and his creative partner, Brian Grazer, received the first annual Awareness Award from the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign for their work on the film.
Howard’s skill as a director has long been recognized. In 1995, he received his first Best Director Award from the DGA for “Apollo 13,” starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Kathleen Quinlan. The true-life drama also garnered nine Academy Award nominations, winning Oscars for Best Film Editing and Best Sound. It also received Best Ensemble Cast and Best Supporting Actor Awards from the Screen Actors Guild.
Howard also produced and directed the film adaptation of Peter Morgan’s critically acclaimed play “Frost/Nixon. “ The 2009 film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and was also nominated for The Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures by the PGA. Many of Howard’s past films have received nods from the Academy, including the hits “Backdraft,” starring Robert De Niro and Kurt Russell; “Parenthood,” starring Steve Martin; and “Cocoon,” which won two Oscars, including one for Best Supporting Actor for Don Ameche.
Howard was honored by the Museum of Moving Images in 2005 and by the American Cinema Editors in 2006. Howard and Grazer were honored by the Producers Guild of America with the Milestone Award in 2009; NYU’s Tisch School of Cinematic Arts with the Big Apple Award in 2009; and by the Simon Wiesenthal Center with their Humanitarian Award in 2010. Also in 2010, Howard was honored by the Chicago Film Festival with their Gold Hugo - Career Achievement Award. In 2013, Howard was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.
Howard’s more recent films include the critically acclaimed drama “Rush,” staring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl, written by Peter Morgan; and “Made In America,” a music documentary he directed for Showtime, starring Jay Z. He recently completed filming on the upcoming “Inferno,” his third film based on Dan Brown’s best-selling novels, with Tom Hanks reprising the role of Robert Langdon.
Howard had previously directed Hanks in the adaptations of Dan Brown’s “Angels & Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code.” His long and diverse list of film credits also includes the comedy “The Dilemma,” staring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James; “Cinderella Man,” starring Russell Crowe; the suspenseful Western “The Missing,” starring Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones; the blockbuster holiday favorite “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” starring Jim Carrey; the suspense thriller “Ransom,” starring Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise and Delroy Lindo; the historical epic “Far and Away,” starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman; the fantasy “Willow”; the mega-hit romantic comedy “Splash,” starring Hanks and Daryl Hannah; and “Night Shift,” starring Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton and Shelley Long.
Howard has also served as an executive producer on a number of award-winning films and television shows, including the HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon”; FOX’s Emmy Award winner for Best Comedy Series, “Arrested Development,” which he also narrated; NBC’s “Parenthood”; and “Felicity,” among others.
Howard began his career as an actor. He first appeared in “The Journey” and “The Music Man,” then as Opie on the long-running television series “The Andy Griffith Show.” Howard later drew favorable reviews for his performances in the feature films “American Graffiti” and “The Shootist,” and starred in the popular series “Happy Days.”
Howard and long-time producing partner Brian Grazer first collaborated on the hit comedies “Night Shift” and “Splash.” The pair co-founded Imagine Entertainment in 1986 to create independently produced feature films.
CHARLES LEAVITT (Screenplay & Story) previously collaborated with producer Paula Weinstein when he wrote the screenplay for the acclaimed drama “Blood Diamond,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou under the direction of Edward Zwick.
His other film credits include Peter Chelsom’s “The Mighty,” starring Sharon Stone; Iain Softley’s “K-Pax,” starring Kevin Spacey; the true-life sports drama “The Express,” starring Rob Brown and Dennis Quaid under the direction of Gary Fleder; and the upcoming “Warcraft,” which is based on the popular video games and directed by Duncan Jones, due out next year.
Leavitt has recently completed an adaptation of Michael Koryta’s novel Those Who Wish Me Dead, into a thriller for the big screen. He is currently working on an HBO movie for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Pearl Street Films, centering on the global water crisis.
RICK JAFFA (Story) has collaborated with his wife and partner, Amanda Silver, for more than 25 years. They most recently co-wrote the worldwide blockbuster “Jurassic World,” which has grossed more than $1.6 billion worldwide, making it the third-highest-grossing film of all time.
In 2011, the duo wrote and produced the hit “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which earned an Oscar nomination for its groundbreaking visual effects and successfully rebooted the “Planet of the Apes” franchise. In 2014, they co-wrote and produced the sequel, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” and they are currently producing the third installment, “War for the Planet of the Apes,” due out in 2017.
