HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET Production Notes
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from an upcoming movie.
Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence, fresh off her success in the worldwide hit The Hunger Games, and Oscar nominee Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas, Piranha 3D) star in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller about a teenager, Elissa, and her divorced mom, Sarah, who move into an upscale neighborhood to start a better life. But after they learn of rumors that the nearby woods are haunted by a homicidal killer, and Elissa befriends the mysterious sole survivor of a grisly double murder that took place in the house next door, their dreams for a brighter future spiral into a twisted nightmare.
Things go smoothly at first: Sarah (Elizabeth Shue) finds a good job and meets a nice guy while Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) settles in at school and finds herself drawn to the boy next door, Ryan (Max Thieriot, My Soul to Take). Ryan seems like a kindred spirit, misunderstood and passionate, and Elissa sympathizes with his isolation—he is still shunned by the town years after his deranged sister Carrie Anne murdered their parents in a fit of inexplicable rage.
But as Ryan and Elissa spend more time together, details of his past come to the surface. Finding out the truth could be the worst thing that ever happened to Elissa.
House at the End of the Street is directed by Mark Tonderai (Hush). David Loucka (Dream House) wrote the screenplay based on a story by Jonathan Mostow (Surrogates, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines). Producers are Peter Block (The Ward, the Saw franchise), Hal Lieberman (Vacancy, Bridge to Terabithia) and Aaron Ryder (Memento, The Prestige). The film also stars Gil Bellows (“Ally McBeal”).
Director of photography is Miroslaw Baszak (300). Editors are Steve Mirkovich (The Other Guys) and Karen Porter (Collaborator). Production designer is Lisa Soper (The Day). Costume designer is Jennifer Stroud (Decoys). Original Music is by Theo Green (Hush).
Ryan Kavanaugh (Immortals, The Fighter), Sonny Mallhi (The Roommate, The Strangers), Steve Samuels (Michael Clayton, In the Valley of Elah), Allison Silver (Chernobyl Diaries) and Tucker Tooley (The Fighter, Immortals) are executive producers.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
A spooky, decaying house, a young man with a terrifying secret and a teenage girl with a mind of her own are classic elements of horror-thriller movies, but in House at the End of the Street, a team of ambitious and creative filmmakers transcends the genre with moody, stylish visuals, realistic and relatable characters, and mysterious secrets hidden in plain sight.
“House at the End of the Street is complicated in the way most good movies are,” says producer Aaron Ryder. “It is a bit of a Hitchcockian thriller, geared toward a younger audience with a great young cast. The script is really good—and by that I mean really scary.”
The characters in House at the End of the Street are haunted by a horrific tragedy that took place several years before the movie starts. “A couple was murdered by their mentally handicapped daughter who has disappeared,” says Ryder. “Now Elissa and her mother Sarah move into the house next door to where this massacre happened. There is a single survivor, a young man named Ryan, still living in the house. Elissa begins a relationship, maybe her first love, with this kid. But it turns out there’s an underlying evil within this town.”
Although this taut psychological thriller is full of the kinds of twists and surprises that keep audiences on the edge of their seats, House at the End of the Street is a character-driven film, says the producer. “One of the things I like about this movie and these characters is that no one is stereotypical,” says Ryder. “You don’t have the stereotypical mother-daughter relationship. Elissa is actually a bit more responsible than Sarah. Ryan is dark and mysterious, but also very vulnerable and really attractive. You can see why a young girl would be attracted to him.”
The film is based on an original short story by veteran writer, director and producer Jonathan Mostow, and underwent an extensive development process by Mostow and his producing partner, Hal Lieberman. “It’s uncommon to find material like this already really well-developed by expert filmmakers,” Ryder says. “Because of that, a lot of very experienced directors were interested in this project.”
With a deep pool of talent to draw from, Ryder and his fellow producers eventually selected Mark Tonderai, who had just created a stir in the independent film world with his debut feature, Hush, a tense and tightly plotted British thriller. “We were really excited to meet Mark because of Hush,” says Ryder. “With a relatively small budget and a limited amount of time, he created a really terrifying film. Hush reminded me of Jonathan Mostow’s Breakdown. It’s a really well-made, well-crafted film and Mark got the job because of that.”
In his sophomore outing, Tonderai stays one step ahead of his audience, keeping them off balance by creating plausible doubt and mounting suspicions. “This is a film that’s all about what lies beneath,” he says. “It’s about dualities. Everyone has that within them and I think that’s why the film works. Parenthood versus coming of age. Grief and redemption. First love and second chances. These are all the things that we talk about in this film. It is what gives the film a soul and keeps it from being just another horror-thriller. We wanted to elevate the genre and we worked really hard to do it.”
It was his desire to make a psychological thriller that achieved more than just scares that Tonderai says fueled his passion throughout the two years it took to make the film. “As a director it’s important to find something that strikes a chord with you, so I don’t look at story as much as I look at what the story is trying to say.”
