THE MEG: Releasing this Thursday!

Jason Statham (“Spy,” “The Fate of the Furious,” “The Expendables” films) and award-winning Chinese actress Li Bingbing (“Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Forbidden Kingdom,” “The Message”) star in the science fiction action thriller “The Meg,” directed by Jon Turteltaub (the “National Treasure” movies).

A deep-sea submersible—part of an international undersea observation program—has been attacked by a massive creatureand now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean…with its crew trapped inside.  With time running out, former deep-sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is drawn out of self-imposed exile by a visionary Chinese oceanographer, Dr. Zhang (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter,Suyin (Li Bingbing), who thinks she can rescue the crew on her own.  But it will take their combined efforts to save the crew, and the ocean itself, from this seemingly unstoppable threat—a prehistoric 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon.  Thought to beextinct, the Meg turns out to be very much alive…and on the hunt.

Five years before, Jonas had encountered this same terrifying creature, but no one had believed him.  Now, teamed with Suyin, Jonas must confront his fears and risk his own life to return to the ocean depths…bringing him face to face once more with the apex predator of all time.

 

The main cast of “The Meg” also includes Rainn Wilson (TV’s “The Office”), Ruby Rose (“John Wick: Chapter 2,” TV’s “Orange is the New Black”), Winston Chao (“Skiptrace,” “Kabali”), Page Kennedy (TV’s “Rush Hour”), Jessica McNamee (“Battle of the Sexes,” TV’s “Sirens”), ÓlafurDarriÓlafsson (“The BFG,” upcoming “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”), Robert Taylor (“Kong: Skull Island,” TV’s “Longmire”), Sophia Cai (“Somewhere Only We Know”), Masi Oka (TV’s “Hawaii Five-0,” “Heroes”) and Cliff Curtis (“The Dark Horse,” TV’s “Fear the Walking Dead”).

Turteltaub directed the film from a screenplay by Dean Georgaris and Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber, based on the best-selling novel MEGby Steve Alten.  Lorenzo di Bonaventura (the “Transformers” films), Belle Avery (“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”) and Colin Wilson (“Suicide Squad,” “Avatar”) produced the film, with Gerald R. Molen, Wei Jang, Randy Greenberg, Catherine Xujun Ying, Chantal Nongand Barrie M. Osborne serving as executive producers.

Turteltaub’s behind-the-scenes team included Oscar-nominated director of photography Tom Stern (“Sully,” “American Sniper,” “The Hunger Games”), Oscar-winning production designer Grant Major (“The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, “King Kong”), editors Steven Kemper (“The Last Stand,” “Mission: Impossible II”) and Kelly Matsumoto (“Star Trek: Beyond,” “Fast and Furious 6”), and costume designer Amanda Neale (“Truth,” “Pete’s Dragon”).  The music is composed by Harry Gregson-Williams (“The Martian,” the “Equalizer” films, the “Shrek” franchise).

Warner Bros. Pictures and Gravity Pictures present a di Bonaventura/Apelles Entertainment Inc./Maeday Productions, Inc./Flagship Entertainment Group Production, a Film by Jon Turteltaub, “The Meg.”

Diving into cinemas worldwide beginning August 10, 2018, “The Meg” will be released in 2D, 3D and 4D in select theaters, as well as in IMAX, Dolby Cinema, and other large premium formats.  The film will be distributed in China by Gravity Pictures, and throughout the rest of the world by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

 

www.TheMegmovie.net

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

“Man versus Meg isn’t a fight.  It’s a slaughter.”

The depths of the ocean.  Unexplored.  Unknown.  Unconquered.

“The Meg” is an exhilarating adventure that director Jon Turteltaub says “takes you into a world you have imagined but have never seen.And that is exactly what’s fun and exciting about movies.”

Global action star Jason Statham, who leads an international cast in the sci-fi thriller, adds, “I think this is the ultimate popcorn film.  It gives you what people go to the cinema for: entertainment, suspense, action, and even a few laughs—all of the things audiences want from a big moviegoing experience.”

“The Meg” is short for Megalodon, an enormousshark believed to have been extinct for more than two million years.  “We love the prehistoric world and the mysteries it holds,” Turteltaubremarks.  “But what if we discovered that this ancient animal wasalive today?  If this gigantic beast wassuddenly unleashed and roaming the oceans, nothing would be safe in the water—not whales, not sharks, not humans.  And how much would our entire ecosystem be thrown off balance?”

“I have always had a fascination with the underwater world and have been scuba diving for almost 20 years,” says Statham.  “The oceans are so vast,and, rationally, I think most people have a fear of what’s down there and automatically assume the worst, especially about sharks.  Sharks are one thing that take no prisoners.  A great white would put the fear of God into any swimmer, so you can only imagine what something three or four times that size would do to you.  You wouldn’t want that chasing you down.”

In the film, Statham plays Jonas Taylor, an undersea rescue diver who was the best of the best before a terrifying brush with a massive creature powerful enough to crush the hull of a nuclear submarine.  The traumatic attack took the lives of two friends and put Jonas into voluntary drydock: for five years, he has given up diving for drinking…until fate forces his hand.  The emergence of a Megalodonat the bottom of the Pacific Oceanis threatening the lives of acrew from Mana One, an oceanic research institute off the coast of China.  Jonas could be their last and only hope.

Turteltaub offers, “Jonas is the only one with the experience and expertise to rescue them, but he’s given up on life.  They bring him back in, very reluctantly, but they find out they are facing more than they bargained for.”

“The Meg” is based on the best-selling novel MEG by Steve Alten, which first caught the attention ofproducer Belle Avery.

Avery recalls, “I read the book andimmediately sawthe potential for anaction-filledadventurewith global appeal because sharks are such a popular thing in our culture.  This story deals with a creature we’ve never seen before, but, then again, so much of our oceans remains to be discovered.  Can you absolutely say with certainty that Megalodons don’t exist?  I don’t know if you can,” she smiles.

The global nature of the story also presented Avery with an opportunity to expand on her work in the flourishingChinese filmindustry.  “I had already been consulting for years in China,” she explains, “but my biggest priority was making sure we had the right partner for this project. When I met Jiang Wei at Gravity Pictures and showed him the seven-inch Meg tooth, he immediately got it.He knew we could make this an organic, synergistic coproduction, which is the only thing I was interested in doing, and the only thingGravity was interested in doing.

“Setting the research center in the Pacificand bringing in the characters of Dr. Zhang and his daughter, Suyin,to head it, was a hugely important element,” Avery continues.  “And one of the largest dive centers in the world is in Tianjin, so it made perfect sense narratively.”

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura adds, “Our partners at Gravity Pictures were fantastic collaborators.  That was invaluable since we were not only working with them on the production side but would also be shooting a portion of ‘The Meg’ in China.  It was a true joint effort.”

One of China’s most popular leading ladies,Li Bingbing, who stars as Suyin, states, “Film is one of the bestways to breach the gap of two different cultures.  There is great value in Eastern and Western audiences having a better understanding of each other, so this kind of cooperation is a win-win for everyone.”

Screenwriters Dean Georgaris and brothers Jon and Erich Hoeberteamed up to adapt Alten’s book for the screen.  Jon Hoeber details, “We’d previously been working on our own drafts of the script, but then Lorenzo suggested we write together, combining the best aspects of each, which is exactly what we did.”

Georgaris, who had originally received the novel from Avery, says, “As a writer, any time you are dealing with a primal fear or fascination, including sharks, monsters, or, as in this case, both, you get the chance to do two things in combination: you get to create somejolts and thrills, and you also get to infuse some moments of comic relief.  One of the things Jon, Erich and Iwanted to do was to take the thrills seriously, but also let our characters—and hopefully the audience—have a little fun, too.  After all, it’s a 75-foot Megalodon; you want to see it destroy as many things as possible.”

“We all know the giant shark is going to eat a bunch of people,” adds Erich Hoeber.  “We’re waiting for it.  But even though the stakes are life and death, we definitely tried to give the audience a little wink here and there along the way on this wild ride.”

Producer Colin Wilson says, “Dean, Jon and Erich took the original source material that Steve Alten created, which was rich with ideas, and wrote a screenplay that captured just the right balance of suspense, action, humor and diversecharacters.  And in Jon Turteltaub’s hands, it was like lightning in a bottle.  He was the perfect director for this film.”

When Turteltaub was sent the script, he says a major draw for him was the fact that “it was new territory for me.  I had never done a big monster movie—certainly not a giant shark movie—so I thought, ‘Okay, this is going to be a challenge…so let’s do it!’”

In tackling the project, Turteltaub notes, “We were aware that Steve Alten’s book—actually the whole book series—has a big following, and while there are always changes that have to be made in adapting a book into a film, we wanted to make sure those fans, and movie fans, got what they wanted.”

Avery says, “Jon was able to juggle all the demands of filming on and in the water and dealing with a lot of complex visual effects, while still giving every actor the individual attention they needed.  That’s something he does brilliantly.  It was amazing watching him work with the cast, especially given that there was a bit of a language barrier for a few of them.”

Bingbingattests, “One thing Jon would do that I appreciated: just before he said ‘Action,’ he would throw me a new line.  He never worried that English is not my first language.  He’d say, ‘You can do it, Bingbing, no problem.’  Jon trusted me, and I trusted him.  He is very creative and smart and so nice; he treated everyone on the set with respect.  He is an amazing director and Iloved working with him so much.”

Fellow cast member Rainn Wilson comments, “Jon’s knowledge of how to direct an action movie goes without saying, but he also has a tremendous sense of humor, which kept things really light on the set and fostered a more creative environment.”

Joining Statham, Li and Wilson in theensemble cast are Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, ÓlafurDarriÓlafsson, Jessica McNamee and Masi Oka.

“We had a terrific cast,” says Turteltaub.  “They allbrought so much added dimension to their roles.  And that was vital because you’ve got to be invested in the characters.  If you don’t care about the characters, you won’t care who gets eaten by the Meg,” he grins.

Of course, one central character was never actually on set.  The Meg and all of the other aquatic life seen in the film were brought to life via state-of-the-art CGI, overseen by visual effects supervisor Adrian De Wet.

Turteltaub’s behind-the-scenes creative team also included cinematographer Tom Stern, production designer Grant Major, editors Steven Kemper and Kelly Matsumoto, costume designer Amanda Neale and composer Harry Gregson-Williams.

Filming on “The Meg” was accomplished entirely on location in New Zealand and China and in the waters off the coasts of both countries.

 

THE CAST

 

Only three people have ever attempted an ocean rescue below 10,000 meters.  But only one is still alive to tell the tale: Jonas Taylor.

Five years ago, no one accepted his story of a massive creature that forced Jonas to abort his last rescue mission, resulting in a tragic loss.  “This is a man who saw something incredible, but instead of people believing him, they destroyed his career,” Avery says.  “Jonas is a character who needs redemption.”

