Twelve years ago, on a moonlit rooftop above Washington Square, Lyla Novacek (KERI RUSSELL), a sheltered young cellist, and Louis Connelly (JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS), a charismatic Irish singer-songwriter, were drawn together by a street musician's rendition of "Moondance" and fell instantly in love. Sharing the language of music, their connection was real and undeniable... but short-lived.
After the most romantic night of her life, Lyla promised to meet Louis again but, despite her protests, her father (WILLIAM SADLER) rushed her to her next concert--leaving Louis to believe that she didn't care. Disheartened, he found it impossible to continue playing and eventually abandoned his music while Lyla, her own hopes for love lost, was led to believe months later that she had also lost their unborn child in a car accident.
Years passed with neither of them knowing the truth.
Now, the infant secretly given away by Lyla's father has grown into a spirited and unusually gifted child (FREDDIE HIGHMORE) who hears music all around him in the rhythms of life and can turn the rustling of wind through a wheat field into a beautiful symphony with himself at its center, the composer and conductor. Orphaned by circumstance, he holds a profound and unwavering belief that his parents are alive and want him as much as he wants them--if only they could find each other.
Determined to search for them, he makes his way to New York City. There, lost and alone, he is beckoned by the guitar music of a street kid playing for change and follows him back to a makeshift shelter in the abandoned Fillmore East Theater, where dozens of children like him live under the protection of the enigmatic Wizard (ROBIN WILLIAMS). That night, he picks up a guitar for the first time and unleashes an impromptu performance in his own unique style.
Astonished that this untrained boy can play so passionately, Wizard names him August Rush, introduces him to the soul-stirring power of music and begins to draw out his extraordinary talent. Wizard has big plans for the young prodigy but, for August, his music has a more important purpose. Never giving up hope of finding the parents he knows are out there somewhere, he calls out to them through every note. He believes that if they can hear his music, they will find him.
Unbeknownst to August, they have already begun that journey.
Having just learned her son is alive, Lyla is already working desperately to locate him with the help of dedicated social worker Richard Jeffries (TERRENCE HOWARD) while Louis, still haunted by memories of his one true love, finds himself returning to his musical roots and retracing his steps to the place where they met.
Separated by the events of life but bonded by love and music, Lyla, Louis and August search for what they lost and what will make their lives complete again... each other.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Southpaw Entertainment Production, in association with CJ Entertainment: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howard, Robin Williams and William Sadler star in the music-driven drama "August Rush."
Directed by Kirsten Sheridan, from a screenplay by Nick Castle and James V. Hart, story by Paul Castro and Nick Castle, "August Rush" is produced by Richard Barton Lewis with executive producers Robert Greenhut, Ralph Kamp, Louise Goodsill, Miky Lee and Lionel Wigram. John Mathieson is the director of photography; Michael Shaw, the production designer; and William Steinkamp, the editor. Costumes by Frank Fleming.
The film's original score is composed by Mark Mancina.
"August Rush" will be distributed domestically by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and internationally by Odyssey Entertainment. It is rated PG by the MPAA for "some thematic elements, mild violence and language." Soundtrack album on Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax.
"I believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales. What I hear came from my mother and father. Maybe that's how they found each other. Maybe that's how they'll find me..." --August Rush
"This is a story about a child who hears the world differently," offers award-winning producer Richard Barton Lewis, who nurtured "August Rush" from its inception through every aspect of development and production. "He doesn't fit in where life initially places him. His one desire is to be with his parents, and no matter how much people try to convince him that they aren't alive or, worse, that they don't care, he never gives up believing. No one can talk him out of it. He waits for them for 11 years and then decides it's time to go look for them himself."
What he doesn't know is that his parents are just as lost as he is.
Director Kirsten Sheridan explains. "August's ability to channel music from nature has its origin with his mother, Lyla, a concert cellist, and his father, Louis, a singer, songwriter and guitarist--both of them talented musicians but, more importantly, both similarly attuned to the music that's all around us but few of us hear. It's what brought them together. These are two people who have always heard the world in a special, specific way and that has left them a bit on the periphery with other people. When they realize that they each feel the same way, it's an absolutely magical and immediate connection that breaks them out of their loneliness for that one night and that's when August is created.
"'August Rush' is a love story with three people," Sheridan affirms.
"But, like so many love stories, things don't run smoothly. Lyla and Louis are quickly torn apart and remain apart for years. Sadly, upon losing each other, they also lose their passion for music," adds Lewis.
That the lovers' separation also results in their unintentional separation from their child--a child they don't know even exists--gives the story a triangular structure as each must now follow his or her unique journey to the same destination if they are ever to be a family.
"I liked the story's ensemble nature," notes Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who stars as the impulsive, creative Louis. "They're all parts of the same puzzle, these three people separated by circumstance, who need each other to feel fully alive."
Keri Russell, who stars as Louis' precious Lyla, says, "I love stories in which people are trying to find where they belong, to find their true home and the people they're meant to be with. It's easy to make a poor choice and spend a decade living the wrong kind of life and not as easy to correct that kind of error, but it's possible. I believe what this story is saying--not just with August but with each of the characters--is that it's only when you open yourself up to emotion and loss and become vulnerable that you find your way."
Sheridan concurs. "I'm constantly reminded of how the most profound ideas are often the most basic. What I fell in love with was the central story of this family finding each other through their shared passion for music and how it juxtaposes life's two extremes: love and loss."
"The thread running throughout all of it is the music," says Lewis. "It's integral to the story, like a character unto itself."
Freddie Highmore, whose 14th birthday coincided with the first week of filming, describes how this musical influence is a theme established at the very beginning and helps to enhance and propel the story. "Even in the orphanage, August feels connected to the parents he's never met because he believes they hear the same music he hears in everything around him. Later, when he learns guitar, he can start expressing some of that music and believes he is playing to his parents. One thing leads to another with him just getting better at playing all the time and gaining a wider audience, but it all means the same to him: he's calling out to these two people. He is absolutely convinced that this is the way to reach them."
Music as communication is a concept August knows instinctively but it's the mysterious man known as Wizard who first articulates it for him. Played by Robin Williams, who refers to the character as "a kind of rock-and-roll Fagan," Wizard serves as August's first mentor. "You know what music is?" he asks the boy. "A harmonic connection between all living beings."
With much of the story told through the changing rhythms and moods of music, Lewis greatly credits director Sheridan's ability to "match sound with camera flow, to sweep, visually, as the music sweeps, always flying to capture August's soaring point of view. Kirsten brought a facile touch as well as passion, imagination and tremendous heart. It was the purest collaboration I have ever had with a director. She is an amazing storyteller."
"August Rush" evokes a certain fairytale quality but is grounded in reality--a balance the filmmakers sought to maintain because, as Sheridan attests, "If everything is magical you won't be able to see the one part of it that is truly meant to be transcendent; it would be like putting a color on top of another color. We wanted the contrast of the real world."
Citing the truth-is-greater-than-fiction principle, screenwriter James V. Hart notes that even the seemingly fantastic elements of August's musical prowess could be drawn from reality. "One amazing aspect of this story is that while we were prepping the script for production a child prodigy enrolled at Juilliard--Jay Greenberg, age 12, who had already composed five symphonies. In an interview he stated that he doesn't know where the music comes from, but that when it arrives in his head it's completely composed. He sounded like our August."
"I've always been attracted to stories that hint at magic. It's very seductive because we all want to believe," says screenwriter Nick Castle, reuniting here with Hart for the first time since their creative collaboration on Steven Spielberg's "Hook." "And music is the most mysterious of arts; it seems to bypass the conscious mind and go to some very primal place in us. It's the perfect medium for the magic in this kind of film."
As Lewis concludes, "There are no special effects in this movie. The magic is in the performances, the characters and the discoveries they make along the way."
"It's like someone's calling out to me--but only some of us
can hear it." --August Rush
"Only some of us are listening." --Wizard
Casting on "August Rush" naturally began with the story's central role.
"Finding the right August was essential. If the child does not genuinely touch an audience, this story won't work. You're not going to believe him," states Lewis, who cites Freddie Highmore's park bench scene with Johnny Depp in "Finding Neverland" as striking exactly the right emotional tone he needed for August. Securing the young actor proved more difficult, as Highmore's mother had planned for her son to take a break from his film schedule at the time. "But when I described the story to her, she agreed to read the script, and when she and Freddie read the script they loved it."