That included exploring the relationships between Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence), her mother (Elizabeth Shue), and the enigmatic boy next door (Max Thieriot). “I had just had a child and I felt strongly that I wanted to deal with the issue of parenthood,” says the director. “I never forgot that this film is a thriller, but it is also about parents and how they can help us become who we are. And it’s a love story. A girl moves into a new home. She ends up falling for the neighbor boy who’s been through this horrific event. Everyone in the community is against them. It’s a very romantic notion.”
Before shooting commenced, Tonderai developed what he calls the “bible” for this film, an almost 100-page document that outlines his ideas on character, tone, lighting, themes and more. He distributed the meticulously detailed and lavishly illustrated tome to cast and crew to ensure they were all on the same page during the brief shoot. “It’s crucial when you start a film that you’re all making the same movie in terms of theme, concept and character,” says the director, who created a similar guide for his first film. “Every scene is important. And every scene’s a challenge. We were on a tight schedule and I had to make sure to seize my days.”
Ryder was initially skeptical, but came to understand how essential the bible is to Tonderai’s filmmaking process, and to creating the hair-trigger tension at the heart of the story. “He put a lot into it, a lot of ideas and themes from the movie, as well as how it was going to shoot it, how to light it and the texture of it. A lot of directors don’t think that far ahead.”
While acknowledging the collaborative nature of moviemaking, Tonderai made sure that everyone from actors to department heads to producers to crewmembers had an opportunity to share his vision. “Everyone comes to the material with their own point of view, which is a positive,” he says. “But if the crew doesn’t know what’s in my head or the costume department isn’t aware of what the lighting is going to be, or the gaffer doesn’t know what sort of visual richness I want, then I’m at a disadvantage. With this as a guide, choices were not made based on opinions. They were made based on character and theme and story. There was a reason for everything.”
The extra preparation also helped the shoot go more smoothly. “Every time there was a question, I would say, ‘go to the bible; you will find it all in there.’ It was our guide, our arbitrator, our armor. It informed everybody about the film I wanted to make. I didn’t have to speak. I just showed them my images.”
Line producer Robert Menzies had never seen a director share so much of his advance preparation with the crew. “The bible served the production incredibly well. It was a very intense read. It was very focused and touched on just about every single aspect, allowing the crew to really get inside the head of our director. They understood from that document what his vision was for wardrobe, for art department, for camera—the look of the whole piece. And I think it set the tone for the whole production, so it was a phenomenal piece of work.”
FILLING THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
The filmmakers scored a major casting coup when they selected Jennifer Lawrence to play Elissa. Lawrence, whose career has skyrocketed in the past two years, had already starred in the searing independent drama Winter’s Bone, for which she would be nominated for an Oscar at age 20. But she had not yet been cast in the role that would propel her to stardom, Katniss Everdeen in the action blockbuster The Hunger Games. Still, according to Aaron Ryder, her potential was unmistakable.
“The minute you meet Jennifer, you realize this girl has a very long career ahead of her,” says the producer. “She’s incredibly talented. Her work in Winter’s Bone was one of the best performances I’d seen in a long time. She walked into my office on a general meeting before we even read the script and I couldn’t figure out if she was 30 years old or 18. She has a maturity and wisdom about her that is rare. Some people are just naturally confident, and that’s certainly the case with Jen. She’s exceptional. She’s a superstar in the making and we’re lucky to have her.”
The filmmakers cast Lawrence shortly after the release of Winter’s Bone. “With The Hunger Games, she became huge,” says Tonderai. “But at the time, it was a risk. It obviously paid off. Jen seized the part and made a difficult, complicated role her own.”
Lawrence had only a handful of films under her belt at the time and the idea of taking on a horror-thriller for the first time was immensely appealing. “This was something completely different for me,” says Lawrence. “I had never worked in this genre before and it was an amazing experience to do something so completely out of my comfort zone. But I really liked that it wasn’t about scaring people with blood or what I think of as ‘boo’ elements. The characters are very well developed and you find yourself getting scared for them in a personal way. You are both invested in the love story and afraid for Elissa. It is a very sophisticated way to frighten an audience.”
The actress says she also responded to the way the script deals with the idea of how we make choices about other people. “We constantly tell ourselves to listen to our instincts,” Lawrence says. “But what if you go out on a limb listening to your gut and then you end up being wrong? There are so many twists in the characters that you never know who you can trust. You spend the entire movie wondering.
“I love horror movies,” she admits. “I love scary shows like ‘Celebrity Ghost Story,’ which is not supposed to be scary but scares me to death. I’m like a five-year-old. My imagination is out of control.”
She credits Tonderai with making the fear factor real and visceral by keeping the focus on good storytelling and realistic characters. “I had faith in Mark,” she says. “He always saw it as a character piece, with no cheap scares, just humans being frightened, because we can’t trust ourselves. He’s the most inspiring person I’ve worked with. He really cares about what he does, which you see in things like the bible. He broke down the entire movie, including each character. It helped us get a better perspective on everything.”
The role, with its complicated action scenes, required more physicality than the young actress had ever handled before. “There was a lot more thinking on my feet than I had done previously,” Lawrence says. “In a big emotional scene with another actor, we can always rehearse it. But how in the world are you going to rehearse running upstairs, screaming and crawling on the floor? I would sit there before Mark called action playing it over and over in my head, but it could turn out completely different in the moment. You don’t know what can happen until you do it.”