Jason Statham offers, “I like the conflict that Jonas is up against.  People were saying he was a crazy man, that he had lost his mind.  But he had an instinct that something was down there.  And now he gets to prove himself right.”

The actor reveals there wereother factors that drew him to the part.  “I’m used to ending people’s lives on camera, but this is a guy who spent his life saving people, and I thought there was something cool about that.  He also has a good sense of humor and I could certainly relate to some of the emotions he goes through.  And the physicality the role required was something I’m very familiar with.  So, given all those things, Jonas was a character I thought I could do some kind of justice to, and that’s what I tend to look for.”

According to the director, Statham more than did justice to his role.  “Jason has this onscreen persona that makes you feel you’re in good hands when he’s in charge.  When stuff goes wrong, that’s the guy I want to follow; that’s the guy who makes me feel safe.  It’s just the way he carries himself.  There’s nothing false about Jason; he doesn’t fake his stunts, doesn’t fake his physical appearance—it’s all legit.  He’s strong, honest, funny and clever and you just want to watch him.  He’s a true movie star.”

Statham responds, “Jon had the whole movie resting on his shoulders, but while he takes his job seriously, everything he does ispresented with a slice of fun.  Part of the humor in the film is a projection of his own personality.  He’s a real comedian, and I say that with a lot of love.  He made it a pleasure to go to work.”

Jonas has no intention of ever diving again, but that resolve is tested when a research team, led by his ex-wife, Lori, is attacked by a Megalodonat the bottom of the ocean.  With their submersible disabled and leaking air, it will be a race against time to reach them, and one person on Mana One is not willing to wait.  By the time Jonas arrives, Suyin is already on her way to the trapped crew.

Li Bingbing says, “Without thinking about herself, Suyin goes in to save them.  She is a very brave, independent woman, and you can tell she has a lot of inner strength.”

“I was impressed with Bingbing from the moment I met her and can see why she is a huge star in China,” Turteltaub relates.  “She’sextremely talented,but as Suyin, she had the added challenge of having to act in another language.  What makes a good actor is how they communicate written words—no matter what the language—to meaningful spoken words. Bingbing worked so hard and was able to capturethe warmth, intelligence,convictionand otherdetails of her character in her performance.  That’s not just a great actress; that’s a really great person.”

As Mana One’s chief marine biologist, Suyin is conflicted about how to respond to the arrival of the Meg.  “She has mixed emotions because there are two ways to look at this,” Bingbing affirms.  “On one side, as a scientist, she is so excited.  It is a living fossil and she wants to study it and learn more about the past from the Meg.  But on the other side, it is a danger to all the other animals and the ecosystem.  In her mind and her heart, her goal has always been to protect all the living creatures in the ocean, so it’s a struggle for her.”

Both that goal and that struggle are shared bySuyin’s father, Dr. Zhang, the legendary oceanographer whose dream of an ultramodern oceanic institute was realized in Mana One.  Cast in the role, Winston Chao says, “Dr. Zhang has to make a decision about how to deal with this monster.  It is unfortunate because the Meg is doing what it’s supposed to do, but it’s upsetting the balance of nature.  He knows they will have to try to kill the Meg, but he thinks it’s a tragedy that they are dragged into the cycle that humans discover and then destroy.”

The actor adds that he respectedhis character “as a man with integrity, but what really appealed to me is that the script is a page-turner; I really enjoyed it.  And it is the first time I have been in this kind of big action thriller, so I was excited to do this film.”

“Winston Chao is such an elegant man in everything he does,” says Avery.  “He really brought out the caring nature of his character, who is always trying to do the right thing.  It was wonderful to have such an extraordinary actor in the role of Dr. Zhang.”

Chao also had a connection to Li Bingbing that made portraying her father feel like a natural fit.  “Bingbing did her first movie with me,” he relates.  “It was 24 years ago when she was still in drama school, and we have worked together three more times before this film.”

Suyinand her father not only work but also live on Mana One, so they are joined by Suyin’seight-year-old daughter, Meiying.  The little girl is the first to know that the Meg has emerged from the depths of the ocean.  “She looks out the window of the observation deck, 200 feet beneath the surface, and sees that a little friend has come to visit,” Turteltaub quips.

Meiying is played by Sophia Cai, who says,“I was super excited when I got the role of Meiying.  She is brave and smart and sometimes acts more like an adult.”

The filmmakers have nothing but praise for theirsmallest star.  “Sophia is a delightful young lady with an infectious smile,” says di Bonaventura.  “She is very precocious, both in person and onscreen.”

Turteltaub agrees.  “Sophia just lights up the screen.  And the scenes between Meiying and Jonasare something special.She brings out a different dimension of our hero.”

Dr. Zhang is the vision behind Mana One, but not the money.  “Big, beautiful deep-sea research facilities don’t build themselves; it takes a lot of money,” Turteltaub states.  “Jack Morris is a billionaire investor, who is financing the entire operation and wants to see it turn a profit.”

Rainn Wilson, who plays Morris, adds, “The whole purpose of Mana One is to explore the sea, but he also hopes to uncover new drugs and technologies out of what they might find.  He gambles big, but he is hoping to get paid off from it.”

The actor continues, “I’m always interested in roles that have a lot of different facets to them.  Morris can be a bit dastardly, but he’s not really a villain.  A lot of the comic relief comes from the fact that he’s like a fish out of water, no pun intended.  He’s very expressive…and he’s a hugger.”

While most people know Wilson best for his comedic work, “Rainn is a fantastic dramatic actor, too,” Turteltaub asserts.  “He brings life to everything he does and, like me, he’s always looking for something new to add.  The dialogue is a starting point with Rainn.”

Wilson admits he didn’t know much about Megalodons when he was offered the role but soon found out he had a souvenir of one right in his home.  “My son, who’s 12 now, is obsessed with dinosaurs.  I told him I had a script about a giant shark called ‘The Meg.’  He said, ‘Megalodons?’ and ran to get a Megalodon tooth his grandmother had given him.  It was the size of a face.”

His castmate Ruby Rose observes, “I found it so interesting that, on social media, everyone from nine to fifteen, including my younger brother and little cousins, can tell you everything you need to know about a Meg.  So they were the ones giving me lessons about it.”

Rose was cast as Jaxx, the Zhang Institute’s lead engineer and sub designer.  “I loved that she had designed all of the technology on the different vessels and gliders you see.  It’s such an awesome thing that this woman created all that and is incredibly hands-on in the whole operation.  She understands it, she runs it.  Jaxx is cool,” she smiles.

Page Kennedy plays DJ, who pilots the unmanned remote explorer from the safety of the Mana One control center.  And that’s just the way he likes it.  Kennedy confirms, “DJ is the one saying, ‘Are you out of your frickin’ mind?  You do not go back out there chasing this undersea monster!  As soon as you escape from this situation, you should never even drink water again!’  That’s his perspective, while everyone else is gung ho about making sure this thing doesn’t continue to cause mass destruction.  DJ is left to either stay behind or pony up, and he makes his decision: time to go be a hero.”

Two members of the Mana One team have history with Jonas Taylor, albeit from very different sides.  Cliff Curtis was cast as station chief Mac, the man in charge of day-to-day operations and a close friend of Jonas.  Mac is also one of the few people who trusted Jonas’s version of the events of five years ago.  “Mac has lived with the memory that Jonas said something attacked them, and he knows that Jonas is a rational guy,” says Curtis.  “So, as farfetched as it might seem, Mac’s thinking is, ‘If Jonas said something was down there, well then, something must be down there.’  I think he wanted it to be true to make sense of what happened, but he’s still a bit shocked when it turns out to be all-too real.”

With their team stranded more than 11,000 meters beneath the surface, “Mac knows Jonas is the only one in the world, still alive, who has survived a rescue below 10,000 meters,” Curtis continues.  “He has to weigh the risk factors of trying to do something they’ve never done or get in an expert.  For him, the only choice is to bring in his old mate Jonas to get the job done.”

The idea is met with strong resistance from their medical officer, Dr. Heller, who was actually on that fateful rescue mission and has never forgiven Jonas for sacrificing the lives of their friends.  He has never wavered from his diagnosis: that Jonas suffered from pressure-induced psychosis and “lost it.”Robert Taylor, who portrays Dr. Heller, says, “Heller has always thought that what Jonas did was an act of cowardice.  He not only believes Jonas is the wrong man for this job now, he thinks he is the worst possible person for the job.”

Nevertheless, Dr. Zhang has the final say, and he accompanies Mac to entreat Jonas to save their colleagues.  Jonas is happy to see Mac and honored to meet Zhang, but his answer is a hard-and-fast ‘no’…until Mac tells him the name of the person at the helm of the marooned sub: Lori Taylor.

Cast in the role of Lori, Jessica McNamee explains, “Jonas is adamant about never diving again until he finds out it’s his ex-wife down there.  Now, I think a lot of men might leave their ex-wives at the bottom of the ocean floor,” she teases with a laugh, “but Lori must be a very nice ex-wife.”

Lori is the pilot of the Origin, the institute’s submersible exploratory vessel.  “She is very excited about breaking new boundaries in science,” says McNamee.  “Even after they are attacked, she still holds it together.  She’s tough.”

McNamee adds that her upbringing is part of what drew her to the film.  “I have always been fascinated by sharks.  Growing up in Australia, they are always uppermost in mind when you’re out in the ocean.”

Completing Origin’s three-person crew are the man affectionately known only as The Wall, played by ÓlafurDarriÓlafsson, and Toshi, played by Masi Oka.  The two are not just fellow scientists but also best friends.  Ólafsson affirms, “You immediately get a sense of the closeness between The Wall and Toshi, which is something the script does really well.”

“They really have a strong bond,” agrees Oka, who notes that his character also “loves what he does.  He’s pretty geeky in the sense that he is devoted to the wonders of science.  Toshihas a wife back home whom he misses, but at the same time, the big, blue seais calling, so he has to go make some new discoveries.”

The Origin’s mission began with adiscovery beyond the wildest dreams of both the crew and those monitoring from above in Mana One.  The sub had successfully breached the freezing cold thermocline level, which was believed to markthe bottom of the ocean—a belief that proves off the mark.  As the crew crosses through acloud-like barrier of hydrogen sulfide, theyare astounded to uncover an entirely new ecosystem, teeming with never-before-seen species…including a giant prehistoric shark thought to be extinct.

 

RESURRECTING THE MEG

 

The creation of the title character in “The Meg” began with extensive research.  Turteltaub notes, “One thing I love about my job is that on every movie I become a pseudo-expert on something.  I began doing research into Megalodons and sharks because the more you draw people in with what is true, the more frightening things are.”

