David Cronenberg (Director) David Cronenberg's reputation as an authentic auteur has been firmly established by his uniquely personal body of work including the films for which he wrote the screenplays: Shivers, Rabid, Fast Company, The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, Crash and eXistenZ. The films he directed from screenplays by other writers are The Dead Zone, M. Butterfly and, most recently, Spider and A History of Violence.
His films have won him awards and recognition around the world, among which is an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from the University of Toronto, which he received in June 2001. He has been an Officer in France's prestigious "Order of Arts and Letters" since 1997. In 1999, he presided over the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival.
Retrospectives of his work have been held in Japan, USA, UK, France, Brazil, Italy, Portugal and Canada, Books on Cronenberg include The Shape of Rage the Films of David Cronenberg, The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg and Cronenberg on Cronenberg in addition to a collection of interviews published by Cahiers du Cinema.
Born on March 15, 1943 in Toronto, Cronenberg studied at the University of Toronto, where he became interested in film and produced two shorts in 16 mm, Transfer and From the Drain, graduating in 1967. His first films in 35 mm were Stereo and Crimes of the Future, both shot in the late '60's. In these works, Cronenberg established some of the themes and preoccupations that would characterize much of his later work.
In 1975, Cronenberg shot his first commercial feature Shivers (aka They Came From Within or Parasite Murders), which became one of the fastest recouping movies in the history of Canadian film. His next feature, Rabid, starring Marilyn Chambers, went on to make $7-million on a production investment of little more than $500,000, providing Cronenberg with an impressive track record after just two pictures by 1977. He then directed the drag-racing film Fast Company, inspired in part by his own passion for cars and racing.
He moved on to direct The Brood in 1979, starring Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar, an artistic breakthrough for Cronenberg, which led him to larger-budgeted and more ambitious films. Scanners, which centered on the telepathic powers of an underground element of society, was aimed at a wider audience than his earlier horror/fantasy films and became his biggest hit yet. The week it opened, Variety listed Scanners as the number one box-office film in North America.
Cronenberg's next film, Videodrome, starring James Woods and rock star Deborah Harry, released in early 1983, moved out of the cult ream into the mainstream cyberpunk market. Blurring the boundaries of reality and consciousness, the film is a high-tech, nightmarish satire involving violence, sexuality and biological horror, all by now familiar Cronenberg themes.
The Dead Zone followed in 1984, based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King, Financed by Dino de Laurentiis, released by Paramount and starring Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams and Martin Sheen, the film is an allegorical good-vs-evil story revolving around the fate of a man cursed with power to see into the future of those he touches. The most mainstream of Cronenberg's films, The Dead Zone still retains the director's identifiable style and design and went on the earn three out of the five Avoriaz Film Festival prizes of that year as well as seven Edgar Allen Poe award nominations in the U.S.A.
Mel Brooks then approached Cronenberg to direct The Fly for Twentieth Century Fox, starring Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum. The Fly was a huge popular and critical success for Cronenberg, earning many accolades, including an Oscar for Best Special Effects/Makeup and a shared jury Prize at the Avoriaz Festival. A remake of the 1958 horror classic, Cronenberg's The Fly was a reconceptualization of the original, and was successful as a horror-fantasy film and as a compelling love story
Next came Dead Ringers starring Jeremy Irons and Genevieve Bujold, a psychological thriller about inseparable twin brothers who work as gynecologists and love the same woman, with tragic results. The film was a departure for Cronenberg who described it as more naturalistic. Nonetheless, Dead Ringers continued Cronenberg's fascination with the darker side of human psychology and behavior. Dead Ringers won accolades from the L.A. film critics for Best Director
In 1989, Cronenberg began writing the screenplay for his version of William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch. For artistic and practical reasons, Naked Lunch was not a literal translation, but a fusion of Cronenberg's own work with that of Burroughs'. Shot in Toronto in 1991, the film starred Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael ZeIniker and Roy Scheider.