Because her character is a budding musician, Lawrence got the opportunity to return to a passion she had abandoned. “I love to sing,” she says. “But once I became an actress, I shut it all down. It was so much fun to go to the studio with Benji Hughes and Steve Lindsey, who are absolute geniuses. We recorded music for hours and hours.”
To play Elissa’s errant mother, Sarah, the filmmakers brought in another Academy Award®-nominated actress, Elisabeth Shue. “Elisabeth is a great actress and a really special person as well,” says Tonderai. “She’s just quality. It was also great getting to work with someone I had a crush on as a kid.”
The director says the two women’s real life experiences added a unique dimension to their characters’ mother-daughter relationship. “Elisabeth became a huge star at a very young age,” he says. “She was about 19 when she made The Karate Kid and it had a massive impact. Jennifer was about the same age when she made Winter’s Bone. When we were shooting, she was just starting to experience fame. I felt we’d be able to get that kind of frisson between mother and daughter.”
House at the End of the Street was a reunion for Shue and Ryder, who had previously worked together on the 2008 off-beat comedy, Hamlet 2. “Elisabeth is fantastic,” says Ryder. “She’s a real pro. She’s one of those actresses who make your movie better just by being in it. She’s sexy and talented, and you like her the minute she comes on the screen. Every time I see her in front of the camera, I think, that’s a movie star. She just has that glow about her.”
Sarah and Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) have reversed mother and daughter roles at the beginning of the film and Sarah is struggling to regain authority. “Sarah is newly divorced with a 17-year-old daughter,” explains Shue. “She used to be a rock ‘n’ roll mom, following her husband from show to show, but now she and her daughter have moved to a small town looking for a fresh start. Sarah has not been a hands-on mother. She’s less mature in many ways than her daughter, who pretty much takes care of her, but the challenges she faces force her to become a mother in the end.
“It’s an unusual dynamic and one of the reasons I really liked the script,” adds the actress. “Jen was perfect in the role because as a person she has such a strong presence that it was easy for me to feel a little immature around her.”
The script’s unexpected twists and turns fill the movie with a pervasive sense of dread and ratchet up the suspense, according to Shue. “I can usually see them coming, but I was surprised while reading it. What’s great is that they are not just there for shock value. They are grounded in the story, which makes it all the more haunting and unnerving. The movie is tense and scary from the moment it begins. The girl who stabbed her parents is believed to be living in the woods and from the beginning of the film, there’s this feeling that there is somebody watching. That element pervades the atmosphere and elevates the tension.”
The film is both smart and scary, says Shue, a rare combination in her experience. “I think the audience will be scared from the moment they sit down in their seats all the way through to the end of the film. They’ll be engaged by the psychologically complexities and then terrified because there are some truly scary moments that will have them jumping out of their seats.”
Shue says that at this point in her career, the people she will be working with are usually the deciding factor in accepting a role that will take her away from her family for weeks or months. “Mark is such an extraordinary director. He’s so warm and, as a former actor, he understands what we’re going through and makes sure everybody is very comfortable on the set. He has injected a lot of style into the film, but it’s never overwhelming. The camera is not the most important character, but it does work in a really creepy way at times.”
After surviving early success herself, the actress has a great appreciation for her young co-stars’ talent and tenacity. “I just have so much respect for both Jen and Max Thieriot—for the depth of their talent, as well as their lack of ego. I had seen Winter’s Bone, so I knew what an extraordinary actress Jen was. There’s a real stillness to her performance that is electrifying, especially in the moments of fear and panic. She’s like a colt, feeling her legs for the first time, but she also has a maturity that is surprising for somebody her age. She’s very comfortable in her own skin.”
Shue’s dedication and professionalism were an inspiration to Lawrence. “Working with Elisabeth was unbelievable,” she says. “She asks real questions that get you thinking. It was a very intense shoot and sometimes I was on autopilot, but she would stop and ask why we would do things. She always made good, thoughtful points.”
As Ryan, Elissa’s love interest in the film, Max Thieriot reminded Lawrence of an acting legend and one of her favorite stars. “He’s like Paul Newman reincarnated,” she says. “And it takes a lot for me to say that—I love Paul Newman. He is good-looking and immensely talented, but he’s also like a cowboy. He doesn’t seem to care. He sits in his trailer and listens to country music and chews tobacco. It’s sexy.”
In an intense and complex role, Thieriot managed to keep things relaxed on set while delivering a riveting and nuanced performance, says Tonderai. “Max was very loose and very, very funny,” says the director. “His performance has such beautiful shadings to it. Watching it a second time, knowing what you know about the story, illuminates all kinds of subtleties that may have gone unnoticed during a first viewing. It has been said that filmmaking is 90 percent casting and it’s absolutely true. This is an incredibly difficult part and I can’t imagine anyone who could have done it better.”
Thieriot says the script set his mind racing on the first read. “I was shocked and surprised by the originality of the story. The twists and madness of it really caught my imagination. I never saw the ending coming, and I can usually predict how a script will end.”