In addition, they are currently working with James Cameron on “Avatar 2,” the much-anticipated sequel to the top-grossing film in history.
A native of DeSoto, Texas, Jaffa graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in history and political science. He later earned his MBA at the University of Southern California. In 1981, Jaffa began his entertainment career in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency. He became the executive assistant to legendary agent Stan Kamen, who was then head of the motion-picture department. Later, as an agent, Jaffa represented writers and directors, packaging films as diverse as 1987’s “RoboCop” and 1985’s “The Trip to Bountiful.”
He began his collaboration with Silver as an executive producer on “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” which she scripted. They then co-wrote “Eye for an Eye” and “The Relic.”
AMANDA SILVER (Story) has teamed with her husband, Rick Jaffa, on a number of successful film projects. They co-wrote this year’s global blockbuster “Jurassic World,” which is the third-highest-grossing film in history, with more than $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office.
The pair also recently wrote and produced the 2011 hit “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which was Oscar-nominated for its landmark visual effects and succeeded in relaunching the “Planet of the Apes” franchise. In 2014, they co-wrote and produced the sequel, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” and they are presently producing the third feature, “War for the Planet of the Apes,” slated for release in 2017.
Currently, they are also working with director James Cameron on “Avatar 2,” the much-anticipated follow-up to the highest-grossing film of all time.
Silver grew up in New York City and received her BA in history from Yale University before moving to Los Angeles. Silver was an executive assistant at TriStar and Paramount Pictures before enrolling in film school at the University of Southern California, where she earned an MFA in screenwriting.
Silver’s thesis script was the thriller “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” which went on to be a hit in 1992 and began her collaboration with Jaffa, who executive produced the film. She followed the next year with a CableACE Award-winning episode of “Fallen Angels,” directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Silver and Jaffa have since co-written such films as “Eye for an Eye” and “The Relic.”
NATHANIEL PHILBRICK (Author) is the bestselling and award-winning author of many books including National Book Award Winner In the Heart of the Sea; Pulitzer Prize finalist Mayflower; Sea of Glory; The Last Stand; and, most recently, Bunker Hill, winner of the New England Book Award.
He has further contributed to the scholarship on the whaleship Essex and Moby-Dick through two notable books. He edited The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk By a Whale (Penguin Classics), a collection of first person accounts by Essex crew members including the aforementioned Essex first mate Owen Chase and Thomas Nickerson, the fifteen-year-old cabin boy. He is also the author of Why Read Moby-Dick? (Penguin Books) a powerful, personal treatise on the enduring merits of a classic novel.
His newest book, Valiant Ambition, will be published by Viking May 10, 2016. Philbrick lives on Nantucket. Visit him at www.nathanielphilbrick.com and follow @natphilbrick.
JOE ROTH (Producer) is a successful independent film producer who was also one of the industry’s most respected studio executives.
He produced Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” starring Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Mia Wasikowska, which grossed over one billion dollars worldwide. He more recently produced another live-action fairy tale mega hit, “Maleficent,” starring Angelina Jolie in the title role. His other recent credits include “Million Dollar Arm,” starring Jon Hamm and Alan Arkin, and directed by Craig Gillespie; “Heaven Is for Real,” starring Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly under the direction of Randall Wallace; Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful,” starring James Franco and Mila Kunis; and “Snow White and the Huntsman,” starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron.
His upcoming films include “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” reuniting the cast of “Alice in Wonderland”; “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” starring Hemsworth, Theron, Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt; and “Miracles from Heaven,” starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah.
Over the past 40 years, Roth founded both Morgan Creek and Revolution Studios, was chairman of 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios, and directed six films while producing or supervising over 300 movies. Mega hits “Home Alone” and “The Sixth Sense,” as well as the Academy Award–nominated films “The Insider” and “Blackhawk Down,” were among the films made on his watch. He also produced the Emmy-nominated 2004 Academy Awards show.
Roth is the majority owner of the Seattle Sounders Soccer team. The most successful team in America’s soccer history, the Sounders were awarded 2010 Professional Sports Team of the Year in all sports by the SportsBusiness Journal.