Drawing on Burroughs' counterculture novel and other Burroughsian sources for the script, Naked Lunch is about the act of writing something dangerous and complex and how it affects the person writing it.
In 1992, Cronenberg directed M. Butterfly, starring Jeremy Irons and John Lone, adapted from the Tony-Ward winning Broadway hit based on the true story of a French diplomat, who, for 20 years, was so obsessed with a Chinese diva from the Beijing Opera, he could not discern that the object of his love was really a man. But when they were arrested for espionage, he was forced to face reality. M. Butterfly took Cronenberg abroad for the first time to film in China, Hungary, France as well as Canada.
The same year, Naked Lunch won eight Genie Awards including Best Motion Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. In addition, The National Society of Film critics voted Cronenberg Best Director and his script, Best Screenplay. The New York Film Critics' Circle awarded him Best Screenplay and Naked Lunch earned a third Best Screenplay award from The Boston Society of Film Critics.
Cronenberg next adapted Crash from J.G. Ballard's cataclysmic novel, Crash, starring Holly Hunter, James Spader, Elias Koteas, Deborah Unger and Rosanna Arquette. A film about technology and eroticism, Crash created international controversy, went on to win the Jury Prize in Cannes Film Festival, 1996 for "Audacity, Daring, and Originality" and collected five Canadian Genies for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Sound Editing. In addition it won the Golden Reel Award for the Canadian film with the highest Canadian box-office gross.
In 1995, Cronenberg wrote eXistenZ, inspired by an interview with author Salman Rushdie, which triggered the idea of an artist who suddenly finds him/herself on a hit list and forced to flee into hiding. He made the hero a game designer thinking that game design could possibly ascend to the level of art. Jennifer Jason Leigh stars as the game designer opposite Jude Law as a novice security guard who links into Leigh's world. Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm, Sarah Polley, Don McKellar and Callum Keith Rennie play various heroes and villains who weave in and out of the game.
eXistenZ went on to win a Silver Bear at the 1999 Berlin International Film Festival for Outstanding Artistic Achievement and a Genie Award for editing in addition to Golden Berlin Bear, Catalonian International Film Festival Best Film, Saturn Award and Golden Reel nominations.
His next film, the powerful psychological thriller, Spider, starred leading British actor Ralph Fiennes in the title role, with 10-year-old newcomer Bradley Hall playing Spider as a young boy. The stellar supporting cast included Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne, Lynn Redgrave and John Neville. Acclaimed novelist Patrick McGrath adapted the screenplay from his own novel.
Cronenberg has also acted in a number of other films as a way to reconnect with being on a film set during the isolated periods at home when he's writing screenplays. He had cameo roles in John Landis' Into the Night, The Dead Zone, The Fly and as a Mafia hitman in Gus Van Sant's To Die For. He starred in Clive Barker's Nightbreed and played a moonshiner in Moonshine Highway for Andy Armstrong, appeared in Trial by Jury with Armand Assante and in John Landis' The Stupids. He also had roles in the Canadian films Henry and Verlin, Blood and Donuts, Don McKellar's Last Night after playing the lead in McKellar's short film Blue. He also appeared in Russell Mulcahy's Resurrection, Mike Garris' The Judge and James Isaac's Jason X.
Chris Bender & JC Spink (Producers) Chris Bender and J. C. Spink are partners in Benderspink, a diversified management & production company that opened its doors in November 1998 with fifteen screenwriting clients. In just over a year, Chris Bender and J.C. Spink sold twenty-four client spec scripts, co-produced Universal Pictures' American Pie and convinced Disney executives to take a chance on a first-time director for Deuce Bigalow. Male Gigolo. On the heels of such success, New Line Cinema signed Benderspink to a first-look deal.
Since inception, the company has expanded its literary and talent management divisions and moved into television by inking a first-look deal with Fox 21.