Playing Ryan was an opportunity to create a unique character, unlike any Thieriot had played before. “He is really intense,” the actor says. “He has a lot of stuff going on and it is really exciting to play someone out of the ordinary. Mark worked with me on a deeper level than I think most directors do and that definitely helped.
“Clearly, Ryan had a traumatic and tormented childhood that transformed him into someone outside the norm,” Thieriot continues. “He lives as a hermit because he knows he is misunderstood and looked down upon. When Elissa comes into his life, she sees him in a different light. That changes something in him. It exposes a part of him that even he didn’t know was there.”
Ryan is hiding some devastating secrets about his past, but the director and the actor agreed that he is also living his life without any telltale shadows of guilt. “He isn’t consciously concealing anything,” says Thieriot. “It all seems normal to him and that’s how I played it moment to moment.”
Tonderai’s bible was a real help in establishing the character, he says. “You don’t often get to work with a director who goes that extra mile. Mark is so committed to the work. You can’t help but be drawn to his passion and enthusiasm.”
Although he was not familiar with Lawrence’s work before the film, Thieriot says it was clear from day one that she had what it takes to become a star. “When we began this film, she hadn’t had any of the success she had now,” he notes. “She had done some television and a couple of independent films. The Hunger Games was still just a book. But Jennifer’s acting talent just seems to come naturally to her.”
The role was challenging for the young actor, both physically and emotionally. Like Lawrence, he found the movie’s intensely physical fight sequences demanding. “It’s hard to get to where you need to be in those moments,” he says. “Your emotions have to be ridiculously high. I want it to be as real as possible, so I tell people, just hit me, just kick me; it’s not going to hurt. It needs to look real. Convincing people that it’s okay to go a little bit further can be one of the most difficult parts.”
That level of commitment impressed Thieriot’s cast mates. “Max is a wonderful actor,” Lawrence says. “He can just turn it on and off. It was eerie to watch the light in his eyes change the instant Mark called action. All of a sudden he was a different person. It never felt like acting with Max.”
Gil Bellows, an Emmy®-winning producer as well as a veteran actor, joined the cast as local law enforcement officer Bill Weaver, whose past relationship with Ryan colors his budding romance with Sarah. “Gil has that cop masculinity, with a bit of darkness underneath,” says Shue. “That kind of mystery is really interesting.”
Weaver and Sarah meet when she tries to get information about Ryan’s past. They have an immediate spark. “Bill is the friendly face of law enforcement in town,” says Bellows. “Elisabeth Shue is a bundle of positivity and in this world if you’re a very positive person people seem to think that you must be crazy. I happen to think it’s just great and really good for everybody else’s general morale. I’ve always liked her from a distance and now I’ve had a chance to work with her up close and personal and she’s definitely a super cool lady.”
The police officer has protective feelings toward Ryan that have their roots deep in the past. “There’s a lot of history that goes back to well before Sarah and Elissa come to town and my character is a part of that,” he says. “They are struggling to understand the world that they’ve just stepped into. Part of what I do is give them some context because most of the townspeople are extremely judgmental about Ryan. I offer a slightly different perspective.
“A lot of bad things happened a long time ago,” says Bellows. “Weaver believes that the boy isn’t responsible. He sees both sides of who Ryan is. You get to see both sides of all the characters, really. We’re playing within a genre where people make snap judgments about whether this is a good character or this is a bad character. I think this film does a really good job of playing against that.”
The filmmakers are particularly proud to have discovered Eva Link, a gifted young actress from Ottawa, and given her a small but crucial role in her first film. “When you go into smaller cities, you never quite know how deep the talent pool is going to be,” says Ryder. “We were shocked to see how talented this young girl is. I don’t think she had done much more than a high school play, but she’s a real talent. She may take Hollywood by storm.”
In the end, the producer says, the entire cast’s commitment was critical to the success of the film. “Everybody was working towards the same endgame,” says Ryder. “We had a relatively short period to shoot and it was a tricky three-point balance. They had to be really dedicated to making the days, to finding the best parts of the characters, and making a fun movie. I think that we achieved that and in large part it’s because of these actors and the way they meshed together and took the job really seriously.”
BUILDING A HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
House at the End of the Street’s story is set in suburban Pennsylvania, but the filmmakers took their production to Ottawa, Ontario, for the 28-day shoot. “I never imagined we’d be shooting this film in Ottawa,” says Ryder. “I’ve shot films in Toronto and Vancouver, but I’d never been to Ottawa. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I didn’t even know if there was going to be a crew base there. But Rob Menzies, our line producer, lured us there. There was a film that was just finishing, a crew that was available, and the incentives attracted us.”
They discovered that Ottawa is a versatile and relatively unknown city that lends itself well to moviemaking. “A place like Albuquerque pretty much looks like Albuquerque,” Ryder says. “You have to go to great lengths to make it look like a different place. Whereas Ottawa is endlessly adaptable. It can double for Chicago or Boston or parts of New York. We found that the city has a lot to offer.”