The skeleton of a Megalodon—just as in sharks today—was formed of cartilage rather than bone, so very little remains of them except teeth and some fossil vertebrae.  VFX supervisor Adrian de Wet offers, “There is a formula to extrapolate the size of the creature based on the teeth, but there are different theories about whattheyactually looked like when they swam the oceans.  We started by looking at what scientists, archeologists and paleontologists speculateabout them and took that as our starting point.But we had some fun coming up with our Meg design and went through a number of iterations before we arrived at the final look.  We tried to make it appear massive and terrifying and awesome, but at the same time verygraceful in the water.  Most importantly, the Meg is not just a larger version of a great white.”

Apart from the obvious size disparity, some of the notable differences between the Meg and today’s sharks were in the skin and in the number of gills.  Turteltaub clarifies, “We gave our Meg more gills than a shark would have because we conjectured that in the oxygen-poor environment at the bottom of the ocean, it might have evolved extra gills.”

For the skin, de Wet describes, “We went for an uneven brown coloration with a gnarly texture.  Ithas been in a fewbattles with other animals, so we added a lot of scratches and scars and the dorsal fin has nicks and tears in it.  There are even barnacles that have attached themselves to the Meg over the years.”

The Meg’s most fearsome feature, by far, is its bite.  “Its mouth is huge and there are hundreds of teeth,” de Wet says.  “They are arranged in rows, are razor sharp and serrated for tearing flesh.  Once its prey goes into the Meg’s mouth, it’s not getting out.”

As they finalized the Meg’s appearance, de Wet collaborated with the VFX houses Scanline, Double Negative and Sony Imageworks to breathe life into the character.  “The Meg is enormous, but it has also spent millions of years evolving into a hydrodynamic killing machine, so it’s very agile and fast,” de Wet comments.“It has quite a flexible body and with a big swish of its tail, it can get up to speeds approaching that of a small speedboat.  We studied the biomechanics of sharks quite closely and did computer tests of swim cycles and how the Meg would achieve forward motion.  It took a great deal of R&D to get the muscles to look correct under the skin as the Meg moves.”

For specific sequences, physical models of the Meg’s head and tail were also constructed.  However, since the actors would generally be using their imaginations, the filmmakers came up with a clever visual reference tohelp them picturethe beast’s size in its entirety.  Di Bonaventura recalls, “We lined up shipping crates between 70 and 90 feet in length, and then drew the Meg on the side of the containers.  When you can actually see the size, it’s overwhelming.  You realize we’re like sardines in comparison. It would take a lot of us to make a satisfying meal,” he grins.

In addition to the Meg, the VFX teams were also responsible for generating the entire undersea world of the film, includingthe topology of the ocean floor and the spectrum of strangebeings discovered below the thermocline.  “We began with actual extant species and then took a little poetic license,” de Wet allows.“Some of them are hybridizations of other species that we blended together because the idea there is it’s a piece of the Earth that’s been cut off and never seen before.”

With water being the Meg’s natural habitat, water effects naturally followed.  “If you’ve got an enormous creature breaching through the water, there is a great amount of spray and particulate being thrown everywhere, which mostly had to be rendered in CG,” de Wet confirms.  “Fortunately for us, we had some of the best people in the world who are renowned for doing water effects.”

“I was knocked out by the visual effects,” says Turteltaub.  “It’s not just moving pixels around the screen—they create drama and story in a multidimensional way that makes the audience stop thinking of these creatures as animated at all.  It’s brilliant, what they do.”

 

JUST KEEP SWIMMING

 

Virtually all ofthe story unfolds in or on the water, so it was a matter of necessity and, more vitally, safety that the entire cast know how to swim well.

Dive coordinator David Murrell says, “Whenever any actor was going to be in the water, our dive teams and safety swimmers were with them at all times.  At the same time, we had to make sure the actors themselves were strong enough and secure enough in the water to do what was going to be asked of them.”

Stunt coordinator Allan Poppleton and his team put together a swimming school for the cast, which encompassed the leads, as well as stunt performers and background players.  Poppleton specifies, “We trained every day for four weeks in the pools, including two days a week at the dive pool, where we would practice jumping from different heights.  We prepared for all the things they would have to do over the course of the shoot to get them comfortable in the water.”

They began with the basics, incorporating what stuntman Josh Randall calls “an old-school technique created by Pierre Gruenberg, which focuses on breathing.  There’s no point in trying to learn to swim until you can get your head around the breathing; breathing in the water is actually a fairly advanced skill.  We did a lot of treading water drills and swimming drills, starting with the kickboard and fins, which act like training wheels.  We eventually took the fins off and started doing laps.  Three things were central to our training program: the first was we looked after each other; the second was to respect the water; and the third was to put in the work.  And everyone did.”

For the actors—regardless of their prior ability to swim—the training was invaluable.  Ruby Rose attests, “I used to swim and surf a lot and my mum is a swimming teacher, so I didn’t think I needed much training.  I was wrong.  I wasn’t prepared for what it’s like to swim in my entire costume and shoes.  It’s hard.”

Rainn Wilson concurs, “When you’re in the water, you are in constant motion and your core muscles are constantly working, so acting while swimming was definitely a new challenge for me.  We had to get used to swimming in wetsuits and in clothes, holding our breath underwater and treading water for long minutes at a time.  It was really grueling work, but it definitely helped because I felt a lot more comfortable in those scenes.”

Randall says Cai was their star pupil.  “Sophia picked everything up so fast, as children often do.  She was like a fish in the water and loved to jump off the diving board.  She even went off the seven-meter.  There are a lot of adults who wouldn’t go off the seven-meter,” he laughs.

“No one had more guts and determination than Sophia,” Turteltaub adds.  “She wasn’t even a swimmer when we started, but she wasn’t afraid of anything.  What more could you want?”

The one exception to the swim training was Jason Statham, whose proficiency in the water wasindisputable.  Randall says, “Jason is a legitimate athlete in his own right, so he didn’t need much coaching.  But he still needed to prepare, so we sourced some special gear for him and set up a little gym in his home.  He had all the bases covered; he knew what he was doing, in and out of the water.”

Poppleton, who has worked with the actor on five other film projects, agrees.  “Because of Jason’s diving background, his understanding of the physicalities of a stunt is quite amazing.  It meant we could design the action to suit his proficiency level, which is obviously quite high, and the production gained from that.”

 

SHOOTING ON WATER

 

While some of “The Meg” was shot on the open water, ocean filmingdoes present ahost ofinherent challenges, which would have had a major impact on the production.  To circumvent some of those obstacles, the production built two huge tanks at the newKumeuFilm Studios in Auckland, New Zealand, giving them a safe and secure alternative for the majority of principal photography.  An enormous exterior tank, holding approximately 2.5 million liters, served as the water surface tank.  Aseparate dive tank—18meters in diameter, five meters deep and holding approximately 1.26 million liters—was built indoors.  Both are now a permanent part of the New Zealand film industry infrastructure.

“Obviously,” Turteltaub remarks, “it would be much better to be able to shoot everything in the middle of the ocean.  I don’t want to ruin the magic, but when you have this gigantic manmade lake, you can still be on the water, and you’re able to control everything better.”

The water in both tanks was filtered with a system found by the SFX team, called Ozone.  Murrell explains, “It basically makes the water very neutral and very clear.  One of the problems of filming in water is if it’s murky, you can’t clean it up.  You can do a lot of things with visual effects, but if you can’t see it on camera in the first place, you can’t make it clearer.  It’s very rare to have an exterior tank that warm and that well-filtrated, so it was a hell of a feat.”

The visual clarity of the tanksalso benefited director of photography Tom Stern and underwater director of photography Kina Scollay.  “The tanks were awesome because the water was so clear, we were able to put light wherever we needed,” says Scollay.  “That was very valuable for our cinematography.”

Filming onsomescenesin “The Meg” was divided—with certain partslensedin one or both of the tanks and the restaccomplished in the Hauraki Gulf, in northern New Zealand, which doubled for the Pacific off the coast of China. The footage wouldlaterbe seamlessly merged by Turteltauband editors Steven Kemper and Kelly Matsumoto.

One of the most thrilling blendedsequences is when Jonas dives from the Zhang Institute’s boat, the Charlotte, into the ocean in an effort to tag the Meg.  The mission doesn’t go quite as planned when the giant shark turns on Jonas, leading to a death-defying chase.

Statham, who performed his own stunts for the scene, offers, “A portion of that was filmed in the ocean because they needed me being towed with the boat in the background and you can’t really fake that.  It was important that we were able to shoot that in an authentic way.  But the part where I get yanked out of the water at high speed had to be done with rigging.  It would have been too dangerous to do that off the back of the real boat, so we did that element in the tank.  I get a big kick out of being thrashed about and doing those sorts of things.  There’s a sense of achievement in it for me.”

Alarge rig built off the side of the boat was used to drag Statham through the water and was also able to accommodate a crane and camera crew.To capture the chase from under the surface, they employed a DPV (dive propulsion vehicle) often used by scuba divers.  Second unit director James Madigan details, “We took the fastest DPV we could possibly find, and our grips built a special housing that enabled us to bolt the camera to the front of it.  So it’s basically like having an underwater camera mounted to a motorcycle.  We came up with all kinds of great ways to use it.”

Another split scene involvesSuyinventuring into the water in a specialized shark cage.  The beginning, where she is being lowered from the Charlotte into the water, was achieved on the open water of the Gulf.  The remainder of the sequence was captured in the dive tank.

Unlike traditional metal cages, the Mana One’s shark cage is cylindrical and made of a clear, unbreakable polycarbonate.In the film, the cage was devised by Jaxx, but it was, in fact, the invention of production designer Grant Major.  He expands, “I wanted to give it a cinematic feel and make it seem almost invisible, so you can seethe tension when Suyin is face-to-face with the Meg.”

For the Charlotte, Major says, “We leased a boat in Auckland, and I did a redesign to the top decks to make it look more like it belongs to the oceanographic institute.”

The production was unable to utilize the leased vessel for the entire film, especially givenwhat ultimately happens to the Charlotte.  “We were very fortunate that our boat was originally made by Auckland boat builders.  We contracted them to remake just the back half, which we put in our surface tank at Kumeu,” Major reveals.

Using a complex hydraulics system, the special effects team, led by Steve Ingram, was able to capsize the stern of the Charlotte in stages.  Allan Poppleton clarifies, “They came up with an amazing rig to tip this 12½-ton set piece, which took a lot of research and preparation.  And then my stunt team had to come in with our own prep.  When it all came together, it was great—repeatable and, more importantly, safe.  The actors were able to ‘ride’ a portion of it, but for the bigger tip, we put in our stunt doubles.”