Equally noted for his diverse civic and charitable activities, Roth has received various awards, including the 1991 Variety Club’s Man of the Year Award; the 1996 Humanitarian Award from the NCCJ; and the 1997 American Museum of Moving Image Award; and, in 1998, he was honored by APLA and The National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He was also the recipient of the 2004 Dorothy and Sherill C. Corwin Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee.
PAULA WEINSTEIN (Producer) is an award-winning movie and television producer whose work has repeatedly earned box office and critical acclaim throughout her esteemed career. In addition, she is considered one of the entertainment community’s most effective fundraisers and has been lauded for her role in combining social activism with successful mass entertainment.
Weinstein currently serves as president of Spring Creek Productions, which she co-founded with her husband and producing partner, the late Mark Rosenberg. In addition, she joined Tribeca Enterprises in 2013 as Executive Vice President. She develops and oversees the company’s content production, programming of the Tribeca Film Festival and international partnerships, and manages studio relations.
Most recently, Weinstein executive produced the Netflix original comedy series “Grace and Frankie,” starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, and “The Red Tent,” Lifetime’s miniseries adaptation of Anita Diamant’s best-selling novel.
Weinstein has produced more than 30 movies, including the true-life drama “The Perfect Storm,” starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg; the five-time Oscar-nominated “Blood Diamond,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio; the comedy hit “Analyze This,” starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal, and its sequel, “Analyze That”; the comedy “Monster-In-Law,” starring Jane Fonda; the politically charged “The Company Men,” starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Affleck; and “This is Where I Leave You,” with an ensemble cast led by Jason Bateman and Tina Fey.
Weinstein has also created and executive produced an ambitious slate of award-winning HBO movies that have brought memorable real-life political events to the screen. Her first effort was “Citizen Cohn,” starring James Woods as Senator Joe McCarthy’s controversial lawyer, for which she earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Outstanding Television Movie. Next was the Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-winning biopic “Truman,” starring Gary Sinise, and “Iron Jawed Angels,” about the Suffragette movement, starring Hilary Swank and Anjelica Huston. Among her most notable achievements in television was “Recount,” the acclaimed drama about the events surrounding the controversial 2000 presidential election. The telefilm won three Emmys, including Best Director for Jay Roach, and starred Kevin Spacey, Tom Wilkinson and Laura Dern, who won a Golden Globe for her performance as Katherine Harris. Weinstein then executive produced the Emmy Award and Golden Globe-nominated “Too Big to Fail,” about the financial meltdown of 2008, starring William Hurt, James Woods and Paul Giamatti, who won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Ben Bernanke.
Weinstein attended Columbia University and started out as a film editor in New York City, later serving as Special Events Director in the office of Mayor John Lindsay. She then became an agent at International Creative Management (ICM) and later joined the William Morris Agency, handling a client portfolio that included Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Lily Tomlin and Terrence Malick. She subsequently joined Warner Bros. as a Vice President of Production and was later promoted to Senior Vice President of Worldwide Production at 20th Century Fox, where she helped Fonda develop and produce “Nine to Five” and the multi-Oscar nominated “Julia.”
Weinstein next joined The Ladd Company, overseeing such films as Lawrence Kasdan’s directorial debut, “Body Heat,” before being named President of the Motion Picture Division at United Artists. As one of the first women to hold this position, she immediately tried to create more opportunities for women directors. Her early hits included the Academy Award and Golden Globe winner “Yentl,” directed by and starring Barbra Streisand, and “War Games.”
Weinstein began her independent producing career with the South African political thriller “A Dry White Season,” which was likewise directed by a female director, Euzhan Palcy, and brought Marlon Brando an Oscar nomination. “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” which Weinstein produced with Rosenberg, was nominated for four Academy Awards and propelled Michelle Pfeiffer into the national spotlight with a Golden Globe, as well as Oscar and BAFTA Award nominations. Weinstein also produced Peter Weir’s Oscar-nominated “Fearless,” and “Flesh and Bone,” which introduced Gwyneth Paltrow.