Menzies, who is also one of the owners of Ottawa-based production company Zed Filmworks, helped Ryder and Tonderai scout locations and assemble the crew. “The movie is very hip and it’s an exciting story,” he says. “Ottawa was perfect for it from the standpoint of the types of locations we have here. When Mark and Aaron came to do some scouting, they got a real sense of what the crews were going to be like. Ottawa is an undiscovered gem of a town. It’s between two of Canada’s two big production hubs, Toronto and Montreal, so we can pull from those resources and we’ve got locations that have never been on film before. You’ve got a film community that is welcoming production with open arms. There’s a pride in having a film of this caliber shot locally.”
According to Menzies, the crew outperformed even his high expectations. “It was a really great opportunity to showcase the talent of a phenomenal art department. This group worked so hard and they’re so dedicated to their craft. They managed to produce incredible sets without a big budget. They built entire sets, dressed some locations 100 percent, ripped apart people’s houses, made something drastically different, and then put it all back at the end of the day. It stretched us to the max, but I’m so proud of them.”
The filmmakers were extremely happy with the transformations the art department carried out. “Lisa Soper, the production designer, created so many great sets,” says Ryder. “She did an amazing job of turning a very ordinary restaurant into a classic Pennsylvania diner. She turned an ordinary house into a unique one for Ryan’s home. The amount of time she spent on that was impressive.”
Full of hidden corners and unseen dangers, terror conceivably lurks around every corner of the house. “And the unknown is always more frightening,” says Ryder. “It’s that thing that could grab your leg when you’re climbing downstairs in your basement at night. That thing that pops out when you’re walking through the woods at night. It’s not being able to see what’s out there that’s infinitely more frightening.”
The level of detail and imagination that went into creating Ryan’s neglected homestead unnerved even the actors. “That place was really scary,” says Shue. “I couldn’t believe they found a house that creepy. Everyone was scared to be in it. It was very moldy and dark and it even smelled weird. We were always imagining all the scary things that must have gone down in that house for real.”
Tonderai believes that the finished product is much more than simply an effective genre film. “People often dismiss horror films, but the best thrillers or horror say something important,” says Tonderai. “I reworked parts of the script not by saying I need a chase sequence here, but by drawing the reality out of the characters and the situation. We made sure that from the beginning of the film, people identify with characters, so that in any situation the audience goes with them. I call that giving the film a soul. For example, Jen’s character is a bit sloppy and surly, but she’s a teenager. You feel for her. She likes that boy next door and she’s the only one who gives him the time of day. That makes you like her.”
The director’s goal, he says, was to make the audience his partners. “I want to really scare them but not with cheap tricks. I believe that if you treat the audience with real respect and intelligence, they will become your co-conspirators. If you can make people care about the characters, then put them in jeopardy, it builds—first gear, second gear, and on and on. At the end, when you hit that final cut to black, it stays with them.”
ABOUT THE CAST
JENNIFER LAWRENCE (Elissa) is a natural talent with striking presence and undeniable energy. This Academy Award nominee has established herself as one of Hollywood’s most promising young actresses. Her performance in Debra Granik’s acclaimed drama Winter’s Bone garnered her a 2011 Oscar nomination for Best Actress in addition to nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe®, Independent Spirit and Critics’ Choice awards committees. Lawrence was honored with the Breakthrough Actress award of the National Board of Review, the Rising Star award at the Palm Springs Film Festival and the New Hollywood prize at the 2010 Hollywood Film Awards.
Lawrence just wrapped production on David O. Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook, starring alongside Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Julia Stiles. Based on Matthew Quick’s novel, the film revolves around a former high school teacher institutionalized for depression who is released into the care of his mother. He becomes involved with a bizarre neighbor (Lawrence) who also has a history of mental problems.
Lawrence plays the leading role of Katniss Everdeen in the sci-fi blockbuster The Hunger Games, the first cinematic installment of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy. She was recently seen in Drake Doremus’ romantic drama Like Crazy, opposite Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. The film won the Grand Jury prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
In 2011, Lawrence played mutant shape-shifter Mystique in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, opposite James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. She also co-starred in Jodie Foster’s dramedy The Beaver, alongside Mel Gibson and Anton Yelchin.
Previously, Lawrence played a lead role in Guillermo Arriaga’s directorial debut The Burning Plain, for which she won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor, and Lori Petty’s Poker House, for which she was won Outstanding Performance honors at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival. Additional film credits include Garden Party, Drillbit Taylor and Waverly Hills.
In her childhood, Lawrence accumulated a great deal of local theater experience in Louisville, Kentucky. At age 14, Lawrence traveled to New York to pursue a career in acting. There, she quickly caught the eye of casting directors. After she started acting in film and television during the summer of 2005, Lawrence hasn’t looked back.
On television, Lawrence co-starred on the TBS comedy “The Bill Engvall Show” for three seasons. She was also seen in episodes of “Monk,” “Cold Case” and “Medium.”