Taking Highmore's formidable talent as a given, the producer took an unconventional approach to his interview by putting Highmore together with his own young son and observing their rapport. "Freddie has a unique, genuine, unaffected quality that is entirely his own, as an actor and as a person. You simply fall into his eyes," says Lewis. "He has an uncanny ability to connect with people, which we needed because August doesn't speak much; he lets others talk, and takes it all in."
This quality proved essential, adds Sheridan, as "August draws out the truth and humanity from the people he encounters. People who look into his open, honest face find themselves looking into a mirror. He reflects back to them what they had forgotten or don't want to see, and it was truly remarkable to see Freddie accomplish this with such apparent ease.
"He had a strong instinct for the role. For example, he kept August quite low-key when he wasn't playing music and then, when he picked up an instrument he would suddenly come alive with electricity and his smile would be radiant," Sheridan continues, adding that in a few instances where their approaches to a scene differed slightly she opted to let him play it as he felt and was not disappointed.
"August is not quite normal in his interactions with people," Highmore observes. "He tends to stare. Kirsten and I decided it's as though he never learned the social convention to politely look away, so he stares the way a much younger child might do and in the same calm, open and fearless way."
Highmore, who could play clarinet and read music prior to the project, enjoyed the guitar work particularly and declares conducting the most challenging of his on-set lessons. "There's a seven-minute symphony I have to conduct, and it's amazing how involved that can be: you have to know the exact place to bring in the oboe on the left or the violas on the right and time the beats so you don't mess up. Of course, if I did it wrong it wouldn't have mattered that much; it only had to look real, but I wanted to get it as near to perfect as possible."
At the same time, says Lewis, "Keri Russell learned to play cello from a dead stop. She didn't play a note when we started this movie, and we gave her arguably three of the most intricate pieces ever written from Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Bach."
Russell, who devoted herself to learning the solos, describes the process as "going from 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' to Bach in twelve weeks. We broke the pieces down and slowed them so I could learn the correct bowing positions and then gradually brought them up to speed. Fortunately, they're not relying on me for the sound--that will be some brilliant professional cellist--but it took intense practice just to achieve that visual credibility.
"It's easy to see how the demands of a concert career can impact a person's life," she continues. "For a young virtuoso who started playing at an early age, it can be a strange world. I don't think Lyla had much of a childhood or the regular 'kid' experience. She lived in her own world. Her whirlwind romance with Louis was such an incredible connection and a meeting of soul mates, that suddenly her reserve was gone and it was like a revelation. But, just as quickly, it was taken from her. Ten years later she's like half a person. That spark is gone."
Still, she says, "Lyla finally chooses to be brave. It may have taken her ten years to get back on track but she does it with passion. Once she learns she has a son, her story really begins."
Says Sheridan, "I didn't want Lyla to be the kind of girl who was just beautiful and gazed demurely out of windows. Certainly she has been sheltered by the kind of life she's led but this is a woman with a steel spine. She has drive and focus. I wanted to see her get angry when she learns the truth and discovers she's been cheated out of the love she deserved and then find a way to get it back. Keri has that classical, ethereal beauty and the grace and poise you would expect to see on stage at Carnegie Hall, but she delivers the rest of it, too. Lyla begins as a kind of china doll and ends up a fighter."
Lyla's initial reserve and formality provides a dynamic counterpart to Jonathan Rhys Meyers' Louis, whose energy Richard Lewis describes as "raw and instinctual, a bad boy with heart."
"It's a role that could easily have gone down a self-indulgent path but Johnny does not allow that. He never turns it into 'poor me.' It's a heartfelt, vulnerable role and he understood it perfectly," says Sheridan.
"I liked the idea of playing a father who doesn't know he's a father and, more importantly, a character whose main concern is not himself," says Meyers. "Working with Freddie took me back for an instant to that sense of fearlessness and freshness I felt when I was his age and it was delicious."
The character Louis sings three songs on screen, each an original composition written expressly for the film by renowned musicians John Ondrasik, Chris Trapper and Lucas Reynolds. Rather than cast a musician who could act, the filmmakers sought an actor who could sing because of the depth of the material, and planned to enhance his voice in studio later, should he prove not to have the pipes. Producer Lewis recalls his relief and delight when it became obvious that Meyers was a dual talent. "When he came in to record the John Ondrasik song 'Break,' Ondrasik was on hand and said, 'As long as he has the right attitude, we can fix it.' Music producer Phil Ramone said, 'As long as he gives us something to work with, we can fix it.' Then Johnny sang and he was great and Phil looked at us and simply said, 'You are so lucky.'"
For the role of Wizard, Lewis turned to Robin Williams, with whom he had recently worked on "House of D," citing Williams' ability to "bring lightness to roles that are not especially light and vice versa. He conveys the complexity of the roles so deftly."
Maxwell "Wizard" Wallace is the personification of complexity. Father figure, mentor, headmaster, boss and agent all rolled into one, he is a homeless former musician who has taken possession of a condemned theater in the city where he holds court over dozens of street performers--offering guidance, discipline, shelter and protection... at a price, namely: "no play, no pay, no stay."
Says Lewis, "There's a real edge to Wizard's personality. I wanted him to be unpredictable, scary and wonderful. You never know what you're going to get with him, and that's what makes him such a compelling character. Music is his only way of really connecting. It's probably the one thing he did well in life, but he's lost it and is desperate to get it back."
Speculating on Wizard's back-story, Williams suggests, "He was a promising musician himself, then fell through the cracks. I imagine years of abuse or neglect, then he just lost it, hit the wall, or maybe he just didn't have enough talent. Now he finds himself working with these kids, trying to impart to them his understanding of music, but not many of them get it until August comes along. Right away, Wizard knows there's something extraordinary abut this kid: he has the gift. In one way, he wants to nurture it, but he's jealous too. More than anything, I think, he's afraid the teachers and the world in general will beat the gift out of August the way they did with him."
"August reminds Wizard of the best that music can be. Also, he reminds Wizard of who he once was--his own talent and promise--and that stirs very mixed emotions," says Sheridan.
Highmore jokes that Williams' casting meant he "wasn't the only kid on the set," adding that his collaboration with the multi-talented actor helped develop his own improvisational skills and proved a learning experience as much as it was fun. "The way Robin works the dialogue it's more like a conversation. It feels more natural and even when he took us off the page, I would find myself talking and answering questions in the way that August would answer them. Robin became Wizard and I became August. It was fantastic. He's so good at it; I just tried to follow his lead."
The film also alludes to a possible history for social worker Richard Jeffries, played by Terrence Howard, that adds depth and dignity to the character without spelling anything out.
"Maybe he was a foster child himself and finds some solace in reuniting other lost children with their families," Howard speculates. "A good portion of my roles have been tough, disreputable characters so it was nice to play someone who is closer to my heart. I know that a missing child is a reality for many people, and I feel for them as a father myself. It's not hard to imagine the things that could happen."
When Jeffries interviews August at the orphanage, says Howard, he sees that "August doesn't fit in. The kids think he's strange, but he knows he has a purpose." During the meeting, which involves going over standard questions for the social worker's case file, Jeffries attempts to encourage August to be more receptive to the idea of being adopted, by reminding him that there is a whole world waiting for him outside.
"As self-possessed as August seems, Jeffries understands--or suspects, because he's likely seen this a hundred times before--that this child resists adoption because he fears that his successful placement will prevent his family from finding him," says Howard.
"It's at this juncture," says Lewis, "that August first realizes he could go beyond the boundaries of the orphanage instead of merely waiting to be found. That one remark helps set August's journey into motion."
Similarly, Lyla's father Thomas, played by William Sadler, sets her journey into motion when he finally reveals to her the life-altering truth that her baby boy survived.
"Thomas is flawed but not a one-note bad guy," offers Sheridan. "We imagined a past for him that involved losing Lyla's mother, a concert cellist herself. All he had left was Lyla. His decision to give her child away and keep the truth from her was not only a selfish attempt to keep her with him and manage her career, but it was also what he thought best for her as a father. Unfortunately, he was trying to push her into being something she wasn't."
Sadler sees the character as a catalyst, observing that "Thomas is integral at both turning points in Lyla's life. First, when he's hustling her into the car for her next performance and she sees Louis running toward her, she makes the split-second decision to stay with her father and that changes everything with Louis. Secondly, when Thomas finally tells her the truth, after ten years of her living under the shadow of this decision and the tragedy of thinking she'd lost her child, it sets her on an immediate search to find this child and, in the process, reclaim her life."