Benderspink continues to make diverse feature films and retains their deal with New Line Cinema. Over the past six years, Chris Bender and J.C. Spink have had success with Warner Bros' Cats and Dogs, New Line's The Butterfly Effect, Dreamworks' The Ring and Universal's American Pie 2 and American Wedding.
Bender and Spink have produced five features that are slated for a 2005 release. In addition to A History of Violence, they also have the romantic comedy Just Friends starring Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Chris Klein and Anna Farris directed by Roger Kumble; the Dreamworks' horror film The Ring 2 featuring Naomi Watts; the romantic comedy Monster In Law featuring Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Michael Vartan and the return of Jane Fonda directed by Robert Luketic; and Red Eye directed by Wes Craven starring Rachel McAdams.
Peter Suschitzky (Director of Photography) A History of Violence marks Peter Suschitzky's seventh film with Director David Cronenberg, three of which won him Genie Awards for Best Cinematography: Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch and Crash. In addition he photographed Spider, eXistenZ, and M. Butterfly.
Suschitzky has worked on over forty films as director of photography in his career. Most recently, Suschitzky shot Anand Tucker's Shopgirl starring Steve Martin, from the novel of the same name, written by Martin. Among his other credits are Anthony Hoffman's Red Planet, Tim Burton's Mars Attacks starring Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan and Danny DeVito; and Randall Wallace's The Man in the Iron Mask starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, Gerard Depardieu, John Malkovich and Gabriel Byrne. His other credits include Immortal Beloved starring Isabella Rosselini and Gary Oldham, filmed in Prague under the direction of Bernard Rose for Columbia Pictures. He earned plaudits early on in his career working on the cult hit The Rocky Horror Picture Show directed by Jim Sharman, and on the classic The Empire Strikes Back directed by Irvin Kershner, both for 20th Century Fox.
Suschitzky has photographed numerous other features films in Europe and North America working with such eminent directors as John Boorman for whom he lensed Leo the Last and Where the Heart Is which earned him a Best Photography vote by the National Society of Film Critics. Additional credits include Privilege, Charlie Bubbles, Ken Russell's Valentino; Falling in Love, directed by Ulu Grosbard for Paramount; and The Vanishing, directed by George Sluizer starring Kiefer Sutherland and Jeff Bridges.
Born in London in 1940 of a Hungarian mother and Austrian father (Cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky), Suschitzky was raised in London. Although music was his passion, he decided that cinematography would become his profession. After studying his trade in Paris at I'IDHEC (Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinématographiques), he became a clapper boy at age 19 and a cameraman at 21, spending a year in South America shooting documentaries before shooting his first feature film at age 22-- the youngest cameraman ever to shoot a feature picture in Britain (It Happened Here). In addition he is an avid photographer, having had exhibitions in London and Los Angeles.
Carol Spier (Production Designer) Carol Spier is perhaps best known for her longtime association with director David Cronenberg, Her collaborations with Cronenberg include eXistenZ, Crash, M. Butterfly, Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers, The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome, Scanners, The Brood and Fast Company as well as two television docudramas for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC) Scales of Justice. She received Genie Awards (Canadian Oscars) for both Naked Lunch and Dead Ringers and Genie nominations for The Brood, Videodrome, Scanners and eXistenZ.
Her numerous other feature film credits include The Man, The League of
Extraordinary Gentlemen, Noel, Mimic, Joe's Apartment, The Santa Clause, Canadian Bacon, Consenting Adults, Where The Heart Is, Renegades, Sing, Search and Destroy, Running Brave and I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses which, in 1976, marked her first film as a production designer.
For television, Spier designed the PBS/CBC series Anne of Green Gables, for which she won a Gemini Award (Canada's Emmy Award) for Best Art Direction, Showtime's Gotham, for which she received a nomination for an ACE award for best Art Direction, the CBS movie-of-the-week Escape From Iran; and the PBS/American Playhouse production of Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.