ELISABETH SHUE (Sarah) has earned the respect and appreciation of fans and critics alike in her extensive film career. Most notably, Shue’s performance in Leaving Las Vegas, opposite Nicolas Cage, earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She was also nominated for Independent Spirit, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards. Additionally, Shue won Best Actress honors from the National Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles and Chicago film critics associations.
Shue just wrapped David Frankel’s Hope Springs opposite Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell. She recently starred opposite Abigail Breslin in David M. Rosenthal’s family drama Janie Jones, which premiered at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.
Over the last few years, Shue has co-starred in such notable films as Hamlet 2, opposite Catherine Keener and Steve Coogan; Davis Guggenheim’s Gracie, which Shue co-produced; Katherine Brooks’ Waking Madison, opposite Sarah Roemer; Hide and Seek, alongside Dakota Fanning and Robert De Niro; Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt; and Dreamer, opposite Kurt Russell. Other film credits include The Karate Kid, Adventures in Babysitting, Cocktail, Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part 2, Soapdish, Molly, Deconstructing Harry, Radio Inside, The Saint and Hollow Man.
For the small screen, Shue appeared in “Amy & Isabelle,” produced by Oprah Winfrey, and has guest-starred on series including “American Dad!” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Dream On.” She also starred on Broadway in Richard Nelson’s “Some Americans Abroad.”
The actress currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, director Davis Guggenheim, and their children.
MAX THIERIOT (Ryan) is an up-and-coming actor who has worked with top filmmakers such as Doug Liman, Atom Egoyan and Wes Craven. He just completed work on Henry Alex Rubin’s Disconnect, starring Alexander Skarsgård, Paula Patton and Jason Bateman. In the indie drama Foreverland, Thieriot co-stars with Demián Bichir as a young man dying of cystic fibrosis who embarks on a pan-American pilgrimage to Mexico to spread his lost friend’s ashes.
Previously, Thieriot starred in Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take, with John Magaro; Doug Liman’s Jumper, with Hayden Christensen; Atom Egoyan’s Chloe, opposite Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried; and Adam Shankman’s The Pacifier, with Vin Diesel and Lauren Graham.
GIL BELLOWS (Weaver) is best known for creating the role of Billy Thomas in the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning FOX series “Ally McBeal.” He also appeared as Frank Trammell on the classic drama “24.” Bellows was most recently seen on ABC’s “Flash Forward,” starring Joseph Fiennes. He put on his producer’s hat to bring HBO’s “Temple Grandin” to the screen, which won seven Emmys and a Golden Globe. Bellows also appeared in Channel 4’s miniseries “Terminal City,” for which he was nominated for a Gemini Award.
The actor first gained attention among filmgoers and critics for his portrayal of an inmate with a penchant for knowledge in the critically lauded The Shawshank Redemption, opposite Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.
In 2010, Bellows starred in two independent films, Terry Miles’ A Night of Dying Tigers, starring Jennifer Beals, and The Maiden Danced to Death, directed by Endre Hules.
Previously, Bellows appeared in The Promotion, opposite Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly; The Weatherman, alongside Nicolas Cage; Love and a .45, starring Renée Zellweger; Miami Rhapsody, with Sarah Jessica Parker; The Substance of Fire, opposite Timothy Hutton; Richard III, directed by Al Pacino; The Assistant, starring Joan Plowright; Dinner at Fred’s, with Parker Posey; and Judas Kiss, with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman.
Other film credits include Chasing Sleep, Beautiful Joe, bgFATLdy, Kill Kill Faster Faster, Toronto Stories and Passchendaele.
On stage, Bellows appeared in the MCC Theater production of “A Snake in the Vein,” “Flaubert’s Latest” at Playwrights Horizons, and UBU Repertory’s “Best of Schools.” He is a founding member of the Seraphim Theater Company in New York, for whom he starred in “True West,” “Road” and “The User’s Waltz.” He was also a member of the Act One Repertory Company, which performed at the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.
Bellows currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
MARK TONDERAI (Director) made his feature film writing and directing debut with the psychological thriller Hush after working as a groundbreaking writer, producer, director and on-air host of British radio and television shows. Distributed by Pathé International/Studio Canal in 2008, Hush travelled to multiple international festivals where it garnered numerous audience prizes. The film was also nominated for a British Independent Film Award and distributed in more than 25 international territories.
Born in London but raised in Zimbabwe, Tonderai attended Kingston University and University of North Carolina at Charlotte, graduating with a degree in architecture. He began his career as the writer, producer and host of “The Mark Tonderai Show” on BBC Radio 1. It was the first national radio show to introduce hip hop and R&B hits to the British public.
Next, Tonderai moved into producing comedy for Light Entertainment radio. His credits included “Alan Parker: Urban Warrior” for BBC Radio 1, “The Rainbow Nation” for BBC Radio 4 and topical sketch show “Weekending,” for which Tonderai supervised a writing staff of 30.
After a short stint hosting the weekend breakfast show on London’s Kiss 100.0 FM, Tonderai began writing, directing and editing for British television. His credits include “Homie and Away” for Channel 4, “The Beginner’s Guide” for BBC2, “The Ian Wright Show” for ITV and “Prickly Heat” for Sky One. By 1998, Tonderai was writing, directing and starring in his own sketch show, “Uncut Funk,” which aired on BBC 2.