In 1986, Weinstein cofounded The Hollywood Women’s Political Committee (HWPC) which, under her leadership over the next 10 years, raised tens of millions of dollars for various Democratic candidates. She was chosen as the official Hollywood representative for Nelson Mandela’s first U. S. visit to Los Angeles and likewise raised several million dollars to support Mandela’s work and served on President Obama’s National Finance Committee. Weinstein has also served as a board member of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and is on the board of the ACLU. In 1992, she founded the Mark Rosenberg Legal Center in South Central Los Angeles. She received the prestigious Crystal Award from Women in Film and the Hall of Fame Award from Variety. She also earned the National Urban League Citizen Award and the Bill of Rights Award from the Southern California Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
WILL WARD (Producer) is a co-founding partner of ROAR, a Beverly Hills-based talent and brand management firm that specializes in film, music, brands, production, icons, and corporate strategy. As head of the talent department, Ward manages and has assisted in launching the careers for such stars as Chris Hemsworth, Liam Hemsworth, Cobie Smulders, Luke Bracey and Ken Watanabe, among others.
Additionally, he manages one of the top touring artists in the U.S., the three-time Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band, overseeing their touring as well as other endeavors. The multi-platinum-selling band has charted a historic fourteen #1 radio singles and is wrapping up a massive 2015 tour that included ten stadium dates. Ward is also an instrumental force behind Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Music & Food Festival.
Ward is currently in development on an internationally set action feature and possible franchise for Sony, among a slate of other projects.
Ward also works in ROAR’s corporate division and spearheaded the creation of and financing for Otto’s Tacos in New York City. Otto’s recently opened their third location in New York.
He began his career at the Creative Artists Agency’s Nashville office. After a three-year stint there, Ward worked at Endeavor (currently known as William Morris Endeavor), where he was an agent in the film division.
Ward attended the College of Charleston, South Carolina, where he studied business and Japanese.
BRIAN GRAZER (Producer) is an Academy Award-winning and Emmy-winning producer who has been making movies and television programs for more than 35 years. His partnership with Ron Howard has yielded some of the most memorable and acclaimed films of the past four decades. In April 2015, he released his first book, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, which spent five weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.
In 2002, he won the Best Picture Oscar for “A Beautiful Mind,” which also won three more Oscars, and four Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama. The film also brought Grazer the first annual Awareness Award from the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign. Grazer has also received Best Picture Oscar nominations for his work as a producer on “Apollo 13,” for which he also won the Producers Guild of America’s (PGA) Daryl F. Zanuck Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award; and “Frost/Nixon,” which also brought him a PGA Award nomination. Earlier in his career, he received a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for the 1995 comedy hit “Splash,” which he produced as well as co-wrote.
Over the years, Grazer's films and TV shows have been nominated for a total of 43 Oscars and 158 Emmys. At the same time, his movies have generated more than $14 billion in worldwide theatrical, music and video grosses. Reflecting this combination of commercial and artistic achievement, the PGA honored Grazer with the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 and the Milestone Award in 2009.
His professional and philanthropic accomplishments have also been recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Theater Owners; the Big Apple Award from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts; and the Motion Picture Sound Editors Filmmaker Award. In addition, he has been honored with the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Humanitarian Award; the Innovation and Vision award by the Alfred Mann Foundation for his charitable humanitarian efforts; the Abe Burrows Entertainment Award by the Alzheimer’s Association; and the Lifetime Achievement Award by PromaxBDA. In 2007, Grazer was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
Grazer’s upcoming films include Doug Liman’s “American Made,” starring Tom Cruise, and Howard’s “Inferno,” based on Dan Brown’s book and starring Tom Hanks. He is also currently in pre-production on “L.A. Riots,” written and to be directed by John Ridley.
His long list of film credits also includes such Ron Howard-directed films as “Rush,” starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl; the music documentary “Made in America”; “Angels & Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code,” both based on Brown’s best-selling novels and starring Tom Hanks; “Cinderella Man,” starring Russell Crowe; “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”; “Ransom”; “Backdraft”; and “Parenthood.”
He has also collaborated with other directors on a wide range of films, including the James Brown biopic “Get On Up”; Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio; “Tower Heist,” starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy; Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood,” starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett; Eastwood’s “Changeling,” starring Angelina Jolie; Scott’s “American Gangster,” staring Crowe and Denzel Washington; Spike Lee’s “The Inside Man,” starring Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster; “Flightplan,” starring Foster; the Sundance documentary “Inside Deep Throat”; “Friday Night Lights”; “8 Mile”; “Blue Crush”; “Intolerable Cruelty”; “The Nutty Professor”; “Liar, Liar”; “My Girl”; “Kindergarten Cop”; “Clean and Sober”; and “Spies Like Us.”
