MAX movie starring Josh Wiggins, Lauren Graham & Thomas Haden Church is releasing across cinemas in India on July 3rd, 2015.
From Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures comes “Max,” a family action adventure from writer/director Boaz Yakin (“Remember the Titans,” “Fresh”).
A precision-trained military dog, Max serves on the frontlines in Afghanistan alongside his handler, U.S. Marine Kyle Wincott. But when things go terribly wrong on maneuvers, Kyle is mortally wounded and Max, traumatized by the loss of his best friend, is unable to remain in service.
Sent stateside, the only human he seems willing to connect with is Kyle’s teenage brother, Justin, so Max is saved when he is adopted by Kyle’s family. But Justin has issues of his own, including living up to his father’s expectations, and he isn’t interested in taking responsibility for his brother’s troubled dog. However, Max may be Justin’s only chance to discover what really happened to his brother that day on the front, and with the help of Carmen, a tough-talking young teen who has a way with dogs, Justin begins to appreciate his canine companion.
Justin’s growing trust in Max helps the four-legged veteran revert back to his heroic self, and as the pair race to unravel the mystery, they find more excitement—and danger—than they bargained for. But they each might also find an unlikely new best friend…in each other.
“Max” stars Josh Wiggins (“Hellion”) as Justin Wincott, Lauren Graham (TV’s “Parenthood”) as his mom, Pamela, and Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church (“Sideways”) as his dad, Ray.
Yakin directed the film from a screenplay he wrote with Sheldon Lettich (“Rambo III,” “Double Impact”). Karen Rosenfelt (“Marley & Me,” the “Twilight” series) and Ken Blancato (“The Book Thief”) produced the film, with Ben Ormand and Yakin serving as executive producers.
Yakin’s behind-the-scenes creative team included director of photography Stefan Czapsky (“Safe”), production designer Kalina Ivanov (“The Vow,” “Little Miss Sunshine”), editor Bill Pankow (“The Untouchables,” “Let’s Be Cops”) and costume designer Ellen Lutter (“Grown Ups,” “50 First Dates”). The music is by Trevor Rabin (“Grudge Match,” “Remember the Titans”).
Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures present, a Sunswept Entertainment production, a Boaz Yakin movie, “Max.” The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company and MGM.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
My brother said Max was a specialized
Search dog, could go out three hundred
yards in front of his handler to look for
explosives and weapons.
When Max lost his handler, he lost his
anchor. He bonded so closely with him.
He ate, fought, slept at his side.
Best Friend. Hero. Marine.
“When people connect with an animal there’s a primal bond that often goes beyond what we experience with other people,” says Boaz Yakin, the co-writer/director/executive producer of “Max.” That was the initial inspiration for the movie, which follows the journey of a military working dog (MWD) whose U.S. Marine handler loses his life in Afghanistan. Traumatized, the dog is adopted by the family the Marine left behind.
Yakin, a self-proclaimed dog-lover attests, “I wanted to tell a story that was emotional and heightened, while still keeping it rooted in reality.” He turned to longtime friend Sheldon Lettich, who co-wrote the screenplay.
“Sheldon is a Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran and brought in the idea of using MWD’s. These dogs risk their lives, or have their lives put at risk, going far ahead of their units in order to literally smell out danger,” he adds.
That instinct was reinforced when Yakin and Lettich watched one of the many viral videos of MWDs lying mournfully beside their handler’s casket at their funerals, loyal to the end and beyond. Such videos have touched a deep chord in millions of viewers around the world.
Lettich shares, “When we saw the video of the MWD grieving over his partner, we knew that was the core of our canine hero.”
The decision to make Max a Belgian Malinois, instead of a more familiar breed such as a German Shepherd, was informed by the fact that the Malinois has become the breed of choice to serve as MWDs for military forces and law enforcement agencies across the United States and throughout the world. Leaner than a German Shepherd, the highly focused dogs, when trained, can smell drugs and bombs and find bodies. They can be deadly and are trusted to guard the White House and the President of the United States.
Before writing, Yakin and Lettich observed the dogs in action at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base K9 Unit in California. Driven to hunt and capture prey, the Malinois has a 270-degree field of vision and the force of its bite equals 1,400 pounds per square inch. It can run 30 miles per hour and withstand the heat of the desert.
But what happens when a MWD is unable to work anymore due to injuries, stress or trauma, which can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Thanks to Robby’s Law, which went into effect in 2000, MWDs are no longer simply euthanized. They can be adopted by their handlers or other former handlers.