Tonderai next moved into the film arena as a script reader for Robert Jones of the Premier Fund. In 1999, he co-wrote and starred in the Film 4-financed dramedy Dog Eat Dog, co-starring Nathan Constance and David Oyelowo.
To gain more creative control over his work, Tonderai founded Shona Films in 2002 with partner Zoe Stewart. After the company acquired slate funding from the UK Film Council, Tonderai developed urban vampire project 10 Hours from Light and sold another script, PowerMike, to Company Pictures.
JONATHAN MOSTOW (Producer) is a feature-film director, screenwriter and producer whose honors include being named Action Movie Director of the Year by the World Stunt Association. He made his theatrical motion-picture debut as writer and director of 1997’s Breakdown, a taut thriller starring Kurt Russell, Kathleen Quinlan and J.T. Walsh. The film debuted atop the U.S. box office in its opening weekend and has achieved classic status in the genre.
Mostow followed this with another No. 1 debut at the box office, WWII submarine adventure U-571, starring Matthew McConaughey and Bill Paxton. The film, which he also co-wrote, garnered two Oscar nominations and won for Best Sound Editing.
Other film credits include the international blockbuster Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the sci-fi thriller Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis.
For television, Mostow directed Tom Hanks in “Le voyage dans la lune,” the finale episode of the Emmy Award-winning HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon.”
As a producer, Mostow’s credits include twisty David Fincher thriller The Game, the Will Smith blockbuster Hancock and the romantic drama Playing the Field, starring Gerard Butler, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jessica Biel.
Mostow began his filmmaking career as a student at Harvard University, where he directed numerous award-winning shorts and documentaries. His first feature-length project, the Showtime original film “Flight of Black Angel,” was nominated for a CableACE award for Best International Movie or Special.
AARON RYDER (Producer) has established himself as one of the brightest and most prolific young producers working today. Currently, he is producing Mud for FilmNation, which will star Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Michael Shannon. Directing this drama is Jeff Nichols, who recently won the Critics Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his underrated indie Take Shelter, also starring Shannon.
Ryder produced Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, as well as Hamlet 2, starring Steve Coogan and Amy Poehler, which was the second-largest seller in Sundance history after Little Miss Sunshine.
In 1999, Ryder teamed with Newmarket to serve as the company’s president of production and in-house producer. During his tenure, Ryder developed, produced and executive-produced such films as Gore Verbinski’s The Mexican, starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts; Christopher Nolan’s Memento, with Guy Pearce and Carrie-Anne Moss; and the cult hit Donnie Darko, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Other credits include Stark Raving Mad and Wrong Turn.
In 2003, Ryder shifted gears to help Newmarket build their fledgling distribution company. Ryder was directly responsible for acquiring films for domestic distribution including Whale Rider, Monster and The Woodsman. The following year, Ryder and Newmarket formed Raygun Productions, a non-exclusive production entity allowing him to produce up to two films a year for the Newmarket pipeline.
The deal also afforded Ryder the ability to produce films outside of the parent company. Such projects include The Amateurs, starring Jeff Bridges; The Return, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar; The TV Set, with David Duchovny and Sigourney Weaver; and Richard Loncraine’s My One and Only, starring Renée Zellweger and Kevin Bacon.
In 2009, Ryder joined FilmNation Entertainment to serve as the company’s president of production. He joined James Cameron as executive producer on Sanctum, the underwater action-adventure film. Ryder is currently overseeing the release of James McTeigue’s thriller The Raven, which stars John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve and Brendan Gleeson.
PETER BLOCK (Producer) formed the motion picture production and distribution company A Bigger Boat in 2008, after years at Lionsgate building the company’s genre focus and overseeing acquisitions, co-productions and television distribution. A Bigger Boat is currently producing the outrageous sitcom “Holliston,” starring Adam Green, Joe Lynch and Dee Snider. The company is in pre-production on thriller Mixed Blood, to be directed by Phillip Noyce. Another thriller in active development is Dark Corners, with director Tom Shankland attached.
ABB’s recent productions include critically acclaimed thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed, starring Gemma Arterton; Adam Green’s survival film Frozen, a 2010 Sundance selection; and John Carpenter’s The Ward, starring Amber Heard. Previously, the company produced Saw VI and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter.
Since July 2010, Block has served as president and general manager of FEARnet, the cable channel, VOD channel and website dedicated to thrillers, horror films and television series. Serving on the initial board of directors, Block was instrumental in the creation of this joint venture between Comcast, Sony and Lionsgate. Under his supervision, FEARnet launched the cable channel, expanded its VOD offering, revamped its online service and launched the product lines “Sinister Sundays,” “Movies with More Brains,” “FEARful First 5” as well as “Twisted Comedy,” home to the hilarious horror-comedy series “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil” and U.K. hit “Psychoville.”
Block played an integral part in the structure and formation of Epix, the pay cable joint venture between Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate. He has helped to broker distribution and output deals for the new network.