Grazer has won three Emmy Awards, as a producer on the HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon,” the drama series “24” and the comedy series “Arrested Development.” His additional television productions include FOX’s “Empire,” Nat Geo’s “Breakthrough,” FOX’s “Gang Related,” NBC’s “Parenthood,” NBC’s Peabody Award-winning series “Friday Night Lights,” CBS’s “Shark,” WB’s “Felicity,” and ABC’s “Sports Night,” to name only a few. In 2012, Grazer produced the 84th Academy Awards, hosted by Billy Crystal.
Grazer began his career as a producer developing television projects. It was while he was executive producing TV pilots for Paramount in the early 1980s that he first met Ron Howard. Their collaboration began in 1985 with the hit comedies “Night Shift” and “Splash.” In 1986, the two founded Imagine Entertainment, which they continue to run together as chairmen.
BRUCE BERMAN (Executive Producer) is Chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures. The company has successful joint partnerships with Warner Bros. Pictures and Sony Pictures to co-produce a wide range of motion pictures, with all films distributed in select territories around the world by affiliates in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and in all other territories by Warner Bros. Pictures and Sony Pictures, respectively.
Under the Village Roadshow Pictures banner, Berman has executive produced such recent hits as George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron; “San Andreas,” starring Dwayne Johnson; Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper; and “The LEGO® Movie,” directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
His upcoming projects include director David Yates’ “The Legend of Tarzan,” starring Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie and Samuel L. Jackson; and a new King Arthur adventure, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law.
Berman has also served as executive producer on such films as Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio; Guy Ritchie’s hit action adventure “Sherlock Holmes,” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, and its sequel, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”; the acclaimed drama “Gran Torino,” directed by and starring Clint Eastwood; “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions”; Eastwood’s “Mystic River,” starring Sean Penn and Tim Robbins in Oscar-winning performances; the “Ocean’s” Trilogy, with all-star casts, led by George Clooney and Brad Pitt; and “Training Day,” for which Denzel Washington won an Oscar.
The initial slate of films under the partnership with Warner Bros. included such hits as “Practical Magic,” starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; “Analyze This,” teaming Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal; “The Matrix,” starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne; “Three Kings,” starring Clooney; “Space Cowboys,” directed by and starring Clint Eastwood; and “Miss Congeniality,” starring Bullock and Benjamin Bratt.
Berman got his start in the motion picture business working with Jack Valenti at the MPAA while attending Georgetown Law School in Washington, DC. After earning his law degree, he landed a job at Casablanca Films in 1978 and worked his way up to a production Vice President at Universal Pictures in 1982.
In 1984, Berman joined Warner Bros. as a production Vice President, and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Production four years later. He was appointed President of Theatrical Production in September 1989, and in 1991 was named to the post of President of Worldwide Theatrical Production, which he held through May 1996. Under his aegis, Warner Bros. Pictures produced and distributed such films as “Presumed Innocent,” “GoodFellas,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” the Oscar-winning Best Picture “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Batman Forever,” “Under Siege,” “Malcolm X,” “The Bodyguard,” “JFK,” “The Fugitive,” “Dave,” “Disclosure,” “The Pelican Brief,” “Outbreak,” “The Client,” “A Time to Kill,” and “Twister.”
In May of 1996, Berman started Plan B Entertainment, an independent motion picture company at Warner Bros. Pictures. He was named Chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures in February 1998.
SARAH BRADSHAW (Executive Producer) is one of the UK’s leading producers and has worked with some of the most prolific and talented filmmakers and actors of our time. Most recently, Bradshaw executive produced the box office hit “Maleficent,” a darker reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty story, starring Angelina Jolie, which stormed to the top of the box office charts on its opening weekend, earning in excess of $750 million during its theatrical release. The film was produced by Joe Roth, with whom Bradshaw has worked several times.
Bradshaw more recently executive produced the upcoming “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” also produced by Roth, and starring Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt, under the direction of Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. She is currently prepping “The Mummy,” to be directed by Alex Kurtzman, which will kick off the rebooted Universal Monster Movies, for release in 2017.