They also found that some MWDs have also been adopted by the civilian families of dog handlers who had been killed in either Iraq or Afghanistan. That interested Lettich, who has also owned several Belgian Malinois, and knows from personal experience that the breed is highly energetic, intelligent, and extremely task-oriented. “It’s like a human coming back, it’s an adjustment. We wanted to follow a fictional dog home stateside after his handler’s death and see where that took the dog—and the family,” he explains.
Producers Karen Rosenfelt and Ken Blancato were intrigued by the idea of a retired military search dog and the family who takes him in, and how the unlikely strangers interact to get past their loss.
Rosenfelt comments, “After reading the screenplay, we knew it was a film that we wanted to produce. It’s an adventure story with a strong familial underpinning that is very moving.”
The producers had also admired Yakin’s films throughout the years and felt he could best translate the story from page to screen. “We were excited that Boaz really had a vision for the film,” offers Blancato. “There’s action and it really keeps moving but there are a lot of warm, heartfelt moments as well.”
Part of that vision was upping the stakes for Max, the title character, who, after losing his handler, Kyle, on the battle front finds a new friend in Kyle’s younger brother, Justin, on the home front.
Life after the U.S. Marine Corps is an adjustment for the elite, trained canines, but in Max’s case, it is particularly difficult. The trauma he faced in Afghanistan has not only left Max with PTSD, but the mystery of what happened to Max and Kyle that day inadvertently entangles Justin and his friends in a dangerous situation that escalates quickly, and tests Max and Justin’s fragile new relationship.
“The military aside, people connect with dogs so strongly,” says Yakin. “We often are able to relate to animals, and allow ourselves to be vulnerable with animals, in a way that we don’t with people.”
He continues, “Max became a metaphor for loss and for getting this family to understand and deal with that loss. And to discover what they need to do in order to reconnect with each other.”
Guess I’m not a hero, like Kyle and you.
A hero tells the truth no matter what
people think about him. You’ve always
Military handlers and their dogs are in it together. The oath says it all: Where I go, my dog goes. Where my dog goes, I go. But for Max, the problem is he can’t go where Kyle goes anymore. Sent back to the U.S., Max is between worlds, no longer doing the job he is trained for and unfamiliar with life in a domestic setting.
Yakin notes, “Usually there is a 12 to 18 month waiting list for a civilian to adopt a retired MWD, but in our film we take some dramatic license. You usually have to jump through a lot of paperwork and hoops, even if you are a relative.”
Although his handler’s family wants to take him home, Max is uncertain how to interact in his new setting. He doesn’t trust anyone. His handler’s younger brother, Justin, is just as distrustful of the dog his parents put in his care.
That’s where their bond—and their adventure—begins. “They don’t realize it, but they have so much in common. They both feel isolated,” Yakin states.
The filmmakers cast Josh Wiggins as Justin. “Josh is terrific,” Yakin acknowledges. “He was immediately able to walk in Justin’s shoes. He’s very comfortable with the animals and he’s a very natural, truthful actor with an instinctive sense of what works. He was able to really ground the film.”
Wiggins immediately related to the story. He not only hails from Texas, where the film is set, but has a brother who served in the army, three dogs at home, and a father who trains bomb-sniffing dogs for the Houston Police Department.
The young actor describes Justin as “a rebellious kid. Justin feels like his older brother was the trophy son and he’s overshadowed by him, so he sees himself as the outcast in the family. I think he resents his dad because his dad was a soldier, and that inspired Kyle to go into the Marine Corps. Now that Kyle is gone, Justin blames Ray in a way.”
Yakin adds, “Justin and Ray have a contentious relationship. He feels the expectations are being placed on him to live up to his father’s and brother’s ideal. He’s trying to figure out his own way and separate himself from their orbit.”
Wiggins agrees. “Justin is so unlike Kyle and so unlike Ray and doesn’t want to be what his dad wants him to be. So they clash in that regard. He wants to make his dad mad so he revolts, but he doesn’t really think about the risks involved.”
Thomas Haden Church stars as Ray, who is grieving the loss of the son who followed in his footsteps as a Marine, and having a hard time dealing with the son at home who overtly tries not to be anything like him.
“It was important that Ray have an authoritative sensibility, but also undercurrents that indicate he never quite figured his life out. He’s a frustrated ex-Marine,” notes Yakin.