Costume designer Amanda Neale says the fabrication of the wetsuits worn by the cast was determined by “the different environments we were working in.  We used three separate neoprene thicknesses: 7mm for the open ocean; 5mm for the tank; and 2mm for all the scenes out of the water.  We also experimented with texture and color because when you go underwater, you lose some of the color strength.  I particularly loved the vibrancy of the red and lime green against the black neoprene.  And we screenprinted the front of the wetsuits to get texture and help reflect the light around our actors’ faces.”

Two other boat sequences featured in “The Meg” were shot in theHauraki Gulf.  On a yacht, a wedding party is initially unaware of the approach of an unwanted guest that terrifies the bride’s beloved Yorkie, Pippin, who has to doggie paddle for his life.  And on a tanker-sized ship, commandeered by the Zhang Institute team, our heroes race against time to save thousands of unsuspecting Chinese beachgoers and tourists enjoying the fun day at the beach.

Apart from whatever vessel was being used as a set, a small fleet of support boatswas required for filming on the Gulf, because once they were miles out, it would be logistically unfeasible to shuttle people to and from theshore.  The flotilla included a camera boat, equipped with a 50-foot Techno crane, as well asboats for hair and makeup, costumes and props, catering, and the safety divers, among others.

Turteltaub notes, “Shooting out on the water is adventurous and fun, but you have so little control of nature.  There are waves, there are not waves.  One day it’s windy and raining, then it’s not windy and raining…  But it’s so worth it, because you feel like you are out in the elements where you’re supposed to be for this story.  It was exciting for everyone.”

 

SHOOTING ON LAND

 

Several ocean-going vessels seen in the film were, in reality, confined to a soundstage: the sleek one-person submersible, called the Glider; the ill-fated sub holding Lori, The Wall and Toshi; and the rescue sub manned by Jonas.

In conceiving the three undersea transports, Grant Major studied the design and engineering behind existing deep-water submersibles.  One of his most challengingcreationswas the Glider, which resembles an underwater race car.  It was assembled from a steel framework under a brightly colored fiberglass outerbody.  At its center is a clearcockpit, which remains level—regardless of the angle of the Glider—thanks to a pivot mechanism.  “What with the pivoting pod, the tail rotors, the thrusters that also pivot and the fins at the back that steer, there were quite a few moving parts on there,” Major asserts.

The Glider was a favorite of Li Bingbing, who spent many hours in its pilot seat.  “My Glider is awesome,” the actress states.  “The first time I saw it, I thought, ‘Wow, it’s so cool!’  I loved it.  I only wish I could have taken it home,”she smiles.

Jessica McNamee, ÓlafurDarriÓlafsson and Masi Oka did not have quite as much of a love affair with their sub.  “There were three of us in that tiny confined space for days,” says McNamee.  “Thank goodness we all got along and have a similar sense of humor.  Honestly, we were finding it hard to get through our scenes without laughing.”

The submersibles were each mounted on a motion-control gimbal at Auckland Film Studios (AFS).  The interiorswere different for each vehicle but were all outfitted with monitor screens, and assorted knobs and buttons and levers.  However, the hand controls were not only there for show—they gave the actors the ability to maneuver the gimbal, as well as the display screens, in correlation to the action as it unfolded.

“What that means,” explains SFX assistant supervisor Scott Harens, “is that an actor could move the joystick and not only did all the graphics on the screens move appropriately, but the motion base shifted as well.  It was like a submarine simulator.  But if, at any point, it was getting too wild or the actors opted not to control it, we could just dial them out.  So we had an overriding safety on it all, and it was up to us to decide to take control again if the situation warranted.”

All the interiors of Mana One were also built at AFS, including the ultra-high-tech Dive Control Center, with its 360-degree display screens that can be viewed from anywhere in the room; the less-than-impressive elevator; the Medical Bay; Jonas’s state room; and Dr. Zhang’s office and conference room.  “I purposely designed Dr. Zhang’s office in contrast to everywhere else on Mana One,” says Major.  “The rest of the baseis stark inappearance, but Dr. Zhang is the heart of the whole operation, so I took the opportunity to use organic materials to create a warm, welcoming space.”

The biggest set was the Observation Level—or O-level—which offers a breathtaking view of the underwater world and its inhabitants.  The circular, interlocking corridors have transparent walls, supported by a latticework of steel girders that are able to withstand the pressures of being about 90 meters below the surface of the ocean.

Only one large section of the O-level was actually built for the film.  The rest would be augmented by the visual effects team, who also populated the waters outside its windows.  Nevertheless, Major says, “A great deal of structural engineering went into the design because nothing is straight.  They had to make a form that curves in one direction and then another that curves in the opposite direction, creating a compound curve when placed next to each other.  And shapes like that tend to want to sag, so it required alot of skill to ensure it remained solid.”

The entire structure was then lifted off the floor of the stage to enable Turteltaub and Stern to frame shots from above and below.

Neale consulted with both Major and Stern in deciding on a palette for the costumes.  She confirms, “Grant Major’s vision and how Tom Stern was going to light everything—all of that has an impact on the color decisions I made.  Mana One is a working environment, so we mainly adhered to utilitarian, neutral tones.”

Her costumes for the young Meiying were the vivid exceptions to that rule, with theirmix of bright colors and boldpatterns, andshoes with heels that light up as she walks.  “It was important that Meiying be allowed to be a child in this very serious adult world,” says Neale,“so I gave her little touches to signify that she is an imaginative child.  I always had this idea that Meiying sparkles; she’s like a fish lure that attracts the Megalodon.”

The exterior of Mana One—including the submersible loading and launching platform, and the catwalk where Dr. Zhang greets Morris upon his arrival to the institute—were constructed at Kumeu Studios.

 

THAT’S A WRAP

 

Following the New Zealand portion of filming, the production moved to China for the remainder of principal photography.  Hainan Island and the resort beachside city of Sanya provided the perfect location for the film’s climactic Meg attack.

Turteltaub offers, “China is an amazing place—vibrant, colorful and bright.  The script called for a densely populated beach, and that’s Sanya Bay.  It’s not lacking for people, which was heaven for a giant shark movie.”

To safeguard the thousands of extras,a counting system was developed and strictly enforced.  It ensured that every single person was accounted forat all times, whether on the sand or in the water.

Virtually bookending the film, Hainan Island also stood in for SamutPrakan, Thailand, where Jonas Taylor has lived for the five years following his first fateful encounter with the Megalodon.  It is there that Mac and Dr. Zhang track him down and convince him to return to the world and save their colleagues.

When shooting wrapped in China, Turteltaub turned his attention to post-production, collaborating with his editors, Kemper and Matsumoto,on the final cut, and with composer Harry Gregson-Williams, who wrote the score.  As Turteltaub only half-kiddingly points out, “Is there a worse assignment in the composer business than to be asked to write the score for a shark movie?  Poor Harry.”

Nonetheless, undaunted, Gregson-Williams says, “For ‘The Meg,’ I wanted to create a sonic signature that would act as a kind of warning call—something robust in nature that instills an immediate sense of fear when signaled.  While searching for the right sound, I stumbled upon a conch as an instrument.  Its call is both distinctive and ancient, and I felt it gave a voice to the vast terror of a concealed underwater world.  Simultaneously, I composed an orchestral motif, containing a descending tritone fragment played on horns and low brass, for when the Meg makes its destructive presence known.

“I also set out to compose separate themes for the main characters of Jonas and Suyin,” Gregson-Williams continues.  “Jonas’s theme evolves musically with the discernable growth of his character.  Suyin’s theme is equally distinctive and is rooted in her Chinese heritage.”

“Harry Gregson-Williams is a lovely and creative man,” Turteltaub states.  “What we discovered is that, sometimes, what’s better than really scary music is no music.  Music provides comfort to an audience because it’s a guide, but there’s something about when the music goes away that can make you very uncomfortable…you don’t know when a very bad thing might happen.  What Harry did so brilliantly was show me places where we could have either very minimal score or no music at all.”

“At every step of the process,” recalls Gregson-Williams,“Jon would remind me that the film should always feel exciting and anticipatory and, in the end, I hope I was able to achieve an edge-of-your-seat score to complement the story.”

Jon Turteltaub reflects, “The goal was to deliver the thrills and the fun, but we also want to tease people’s imaginations.  As the moviesuggests, there are unexplored areas of the ocean that we can’t get to and something terrifying might be down there.

“And,” he concludes,“it would probably be really good if it stayed down there.”

 

 

 

ABOUT THE CAST

 

JASON STATHAM (Jonas Taylor) is an international starbest known for his hard-hitting action films, recently includingthe global blockbuster “The Fate of the Furious,” the latest film in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, directed by F. Gary Gray.  He officially joined the franchise in 2015, playing Deckard Shaw in James Wan’s “Furious 7.”  Statham earned a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for his comedic turn in the Paul Feig-directed action comedy “Spy,”in which he starred alongside Melissa McCarthy.

Born in Sydenham, England, Statham became a member of the British national diving team as one of their top divers, eventually placing 12th in the world. While training at the famed Crystal Palace National Sports Center in London, he caught the attention of film crews and photographers, who pursued him as a new talent.

Statham was eventually introduced to director Guy Ritchie, who cast him as Bacon in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” marking the actor’s feature film debut. He teamed up with Ritchie again on “Snatch,” starring opposite Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro.  In 2002, French film impresario Luc Besson entrusted him with title role of Frank Martin in “The Transporter.” He went on to star inF. Gary Gray’s blockbuster remake of “The Italian Job”; “Crank”and its sequel, “Crank: High Voltage”; and“Transporter 2” and “Transporter 3.”

Statham’sadditional film credits include starring roles in the highly praised“The Bank Job,”for director Roger Donaldson;“Death Race”; Sylvester Stallone’s“The Expendables” and its two sequels;The Mechanic” and its recent sequel, “Mechanic: Resurrection”;“Blitz”;“Killer Elite”;“Safe,” for director Boaz Yakin;the title role in “Parker,”opposite Jennifer Lopez under the direction of Taylor Hackford; Steven Knight’s directorial debut,“Redemption”;“Homefront”; and“Wild Card.”

 

LI BINGBING (Suyin) is one of China’s most popular actresses and has been honored with numerous awards, including Best Actress at the 3rd China International Film Festival London, for her work in “Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal”; a Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actress for “The Knot”; and Best Actress at the 46th Golden Horse Film Festival,for her role in “The Message.”

She received international acclaim for her performance in the action adventure “Forbidden Kingdom,” a Chinese/American co-production, in which she starred with Jackie Chan and Jet Li.  She also starred in the drama “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” directed by Wayne Wang.  Bingbing is best known in America for her roles in the actionhorror film “Resident Evil: Retribution” and the sci-fi action film “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the latter of which grossed more than $1.1 billion worldwide, making it the top-grossing film of 2014 at the global box office.

Bingbing is also actively involved in several charities. In 2009, she launched L.O.V.E, a charitable organization in support of helping people live an environmentally friendly lifestyle. In 2013, as the UNEP Goodwill Ambassador she traveled to the United Nations Africa headquarters to launch the theme of the year, Protect Wild Animals. In 2014, she became the first Chinese woman to address the UN General Assembly.