Joining the "August Rush" main cast in the role of Arthur is Leon Thomas III, best known for his work on Broadway. Arthur is the young street musician whose guitar playing in Washington Square captures August's attention upon his arrival in New York City and who leads him to Wizard. "Arthur is a real street kid," says Sheridan. "He's sharp, confident, a real wheeler-dealer with plenty of attitude, but August brings out his vulnerability and kindness. Later, when Wizard is so impressed by August's ability that he focuses all his attention on him at Arthur's expense, it truly hurts him."
Another youngster who figures prominently in August's journey is Hope, a choir soloist whose clear voice draws August into a Harlem church one night when he's lost in the city for the second time. Hope is played by Apollo Kids Talent Search winner Jamia Simone Nash, just nine years old at the time of filming and already adding numerous television roles and singing engagements to her credit. It's not long after befriending August that Hope brings his prodigious talent to the attention of Reverend James, played by Mykelti Williamson ("Forrest Gump"). After August's impromptu organ concert reveals his astonishing ability, the reverend feels a moral responsibility to help him develop this gift.
"The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen." --August Rush
Music plays a fundamental role in "August Rush." Two years before production, the filmmakers began reaching out to numerous artists and music industry professionals for original material that would help tell their story. The result is an eclectic, dynamic soundtrack featuring more than 40 pieces of music that run the gamut from a lone harmonica solo to a full symphony orchestra. It incorporates classical, rock and gospel performances, in harmony with a comprehensive score by Grammy Award winner Mark Mancina that charts the turning points in the lives of August, Louis and Lyla, and culminates in a stirring orchestral piece called "August's Rhapsody" which weaves all of it together.
Toward that end, they hired not one but three music supervisors--Jeff Pollack, Julia Michels and Nashville's only female music supervisor, Anastasia Brown--to pool their talents, contacts and expertise.
Says Pollack, "The music in 'August Rush' is a significant part of the continuity and flow of the story, which is why Richard got so many people involved. We had to be sure all the elements were connected in a way that worked." Throughout the process, the music supervisors collaborated closely with each other and with Kirsten Sheridan and Richard Lewis in suggesting songs and artists, auditioning, playing pieces for one another and voting on selections. "It was an ongoing, coast to coast, collaborative process."
Their challenge was not in gathering existing material that might be fit into sequences, but in finding artists who might compose and/or perform songs for specific scenes or characters. "Not just a collection of songs, but each one with meaning and relevance," notes Michels. Without a movie to show at the time, this involved circulating the script and describing the story to prospective musicians.
One of the many who were touched by the story and offered an original composition was multiple Grammy Award winner John Legend, a child prodigy himself, who wrote and performed the evocative "Someday" that plays over the end credits. It is the first time the platinum-selling artist has ever written for a film.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers performs three songs that are meant to be the work of his character, Louis, and therefore had to be original. Reflecting his state of mind at three different points in his life, each was commissioned from a separate source to best capture that progression.
Meyers explains, "The song 'Break' was from the period before Louis met Lyla. It's confident and impetuous, the energy of a 19 year old in a band who has come over from Ireland to make it in the American music industry. 'This Time' has a haunting, more subdued quality, timed to the period after they are separated. The last one, 'Something Inside,' reveals a more mature Louis coming to terms with himself as an adult, as someone who realizes he's been denying his destiny for a long time and finally has the courage to move forward again."
"Break" was written by alternative rock singer-songwriter John Ondrasik (Five for Fighting), who also provided an existing piece, "King of the Earth." "This Time" was contributed by Chris Trapper, formerly of the alternative rock band The Push Stars, and the poignant "Something Inside" came from Lucas Reynolds of Nashville's pop/rock group Blue Merle. "In each case," notes Anastasia Brown, "the musicians worked from their impressions of the script and were absolutely open-minded and collaborative. They wanted what was best for the film."
Meyers did his own singing, but studio musicians provided the sound of the band backing his vocals, while actors and additional musicians were hired to play those parts onscreen.
Similarly, professional musicians provided the music for the scene in which Louis and August, unaware of each others' identity, share a spontaneous guitar duet in the park.
Because August is a raw talent whose playing is instinctive, it was determined that his fret work would have to be out of the ordinary. Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer David Crosby, who lends vocals to the soundtrack and whose "incomparable perspective," says Lewis, "contributed greatly to the credibility of the music from beginning to end," suggested that he approach the instrument in the style of acclaimed guitarist Michael Hedges.
"It's more rhythmic and percussive than traditional strumming, and likely what someone like August might do when he picks up a guitar for the first time," Sheridan describes Hedges' innovative style. Part of Freddie Highmore's guitar training included studying tapes of the late Hedges' performances.
Brazilian guitarist Heitor Pereira composed the piece Highmore and Meyers are seen playing in the park, entitled "Dueling Guitars," performed by Pereira and Doug Smith and produced by Mark Mancina.
Declares Lewis, "It's essentially a father talking to his son without words. It's almost like a parent bird feeding a newborn chick in the nest; it's squawking and the chick chirps back, and they learn to communicate."
In another scene, August wanders into Harlem and is viscerally drawn to a church by the soulful sounds of a choir--and in particular the powerful voice of a young soloist. It's not only the music that touches him but the words she sings, which are about rising above loneliness by turning your loss into beauty and song.
The song, "Raise It Up," is one of several written and performed for "August Rush" by Harlem's Impact Repertory Theatre, with the addition of actress/singer Jamia Simone Nash, who performs the solo. It was produced by Columbia University film school professor and Impact founder Jamal Joseph and jazz/R&B musician Charles Mack, who also sings with the choir.
Among those who participated in bringing these diverse sounds together was legendary record producer Phil Ramone, an eight-time Grammy Award winner whose 50-year career includes collaborations with some of the biggest stars in the industry. Ramone, who played violin and piano before kindergarten and studied at Juilliard while still in high school, identified with August's ability to hear music in nature and ambient noise because he experienced sound in much the same way.
"Phil is so attuned that he can feel it in his body if something sounds right or wrong," marvels Sheridan. "For him, it wasn't about the album or the songs themselves, it was about how they melded into each scene. We had to be constantly aware of the visuals and the emotional content we were matching."
The same was true for Mark Mancina's score, with one significant distinction: in this case, it was Sheridan who was often trying to guide the action to match the musical timing, which was created first. Traditionally, composers begin scoring a film when it is nearly complete, taking some of their cues from the temp music and determining what the filmmakers are trying to convey. Because of the nature of this story and the vital, cumulative role the music plays, it had to be approached differently.
"It was a different way of looking at a film and a score, and quite intimidating," says Mancina. "Because all the early themes had to interweave and make sense pulled together at the end, I had to write the end first and move backwards. I must have worked out 70 versions of the structure, it was that complicated. Ultimately, I put the script up on the computer screen and moved the corresponding music up and down alongside it so you could tell what would be happening with each piece.
"To establish a connection among the three central characters, I used a three-note theme that plays for August, for Lyla and for Louis at different times throughout the story," the composer continues. "That theme was part of a larger recurring theme representing the music that comes to August in overtones, which are those notes that most closely approximate the vibrations of nature. The movie begins with an overtone and ends with one."
Another recurring melody is Van Morrison's haunting "Moondance," first heard when Louis and Lyla meet, then again when Wizard plays for August. The third time it is magically and surprisingly transformed into a classical waltz, echoing through the grand musical finale in New York's Central Park.
"New York City is a living entity," Robin Williams attests. "It's possible to shoot movies in other places and finesse it to look like New York. Toronto can look like New York, but if you're actually shooting a scene in Columbus Circle, Central Park, Washington Square, if you're in Brooklyn or the Village or Manhattan, as soon as you step onto the street you know it's a whole other game. That's vital to a film like this; it's all about rhythm and pulse.
"Washington Square has a great tradition of busking and performance, whether it's musicians or chess hustlers," he continues. "We'd be on the set all day with the kids playing their instruments and then break for dinner, and when we came back there would be genuine street kids out there with their own instruments."
Adds Lewis, "Washington Square and Central Park, while also beautiful, can be easily dark and oppressive also, depending on your mood and circumstances."
"Robin, of course, would entertain the entire park full of people between takes. He had a thriving stand-up routine on the side," recalls Sheridan.
Mindful of mood, production designer Michael Shaw and the filmmakers selected the film's numerous practical locations to illustrate the stark contrasts that define August's experience in the city. Offers Shaw, "It's not an easy place, but it makes you tough to live there. As August feels that, we want the audience to feel it also. At the same time he's taking in the glamorous New York iconography, the clean lines and elegance of places like Carnegie Hall and Juilliard, he's also seeing the city's rougher side, like the abandoned theater that is essentially Wizard's lair."