From 2000 to 2008, Block was the president of acquisitions and co-productions for Lionsgate Entertainment and its related entities. Over the years, he held an executive-level position in nearly every aspect of the company’s business. He served as the primary acquisitions executive and also as a production executive, drawing upon his knowledge of genre films and past experience creating marketing plans, key art and trailers for many of the company’s DVD and television releases.
Under Block’s supervision, the Lionsgate acquisitions department purchased the distribution rights to more than 500 films through pre-buys, negative pickups and co-productions at both the script stage and via festival or market screenings. Such films included Best Picture winner Crash and box office hits Saw, Open Water, The Descent, Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Cooler as well as art-house sensations Lantana, Hard Candy and Secretary.
Block’s focus on genre pictures resulted in the company’s foray into the theatrical release of horror films and thrillers through the heralded acquisitions of Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever and Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses. He was responsible for acquiring a number of films from international filmmakers that introduced them to the U.S. audience, including Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos, Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On: The Grudge, Alex Aja’s High Tension and Undead, from Australia’s Spierig brothers.
In addition to his other duties, Block worked as a primary production executive for the company on such varied theatrical releases as the Oscar-nominated Girl with the Pearl Earring, the Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea, the Western 3:10 to Yuma, the adrenaline-charged Crank series, zombie-comedy cult classic Fido, Joe Carnahan’s Narc and Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects.
Block also oversaw the entirety of Lionsgate’s home entertainment division from its inception. Under his leadership, he grew the division into a $150 million full-service distribution business in the United States and Canada. It now includes more than 8,000 titles and generates more than 100 new DVD releases annually.
Block is also responsible for the company’s VOD and PPV as well as consecutive pay-cable output arrangements with Showtime Networks and HBO. He has negotiated a full range of motion picture development, production, acquisition, distribution and financing agreements.
A frequent guest speaker at graduate schools and industry events, Block is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Hollywood Radio & Television Society.
Block received his J.D. from USC, his M.B.A. from UCLA and his B.A. from Duke University, where he has established an endowment for student programming.
MIROSLAW BASZAK (Director of Photography) is an acclaimed cinematographer whose credits include Bruce McDonald’s intellectual horror film Pontypool, which premiered at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival, and George Romero’s zombie epic Land of the Dead. He recently shot drama The Bang Bang Club, starring Ryan Phillippe and Malin Akerman. He also lensed Genie Award nominee Shake Hands with the Devil, which he shot in Rwanda with director Roger Spottiswoode.
Before studying cinematography, Baszak explored photography, studied theater at the University of Lodz in Poland and toured Europe as a member of an experimental theater group. His versatility and passion for filmmaking allowed him to work on a wide range of Canadian and international projects, from art-house films to big-budget studio pictures.
Over the years, Baszak has developed a stunning body of work encompassing commercials, music videos, feature films and television. He has received accolades from the Bessie Awards, Canadian Music Video Awards and Canadian Society of Cinematography Awards.
Most recently, Baszak shot the medical drama “Bloodletting” for TMN, Hallmark telefilm “The Lois Wilson Story” and NBC drama “Against the Wall.”
LISA SOPER (Production Designer) began her film career creating the illusion of life with pencil-and-paper animation. Her credits in that field include youth series “Grossology,” a multiple Gemini Award nominee, as well as “Ruby Gloom” and “6Teen.” She served as production designer for all 12 episodes of the live-action series “Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays,” starring Bob Martin and Matt Watts.
Soper is now a part of the burgeoning film community in Ottawa. She made the transition into live-action film by designing for The Day, starring Shannyn Sossamon, Dominic Monaghan and Shawn Ashmore.
KAREN PORTER (Editor) has a passion for big-screen storytelling that has led her to wildly diverse projects from art-house films to genre fare. Over the course of 15 years, Porter has edited 16 feature-length films as well as television series, commercials and music videos.
Her recent credits include Martin Donovan’s dramedy Collaborator, starring David Morse and Olivia Williams. The film, which she also associate-produced, won the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize and Best Actor honors. Porter also edited Peter Greenaway’s Nightwatching, in competition at Venice 2007, and A Simple Curve, named to the Top 10 Canadian Films of 2005 at TIFF.
Currently based in London, Porter is working on a documentary about British motorcycle culture of the 1950s and ’60s.
STEVEN MIRKOVICH (Editor) has amassed more than 35 feature film credits as an editor. His career includes cult classics like John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China and hits The Other Guys, Con Air, Broken Arrow, The Ghost and the Darkness and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Mirkovich is currently editing Mario Van Peebles’ action film Red Sky.
Reviewers singled out Mirkovich’s outstanding editing on 16 Blocks, the Richard Donner actioner starring Bruce Willis. He is un-credited on many high-profile features where his experience was used to doctor films.
Born in Oceanside, California, to a Marine Captain who worked in the film unit, his first job was in the Warner Bros. mailroom. Mirkovich worked his way into the editing department and by his early 20s was an assistant to some of the top editors of the day. At age 29, he was credited as film editor on his first feature film, 1984’s The River Rat.
Mirkovich is a member of the American Cinema Editors and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ editing branch.