As co-producer, Bradshaw worked alongside Roth on Rupert Sanders’ “Snow White and the Huntsman,” on which she also took unit production manager duties. Also a darker twist on a beloved fairy tale, the film, starring Hemsworth, Theron and Kristen Stewart, took in $400 million worldwide and received two Oscar nominations, for Best Costume Design and Best Visual Effects, as well as a host of other honors.
As unit production manager (UPM), Bradshaw has several other blockbuster titles on her roster including Rob Marshall’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the fourth film in the phenomenally successful franchise produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and starring Johnny Depp, which succeeded in grossing more than $1 billion, as well as “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” directed by Mike Newell, also for producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. As associate producer and UPM, Bradshaw’s credits include Michael Mann’s action thriller “Miami Vice,” based upon the 1980s TV action drama, and starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx; and Stephen Gaghan’s “Syriana,” the critically acclaimed political thriller that brought an Oscar to George Clooney for Best Supporting Actor and also earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay. She also served as UPM on Oliver Stone’s period drama “Alexander,” starring Colin Farrell.
Earlier in her career, Bradshaw worked as executive producer on Roland Emmerich’s “10,000 BC”; production supervisor on Tony Scott’s “Spy Game,” starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt, and Jon Amiel’s “Entrapment,” starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones; and as production manager on Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element,” starring Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman. She began her film career as the visual effects producer on Stephen Frears’ “Mary Reilly.”
PALAK PATEL (Executive Producer) is currently the Executive Vice President of Production and Development at Sony Pictures Entertainment.
He recently held the post of head of production and development at Roth Films, where he oversaw and supervised all film projects in development and production. During his tenure, Patel was also an executive producer on the films “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “Maleficent,” “Million Dollar Arm” and “Sabotage.”
Patel was previously a production executive at Paula Weinstein’s Spring Creek Productions. While there, he helped oversee such projects as “Monster-In-Law,” “Rumor Has It,” “Looney Tunes,” “Envy,” “Blood Diamond” and “Recount.”
Prior to joining Spring Creek, Patel was West Coast story editor at Focus Features, working closely with Russell Schwartz, Scott Greenstein, Donna Gigliotti and others. At Focus, Patel was involved in such films as “Traffic,” “Gosford Park,” “Nurse Betty,” “Deliver Us from Eva,” “Possession,” “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There.” He also assisted the acquisitions department on “In the Mood for Love,” “Monsoon Wedding” and “Wet Hot American Summer.”
Patel started out in the business as an intern/assistant on “The Sixth Sense” in his hometown of Philadelphia. After moving to Los Angeles, he worked as a development assistant at Paul Schiff Productions.
ERICA HUGGINS (Executive Producer) is President of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s production company, Imagine Entertainment.
Since joining Imagine in 2004, she has produced or overseen such diverse films as the James Brown biopic “Get on Up,” directed by Tate Taylor and starring Chadwick Boseman; the Formula One racing drama “Rush,” directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl; the music documentaries “Made in America,” directed by Ron Howard, and “Katy Perry: Part of Me 3-D”; “J. Edgar,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Clint Eastwood; and “Restless,” directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Mia Wasikowska. On the television side, Huggins worked with Jason Katims on his award-winning NBC TV series “Parenthood.”
Before coming to Imagine Huggins worked as an Executive Vice President at Interscope and Radar Pictures. At Interscope, she executive produced “What Dreams May Come,” starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr., which earned an Oscar for its visual effects. She also produced “Boys,” starring Winona Ryder, and the critically acclaimed “Gridlock’d,” starring Tupac Shakur and Tim Roth. While at Radar, her credits included “Le Divorce,” starring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts, and “How to Deal,” starring Mandy Moore.
Prior to becoming a producer, Huggins worked as a film editor. Her credits include John Waters’ classic “Hairspray,” “Cry-baby” and “Serial Mom”; and Michael Cimino’s “The Sicilian” and “Desperate Hours.”
DAVID BERGSTEIN (Executive Producer) is a financier, investment banker and entrepreneur who has, over the past 12 years, produced or executive produced a wide range of feature films.