The production crew discovered an old but working theater for sale in the Bronx and transformed it into a derelict version of the Fillmore East, complete with faded marquee and posters and oversized speakers in the back. "We removed the seats, aged it down and decayed it," says Shaw, whose work draws upon years of experience as a sculptor and painter. After welding a series of ramps and substructures that resembled makeshift scaffolding and decorating the walls with graffiti, he and his team "brought in props to look like the kids had created a home for themselves from whatever items they could salvage from dumpsters and the street--bits of wood, old doors, police barricades, whatever they could find. The trick was in making it look flimsy and slipshod, as though constructed by kids, yet have it be strong and safe enough for the cast and crew to walk on and move around."
"It's kind of a fairytale tree house structure that kids would fantasize about building, because they're so resourceful and imaginative, but with an eye toward efficiency, which is how Wizard runs the place," notes Sheridan.
Filming outdoors in New York required not only careful planning but a measure of luck, which remained consistently in their favor, as Sheridan relates with a touch of lingering amazement. "At one point we needed snow for a scene upstate when August is at the orphanage. It was February but there was no snow until the day before we traveled. Then, suddenly, they had the most massive snowfall that area had seen for something like 20 years and we had our beautiful red barn covered with white."
The biggest challenge was the film's climactic scene set at a symphony concert in Central Park, involving more than 500 extras and scheduled for an April shoot. Says Sheridan, "It was a huge risk but Richard is a fantastic risk-taker. He knew he just had to go for it, and it turned out that we got the four warmest nights in the history of April in New York City."
"Everyone said you can't do it, forget about it, move it inside," the producer admits. "But that wouldn't work. It had to be Central Park. This child has been searching for a way to reach as many people as possible, to go beyond the borders of any building and fill the air with music in the hope that his parents will finally hear him. We could not take this indoors."
Says Sheridan, "The final rhapsody incorporates all the themes and the music August has heard or created, plus everything he has experienced in his emotional journey. It recalls the sounds that have impressed and influenced him, from the wind in the wheat fields to the church organ and Wizard's harmonica."
"It also integrates Lyla's complex cello compositions and Louis' guitar riffs, referring to August's musical heritage," says Lewis. "Assimilating all these themes with all the music of August's imagination and experience is what the story is about."
Freddie Highmore (August Rush) has,
in just the last three years, emerged as one of the film industry's most
respected and sought-after young actors. He won the Empire Award for Most
Promising Newcomer for his role in Marc Forster's acclaimed 2004 feature
"Finding Neverland." His performance in that film also brought Highmore two
Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, one individually for Best Supporting
Actor and another shared with the ensemble cast for Outstanding Cast
Performance. In addition, he won the first of two consecutive Critics' Choice
Awards for Best Young Actor from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. The
following year, he won his second Critics' Choice Award for his work in Tim
Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
Highmore made his feature film debut at the age of seven in "Women Talking Dirty," with Helena Bonham Carter. He then appeared in a number of longform television projects, including the BBC's "Happy Birthday Shakespeare" and TNT's "The Mists of Avalon." In 2004, he had starring roles in three films, including Jean-Jacques Annaud's "Two Brothers" and "Five Children and It," with Kenneth Branagh. However, it was his poignant performance as Peter in "Finding Neverland" that caught the attention of both critics and audiences, as well as his cast-mates. His "Finding Neverland" co-star Johnny Depp was so impressed with Highmore that he recommended the young actor to director Tim Burton for the title role in 2005's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
Highmore more recently starred alongside Russell Crowe and Albert Finney in Ridley Scott's comedy drama "A Good Year," and then played the title role in Luc Besson's fantasy adventure "Arthur and the Invisibles." Later this year, he will be heard as the voice of the character Pantalaimon in the fantasy film "The Golden Compass," and, in 2008, will star opposite himself as twins in "The Spiderwick Chronicles."
Keri Russell (Lyla Novacek). A
familiar face to audiences worldwide, Keri Russell first garnered attention
when she starred in the title role in the hit television series "Felicity."
In just four months after the show's acclaimed premiere on The WB, Russell
was honored with a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in
a Drama Series.
Since the conclusion of "Felicity," she has starred in a number of major motion pictures, including "Mission Impossible III," "The Upside of Anger," "We Were Soldiers," "Mad About Mambo," "The Curve" and "Eight Days A Week." Most recently, she received rave reviews for her starring role in the romantic comedy "Waitress," which, to date, is the highest grossing independent film released in 2007.
Upcoming, Russell stars in the psychological thriller "The Girl in the Park," with Sigourney Weaver and Kate Bosworth.
Russell is a spokesmodel for CoverGirl, the number one-selling make-up line in the U.S. She joins CoverGirl's current roster of models, including Christie Brinkley, Molly Sims, Drew Barrymore and Queen Latifah.
Russell's television credits include the mini-series "Into the West," executive produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Simon Wincer, and the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation "The Magic of Ordinary Days."
In 2005, Russell made her stage debut in the off-Broadway production of Neil LaBute's play "Fat Pig," as Jeannie, a vindictive girl furious at her ex-boyfriend, played by Jeremy Piven, for having the gall to fall in love with someone who is overweight.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Louis
Connelly) first gained international attention and a London Film Critics Circle
Award for his starring role in Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine," with Ewan
McGregor, Christian Bale and Toni Collette. Since then, Rhys Meyers has earned
a Golden Globe Award for his starring role in the CBS television miniseries
Rhys Meyers was last seen in the role of Henry VIII in the Showtime original series "The Tudors," focusing on the rarely depicted turbulent early years of Henry VIII's life, including his romantic and political relationships. "The Tudors" was directed by a variety of award-winning directors, including Charles McDougall. They enjoyed excellent ratings and they are currently filming the second season in Ireland. He also co-starred in last summer's action sequel "Mission Impossible III," with Tom Cruise, Laurence Fishburne, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, under the direction of J.J. Abrams.
Rhys Meyers recently wrapped "The Children of Huang Shi," directed by Roger Spottiswoode. The film takes place in a war-ravaged China in the 1930s and co-stars Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun Fat and Radha Mitchell.
In 2006, he received a Golden Globe Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his portrayal of the young Elvis Presley in the television miniseries "Elvis." In addition, he received an Emmy nomination for his flawless portrayal of "the King." That same year, he earned critical acclaim for his role in Woody Allen's "Match Point," which was nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Picture. The film, co-starring Scarlett Johansson, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 with Rhys Meyers winning the festival's Chopard Trophy for Male Revelation.
Rhys Meyers is also recognized for his role as the girls' soccer coach in the award-winning sleeper hit "Bend it Like Beckham," in which he starred with Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra. His other recent film credits include starring roles in Oliver Stone's epic "Alexander," with Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie; and Mira Nair's "Vanity Fair," with Reese Witherspoon.
On the small screen, Rhys Meyers has starred in a wide range of longform projects, both here and in the U.K. Among his television credits are the Showtime presentation of "The Lion in Winter," with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close; Alfonso Arau's "The Magnificent Ambersons"; "Gormenghast"; "The Tribe"; and "Samson and Delilah."
Born in Dublin, Ireland, Rhys Meyers made his film debut in "A Man of No Importance" and then played the young assassin in Neil Jordan's biopic "Michael Collins." His subsequent film credits have included "The Maker"; "Telling Lies in America," starring Kevin Bacon; "The Governess," opposite Minnie Driver; the thriller "B. Monkey"; Mike Figgis' "The Loss of Sexual Innocence"; Ang Lee's Western "Ride with the Devil"; Julie Taymor's "Titus," with Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange; "Prozac Nation," opposite Christina Ricci; "The Tesseract"; the crime drama "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," with Clive Owen and Charlotte Rampling; and "The Emperor's Wife."
Rhys Meyers currently resides in Los Angeles and Ireland.
Terrence Howard (Richard Jeffries) was
honored with an Academy Award nomination last year for his performance in Craig
Brewer's 2005 urban drama "Hustle & Flow," produced by John Singleton. Howard's
portrayal of a pimp trying to break into the rap music business also brought him
Golden Globe, Critics' Choice, Independent Spirit and Image Award nominations. In
addition, he won a Critics' Choice Award for the film's title song, and the song
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," which Howard performs in "Hustle & Flow," won the
Oscar for Best Song.