 

RAINN WILSON (Morris), an Emmy-nominated and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award-winning actor,has succeeded in an impressive variety of comedic and theatrical roles throughout his career. His breakthrough role came when he played assistant mortician Arthur Martin in HBO’s hit series “Six Feet Under,” sharing a SAGAward for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

In 2013, the Emmy Award-winning sitcom “The Office” came to a close after nine successful seasons.  It was on the hit series that Wilson created his most memorable character, Dwight Schrute, and was recognized for his quirky style of acting and his ability to transform a character into a household name. Wilson’s role in “The Office” brought him three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.  He also won two SAG Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series and received five additional nominations in the same category.

In 2009, Wilson also founded the website and Youtube channel SoulPancake. The channel has more thantwo million followers and over 100 million views. The website tackles subjects such as art, science, philosophy, culture and more.As an extension of the site, Wilson wrote his first book, SoulPancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions in 2010, which was a New York Times bestseller.On November 10, 2015, he followedwith his autobiographical memoir, titledThe Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy, which was published by Dutton.

Most recently, Wilson was seen onstage in Chicago, in the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s “The Doppelganger.” The play ran from April 5 to June 2, 2018.

In 2017, Wilson was seen in the Netflix crime drama “Shimmer Lake,” directed by Oren Uziel.  In the same year, Wilson was also the voice of the villain,Gargamel, in the animated film “Smurfs: The Lost Village.”

In 2016, Wilson starredin the one-man play “Thom Pain (based on nothing),” directed by OBIE Award winner Oliver Butler and presented at the Geffen Playhouse.

On television, Wilson recently starred in and produced the 2015 FOX TV drama series “Backstrom,” playing detective Everett Backstrom, who is part of a bunch of unconventional criminologists.

In 2014, Wilson starred alongside Elijah Wood in the satirical comedy film “Cooties.”  He also starred in “The Boy” which premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival.

In 2007, he was cast as the lead in Peter Cattaneo’s comedy “The Rocker,” in which he played washed-up rock star Robert “Fish” Fishman. In the same year, Wilson hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

He made his directorial debut in 2005 with “The New Bozena,” a sketch comedy and post-modern clown show about the challenge of dealing with a shallow world and the trial of learning how to act when you are in way over your head. He also directed three episodes of “The Office” between 2010 and 2012.

Wilsonmade his feature film debut in “Galaxy Quest” and then landed a role in Cameron Crowe’s acclaimed 2000 film “Almost Famous,” portraying real-life Rolling Stone editor David Felton.  His performance in Rob Zombie’s 2003 horror film “House of 1000 Corpses” is what brought him to the attention of producer Greg Daniels of “The Office.”  Wilson’s film credits also include “Sahara,” starring Matthew McConaughey; “My Super Ex-girlfriend,” starring Uma Thurman; “Juno,” starring Ellen Page; “Monsters vs. Aliens”; “BAADASSSSS!”; “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”; and the now cult classic “Super,” directed by James Gunn.

His other television credits includeappearances in such series as “Law & Order”, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Entourage,” “Charmed,” “Monk,” “Numb3rs,” “Reno911!” and a cameo as Dwight Schrute in “Family Guy.”

Wilsonfirst pursued his career by studying at NYU’s graduate acting program. From there, he spent years doing theatre on Broadway and on tour with the Acting Company. He spent the first part of his career performing in Shakespeare plays, opening at some of the country’s most notable regional theaters.

In 2013, Wilson co-founded a non-profit in Haiti with his wife, author Holiday Reinhorn, called “The Lidè Foundation,” which provides arts and literacy education for at-risk adolescent girls.

 

RUBY ROSE (Jaxx) caught the attention of audiences with her breakout role on the hit show “Orange Is the New Black.”In 2015, she joined the cast as a series regular for the show’s third season, playing Stella Carlin, an edgy but charismatic inmate who catches the eye of Taylor Schilling’s character. In 2016, Rose shared in a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for her role on the show.

In 2017,Rose was seen in a trio of actions films: D.J. Caruso’s “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage,” the third installment in the extreme-spy franchise, starring Vin Diesel;Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter,” opposite Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter; and Chad Stahelski’s “John Wick: Chapter 2,” alongside Keanu Reeves, Common and Ian McShane.  She was also seen in “Pitch Perfect 3.”

Rose’s additional acting credits include the indie film “Around the Block,” in which she starred alongside Christina Ricci, which debuted at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival.  She also lent her voice to the English-language version of the animatedadventure “Sheep & Wolves.”

In 2015, Rose wrote, produced, and starred in the short film “Break Free,” a tribute to gender fluidity that became a viral hit, garnering more than 25 million views on YouTube.

A multi-hyphenate, Rose extends her talents across fashion and music.  In 2016, she became the face of Urban Decay Cosmetics and, in 2017, became the face of Swarovski jewelry and Nike.

Rose is a fervent supporter of many charities, including the causes closest to her heart, including Anti Bullying, Women and Gay Rights, Animal Welfare, and Youth Mental Health.  Rose was most recently awarded the Stephen F. Kolzak Award at the 2016 GLAAD Media Awards, which is presented to an LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.

 

WINSTON CHAO (Dr. Zhang) is a Taiwanese actor whofirst gained international praise for his performance in the 1993 film “The Wedding Banquet,” directed by Ang Lee.  In his first starring role, Chao played Wei-Tung Gao, a gay Taiwanese man living in New York who had not yet come out and was planning a wedding to please his parents. The film was a great success and was also recognized with numerous awards and nominations, including a Golden Bear at the 1993 Berlin International Film Festival; an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Feature; and both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Foreign Language Film.

The following year, Chaoreunited with Ang Lee in “Eat Drink Man Woman,” for which he received further acclaim.

Over the course of his career, Chao has portrayed many notable historical figures, as well as characters from Chinese literary classics. He is perhaps most recognized for his performance as Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, a romantic idealist whom he has portrayed in several films and TV dramas.  He is also well known for his portrayal of different emperors in Chinese period dramas, from the very first emperor in Chinese history, Emperor Yao, to the very last, Pu Yi.  One of his most memorable television roles was playing Xue Shao in the series “Palace of Desire,” which brought him widespread attention in mainland China.

Chao’s additional film credits include “Red Rose White Rose” (1994), directed by Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan; “The Soong Sisters” (1997), directed by Mabel Cheung; “1911” (2011), directed by Li Zhang and Jackie Chan and also starring Chan and Li Bingbing; and “Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” (2013), directed by Peter Pau and Tianyu Zhao.

He continues to broaden his career in international cinema.  He recently played a gang boss in the Bollywood production “Kabali,”starring opposite Rajinikanth and directed by Pa. Ranjith.  In addition, Chao starred in the Jackie Chan film “Skiptrace,” directed by RennyHarlinand also starring Johnny Knoxville and Fan Bingbing.

 

PAGE KENNEDY (DJ) was born in Detroit and began his road to Hollywood at Western Michigan University, which has one of the state’s best theatre arts programs.  It was there that he was introduced to the world of Shakespeare and, with the influence of a mentor, Kennedy grew to embrace Shakespeare and mastered the classic playwright’s prose with ease.  An outstanding performance at WMU led to a bidding war among 17 graduate theater programs.  Kennedy eventually chose the University of Delaware, which gave him the opportunity to continue to concentrate on Shakespeare.

After seven months of intense training, Kennedy trekked to Los Angeles, where he landed his first role as Roger on CBS’s “The Kennedys” through an unconventional audition—sneaking into the Sony lot as a messenger and delivering his headshot and resume.  His early credits on the small screen also include “The Shield,” “Six Feet Under,” “Life at Five Feet” and “NYPD Blue.”

Kennedy made his feature film debut as the villainous Travis Shipley in “S.W.A.T.,” opposite Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez and LL Cool J., followed by “Leprechan: Back 2 tha Hood,” with Sticky Fingaz, Laz Alonso and Tangi Miller.  More recently, Kennedy had a recurring role on the USA Network’s series “Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.” and also guest starred on CBS’s “Rush Hour” and FOX’s “Backstrom.”

Apart from his acting, Kennedy can be found in a studio writing rhymes, a craft he has mastered since the age of 7.  His new album, Same Page Different Story, will drop August 10th.  He has a massive social media following, totaling nearly five million across all platforms.

 

JESSICA McNAMEE(Lori) is currently filming a leading role in the Australian film “Locusts.”  She most recently starred opposite William Fichtner in Aaron Harvey’s award-winningindependent dramatic thriller “The Neighbor.”

In 2017, she had starring roles in two very different films.  She portrayed Australian tennis champ Margaret Court in the true-life sports feature “Battle of The Sexes,” about the famed 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs and starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell.  In the summer, she starred opposite Michael Peña and Dax Shepard in the comedy “CHIPS,” based on the classic TV show of the same name.

McNamee previously co-starred with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum in Michael Sucsy’s 2012 romantic drama “The Vow.”  That same year, she worked with Sucsy on the ABC telefilm “Scruples.”

She had made her feature film debut in Sean Byrne’s “The Loved Ones,” opposite Xavier Samuel.  The film premiered at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival, where it won the Midnight Madness Cadillac People’s Choice Award. The film also screened as part of the Freak Me Out Pathway at the Sydney Film Festival.

On television, McNamee was previously seen as the female lead on the USA Network’s comedy series “Sirens,” opposite Michael Mosley, Kevin Daniels and Kevin BigleyShe is best known in her native Australia for her role as Sammy Rafter in the television series “Packed to the Rafters.”  In total, the show earned 31 Australian award nominations, with 13 wins.

 

ÓLAFUR DARRI ÓLAFSSON (The Wall) is an award-winning actor, writer and producer.  This summer, he can also be seen in the action comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon.  In the fall, he plays Skender, the cruel owner and Ringmaster of a Wizarding World circus, in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” opening on November 16, 2018.  His other upcoming films include “Keepers,” with Gerard Butler; “Murder Mystery,” with Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler; and “End of Sentence.”

His film work also includes Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG”; “Ransacked,” which he also executive produced; Ben Stiller’s “Zoolander 2”; “The White King”; “The Last Witch Hunter”; “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” starring Liam Neeson; Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”; and “Contraband,” with Mark Wahlberg.

Ólafsson has also been honored for his work in his home country of Iceland, recently including two Icelandic Film and Television Academy Edda Awards, both for Best Actor, for his work in “The Deep” and “Stormland.”  He has also earned Edda Award nominations for his performances in “XL,” which he also produced and for which he was named Best Actor at the 2013 Karlovy Vary Film Festival; and “The Children,” for which he also won an Edda Award for Best Screenplay.  As a producer, he won an Edda Award in 2007 for Best Film for “Parents.”  His long list of film acting credits also includes “King’s Road,” “White Night Wedding,” “Country Wedding,” “Thicker Than Water” and “Beowulf & Grendel.”