Like Wiggins, Church, also a Texan, related to his character. “My dad was in the military and wounded in combat, so I drew from that. He was always looking at things from a tactical vantage point,” he shares. “Ray was wounded in Desert Storm and he carries that identity around. He’s not the most personable guy. Add to that a major shift in this nuclear family unit and suddenly no one has the old machine to rely on in relating with the other members of the family.”
Yakin says, “Sometimes you find someone and honestly can’t picture anyone else playing the role. That’s how I felt about Thomas playing Ray. He has a unique combination of vulnerability and gruff power that you see at the same time.”
The complete opposite of her husband, Pamela Wincott is the glue that’s keeping what’s left of the family together.
Lauren Graham, who stars as Pamela, was intrigued by her character, a woman who has suffered the ultimate loss—the loss of a child, with no one to comfort her. “She is in the middle, a difficult position,” Graham relates. “Ray can’t communicate and Justin is hiding behind his video games and his bad attitude. Their connection is there, but they have to be vulnerable enough to reach out and say, ‘I need you.’ She gives them a little push, but it’s definitely their process.”
“Lauren is great, she’s such a pro,” Yakin says of Graham. “She knows how to access her emotions in a very direct way. And she manages to bring a sense of humor to whatever she does. She’s playing a woman who doesn’t necessarily express herself through humor, but Lauren loosened her up.”
Graham describes Max as “the last piece of Pamela’s son. That’s why it’s so important for Pamela to keep him safe and in the family. It’s all she has left of Kyle, whether it’s rational or not. Max challenges Justin to stop rebelling just to rebel, to grow up and take care of somebody else.”
Church adds, “They are already struggling as a family and then a new element comes in, this dog. It complicates the dynamics.”
In more than one way.
Justin is having a hard time handling Max, who is also displaying behavior that speaks to his underlying trauma, such as aggression and hyper-sensitivity to loud noises. Whatever transpired that day in Afghanistan unsettled Max to his core, and no one has been able to connect with him to figure it out or help him work through it…until Justin.
Wiggins says, “To me, Max is symbolic of Justin’s brother, Kyle. He has Kyle’s character traits of honor and loyalty, and he teaches Justin to have honor and to be loyal. The closer Justin gets to Max the closer he feels to Kyle and the better he understands why Kyle wanted to be a Marine, and why he left Justin to serve his country.”
Part of Justin’s rebellion involves bootlegging video games and selling them to his friend Chuy’s thug cousin. Dejon LaQuake plays Chuy, who LaQuake describes as “the middle man. Chuy’s family is more in the hood whereas Justin is more suburban. He’s funny and cool and has Justin’s back.”
He’s also somewhat of a third wheel when Justin meets Chuy’s other cousin…a tomboy who has been kicked out of her house and is sleeping on Chuy’s couch. Mia Xitlali plays Carmen, who has a way with dogs…and Justin. “All she’s ever known, growing up, was dogs—rescuing strays, and training them, which she learned from her own brother,” Xitlali explains.
She’s tough on the outside, but when she and Justin meet, there are sparks, although neither will admit it. Xitlali says, “Justin has no idea what to think. She has a bike, she’s hanging with the guys, definitely not a girly girl. She challenges him and he doesn’t know how to respond to that. Carmen and Justin relate because she also has no one to really turn to, no guidance, no one she can really relate to except animals.”
Yakin says, “Xitlali was great. Carmen, Justin and Chuy are an interesting trio of friends going through what teens go through and she brought a lot to that. She was also a natural with the dogs.”
Carmen shows Justin how to gain Max’s trust and train him. “She realizes it’s time to be leader of the pack and show the boys how it’s done, “Xitlali smiles. “She knows Justin really wants to get to know Max because it’s all he has left of his brother.”
Just when Max seems to become calmer, the arrival of Kyle’s fellow soldier Tyler Harne re-triggers Max’s PTSD. Justin, too, becomes agitated because Tyler has the easy relationship with Ray that Kyle had, reinforcing Justin’s feeling that he is the outcast in the family.
Tyler comes back from Afghanistan—wounded—so now he and Ray have another bond: they’re both wounded soldiers. Yakin observes, “They can relate on a whole new level. And that adds another layer of frustration for Justin, and puts another kink in the family dynamic.”
Luke Kleintank plays Tyler, who was not only Kyle’s best friend but joined the Marines with him and served in the same unit. “Kyle was the good boy. Tyler was the bad boy. I think he always wanted to be like him, that’s why he was over at Kyle’s house a lot with the family. That was essentially something he yearned for and never got in his own family,” says Kleintank.