Also in 2005, Howard starred in Paul Haggis' Oscar-winning Best Picture "Crash," for which he won an Image Award and earned another Critics' Choice Award nomination. Additionally, Howard shared in dual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations in the category of Outstanding Motion Picture Cast as part of the ensemble casts of both "Crash" and "Hustle & Flow." The National Board of Review also singled him out with their award for Best Breakthrough Performance for his work in those films, as well as Jim Sheridan's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'." Howard also won the New Generation Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Breakthrough Awards from the Florida and Washington, DC Film Critics Associations, and the Rising Star Award at the 2006 Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Howard also enjoyed a banner year on the small screen in 2005, starring in two of the year's most heralded telefilms, HBO's "Lackawanna Blues," for which he won an Image Award, and "Their Eyes Were Watching God," presented by Oprah Winfrey. His previous television work includes the telefilms "Boycott," for which he earned an Image Award nomination, and "Mama Flora's Family," with Cicely Tyson.
Howard most recently starred in Neil Jordan's psychological thriller "The Brave One," opposite Jodie Foster; "The Hunting Party," with Richard Gere; "Pride," which he also executive produced; and "Idlewild." He will also star in "Iron Man," based on the Marvel comic book hero, with Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges under the direction of Jon Favreau, set for a Spring 2008 release.
Howard's love for acting came naturally through summers spent with his grandmother, New York stage actress Minnie Gentry. He began his own acting career with a guest role on "The Cosby Show" after being discovered on a New York City street by a casting director. His early film work includes the Hughes brothers' "Dead Presidents" and Stephen Herek's "Mr. Holland's Opus."
Howard won his first Image Award and earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his role in 1999's "The Best Man." His other film credits include "Big Momma's House," Luis Mandoki's "Angel Eyes," Gregory Hoblit's "Hart's War," John Singleton's "Four Brothers" and Taylor Hackford's award-winning biopic "Ray," for which Howard shared in a SAG Award nomination for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast.
A self-taught musician, Howard plays both the piano and the guitar and is also a singer/songwriter.
Robin Williams (Maxwell "Wizard"
Wallace) is an Academy Award-winning actor and comedian with a career that spans
over three decades. He won an Oscar for his performance in Gus Van Sant's
"Good Will Hunting," and garnered previous
Academy Award nominations for his work in "
," "Dead Poets Society" and
"Good Morning, Vietnam." Williams has also received
six Golden Globe Awards, including the Cecil B. DeMille Award. Additionally, he
shared the National Board of Review Best Actor Award with Robert De Niro for
"Awakenings," and, in 2004, he received the
prestigious Career Achievement Award from the Chicago International Film Festival.
More recently, Williams starred as the outrageous Reverend Frank in the romantic comedy "License to Wed," lent his voice talents to the Oscar-winning animated feature "Happy Feet" and played Theodore Roosevelt in the holiday comedy " Night at the Museum ." In the same year, he also starred in Barry Levinson's political satire "Man of the Year," the hit comedy "RV" for director Barry Sonnenfeld, and Patrick Stettner's dark thriller "The Night Listener," opposite Toni Collette.
He will next star in the buddy comedy "Old Dogs," opposite John Travolta, set for a 2008 release.
Williams first captured the world's attention as Mork from Ork on the popular television series "Mork & Mindy." He trained at New York's Juilliard School and made his cinematic debut as the title character in Robert Altman's "Popeye." He followed up with starring roles in Paul Mazursky's "Moscow on the Hudson" and "The World According to Garp," George Roy Hill's adaptation of John Irving's acclaimed bestselling novel.
His filmography also includes such hit films as Chris Columbus' "Mrs. Doubtfire," Mike Nichols' "The Birdcage," Tom Shadyac's "Patch Adams," Steven Spielberg's "Hook" and Joe Johnston's "Jumanji." Williams lent his voice talents in creating the memorable character of the Genie in the blockbuster adventure "Aladdin" and voiced the character of Fender in the 2005 animated feature "Robots." Additionally, he was the voice of Dr. Know in Steven Spielberg's "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence."
Williams began his career as a stand-up comedian and is well known for his free-associative monologues. In 2002, after a 16-year absence from the stand-up scene, he hit the road with a sold-out 26-date U.S. tour. With its last stop on Broadway, the one-man show was filmed as " Robin Williams: Live on Broadway " and garnered five Emmy Award nominations.
Offstage, Williams takes great joy in supporting philanthropic efforts around the world, benefiting health care, human rights, education and environmental protection. Last year, he presented "Comic Relief 2006" with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, a live concert to benefit families affected by Hurricane Katrina. To date, the Comic Relief organization has raised over $50 million.
William Sadler (Thomas Novacek) is best
recognized for his roles in "The Shawshank Redemption," "The Green Mile" and "Die
He is currently in Australia filming the HBO ten-part mini-series "Pacific," in the role of highly decorated Col. "Chesty" Puller. Sadler will also be starring on screen in Frank Darabont's adaptation of the Stephen King novel "The Mist," in theaters November 2007.
Sadler's impressive list of film credits include Bill Condon's "Kinsey," with Liam Neeson, "Rush," "Hard to Kill," "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey," "The Hot Spot," "Rocket Man," "Trespass," "Disturbing Behavior," "Witness Protection" and "Battle of Shaker Heights."
For television, he starred opposite Harvey Keitel in the ABC film "Path To 911" and the critically acclaimed Fox series "Wonder Falls." He played Jim Valenti on the series "Roswell" for three years and has guest starred in several episodes of "Law and Order" as well as "C.S.I. Las Vegas," "Medium," "Numbers" and "Third Watch," to name only a few.
Sadler most recently reprised his role of the charming and dangerous Gino Fish in the latest of the Tom Selleck "Jesse Stone" series of telefilms, "Thin Ice."
Leon Thomas III (Arthur) made his
theatrical debut at age 10 in 2003 as Young Simba in the Broadway production of
"The Lion King." In 2004, he appeared as Jackie Thibodeaux in the original Broadway
cast of Tony Kushner's "Caroline or Change." He also toured with the company during
its five-month run in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
While in California, Thomas booked his first television show, TEENick's "Just for Kicks," where he played the role of Ty Atwood. Additionally, he is the singing voice of Tyrone the orange moose on season two of the award-winning Nick Jr. show "The Backyardigans." His other recent television credits include guest appearances on "Jack's Big Music Show," "Just Jordan" and "iCarly."
In December 2005, Thomas became an original cast member of his third Broadway play, "The Color Purple." He left that show to make his film debut in "August Rush."
A third generation musician, Thomas was exposed to music at a young age since his parents, professional musicians, owned a recording studio where a number of famous musicians recorded. Thomas plays drums, bass, piano, saxophone and now guitar, which he mastered for his role in "August Rush."
Jamia Simone Nash (Hope) started singing
at two years old and was discovered at five, after winning the Apollo Kids Talent
Search Competition. She went on to appear on "Showtime at the Apollo," where she
sang Alicia Keys' song "Fallin'" and wowed the audience.
Since then, she has shared the stage with many celebrity artists, performing for the Essence Awards, the NBA All Star Game, "The Maury Show," "Soul Train Christmas Starfest," BET's "Celebration of Gospel," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Steve Harvey's Big Time."
For television, Nash lends her singing voice to the character Uniqua on the Nick Jr. animated show "The Backyardigans." Billed as MC Lily, Nash sang about the alphabet on Nick Jr. in the music video "Bongo Bird," which was featured on the Noggin series "Jack's Big Music Show." She has also been seen on the prime-time series "My Wife and Kids," "Half and Half," and "Romeo!" Last summer she appeared as Young Fantasia in the Lifetime original movie "Life Is Not A Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story."
Nash makes her big-screen debut in "August Rush."
Kirsten Sheridan (Director) was
born in Dublin, Ireland. She studied Film & Television Production at University
College Dublin before completing a Diploma in Film Production at Dun Laoghaire
College of Art & Design, Ireland's national film school, graduating with
She directed five short films, starting with the FilmBase/RTE short script award winner "The Bench" in 1995. She co-produced, wrote & directed "Patterns," and directed "The Case of Majella McGinty," both of which won numerous international film festival awards, including Clermont-Ferrand, Cork, Galway, Dresden, Aspen, and Chicago. In 1998 Sheridan received the Film Institute of Ireland/Guinness' Outstanding Young Irish Talent Award and her first feature-length screenplay, "Honor Bright," won the Miramax Best Irish Screenplay Award.
In 2000, she directed her first feature film, "Disco Pigs." Sheridan was selected as one of the three finalists in Europe for the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award with "Disco Pigs," which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001 to critical acclaim, had its Ireland/UK release in 2001 and international release in 2002. The film won the Jury Prize at the Castellinaria Youth Film Festival, the Gold Medal at the Giffoni Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Young European Cinema Film Festival and the Grand Prize Best Film at the Ourense Film Festival. Sheridan was nominated for Best New Director at the British Independent Film Awards and the Irish Film & TV Academy Awards, and won the United International Pictures Best Director Award.