On the small screen, Ólafsson recently had regular or recurring roles on the series “Lady Dynamite,” “Emerald City,” “Trapped,” “The Missing” and “Quarry.”  He also received an Edda Award nomination for his role on the miniseries “Fangavaktin.”  In addition, he had a memorable guest role on the first season of the acclaimed HBO series “True Detective.”

Though born in Connecticut, Ólafsson grew up in Iceland, where he graduated from the Icelandic Drama School in 1998.  He began acting on the stage, appearing in numerous productions with the National Theatre of Iceland and City Theatre of Reykjavik, as well as independent companies.  He has garnered several awards and nominations for his work, including an Icelandic Theatre Award for Best Actor for “Of Mice and Men.”  Additionally, he is one of the founders of the Vesturport Theatre in Reykjavik.

 

ROBERT TAYLOR (Dr. Heller) is one of Australia’s busiest actors with an illustrious career spanning more than 30 years and encompassing both international film and television.  He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of SheriffWalt Longmire, the title character inthe hit Netflix drama series “Longmire,”which released its sixth and final season in 2017.

On the big screen, Taylor was most recently seen in the worldwide hit “Kong: Skull Island,” and co-starred in the acclaimed Australian film “Don’t Tell,” directed by Tori Garrettand also starring Rachel Griffiths, Jack Thompson, Aden Young and Jacqueline McKenzie.  He also completed work on the upcoming crime drama “Into the Ashes”and the horror film “Blood Vessel.”

A graduate of the prestigious West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Taylor made his major feature film debut as Agent Jones in the Wachowskis’ groundbreaking 1999 science fiction actioner “The Matrix,” starring Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving.  The following year, he co-starred with Chris O’Donnell in Martin Campbell’s action adventure “Vertical Limit,” and was seen in the Australian film “Muggers.”

Taylor’s other early film work includes a lead role in “The Hard Word,” opposite Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths; and the biopic “Ned Kelly,” with Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom and Naomi Watts; “Storm Warning,” opposite French star Nadia Farès; “Rogue,” from director Greg McLean; and a starring role in the thriller “Coffin Rock.”  His additional film credits include Craig Monahan’s “Healing,” with Hugo Weaving; Rupert Glasson’s “What Lola Wants,” opposite Sophie Lowe; the caper comedy/drama “Focus,” starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie; “The MenkhoffMethod,” directed by David Parker;“Elimination Game,”for director Jon Hewitt;and Grant Scicluna’s feature “Downriver.”

On television, Taylor has been seen, both in the U.S. and in Australia, in numerous longform and series projects.  His long list of credits includes “Wolf Creek,” “Mr. & Mrs. Murder,” “Twentysomething,” “Killing Time,” “Underbelly Files: Tell Them Lucifer Was Here,” “Satisfaction,” “Hercules,” Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Mystery of Natalie Wood,” “Ballykissangel,” “First Daughter,” “Stingers,” “Tales of The South Seas,” “Twisted Tales,” “The Feds,” “Phage” and “Nash’s Vision.”

 

SOPHIA CAI (Meiying), who is now 10 years old, was born in Shanghai to her Chinese mother and British father.  She began her career at the age of two after being cast in a national television commercial.  She has subsequently compiled an impressive resume that includes modeling, television commercials and roles in television and film.

Cai is best known for her role in the 2015 Chinese feature film “Somewhere Only We Know.”

She is fluent in both English and Mandarin.

 

MASI OKA (Toshi)burst onto the scene starring in thesci-fi drama series “Heroes,”earning both Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations for his role on the show.  He more recently reprised his role in the miniseries “Heroes Reborn.”  In addition, his portrayal of brilliant coroner Max Bergman on “Hawaii Five-0” became a fan favorite on the long-running drama. In 2018, he returned to television in the critically acclaimed dramaseries “Mozart in the Jungle.”

Oka stepped behind the camera on the feature film adaption of the worldwide phenomenon Japanese Anime “Death Note,” which he produced with Dan Lin and Roy Lee.  Oka is alsocurrently producing “Mega Man,” bringing the classic Capcom character to life on the big screen.  In front of the camera, Oka’s film credits include a scene-stealing role in “Get Smart,” based on the classic series and starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway; “Jobs”;“Friends with Benefits”; “Along Came Polly”; and “Austin Powers in Goldmember.”

With a background in improvisation, Oka has appeared at The Groundlings, ImprovOlympics, Second City, and TheatreSports. His improvisational expertise has been showcased with guest appearances as various characters on “Punk’d,” “Reno 911!” and “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.”  He currently is working with Yoshimoto to bring the famed Second City to Japan and thereby introducing American improv to that market.

In addition to his very public roles, Oka works behind the scenes as an advisor to multiple major Japanese corporations, including the government entity JETRO, and is a cultural envoy to the U.S. Embassy, bringing the gaps between Japan and Hollywood in the arts and business.

Oka was born in Tokyo, Japan, and moved to Los Angeles at age six.  After graduating Brown University with degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science and a Theatre Arts minor, Oka pursued an acting career while taking his first job at George Lucas’ Oscar-winning special effects house Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), providing technology for groundbreaking effects for more than 30 films.  Oka’s strong background in computer science laid the groundwork for his starting Mobius Digital, a gaming company that has successfully launched several apps with more in development.

Oka is fluent in Japanese and proficient in Spanish.  Additionally, Oka sits on the Celebrity Cabinet of the American Red Cross.

 

CLIFF CURTIS (Mac) is currently shooting a lead role in the four sequels to James Cameron’s science fiction adventure “Avatar,” all directed by Cameron.  On television, Curtis recently wrapped up a three-season turn in the lead role of the hit cable series “Fear the Walking Dead.”

Curtis also starred in and executive produced the inspirational true story“The Dark Horse,” which won numerous international film festival awards, including the Audience Best Picture Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, andthe Best Film Award at both the St. Tropez and Seattle Film Festivals.  In addition, Curtis won the Best Actor Award at the Seattle Film Festival, and he was also named Best Actor at the 2014 New Zealand Film and TV Awards.

Born in Rotorua, New Zealand, Curtis is of Maori descent.  He attended the New Zealand Drama School, and then the Teatro Dimitri Scuola in Switzerland. After returning to New Zealand from Europe, he made his feature film debut in Jane Campion’s Oscar-winning drama “The Piano.”  His subsequent work in New Zealand includes roles in “Desperate Remedies,” Kevin Reynolds’ “Rapa Nui,” Lee Tamahori’s“Once Were Warriors,” and Michael Hurst’s “Jubilee.”

Curtis has also played an array of diverse roles in such films as Reynolds’ “Risen”; M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender”; “Crossing Over,” starring Harrison Ford; Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine”; “Fracture,” with Anthony Hopkins; Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain”; “Runaway Jury,” alongside John Cusack; Niki Caro’s “Whale Rider”; Antoine Fuqua’s “Training Day,” with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke; Ted Demme’s “Blow,” starring Johnny Depp; Michael Mann’s “The Insider,” starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe; Martin Scorsese’s“Bringing Out the Dead”; and David O. Russell’s “Three Kings,” with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.  On television, Curtis had regular roles on the series “Gang Related” and “Missing.”

In 2007, Curtis turned his hand to producing.  Among his credits are Taika Waititi’s debut feature, the geek comedy“Eagle vs Shark,”starring Jemaine Clement, and another Waititi feature,“Boy,” which became the highest-grossing local film in New Zealand history.

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS

 

JON TURTELTAUB (Director) has been a leading producer and director of hit movies for more than 25 years.

He directed and produced the action adventure hits “National Treasure” and “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”  In addition, he has directed such diverse films as “3 Ninjas,”“Cool Runnings,”“While You Were Sleeping,”“Phenomenon” and “Last Vegas,”to name only a portion.

Turteltaub has also produced and/or directed several television projects, including the hit series “Jericho” and a segment of the award-winning HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon,” for which he received a Directors Guild of America Award nomination.

Born in New York, Turteltaub is the son of legendary television writer/producer Saul Turteltaub.  He was raised in Beverly Hills before attending Wesleyan University and USC film school.

Turteltaub has been married toAmy Eldonsince 2006 and together they work extensively with The Creative Visions Foundation, supporting artists and activists.  He has also served on the DGA Western Directors Council, with the Jewish Federation of Charities, Represent.Us, and on theboard of the Inner-City Filmmakers program.Turteltaub and his wife have spent considerable time in Africa where they have funded an orphanage in Kenya for the past 12 years while also working to protect and rehabilitate child soldiers in Uganda.

 

DEAN GEORGARIS is the creator and executive producer of the drama series “The Brave.”

Georgaris began his writing career with the screenplay for the hit action adventure “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life,” starring Angelina Jolie and Gerard Butler. He went on to write the screenplays for John Woo’s action drama “Paycheck” and Jonathan Demme’s remake of “The Manchurian Candidate.”

In addition, Georgaris produced the horror thriller “The Crazies,” and executive produced the comedy “What Happens in Vegas.”  He more recently served as executive producer onAng Lee’s critically acclaimed film adaptation of “Life of Pi,” which received a total of 129 award nominations and 82 award wins, including four Oscars and one Golden Globe.

 

JON HOEBER &ERICH HOEBER (Screenplay) have worked in a wide array of genres and formats during their 20-yearstint in Hollywood.  First gaining traction with the 1998Sundance hit “Montana” starring Kyra Sedgwick and StanleyTucci, the team began a prolific run in features,television, and graphic novels.

They have since written the screenplays for such films as“RED,” starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren;the sequel, “RED 2,” reuniting the main cast; and “Battleship,”starring Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgård.

The brothers are currently prepping their original comedy “My Spy,” as well as a live-actionadaptation of the beloved Manga Naruto.

 

LORENZO DI BONAVENTURA (Producer) is a film producer best known for the “Transformers,”“G.I. Joe” and “RED” film franchises.  His company, di Bonaventura Pictures, has produced more than 30 films, including “Deepwater Horizon,”“Salt,”“Shooter,”“Side Effects” and “1408.”  His upcoming films include the “Transformers” spin-off, “Bumblebee,” and “Pet Sematary”for Paramount Pictures.

Prior to forming di Bonaventura Pictures, di Bonaventura held several executive positions at Warner Bros., eventually becoming President of Worldwide Production.  His biggest commercial and critical successes included“The Matrix,”“Training Day,”“Ocean’s Eleven,”“FallingDown” and the first three “Harry Potter”films.

Di Bonaventura received his undergraduate degree in Intellectual History at Harvard College and his Masterof Business Administration at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Schoolof Business.  He was awarded the Golden Eye Career Achievement Award from the Zurich Film Festival in 2016.