Rounding out the human cast are Robbie Amell as Kyle Wincott; Jay Hernandez as Sgt. Reyes of the Marine K9 unit; Owen Harn as local law enforcement official, Deputy Stack; and Joseph Julian Soria as Emilio, Chuy’s cousin, and the gang member whose illegal activities cause trouble for Justin and his friends.
And then there’s Max.
Dogs are pretty good judges of character.
MWD’s are elite soldiers with specific skills. In fact, they are given a rank above their handlers. The filmmakers wanted to make sure the dogs in the film could convincingly represent the military canine skills on screen.
“The first and foremost task was to hire a great animal coordinator, and Mark Forbes is just that,” states Yakin. Animals were provided by Birds & Animals Unlimited, Inc. Forbes’ team included Raymond Beal, Mathilde DeCagny, OJ Knighten, April Mackin and Larry Payne, all of whom helped train and handle the dogs.
“We’re a pathway of communication between the director and the animal. We find out what he wants early on, and begin the training before filming starts,” says Forbes. “The direction may be written: ‘the dog comes in the door and lies down on the couch.’ Well, is he coming in happy? Is he coming in sad? Do you want him to do anything once he gets to the couch? It’s all those kind of questions. We have to know ahead of time because I can’t just tell the dog on the day, ‘Here’s what I want you to do.’ Or show him a script. It may take the trainer a month to train him to do it in the way the director wants him to do it.”
Yakin says, “It’s extremely technical working with dogs in film. You are really interfacing with incredible trainers to achieve what you want. Mark and his team were amazing and I don’t think people realize how skillful you have to be in order to get a real performance out of an animal. They did a fantastic job. Their symbiosis with the animals and ability to get them to do exactly what we needed them to do, when we needed them to do it, was amazing.”
Forbes comments, “I’ve done a lot of dog movies, but this one had so much for the dogs to do. I think there was maybe one day that we weren’t on set. And when we were on set, we were also doubling up with second unit. Luckily, the Malinois have a motor that doesn’t stop. They need a job. They are very honest dogs and they want to do it right. It’s been a really great breed to work with.”
Retired Marine Corps Major Rich Bourgeois, who was hired as a military advisor by the filmmakers, observes, “I served a tour in Iraq and I’ve seen some dogs work. There’s a bond that the handlers have with their dogs that’s second to none because they’re with each other 24/7. And they know what makes each other tick. They know what mood each one is in, if they’re nervous or if they’re relaxed. And you need to have that mix, so when there’s danger in the area you can tell just by looking at the dog: the way he stands, the way he’s breathing, the way he’s looking.
“The dogs in ‘Max’ are the same kind of dogs and true to form,” he continues. “They are highly trained. They don’t whine. These Malinois work hard and their handlers work hard with them. I was impressed.”
It was important Max’s markings allow for his expressive face to be seen because so much would need to be emoted through his eyes. While the classic Malinois has more of a mask, Yakin wanted one that had less black around the face.
Having worked with Forbes on “Marley and Me,” Rosenfelt was confident he and his team would deliver. “He finds and trains the best dogs and his humanity with the animals brings the best atmosphere to making the film,” she attests.
Forbes searched nationwide for a young canine that could be trained and had that specific look. He found a 2 year old dog in Kentucky, named Carlos, who was lovable, curious, and so focused he had been named after Carlos Hatchcock, the Vietnam War sniper who had 93 confirmed kills and was known for his incredible concentration.
Forbes flew to Liberty Dog Camp in Kentucky to put the dog through some paces and decided Carlos was trainable. He sent photos of Carlos back to Yakin, and Yakin flew to meet the dog. “I loved him,” says the director. “He was our Max. He got all the close-ups and is the face everybody will recognize.”
Next, Forbes had to find stunt doubles for Max. “Each of the dogs is proficient at different things and were used for that specific behavior. But because the film is so dog intense, they were also cross-trained and switched out to ensure their health and safety,” explains Forbes. For example, when it got too hot out, or when a dog had exerted himself enough.
Pax and Jagger were used almost as much as Carlos, because, says Forbes, “there’s so much action in this film that three or four dogs are required to play the lead part. For instance, Jagger did the scene in the cage when Max gets upset and backs away from Justin.