Sheridan co-wrote the original screenplay for "In America," starring Samantha Morton, Paddy Considine and Djimon Hounsou, for which she received an Academy Award nomination as well as a nomination for a Golden Globe Award, the Online Film Critics Society Award, the Writers Guild of America Award and the Humanities Prize. In the Best Screenplay category, "In America" won the National Board of Review, The Christopher Award and the 2004 Broadcasting Critics Awards.
Sheridan is currently co-writing the original feature "London Calling" for Sony BMG, and "It Could Be You," in co-production with Cuba Pictures UK, which she will direct in 2008.
She lives and works in Dublin, where she has her own film production company, Blindside Films.
Richard Barton Lewis (Producer) is
the founder and CEO of Southpaw Entertainment and a producer with 14 films
and more than 300 hours of television to his credit. "August Rush" marks his
return to Warner Bros. Pictures, where he produced the major box-office
success "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves."
Lewis has over 15 pictures currently in development at Southpaw, including "The Box," with director Barry Sonnenfeld helming; "The Joint," a music-driven comedy starring Jamie Foxx, which Lewis is co-writing; "Out Of This World," being written by Alan Loeb ("Things We Lost In The Fire," Lasse Halstrom's "New Amsterdam"); and the thriller "Last Lights," helmed by acclaimed Spanish director Daniel Calparsoro ("Ausentes").
While a founding partner at Trilogy Entertainment for over 16 years, Lewis led the company's movie and television divisions, generating ten motion pictures, six television series and four longform movies, which, together, generated more than $1.5 billion dollars in gross revenue. Lewis and his former Trilogy partners burst onto the motion picture scene by producing two mega-hit films: "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman, and Ron Howard's "Backdraft," starring Robert DeNiro, Kurt Russell, Rebecca DeMornay, Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin. Together, these films garnered four Academy Award nominations, resulted in two successful soundtracks, inspired a major theme park attraction at Universal Studios and were the number two and five most successful pictures of the year.
Lewis was also the primary force behind building a television division at Trilogy, with a prodigious line-up that included the widely successful multi-award-winning Showtime series "The Outer Limits" (154 episodes); Showtime and the Sci-Fi Channel's "Poltergeist: The Legacy," (88 episodes) created by Lewis; the CBS Emmy Award-winning series "The Magnificent Seven" and the double Emmy Award-winning first-run series "Fame L.A.," also created by Lewis; as well as the TNT original movies "Houdini" and "Buffalo Soldiers"; and the ABC event mini-series "Peter Benchley's Creature," starring Craig T. Nelson and Kim Cattrall.
With a strong desire to get back into hands-on moviemaking, Southpaw Entertainment was launched in 2003 by Lewis as an independently financed production and development company. It immediately co-financed and set into production two motion pictures: "Eulogy," starring Ray Romano, Debra Winger, Hank Azaria, Kelly Preston, Zooey Deschanel, Famke Janssen, Jesse Bradford and Rip Torn; and "House of D," starring Robin Williams, Tea Leoni, David Duchovny, Anton Yelchin and Erykah Badu. Both films premiered in 2004 at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals to rave reviews. Southpaw's third film, "Brooklyn Rules," written by Terence Winter, Emmy Award-winning head writer of HBO's "The Sopranos," and starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Scott Caan, Alec Baldwin, Jerry Ferrara and Mena Suvari, was released in Spring 2007.
Lewis' other feature producing credits include "Moll Flanders," starring Robin Wright Penn, Morgan Freeman and Stockard Channing; "Blown Away," starring Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Lloyd Bridges and Suzy Amis; and "Larger Than Life," starring Bill Murray, Matthew McConaughey and Janeane Garofalo.
A graduate of UC Berkeley's department of Biological Anthropology, Lewis received his master's degree from UCLA's School of Motion Picture and Television Production.
Nick Castle (Screenplay/Story) most
recently served as director on "Connor's War," the romantic comedy "The Seat
Filler" and the comedy "Delivering Milo." Previously, he directed "Twas the
Night," "Mr. Wrong," "Major Payne," "Dennis the Menace" and "The Last
Castle's screenplay and story credits include Steven Spielberg's family adventure "Hook" and John Carpenter's action thriller "Escape from New York," as well as the fantasy "The Boy Who Could Fly" and the drama "Tap," for which he also served as director.
James V. Hart (Screenplay) has
enjoyed success as both a writer and producer. His early credits include
1991's "Hook," inspired by an idea from Hart's then six-year-old son. Hart
wrote and executive produced the fantasy adventure about a grown-up Peter
Pan, directed by Steven Spielberg. The following year, Hart wrote and served
as a co-producer on "Bram Stoker's Dracula," directed by Francis Ford Coppola,
which won five Saturn Awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and
Horror, including Best Screenplay and Best Horror Film. Together with Coppola
and John Veitch, he also produced "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," starring
Hart subsequently co-wrote the screenplays for "Muppet Treasure Island"; Robert Zemeckis' "Contact," based on the Carl Sagan novel, for which Hart won a Hugo Award and earned Saturn Award and Humanitas Prize nominations; "Tuck Everlasting"; and the telefilm "Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story," which he also executive produced.
He more recently co-wrote the action film "Sahara," adapted from Clive Cussler's bestselling novel and starring Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn. He also shared story credit on the 2005 action hit "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life," starring Angelina Jolie, and the 2007 fantasy film "The Last Mimzy."
Hart is currently writing and producing his first animated feature, "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs," in collaboration with animation veterans William Joyce and Chris Wedge. He also has a wide range of projects in various stages of development.
In addition, Hart authored his first book, Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth, about the early days of James Hook at Eton before his adventures with Peter Pan. Published by Laura Geringer Books for Harper Collins in 2005, the novel was named one of the "Top Ten Young Adult Books" by the American Library Association. The sequel, Capt. Hook: Pirate King, is planned for a 2008 release.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and raised in Ft. Worth, Texas, Hart graduated from Southern Methodist University (SMU). He began his career as a producer in the 1970s before segueing to screenwriting. Today, Hart participates regularly in screenwriting workshops at the Sundance Film Lab in Utah, and around the world. He also teaches screenwriting at the Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts in New York City and at SMU in Dallas.
Paul Castro (Story) is currently
writing the script for the highly anticipated feature action drama "Speed
Kills," based on the best-selling book by Arthur Jay Harris about the true
story of iconic speedboat king Don Aronow. He is also in pre-production on
the drama "Eileen's Ice," from his original screenplay, to star Shirley MacLaine.
Previously, Castro wrote and directed award-winning short films as well as two music videos for RCA Records and won the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmakers' Award for directing his original screenplay, "Healing." He earned a three-picture, seven-figure screenwriting deal while still a graduate student at UCLA's famed School of Film, Television and Digital Media, the university where he now teaches screenwriting.
Castro also acted in the 2000 comedy short "Cloud Nine," for director Nicole Bettauer. He is a reserve United States Naval Officer who just returned from a seven-month active duty recall serving at Naval Special Warfare.
Robert Greenhut (Executive Producer)
has worked on upwards of 80 feature films, collaborating with such directors
as Woody Allen, Mike Nichols, Sidney Lumet, Marty Ritt, Penny Marshall, Milos
Forman, Bob Fosse, Martin Scorsese and John Cassavetes. Five of his films--"Lenny,"
"Dog Day Afternoon," "Hannah and Her Sisters," "Working Girl" and "Annie Hall"--have
been nominated for Best Picture Academy Awards.
After studying music at the University of Miami, Greenhut returned to his native New York and landed his first job as a production assistant, subsequently working his way through various production positions including production manager and assistant director on such films as "Paper Lion," "Wait Until Dark," "The Owl and the Pussycat," "Tom Sawyer," "The Last of the Red Hot Lovers" and John Cassavetes' "Husbands." He earned his first producer credit on Bob Fosse's "Lenny," followed by associate producing rolls on Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" and Martin Ritt's "The Front." After serving as executive producer on Woody Allen's "Annie Hall," diehard New Yorkers Greenhut and Allen sparked a prolific collaboration, working together on 20 of Allen's subsequent films through 1996's "Everyone Says I Love You" and including "Manhattan," "Stardust Memories," "Zelig," "The Purple Rose of Cairo," "Hannah and Her Sisters," "Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Husbands and Wives," "Bullets Over Broadway" and "Mighty Aphrodite."