Spier is Canadian-born and studied Interior Design at the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Architecture. She began her professional career as an interior designer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. During this period she also worked as a set and costume Designer with various theater groups, including the Manitoba Theater Center.
She began her motion picture career with The Mourning Suit, on which she served as set designer, set dresser, and property master. She then moved to Toronto, where she worked as an assistant art director on several feature films, including Equus and Why Shoot the Teacher, before serving as art director on such films as Norman Jewison's Agnes of God and John Schlesinger's The Believers.
Ronald Sanders (Editor) A History of Violence marks Ronald Sander's twelfth film for David Cronenberg. Previously he edited Spider, eXistenZ, Crash, M. Butterfly, Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers, The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome, Scanners and Fast Company.
Most recently he edited The Limb Salesman, directed by Anais Granofsky, screened at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, and Zeyda and the Hitman, directed by Melanie Mayron for CTV/Miracle Pictures. Among his other credits are Norman Jewison's Dinner with Friends for HBO; lain Paterson's Hidden Agenda and Sturla Gunnarson's Joe Torre. Among his feature film other credits are [iJohnny Mnemonic, Firestarter, Perfectly Normal and The Gate II.
For television Sanders edited episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Phillip Marlow Private Eye, the mini-series Mariah State, HBO's A Month of Sundays, The Park is Mine and, more recently Lamont Johnston's All The Winters That Have Been for CBS and Daniel Petrie Jr.s' Dead Silence for HBO.
Born in Winnipeg where his father was a projectionist, Sanders was imbued with film from an early age. After graduating with a B.A. from St. John's College, University of Manitoba, he moved to Toronto where he edited documentaries, and began working on feature films as a sound editor.
Denise Cronenberg (Costume Designer) Denise Cronenberg has created the costumes for seven previous David Cronenberg pictures: The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly, eXistenZ, Crash and Spider.
Most recently she designed the costumes for the box office hit, Dawn of the Dead. Her other credits include The Caveman's Valentine, starring Samuel L. Jackson; Avenging Angelo, starring Sylvester Stallone, Madeleine Stowe and Anthony Quinn; Bless the Child, with Kim Bassinger, The Third Miracle starring Ed Harris and Anne Heche directed by Agnieska Holland and Dracula 2000 with Christopher Plummer. Her additional features include 20th Century Fox' A Cool, Dry Place starring Vince Vaughn, Monica Potter and Joey Lauren Adams; Warner Bros.' Murder at 1600 with Wesley Snipes, Diane Lane, Alan Alda and Dennis Miller; Moonlight and Valentino starring Whoopi Goldberg, Elizabeth Perkins Kathleen Turner and Gwyneth Paltrow, and three HBO movies: Rebound starring Don Cheadle, Forest Whittaker and James Earl Jones, Mistrial with Bill Pullman, Robert Loggia and Blair Underwood and Sugartime, starring John Turturro and Mary Louise Parker.
Cronenberg studied ballet from age 13 in her native Toronto and later graduated from Ryerson Polytech where she majored in radio and television arts. She began her career as a ballet dancer, training with The American Ballet Theatre before joining the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. She also worked as a dancer on variety shows on CBC TV for 15 years before switching careers to design her own line of clothes for adults and children for five years. She moved on to costume design in 1983, training as wardrobe designer on Videodrome and working as wardrobe mistress on The Dead Zone.
Howard Shore (Composer) Howard Shore's longstanding collaboration with David Cronenberg has produced the scores to eleven films -The Brood (1979), Scanners (1980), Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), Naked Lunch (1990), M. Butterfly (1993), Crash (1996), eXistenZ (1999), Spider (2002) and A History of Violence (2005). Shore won the Genie Award for Cronenberg's Dead Ringers as well as The Flanders Film Festival Award for the music for Spider. Shore has said that his writing for the films of David Cronenberg has been the foundation for all of his film music compositions.