Dude was chosen because he is a great stunt dog who can jump over fences and knock guys down. Chaos was chosen to run. “He’s the fastest we have and sometimes the camera couldn’t keep up with him,” Forbes attests. Pilot was chosen for her youthful exuberance.
In addition to the Belgian Malinois, the script called for two Rottweilers. Atlas plays Draco, the predominant foe Max comes up against in an effort to protect Justin and his family. Atlas runs with another Rottweiler, named Loki, portrayed by Odin. The Rottweilers also had doubles so the dogs could be switched out and rest. Ebony doubled as Draco; Loki’s doubles were Ursa and Greta.
And last, but not least, Ruscoe, Angel, Daisy, Dane, Mo-Mo and Blaster portray very engaging Chihuahuas that Carmen has rescued and trained.
Once the dogs were cast, Forbes and his team started working with all the canines about sixteen weeks ahead of principal photography. And, while he enjoys all the breeds, Forbes says of the Belgian Malinois, “They are incredible and the most athletic dog I have been around. Malinois have three drives, each to a different degree: hunt, prey and defense. Trainers use the hunt drive to teach the scent, and the prey drive for the attack work. Defense is barking, holding their ground. For the film, we’re teaching them to sit, stay, go hit your mark, look at the actor—very trained and very specific, intricate behavior, whereas in military and police work they’re actually teaching them to do a job, like sniffing bombs.”
In the film, Max is a specialized search dog. A MWD with this specific skill is trained to go out 300 yards in front of his handler off leash. Forbes and his team worked for a month on just the basics to prepare the dogs to work off leash like a MWD.
Training extended to the actors as well, to teach them how to work with the dogs. “For us it’s always a very collaborative thing,” says Forbes. “To make it look real, we need the actor after every scene to recreate it again for us and ‘pay’ the dog, so that the dog starts to relate to the actor.”
Wiggins worked with the animal trainers on the film to learn how to motivate the dog in each scene, and how to reward him. “You put a treat up on your forehead so the dog will make eye contact with you and then you feed the dog,” the actor details. “These dogs are geniuses. They are so well trained, they are amazing. We had so much trust in them and in the trainers.”
He laughs, adding, “Sometimes when the dog was off camera, they would put a big stuffed animal for me to react to instead, which was weird, but funny.”
Additionally, Wiggins accompanied his father to the Houston Police Department dog training facility and ran with the dogs who were training in the bomb scenarios to get more comfortable with how they worked. “It was really cool,” he relates.
Forbes felt the young actors were well-prepared and did a great job with their four-legged co-stars. “To be honest, it’s hard to act with an animal in a scene because we’re over there making gestures, being in eye-lines and talking to the dog and sometimes talking over lines,” Forbes explains. “Josh was so gracious. He was great with the dogs, and so was Mia. Her character is somewhat of a dog whisperer, so we worked with Mia early on and spent quite a bit of time with her and the dogs so she felt comfortable. The dogs really took to her.”
Mia particularly bonded with Carlos. “Working with the dogs just added to the fun of doing the film,” says Xitlali. “I love dogs, so seeing all the different dogs and how they work was cool. They all have their unique personalities, and Carlos was just a sweetheart. We became besties during rehearsals.”
Aside from the training, Forbes and his staff also made sure all the canines’ needs were well cared for, including setting up their own kennel on location, and building their own dog runs.
Another issue was making sure the dogs were taken care of in the heat. Shooting conditions were not ideal due to inordinately high temperatures, and the team very often coped with severe weather conditions.
“We had a tent set up with air conditioning, so that as soon as a scene was done we’d take the dog in,” says Forbes. “We also had our vans close by and they were always running the air conditioning; we could put the dogs inside for awhile to cool their body temperatures back down.”
Ron Simons was the animal and safety representative for The American Humane Association. “This set was extraordinary,” he states. “Both the director and the second unit director are very animal-conscious and both bent over backwards to make sure that the animals’ comfort was taken into consideration. The cast and crew was also incredible. There was quite a bond between them and the animals.”
In the story, as Max begins to trust Justin and bond with him, the dog’s instinct to protect and serve resurfaces—and he does just that, defending Justin and his family. One sequence in particular shows the loyalty Max has begun to feel for them, though, ironically, the filming of it was anything but defensive in terms of the animals’ behavior.