Some of Greenhut's other notable producing credits include Milos Forman's "Hair," Steve Gordon's "Arthur," Martin Scorsese's "The King of Comedy," Mike Nichols' "Heartburn," "Postcards from the Edge," "Regarding Henry" and "Wolf," as well as Penny Marshall's "Big," "A League of Their Own," "Renaissance Man" and "The Preacher's Wife."
More recently, Greenhut has consulted on various projects including both "Garfield" features, "The Squid And The Whale" and "Seabiscuit," and worked with his beloved New York Giants directing public service spots for the NFL featuring Eli Manning.
Greenhut has been honored with numerous awards, including the Crystal Apple Award from the NYC Mayor's Film Office for his contribution to New York's film industry. He is also a recipient of the Eastman Kodak Award for Lifetime Achievement and a member of the Director's Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Ralph Kamp (Executive Producer)
entered the film industry in 1981. He worked on several successful film and
TV productions before joining the Monty Python Organization from 1983 to
1988, where he was responsible for all commercial aspects of the Monty Python
In 1988 Kamp joined Guy East at Majestic Films and was quickly promoted to Director of Sales, working on such Academy Award-winning hits as "Dances with Wolves," "Driving Miss Daisy" and "The Man Without a Face." In 1993, he was appointed Chief Executive of Lumiere Pictures and in 1995 he formed Icon Entertainment International in partnership with Mel Gibson and his long-time business partner Bruce Davey. He ran Icon for six years with huge success, including the box office hits "What Women Want," "Spiceworld" and "An Ideal Husband," as well as diversifying into children's animation, sports features and TV movies and dramas. In each of the six years he increased turnover and profitability and, in 2001, decided that the time had come to form his own media company.
Since launching Odyssey Entertainment, Kamp has arranged financing for 16 feature films, including "Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera," which earned three Golden Globe and three Academy Award nominations and earned over $150 million at the box office; "Valiant," with over $60 million; "Lassie"; "Renaissance"; and "The Libertine," starring Johnny Depp; and continues to be involved with many new and varied projects.
Most recently, Kamp added the role of producer to his financing and distribution activities and has been working closely with Stan Winston Productions on "The Deaths of Ian Stone." He was recently elected Chairman by his peers of Film Export UK, the association of all UK based international sales agents.
Louise Goodsill (Executive Producer)
has built and run Odyssey Entertainment with her business partner Ralph Kamp
from 1998 to the present. From initial concept through fund raising and
execution, Goodsill has directed all aspects of the company's growth. Together,
Goodsill, Kamp and their team at Odyssey Entertainment have arranged financing
for 16 films, totalling $413 million.
Goodsill has worked in the film and television industry since 1978. Her Emmy Award-winning films and television programs include documentaries for NBC and dramatic specials and mini-series for ABC, CBS and PBS. From 1980 to 1987, she assumed production responsibility for ABC and PBS films that were in danger of running over budget and missing air dates. Under her leadership, films were consistently delivered on budget and on time.
During the 1990s Goodsill broadened her reach into the area of media finance and advised a range of companies on their funding strategies. Her consulting practice included a number of London-based sales agencies and production companies, and a New York-based animation studio founded by Sesame Street animators. Goodsill co-manages Odyssey Entertainment, focusing on strategic planning and business development. Currently she guides the development of new film projects and the expansion of producer, distributor, banking and financing relationships.
Miky Lee (Executive Producer) is
Vice Chairman of CJ Entertainment, overseeing the entertainment affiliates
of CJ Corporation (CJ) that include CJ Entertainment (film
distribution/production), CJ CGV (film exhibition), CJ Media (cable television)
and M.net Media (music).
Lee and her brother Jay Lee, Chairman of CJ, founded the media division of the company in 1994 with an investment in DreamWorks SKG (DW). CJ was one of the founding investors in DW and was granted Asian distribution rights to all its films. Miky Lee was instrumental in establishing CJ Entertainment not only to distribute DW films but to invest in and encourage local film production. Under her leadership, CJ built Korea's first multiplex and theatrical exhibition chain, CJ CGV, bringing state-of-the-art theaters and providing Korean audiences with the ideal movie-going experience.
Moreover, she has overseen the rapid growth of CJ Media, Korea's leading program provider with nine cable networks, CJ Cablenet, one of Korea's leading cable systems operators, and M.net Media, Korea's top multi-platform music and management company.
Prior to joining CJ, Lee served as Director of Samsung America, spearheading Samsung's cultural and educational projects. She established the Parsons School of Design in Seoul for Samsung and oversaw the formation of a branch of Pasadena Art Center College of Design for Samsung employees.
Lee's leadership skills have been widely recognized. In 1997, she was named a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum for her commitment as a young leader in shaping the global future. In 2006, she was awarded the World Business Award at the Women's World Awards for leading CJ to become the largest entertainment group in Korea and for her global vision. She was also cited by Variety in its Women's Impact Report 2006 as one of the leading executives in the film industry. In 2007, she was the recipient of the CEO of the Year Award by Korean Management Association in recognition of her role in creating the thriving film industry that exists in Korea today.
Lee is a graduate of Seoul National University and has an M.A. in Asian Studies from Harvard University. She also studied Chinese literature and history at Fudan University in China. In 2006, she was honored with a doctorate in Business Management from Sookmyung Women's University.
Lionel Wigram (Executive Producer)
most recently served as executive producer on the international blockbuster
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
Wigram was educated at Oxford University, where he was one of the founding members of the Oxford Film Foundation. He started working in the film business while still at Oxford, serving as a production assistant for producer Elliott Kastner during Wigram's summer holidays. Following graduation, he went to work for Kastner in California. Wigram produced his first film, "Never on Tuesday," in 1987, followed by "Cool Blue," starring Woody Harrelson, and "Warm Summer Rain," starring Kelly Lynch, in 1988. In the same period, Wigram was involved in the development of the early drafts of what would become "Carlito's Way."
In 1990, Wigram joined Alive Films as a development executive and worked on films by Wes Craven and Sam Shepard. He also produced "Cool as Ice," and was an executive producer on Steven Soderbergh's "The Underneath." In 1993, he started a chef management company, Alive Culinary Resources, with Alive owner Shep Gordon. In addition to managing most of the top chefs in the U.S., they produced a cooking video series for Time Life, which featured Emeril Lagasse for the first time.
In 1994, Wigram joined Renny Harlin and Geena Davis's company, The Forge, where he headed up development. Some of the projects on which he worked include "The Long Kiss Goodnight," "Cutthroat Island" and the HBO film "Mistrial."
Wigram joined Warner Bros. in 1996 as a Vice President of Production. During his tenure, he was responsible for buying the Harry Potter book series for the studio and has overseen all of the installments of the franchise to date. He has also supervised such projects as "The Avengers," "The Big Tease," "Charlotte Gray," "Three Kings" and "The Good German."
In January 2005, Wigram moved into a first-look producing deal for Warner Bros. He will continue to oversee the Harry Potter film franchise as executive producer. Additionally, Wigram is developing a new Sherlock Holmes film franchise for Warner Bros. Pictures.
John Mathieson (Director of
Photography) earned his first Oscar nomination for his work on Ridley Scott's
epic "Gladiator." He also won a BAFTA Award, was nominated for an American
Society of Cinematographers Award and was honored by the Los Angeles Film
Critics for his camerawork on the film.
Mathieson continued his creative collaboration with Ridley Scott on "Hannibal," "Matchstick Men" and "Kingdom of Heaven," and is currently in production with him on the drama "Body of Lies," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.
His recent projects include Joel Schumacher's "Phantom of the Opera," for which he earned a second Oscar nomination; Marc Evans' "Trauma"; Iain Softley's "K-Pax"; Jake Scott's "Plunkett & Macleane"; and Tony Scott's pilot for the HBO series "The Hunger." Additionally, the Scottish-born cinematographer has worked on a number of international releases, including "Love is the Devil," starring Derek Jacobi in the story of artist Francis Bacon, "Vigo: A Passion for Life," "Twin Town," "Bye-Bye," "Pigalle" and the documentary "Mirror, Mirror."
In 1996 he was accorded the title Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France's Ministry of Culture for his contribution to French cinema.
Michael Shaw (Production Designer)
marks his 17th film as production designer with "August Rush." He most recently
worked on the feature drama "Spinning Into Butter," starring Sarah Jessica
Parker, Miranda Richardson and Beau Bridges.
Shaw's diverse design credits include the award-winning "Boys Don't Cry"; "You Can Count on Me," starring Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo; "People I Know," starring Al Pacino; "A Home At The End Of The World," based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham's book and starring Colin Farrell; and "The Night Listener," with Robin Williams and Toni Colette. His television work includes the DreamWorks/ABC police comedy "The Job," starring Dennis Leary.