He made his producing debut in 2004 with the crime drama “Spartan,” written and directed by David Mamet. That same year, he executive produced Howard Deutch’s comedy “The Whole Ten Yards,” starring Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry, and produced Peter Howitt’s romantic comedy “Laws of Attraction,” pairing Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan.
Bergstein’s other early credits include “The Wendell Baker Story,” starring Owen and Luke Wilson; “Chaos,” starring Jason Statham, Ryan Phillippe and Wesley Snipes; Gary Lennon’s “.45,” starring Milla Jovovich; and Gregory Nava’s “Bordertown,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Martin Sheen.
His has since produced or executive produced such films as “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei under the direction of Sidney Lumet; Nigel Cole’s “$5 a Day,” starring Christopher Walken, Sharon Stone and Dean Cain; “Blackout,” starring Amber Tamblyn and Armie Hammer; Taylor Hackford’s “Love Ranch,” starring Helen Mirren; “Father of Invention,” starring Kevin Spacey; and “6 Souls,” starring Julianne Moore.
ANTHONY DOD MANTLE (Director of Photography) won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award and several film critics association awards for Best Cinematography for Danny Boyle’s Best Picture winner, “Slumdog Millionaire.” He has also teamed with Boyle on the films “Trance,” “127 Hours,” “Millions” and “28 Days Later…,” as well as the telefilm “Strumpet.”
Mantle previously collaborated with director Ron Howard on the racing drama “Rush,” starring Chris Hemsworth. He has also worked repeatedly with other directors, including Kevin Macdonald on “The Eagle” and “The Last King of Scotland,” winning a British Independent Film Award for the latter; Lars von Trier on “Antichrist,” “Manderlay” and “Dogville”; and Thomas Vinterberg on “When a Man Comes Home,” “Dear Wendy,” “It’s All About Love,” “The Celebration” and “The Biggest Heroes.”
His other film credits include “Dredd,” “Country Wedding,” “Just Like Home,” “Mit Danmark,” “Brothers of the Head,” “Krig,” “Julien Donkey-Boy” and “Mifune.”
For television, Mantle won a BAFTA TV Award for his work on the series “Wallander,” starring Kenneth Branagh.
MARK TILDESLEY (Production Designer) is a British designer and director who has worked in theatre, film and television.
His film work encompasses multiple collaborations with several directors, including Danny Boyle, Marc Evans and Michael Winterbottom. He served as the production designer on Boyle’s “Trance,” “28 Days Later…,” “Millions,” and “Sunshine,” winning a British Independent Film Award for the last. For Evans, he designed “Resurrection Man” and “House of America,” for which he won a BAFTA Cymru Award. His films with Winterbottom include “24 Hour Party People” and “Code 46,” for which he received British Independent Film Award nominations, as well as “I Want You,” “With or Without You,” “Wonderland,” “The Claim” and “The Killer Inside Me.”
He most recently completed work on Oliver Stone’s “Snowden,” due out next year. His many other film credits include Bill Condon’s “The Fifth Estate”; Lone Scherfig’s “One Day”; David Gordon Green’s “Your Highness”; Richard Curtis’ “Pirate Radio”; Mike Leigh’s “Happy-Go-Lucky”; Fernando Meirelles’ “The Constant Gardener,” for which he received an Art Directors Guild Award nomination; and Roger Michell’s “The Mother.”
Tildesley won an Emmy Award for the production design of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics.
Tildesley graduated from the London College of Printing and then earned a First Class BA with Honours from the Wimbledon School of Art. He co-founded the Catch 22 Theatre Company and has continued to design for the stage. He reunited with director Danny Boyle to design “Frankenstein” at the National Theatre, for which Tildesley earned a Critics’ Circle Theatre Award and a nomination for an Evening Standard Award.
MIKE HILL (Editor), teamed with Dan Hanley, has enjoyed one of the longest and most successful professional associations in the industry with director Ron Howard. Hill won an Academy Award for Best Editing for Howard’s fact-based drama “Apollo 13.” He has since earned Oscar nominations for his work on Howard’s “A Beautiful Mind,” which won for Best Picture; “Cinderella Man”; and “Frost/Nixon.” He more recently won a BAFTA Award for Best Editing for the car racing action drama “Rush.”