 

BELLE AVERY (Producer) has worked in the global entertainment industry for more than 25 years.  She is a producer who understands every aspect of the creative and the business sides and more importantly understands equity financing and banking covenants.  Avery has consulted with leading global financial institutions and companies, including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, IMAX, Marubeni of Japan, and many other private banks with spends of over $1.4 billionon Hollywood feature films.

Avery executive produced Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.”  Earlier in her career, she wrote, directed and produced the thriller “Innocent Obsession.”  She later wrote and directed “Malevolence,” based on the assassination of Martin Luther King, and wrote and produced “The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam.”

Avery has spent the last decade becoming immersed in the rapidly expanding China film industry.

Shestarted her career learning editing and copywriting for an award-winning trailer house and has also worked as a script doctor on a wide range of films.

 

COLIN WILSON (Producer)recently produced “Detroit,” Kathryn Bigelow’s true crime drama about the 1967 riots in that city. He previously collaborated with Bigelow as an executive producer on her Oscar-nominated true-life drama “Zero Dark Thirty.”  In addition, he served as an executive producer on David Ayer’s action adventure “Suicide Squad.”

Prior to working on those films, Wilson was theHead of Production atAnnapurna Pictures.

Wilson began his film career working as an assistant editor on Richard Donner’s 1978 hit “Superman.”  Over the next three decades, he rose from the ranks of the crew to become a producer on several of the most successful films of the 1990s and 2000s.

In 1981, Wilson worked as an assistant editor on Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which began a long association with the director and his production companies, Amblin and later DreamWorks SKG. He worked as an assistant or associate editor on the first two“Raiders” sequels, as well as “Empire of the Sun,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Always.”On Spielberg’s “Hook,” Wilson served as production effects producer. His expertise with FX was put to good use as an associate producer on the groundbreaking blockbuster “Jurassic Park,” which marked his first film producing credit.

He went on to be a producer on the Spielberg-directed films “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,”“Amistad,” “War of the Worlds” and “Munich.”  His additional producing credits include “Casper,” “The Haunting,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and “Troy.”  He also served as an executive producer on James Cameron’s top-grossing science fiction adventure, “Avatar.”

 

GERALD R. MOLEN (Executive Producer) is semi-retired from the motion picture and television industry after a prodigious career spanning more than 60 years.  He won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe and a Producers Guild of America Award as a producer on Steven Spielberg’s Best Picture winner, “Schindler’s List.”  He also collaborated with Spielberg, as a producer on “Hook,” “Jurassic Park,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Minority Report.”

His other producing credits include “The Other Side of Heaven,” “The Legend of Johnny Lingo,” “Hillary’s America” and the upcoming “Death of a Nation.”  In addition, he served as an executive producer on such films as “Bright Lights, Big City,” “Days of Thunder,” “A Far Off Place,” “The Flintstones,” “The Little Rascals,” “Casper,” “Twister” and “Obama’s America.”  He was also a co-producer on Barry Levinson’s Oscar-winning Best Picture “Rain Man” and an associate producer on “*batteries not included.”

Born in Montana, where he currently makes his home, Molen began his career after a stint in the Marine Corps.  Starting in the transportation department, he rose through the ranks to become a unit production manager on such films as “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Tootsie” and “The Color Purple,” the last of which marked his first collaboration with Spielberg.

Over the course of his career, he has been the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Montana (2000) and an Honorary Doctor of Performing and Visual Arts from Southern Utah University (2004). His other awards and honors include the 1994 Humanitas Prize, Christopher Award, Torch of Remembrance Award (Anti-Defamation League), CAMIE Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Chapman University.

 

WEI JIANG (Executive Producer) currently holds the post of CEO of Legendary East, Legendary Entertainment’s Chinese studio.

Jiang began his career at Sony in April 1994 and, in early 1997, he took charge of Sony Pictures distribution in mainland China. During that period, Jiang participated in the development and distribution of the celebrated hit “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

In June 2001, he became Chief Representative of Great China for EDKO Films Limited, and then general manager of EDKO (Beijing) Films Limited from 2005 to August 2013, distributing films of EDKO as well as Universal Pictures titles in mainland China.  Jiang was also the Vice President of Urban Cinema Branch of China Film Distribution and Projection Association.

Jiang has participated in the production and overseen the distribution of local productions,including “Fearless,”“Kung Fu Hustle,”“Secret,”“Lust,Caution,” “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,”“Sophie’s Revenge,”“Ocean Heaven,”“Cold War,” and “Finding Mr. Right,” to name but a few. During his days at EDKO Films, Jiang also led the distribution of “Slumdog Millionaire,”“Sanctum,”“Three Idiots,”“Mr. Bean’s Holiday,”“The Bourne Ultimatum,”“The Bourne Legacy: The Bourne Challenge,”“Fast Five,”“Fast & Furious 6,” and “Battleship” in mainland China.

Jiang served as Managing Directorof Gravity Pictures, beginning in September 2013.  During his tenure, Gravity Pictures successfully produced and distributed local films including“Black & White Episode 2,”“Fleet of Time,”“Somewhere Only We Know”and “Let’s Get Married.”

In October 2016, Jiang took up the position of executive director at Shaw Brothers Holdings Limited, prior to joining Legendary East.

 

RANDY GREENBERG (Executive Producer) has, since 2015, run The Greenberg Group, a global entertainment content and investment advisory, with clients including producers, financiers and IP content owners.  Greenberg previously executive produced Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys & Aliens” and Kevin Munroe’s “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night.”

Prior to The Greenberg Group, Greenberg founded and ran the Resolution Talent & Literary Agency and was a senior executive in the film & TV production division of comic-book entertainment company Platinum Studios.

Before that, he was the Senior Vice President of Universal Pictures International Theatrical Division.  Running the division, he sat on the studio’s greenlight committee and strategized the international marketing and distribution with United International Pictures (UIP), the joint venture marketing and distribution arm for Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures. Greenberg also served on the UIP board of directors.

During his tenure, Greenberg spearheaded Universal’s international theatrical division to more than $2.7 billion at the international box office.  In 2003, his division produced six $100 million-plus international releases, breaking a company record and tying an industry record at that time.  Greenberg was involved in the record-breaking overseas releases of such films as “The Mummy Returns,”“Jurassic Park III,”“American Pie 2,”“Red Dragon,”“8 Mile,”“The Hulk,”“American Pie: The Wedding” and “Intolerable Cruelty.”He also strategized the initial international theatrical releases for two franchises that are still going strong today: “The Fast and the Furious” and its first sequel, “2Fast 2Furious,” and “The Bourne Identity.”

Prior to Universal, Greenberg was the Vice President International Theatrical Marketing at MGM Pictures.  There, he helped strategize and execute international marketing campaigns for such films as “The World Is Not Enough,”“The Thomas Crown Affair,”“Stigmata,”“Tomorrow Never Dies,”“Ulee’s Gold,”“The Birdcage,”“GoldenEye,”“Get Shorty” and “Rob Roy.”

Greenberg came to MGM from Dennis Davidson Associates (DDA), where he was an international publicist with clients including the independent production companies Carolco Pictures, Village Roadshow, Morgan Creek, and Miramax. At DDA, he also worked onsuch films as “StarGate,”“Mr. Holland’s Opus,”“Pulp Fiction,”“Reservoir Dogs,”“Terminator 2: Judgment Day,”“Basic Instinct,”“Cliffhanger,”“The Last of the Mohicans,”“Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,”“Total Recall” and “Field of Dreams.”

Greenberg is an instructor of “The Business of Entertainment” class at UCLA Extension, where he has been an instructor or guest speaker for more than 20 years.

 

CATHERINE XUJUN YING (Executive Producer) is Vice President of CMC Inc., overseeing the film and TV business.  She also holds the position of CEO of Gravity Pictures, the movie platform of CMC Inc.  Ying has led her team to successfully invest in and manage various film and TV companies in China and abroad.

Prior to joining CMC Inc., Ying worked at Merrill Lynch; Morgan Stanley Private Equity; Paul, Weiss; and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York and Beijing.

Ying graduated as a J.D. in Law from Harvard Law School.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Mathematics from Wellesley College.

 

CHANTAL NONG (Executive Producer) is currently Vice President, DC-Based Film Production, overseeing the creative development and production of DC feature films for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, which includes Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema. In this role, she works alongside the President of DC-based Film Production, Walter Hamada.

She previously served as Vice President, Feature Development and Production, at Warner Bros. Pictures, where she worked on such films as“The Intern,” “Godzilla” and “300: Rise of an Empire,” as well as the upcoming “Crazy Rich Asians.” Prior to that, Nong was Vice President of Development at Légende Films.

Nong attended Yale University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and International Studies, before attending the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC.

 

BARRIE M. OSBORNE(Executive Producer) won an Academy Award as a producer on Peter Jackson’s Best Picture winner, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” the final film in the blockbuster Trilogy.  Together with fellow producers, Jackson and Fran Walsh, Osborne also won aBAFTA Award for Best Film and a Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award. Additionally, Osborne received Best Picture Oscar nominations for the first and second films, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” also earning a BAFTA Award for the first, a BAFTA Award nomination for the second, and PGA Award nominations for both.

Currently, Osborne is an executive producer on the adventure “Mulan,” to be directed by Niki Caro.  His other credits as a producer include “China Moon,” “Face/Off,” “The Water Horse,” “The Warrior’s Way” and “Syrup.”He has also executive produced “Pete’s Dragon,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The World’s Fastest Indian,” “Little Fish,” “The Matrix,” “The Fan,” “Rapa Nui,” “Wilder Napalm,” “Child’s Play,” “Dick Tracy” and “Peggy Sue Got Married,” among other films.

During a two-year tenure as Vice President of Feature Production at Walt Disney Pictures, Osborne oversaw such films as “Ruthless People,” “The Color of Money,” “Tin Men,” “Three Men and a Baby,” “Tough Guys,” “Outrageous Fortune,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

A native New Yorker, Osborne earned a B.A. degree from Minnesota’s Carleton College and an honorary PhD from San Francisco’s Academy of Art University.He served as a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal.

Osborne entered the film industry in 1970. Accepted into the Directors Guild of America trainee program, he worked under the tutelage of such directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Alan Pakula, and Sydney Pollack, on films including “The Godfather: Part II,” “All the President’s Men” and “Three Days of the Condor.”He subsequently worked in various capacities on a number of films, including “Apocalypse Now,” “The Big Chill,” “The King of Comedy,” “The Cotton Club,” “Cutter’s Way,” “Fandango” and “The China Syndrome.”

In 2017, he was honored by New Zealand as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

 

TOM STERN (Director of Photography) earned both Oscar and BAFTA Award nominations for Best Cinematography for his work on Clint Eastwood’s drama “Changeling.”  Stern, who has enjoyed a long association with Eastwood, more recently lensed Eastwood’s true-life dramas “The 15:17 to Paris,” “Sully,” and the Oscar-nominated “American Sniper.”