Composer Howard Shore's score and song for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won not only two Academy Awards but two Golden Globes as well. In the Best Song category, Shore, with his co-writers Annie Lennox and Fran Walsh, took home the statuette for "Into the West," which was sung by Annie Lennox. The Best Score Oscar went to the entire film score. The soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and the song "Into the West" both won Grammy Awards this year. Various groups of critics, such as the Broadcast Film Critics, Chicago Film Critics, Online Film Critics Society and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society also honored Shore last spring. The year prior he won Grammy Awards for his work on the previous Rings film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and received a Grammy nomination for Gangs of New York. Shore was also nominated for a BAFTA award for that score. In 2002, Howard Shore received top honors - both an Oscar and a Grammy (Best Original Score) - for The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. That score also received awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics, the Chicago Film Critics and the Broadcast Film Critics.
The soundtracks for The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King have sold more than six million albums worldwide since their releases in 2001, 2002 and 2003 respectively. The UK's Classic FM voted The Lord of the Rings soundtracks, the Best Film Score of All Time for two consecutive years.
Shore has composed more than 60 film scores. Shore's most recent collaboration with Martin Scorsese, The Aviator, won this year's Golden Globe for Best Original Score. His outstanding work includes The Silence Of The Lambs and Philadelphia, directed by Jonathan Demme; Ed Wood, directed by Tim Burton; Seven, The Game and Panic Room, all directed by David Fincher; and both Gangs of New York and After Hours, directed by Martin Scorsese. Other films include the well loved comedies Analyze This, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Big. His upcoming film projects include King Kong, another collaboration with Peter Jackson,
Shore has been honored with three BAFTA nominations in Great Britain, a Gotham Award in New York, the Saturn Award for Science Fiction, a Genie Award in Canada, and two World Soundtrack Awards in Belgium.
Shore conducted the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in the world premiere of his work, The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus in Wellington, New Zealand, in November 2003. Shore is currently touring the symphony, conducting performances in communities all over the world. Each of the symphony's six movements corresponds to a book within J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, The concerts feature over two hundred onstage performers, including large orchestra, adult and boy choruses, and numerous vocal and instrumental soloists. The symphony has been performed in cities including Antwerp, London, Chicago, Tokyo, Philadelphia, Seville, Sydney, Moscow, and many more.
Howard Shore received his formal musical education at Boston's world famous Berklee School of Music. He recorded with the group Lighthouse from 1969 to 1972, and was the original musical director of Saturday Night Live, where he worked with his lifelong friend Lorne Michaels between 1975 and 1980.
Josh Olson (Screenwriter) Josh Olson spent several years working in a variety of positions on feature films before turning to screenwriting, writing scripts for various independent production companies. In 2000, Olson wrote and directed Housesitters, a series of very short, very funny movies about a pair of stoners with too much time on their hands. He managed to bring five of the shorts in on a budget of less than $70.00 (not a typo), and Puppy Love, the first film in the series, was selected to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2001.
The shorts led, in turn, to the feature Infested, which was shot for a little under a million dollars in 23 days. Not just a financial success, Infested also garnered terrific critical response, In an all out rave, the world-renowned drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs said, "this flick has some of the funniest gore effects since The Evil Dead." Critic John Dedeke wrote, "Writer/director rector Josh Olson has created a completely unexpected modern B-movie masterpiece with Infested, which both employs and breaks all the rules of the genre at the same time." And Variety's review was another unequivocal thumbs up, calling the movie, "A fun, cheapo horror romp that makes no claims to profundity, but displays truly acerbic wit and a deep conversance with the genre."
In late 2002, Olson sold the original script Three Gun Blues to Paramount, with producer Gale Ann Hurd attached. He followed that up with the screen adaptation of the graphic novel A History of Violence for New Line. He is currently working on a western for Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, and is writing a haunted house script for New Line.