Shaw settled in New York City after studying painting, sculpture & film at the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA cum laude). While constructing scenery by day to support his fine art career by night, one of his first design jobs, a short film titled "The Room," won top prizes at Cannes, Sundance and MOMA in 1993. His first feature was the 1994 film "Heavy," directed by James Mangold and starring Liv Tyler. It not only won the Special Jury prize at Cannes but the New York Times singled out Shaw's design work.
Shaw lives in Nyack, New York with his wife, producer Jill Footlick and their son.
William Steinkamp (Editor), a
three-time Academy Award-nominated editor, is currently working with director
Gary Fleder on the upcoming feature "The Express." He and Fleder previously
collaborated on "Kiss the Girls," "Don't Say a Word" and "Runaway Jury."
Steinkamp's film credits include Lawrence Kasdan's "Mumford," Joel Schumacher's "A Time to Kill," Phil Joanou's "Heaven's Prisoners," Martin Brest's "Scent of a Woman," Bob Rafelson's "Man Trouble," Chris Columbus' "Adventures in Babysitting," and the Taylor Hackford-directed films "White Nights" and "Against All Odds."
He received two of his Oscar nominations for his work on the Sydney Pollack-directed films "Tootsie" and "Out of Africa," and his third nomination for editing on Steven Kloves' "The Fabulous Baker Boys," which was executive produced by Pollack. Additionally, Steinkamp has been Pollack's editor of choice on the films "Havana," "The Firm," "Random Hearts" and, most recently, "The Interpreter."
Mark Mancina's (Original Score)
film scores traverse every genre: drama, action, comedy, epic and suspense.
His honors include three Grammy Awards, an American Music Award, Britain's
Ivor Novello Award and a Tony Award nomination.
Born in Santa Monica, Mancina began his musical training at an early age focusing on classical guitar, classical piano and composition. His scores frequently feature his own performances on piano, guitar, bass, percussion and drums, highlighting unique sounds harvested from a personal collection of traditional, exotic, and custom instruments from around the world.
His recent career highlights include composing the score for "Camille," a romantic fantasy starring Sienna Miller, and the Antoine Fuqua film "Shooter"; co-scoring the CBS primetime drama "Criminal Minds"; and co-composing the new Walt Disney Pictures opening title treatment.
Previously, Mancina worked on the urban drama "Training Day," providing an evocative score that is still widely used as a temp track, and "Speed," which influenced the sound of subsequent action movies. He was also the composer on "Twister," "Bad Boys," "Tarzan" and "Moll Flanders."
Mancina added Broadway to his list of accomplishments when he co-wrote songs and produced the score for the musical production of "The Lion King," collaborating with Lebo M and director Julie Taymor to create the distinctive musical atmosphere of the Tony Award-winning show.
Attracted to a life of music by his classical background, Mancina continues to expand his repertoire and draw inspiration from fellow musicians.
Jeffrey Pollack (Music Supervisor)
is Chairman and CEO of Pollack Media Group, which he founded in 1980. Under
his leadership, the company has grown to one of the largest music and
programming media advisory firms of its type, with worldwide clients including
MTV, VH1, CMT, National Geographic, Microsoft, radio stations, movie studios,
magazines, new media businesses and television networks throughout the U.S.,
South Africa, Russia, Europe and elsewhere.
Pollack has served as musical consultant for numerous films, including "Love Actually," "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life," "Constantine," "Red Planet," "You've Got Mail," "As Good As It Gets," "The First Wives Club," "Multiplicity," "Moll Flanders," "The Craft," "The Net," "To Die For," "Bad Boys," "It Could Happen To You," "Threesome," "My Girl 2," "I'll Do Anything," "In the Line of Fire," "Sleepless in Seattle," "Groundhog Day," "Hero," "Mo' Money" and "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves."
Most recently, Pollack was a producer for Live Earth, Al Gore's series of eight concerts held around the world to raise awareness for global climate change, featuring performances by The Police, Linkin Park, Dave Matthews, Kanye West and Bon Jovi, to name only a few. He was also a producer for Westwood One's simulcast of the U2 and Green Day performance that re-opened the New Orleans Superdome and benefited Music Rising, and an executive producer for Live 8, the groundbreaking worldwide music event organized by Bob Geldof to raise awareness of poverty, watched by an estimated three billion people.
Additionally, Pollack served as Executive in Charge of Talent for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. In 2003, he was Music Consultant for Major League Baseball's World Series and, in 2004, was co-producer for NBC's "Apollo Theater 70th Anniversary Special." He was also the executive producer of Love Rocks, The Entertainment Industry Foundation's Humanitarian Award honoring Bono. He served as the creative music consultant for the series "Fame L.A."; music correspondent for "Good Morning America"; executive music consultant on Pavarotti's televised concert for Bosnian war victims; co-producer of Net Aid, the largest Internet event in history; executive producer of Quincy Jones' Lincoln Memorial pre-inauguration event, "Call to Reunion" on HBO; and co-executive producer of the Billboard Music Awards, where he co-organized the First Century Award honoring George Harrison.
As a major force in radio's global expansion, Pollack was special advisor in the launch of China's first radio production and syndication venture; signed on Prague's and the Soviet Union's first rock music stations; launched Europe's first cable audio channels in France; signed on the first private radio station in Istanbul and the first FM station in New Zealand; and helped develop the growth of radio throughout Australia.
Julia Michels (Music Supervisor) is
an independent movie music supervisor who has enjoyed a successful 15-year
career in the film music industry. She most recently supervised the music for
the 2006 summer hit "The Devil Wears Prada." Among her upcoming projects are
the comedy "Spring Breakdown" and the sequel "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
2," both set for a 2008 release.
Prior to her independent status, Michels was Senior Vice President of Music for MGM Pictures, overseeing all the music for such films as "Be Cool," "Beauty Shop" and the remake of "The Pink Panther," among others.
Prior to MGM, Michels was Vice President of Soundtracks at EMI Records, overseeing soundtracks for all the labels in the EMI family, including Capitol, Virgin, Priority and Blue Note Records. Previously, she spent four years as Vice President of Music for Twentieth Century Fox. In this role, which also encompassed the Fox 2000, Fox Searchlight and Fox Animation film divisions, she was the music executive on a diverse slate of projects, including "Daredevil," "Unfaithful," "Down with Love," "Like Mike" and "The Banger Sisters."
Before joining Fox, Michels was the Director of Soundtracks for Capitol Records and was instrumental in the creation of such soundtracks as "Hope Floats," "Good Will Hunting," "There's Something About Mary" and "Never Been Kissed." During her extensive career in the film/soundtrack business, she has also been a music editor, co-owner of an independent record label and an agent for film composers.
Anastasia Brown (Music Supervisor)
is one of the top power-players in the music industry and the only female
music supervisor in Nashville. In the 1990s she was one of just a few female
managers in Nashville and, at the age of 26, formed an equal partnership with
legendary music mogul Miles Copeland (The Police, Sting, REM, IRS Records.) She
proceeded to work with artists such as Sting, Peter Frampton, Leon Russell,
Waylon Jennings, and Keith Urban, whom she discovered in 1994 and developed,
securing a record deal which led to his eventual superstar status.
Brown's most recent endeavor finds her breaking the Nashville mold yet again, this time as President of 821 Entertainment Group, a media, entertainment and technology holding company with thriving divisions in motion picture and television production, music and digital technologies. She and partner Eric Geadelmann own the only film production company in Nashville of its kind, making movies at the studio level and focusing on the heartland audience.
Since launching 821, Brown was hired by DreamWorks to supervise the music for producer Steven Spielberg's 4-hour Emmy Award-winning mini-series, "Taken." As a motion picture and television producer and music supervisor, she has also worked and will continue to work with actors and artists such as Quentin Tarantino, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Robin Williams, John Travolta, Jessica Biel, Mark Knopfler, John Legend, Five For Fighting and Terrance Howard, and companies including Miramax, NBC Universal, Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, New Regency and Universal Pictures. In addition to her behind-the-scene business undertakings, she has also moved in front of the camera as the straight-shooting judge on "Nashville Star" for the past three years.
Among the media accolades Brown has earned are inclusion on the "25 Most Beautiful People" list, as well as "Top 40 Most Powerful Under 40" and "Women of Influence." She was one of four women featured in Fitness & Muscle magazine's "Women of Strength" in September 2007, and was featured in the November 20, 2006 issue of Variety among their "Multitaskers."