He also served as the cinematographer on Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys”; “J. Edgar”; “Hereafter”; “Invictus”; “Gran Torino”; the World War II dramas “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima”; the Oscar-winning dramas “Million Dollar Baby” and “Mystic River”; and “Blood Work,” which marked Stern’s first film as a director of photography.

His collaborations with other directors include “Ceasefire,” for director Emmanuel Courcol; “Broken Horses,” for director Vidhu Vinod Chopra; “Sleepless Night,” from Frédéric Jardin; and the worldwide blockbuster “The Hunger Games.”  He also shot Rob Lorenz’s “Trouble with the Curve,” Pavel Lungin’s “Tsar,” Susanne Bier’s “Things We Lost in the Fire,” Christophe Barratier’s “Paris 36,” Alison Eastwood’s “Rails & Ties,” Tony Goldwyn’s “The Last Kiss,” John Turturro’s “Romance & Cigarettes,” Scott Derrickson’s “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” and Rowdy Herrington’s “Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius.”

A 40-year industry veteran, Stern has worked with Eastwood for more than three decades, beginning when Stern was a gaffer on such films as “Honkytonk Man,” “Sudden Impact,” “Tightrope,” “Pale Rider” and “Heartbreak Ridge.”  Becoming the chief lighting technician at Malpaso Productions, Stern worked on a wide range of films, including Eastwood’s “The Rookie,” “Unforgiven,” “A Perfect World,” “True Crime” and “Space Cowboys.”  As a chief lighting technician, he also teamed with such directors as Michael Apted on “Class Action,” and Sam Mendes on “Road to Perdition” and the Oscar-winning “American Beauty,” among others.

 

GRANT MAJOR (Production Designer) won an Academy Award for his design of Tolkien’s Middle-earth in Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” the third and final film in the blockbuster Trilogy.  His work on that film also brought him a BAFTA Award nomination, an Art Directors Guild (ADG) Award, and numerous critics groups awards.  He had previously garnered Oscar and BAFTA Award nominations for his production designs in the first two installments of “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy: “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Two Towers.”  In addition, he received an ADG Award nomination for the first and won an ADG Award for the second.

Major earned his fourth Oscar and BAFTA Award nominations for Jackson’s 2005 action adventure “King Kong,” also gaining another nomination from the ADG.  Additionally, he won a Hollywood Film Award, naming him the Production Designer of the Year.

His more recent film credits include “X Men: Apocalypse,”“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny,”“Mr. Pip,” “Emperor” and “Green Lantern.”

Earlier in his career, Major won New Zealand Film and Television Awards for his work on Jane Campion’s “An Angel at My Table,” Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures,”Scott Reynolds’ “The Ugly” and Niki Caro’s “Memory & Desire.”  His other film credits include “Jack Be Nimble,” Jackson’s “The Frighteners,” “Aberration,” and the Caro-directed films “Whale Rider” and “Heavenly Vintage.”  He also served as an art director on “Other Halves.”

Born in Palmerston North, New Zealand, Major began his career in design at Television New Zealand.  His early work as an art director includes two “Hercules” TV movies, the telefilms “The Grasscutter” and “The Chosen,” and the series “Hanlon,” as well as commercials and news programs.

His background also ranges from production design for Commonwealth Games ceremonies to designer for the New Zealand Pavilions at the World Expos to design consultant for the Louis Vuitton 150th-year party.

Major received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, The Auckland University of Technology, and has become an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

 

STEVEN KEMPER (Editor) collaborated with director John Woo as an editor on the films “Windtalkers,” “Mission: Impossible II” and “Face/Off.”  In addition, he edited the Peter Hyams-directed films “End of Days,” “The Relic,” “Sudden Death” and “Timecop.”  His credits as an editor also include “The Last Stand,” “The Punisher,” “Shade,” “Fair Game,” “Showdown in Little Tokyo” and “New Jack City.”

Earlier in his career, Kemper earned an Emmy Award nomination for his editing work on the anthology series “Amazing Stories.”  The segment, entitled “The Mission,” was directed by Steven Spielberg.  He also served as an editor on the first episode of the National Geographic series “Saints & Strangers,” the telefilm “The Little Match Girl,” and the series “Equal Justice.”

 

KELLY MATSUMOTO (Editor) has edited three installments of the blockbuster “Fast & Furious” franchise: “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” “Fast Five” and “Fast & Furious 6,” all for director Justin Lin.  She more recently collaborated with Lin on “Star Trek: Beyond,” the latest film in the successful science fiction franchise.

Her additional film credits include the Stephen Sommers-directed films “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” “Van Helsing” and “The Mummy Returns”; and Rob Cohen’s “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.”

 

AMANDA NEALE (Costume Designer),one of New Zealand’s most respected costume designers, has enjoyed a long collaboration with filmmakers Taika Waititi and Robert Sarkies and has worked with other New Zealand directors, notably Jane Campion and Peter Jackson.

Neale designed the costumes for James Vanderbilt’s 2015 directorial debut,the fact-based drama “Truth,” starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford.  The following year, she worked again with Redford on the remake of “Pete’s Dragon,” directed by David Loweryand alsostarring Bryce Dallas Howard and Oakes Fegley.Most recently,Neale collaborated with director BaltasarKormákur on the true-life drama “Adrift,” starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin.

She began her career working in the costume departments for major studio productions, including “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, “The Last Samurai,” “Lovely Bones,” “King Kong” and “Avatar.” Between those films, she started designing costumes for lower-budget New Zealand productions.  Her first film as a costume designer was “Scarfies,” directed by Robert Sarkies and starring then-actor Taika Waititi, marking the beginning of her association with both.

Neale went on to serve as costume designer on Sarkies’ “Deano& Nige’s Best Day Ever”and his award-winning biopic “Consent: The Louise Nicholas Story.”  For Waititi, she designed the costumes for his feature directorial debut, “Eagle vs Shark,” followed by “Boy” and “What We Do in the Shadows,” the latter two bringing New Zealand Film Award nominations to Neale for Best Costume Design.  Neale just finished work on the TV spin-off of “What We Do in the Shadows,” entitled “Wellington Paranormal,” directed by JemaineClement and Waititi.

Neale earlier won a New Zealand Screen Award for her costume designs for Larry Parr’s “Fracture.”  In addition, she designed costumes for Jane Campion’s award-winning television series “Top of the Lake” and worked at Weta Digital as an FX costume designer for Steven Spielberg’s animated feature “The Adventures of Tintin.”

 

ADRIAN DE WET (Visual Effects Supervisor) is an award-winning visual effects supervisor with more than 20 years’ experience working on major feature films.

He began his career at Computer Film Company (CFC), which at the time was the cutting-edge facility in Europe for digital VFX. He worked on a wide variety of features and commercials, quickly establishing himself as a project supervisor and leading creative teams within the facility and at shooting locations.

In 2000, de Wet relocated to California as a founding employee of ESC Entertainment to supervise multiple VFX sequences on the Wachowskis’ “Matrix Reloaded.”  He won a Visual Effects Society (VES)Award for the Best Visual Effect of the year for the film’s truck crash shot. Returning to London in 2004, he was instrumental in expanding Framestore’s creature portfolio by supervising work on two “Harry Potter” films, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

After a stint at MPC supervising the Oscar-nominated VFX work on “Poseidon,”de Wet was hired by Double Negative as its main digital supervisor on “HellBoy II: The Golden Army,” which was shortlisted among the final seven films at the VFX Oscar bake-off, in addition to being nominated for a VES Award.  He has since supervised multiple projects at Double Negative, culminating in the last three installments of the “Hunger Games” franchise.

 

HARRY GREGSON-WILLIAMS(Composer) is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after and prolific composers whose long list of film and television credits underscore the diverse range of his talents.His latest projects include the action thriller “The Equalizer 2,” starring Denzel Washington and directed by Antoine Fuqua, and Aardman Animation’s “Early Man.”  Currently, he is writing the original score for “Penguins,”slated for an Earth Day 2019 release.

Gregson-Williams created the main title theme and scored two episodes for Amazon’s 10-episode sci-fi anthology series “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.”  For the episode titled “The Commuter,” he just received an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score).

Earlier, Gregson-Williams was the composer on all four installments of the animated blockbuster “Shrek” franchise, garnering a BAFTA Award nomination for the score for the Oscar-winning “Shrek.” He also received Golden Globe and Grammy Award nominations for his score for Andrew Adamson’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”

Gregson-Williams has collaborated multiple times with a number of directors, including Ben Affleck on the films “Live by Night,” “The Town” and “Gone Baby Gone”; Joel Schumacher on “Twelve,” “The Number 23,” “Veronica Guerin” and “Phone Booth”; Tony Scott on “Unstoppable,”“The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” “Déjà Vu,” “Domino,” “Man on Fire,” “Spy Game” and “Enemy of the State”;Ridley Scott on “Alien: Covenant,” “The Martian,” “Prometheus” and “Kingdom of Heaven”; Bille August on “Return to Sender” and “Smilla’s Sense of Snow”; Andrew Adamson on “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”and “Mr. Pip”; and Antoine Fuqua on “The Replacement Killers” and “The Equalizer.”

His many other credits include the scores for Simon Baker’s directorial debut, “Breath”; Niki Caro’s “The Zookeeper’s Wife”; the telefilm “Confirmation”; Catherine Hardwicke’s “Miss You Already”; “Blackhat,” for director Michael Mann; Len Wiseman’s “Total Recall”; Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys & Aliens”; the documentary “Life in a Day”; Mike Newell’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”; Gavin Hood’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”; and Beeban Kidron’s “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.”  Gregson-Williams has also created the scores for a variety of animated features, including Aardman’s“Arthur Christmas,” “Flushed Away” and the Oscar-winning “Chicken Run”; and “Antz.”

Gregson-Williams has scored three of the five games in the highly successful “Metal Gear Solid” franchise for Konami and scored “Call of Duty” for Activision, which became the top selling video game of 2014 and whichearned him various music gaming awards.

Born in England to a musical family, Gregson-Williams earned a music scholarship to St. John’s College, Cambridge at the age of seven, and subsequently gained a coveted spot at London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama, from which he recently received an Honorary Fellowship. He started his film career as assistant to composer Richard Harvey and later asorchestrator and arranger forStanley Myers, and then went on to compose his first scores for director Nicolas Roeg.His subsequent collaboration and friendship with composer Hans Zimmer led to Gregson-Williams providing music for such films as“The Rock,” “Armageddon” and“The Prince of Egypt”and helped launch his career in Hollywood.

He has also been a regular and valued mentor at the Sundance Composers Lab working directly with talented emerging composers from all over the world.

 

 

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