Hill’s many other collaborations with Howard and Hanley encompass all of the director’s films over the past four decades, including “Angels & Demons,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “The Missing,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Ransom,” “Far and Away,” “Backdraft,” “Parenthood,” “Willow,” “Cocoon,” “Splash” and “Night Shift.”
Hill’s additional film credits include “Problem Child,” “Pet Sematary” and “Armed and Dangerous.”
DAN HANLEY (Editor) has partnered with Mike Hill to edit all of Ron Howard’s films since 1982, making theirs one of the longest and most prolific collaborations in cinema today.
Hanley won an Academy Award for Best Editing for Howard’s true-life drama “Apollo 13.” He also garnered Oscar nominations for the editing of the Howard’s Best Picture winner “A Beautiful Mind,” as well as “Cinderella Man” and “Frost/Nixon.” More recently, he won a BAFTA Award for the editing of the racing action drama “Rush.”
Together with Hill, he has also edited such Howard-directed features as “Angels & Demons,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “The Missing,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Ransom,” “Far and Away,” “Backdraft,” “Parenthood,” “Willow,” “Cocoon,” “Splash” and “Night Shift.”
Hanley’s additional film credits include “In & Out,” “Problem Child,” “Pet Sematary,” “No Man’s Land” and “Armed and Dangerous.”
JULIAN DAY (Costume Designer) recently worked with Ron Howard on the true-life drama “Rush,” starring Chris Hemsworth. He also just reteamed with Howard on the upcoming drama “Inferno,” based on Dan Brown’s bestseller and starring Tom Hanks. Day’s other upcoming films include Burr Steers’ “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and Susanna White’s “Our Kind of Traitor.”
He has previously designed the costumes for a wide range of independent features, including “Don Hemingway,” “Alan Partridge,” “Diana,” “Berberian Sound Studio,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” “The Woman in the Fifth,” “Brighton Rock,” “Nowhere Boy,” “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” “Tormented,” “Kicks,” “Control,” “My Summer of Love” and “Last Resort,” among others.
Day graduated from Birmingham University with a degree in Theatre Studies. He developed an interest in costume design while working for a year at Angels the Costumiers in London.
ROQUE BAÑOS (Composer) is an internationally recognized composer, who has received multiple honors for his film scores. He recently won a Gaudi Award and earned nominations for a Goya Award and Spain’s Cinema Writers Circle (CEC) Award for his score for “El Niño.” His music for Fede Alvarez’s 2013 cult favorite horror film “Evil Dead” brought him two International Film Music Critics Awards, for Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film and Best Music Composition.
Baños’ previous honors include CEC and Spanish Music Awards for “Cell 21”; Goya and Spanish Music Awards for “The Oxford Murders”; a Goya Award and a CEC Award nomination for “Las 13 Rosas”; a Goya Award for “Salomé”; a Spanish Music Award for “Common Wealth”; a CEC Award for “Goya in Bordeaux”; and another CEC Award nomination for “The 7th Day.” He has also received numerous other award nominations over the course of his career, including Goya Award nods for “The Last Circus,” “Alatriste,” “Fragile,” “The Machinist,” “800 Bullets” and “Common Wealth.”
He more recently composed the scores for Alejandro Amenábar’s horror thriller “Regression,” starring Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson; and the upcoming films “Risen,” starring Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton under the direction of Kevin Reynolds, and “A Man in the Dark,” reuniting him with “Evil Dead” director Fede Alvarez. His additional film credits include Spike Lee’s “Oldboy” and Jonathan Glazer’s “Sexy Beast,” to name only a few.
Born in Spain, Baños began his musical education at the Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Murcia. Moving to Madrid, he continued his studies at the Madrid Royal Conservatory of Music. In 1997, he joined the Spanish Army, where he was an officer and musician for 11 years. He went on to enjoy success as a concert saxophone player, performing in Spain and abroad. In 1993, he moved to Boston to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, majoring in Music Composition for Film and Jazz. At Berklee, he received the Robert Share Award and the Achievement Award, going on to graduate Summa Cum Laude.
Since making his film scoring debut on “Backroads,” for director Emilio Martinez Lazaro, he has worked with some of Spain’s most renowned directors. Baños has also premiered and conducted his own music at the National Auditorium in Madrid, the Reina Sofia Auditorium, the Cultural Circle of Fine Arts, the Alicante Festival of Contemporary Music and other major concert halls and venues across Spain.