Forbes describes the scene, in which Max is fighting the gang-owned Rotweillers to protect Justin and his family, as “play fighting.” Pilot, the female Malinois and Odin, the Rottweiler, simulated the fighting. “Pilot was about 9 months old and Odin was about a year-and-a-half old, and they just loved each other and loved to play. Dogs tussle when they play; they roll around and are expressive with their teeth and mouth. If you lay in the right sound effects to that, it looks and sounds like a ferocious dog fight, when in reality they are just doing what they do in the dog run every day. Having fun.”
Every time I’m in trouble, Max takes
the fight away from me to keep me safe.
“Max” takes place in Lufkin, Texas, on the outskirts of San Antonio, near Lackland Air Force Base where MWDs are initially trained. However, filming actually took place in North Carolina, with production based in and around Charlotte. The small town of Lincolnton doubled for Lufkin, where several scenes play out, including the Fourth of July parade on Main Street.
To lens the film, Yakin turned to director of photography Stefan Czapsky, with whom he had previously worked on the action thriller “Safe.” Czapsky notes, “I’m proud of the photography we accomplished, especially with the dogs and the outdoor action scenes required. It’s a nice balance to the interior drama, which was shot in lots of small spaces. Working with Boaz is great; he is very organized and plans out his shots and editing. He knew exactly what he wanted.”
Yakin also brought production designer Kalina Ivanov on board. A large portion of the practical location needs were fulfilled in and around Charlotte and Gastonia, including the Newell Baptist Church, which was the setting for the moving funeral where Max grieves the loss of his handler, Kyle. Ivanov’s team built the cemetery for the scene. They also dressed Newell Elementary School as an animal hospital and a private residence as the Wincott family home. Chuy’s home was found in Gastonia, as was the storage facility that Ray owns and runs.
Scenes at the Lackland Base, the kennels and the training course were all accomplished at Lincoln County Regional Airport in Iron Station. The company travelled to DuPont State Park in the state’s Cedar Mountain for the waterfalls needed for filming of a seminal action scene in the forest, as well as the campground lot and campsite. They went to Elkin for another action-packed sequence at the railroad bridge at Burch Station Trestle.
To facilitate the extreme biking scenes in the film, the production used land at Latta Plantation in Huntersville, and in Lincolnton, as well as a forest ridge and path at Crowder’s Mountain in Kings Mountain.
Ivanov and her team built the bike park seen in the film. “We wanted to create the illusion that the kids had built the structures themselves,” she says. “I worked with our painters and carpenters, and we used different materials and introduced bleached colors into every ramp. Everyone got into the fun. One of the carpenters found a painted cutout of a clown in the garbage and brought it to the set. We immediately incorporated it into the design.”
The next step was to test all the ramps with the stunt bikers and adjust the heights or reinforce the structures for safety. Doug Coleman was Yakin’s second unit director and stunt choreographer. “Doug worked very closely with me to determine the style of what we were going to shoot and how we were going to shoot it,” says Yakin.
The extensive bike shoots involved multiple cameras and a team of stunt bikers guided by Coleman and his team.
The Afghanistan base and tent were also built on a stage in Lowell, but one of the more intricate locations was the Afghani Village where Kyle and Max come into harm’s way. Ivanov recalls, “Originally we thought that we would build the village in sand mines outside of Wilmington. After a bit of searching in the Charlotte area, we found an abandoned mica mine in Kings Mountain, North Carolina that fit exactly what I was imagining. As I walked down into the bowels of the mine for the first time I knew we had found the right place.”
She researched the different styles of architecture in Afghanistan and found an evocative image of a mountain village. The houses were made of stone, wood and plaster and that mixture of textures served as her inspiration. To illustrate the wars the city had seen, the design team added bullet holes to the front gates of homes, and placed old Soviet ammunition cases in the yards. Additionally, they brought in truckloads of white sand to cover up the red clay.
Yakin recalls, “Kalina did a terrific job. We had some real ex-Marines as extras in the unit and they just stood there and said, ‘Wow. This takes me back.’” That sentiment was echoed to Ivanov by one of the actresses that had grown up in a small village outside of Kandahar and had tears in her eyes when she saw the set. She felt transported in time.
Also realistic was the military gear, including Max’s flak jacket. MWDs did not always wear protective gear, but it has been introduced as standard issue to all MWDS in more recent years.
Carlos was outfitted by Ray Allen Manufacturing, which supplies police K-9 and MWD teams around the world with the tools required to train and perform their jobs effectively. His gear consisted of their coyote color Modular LLC Dog Harness, designed with load-rated nylon webbing and GT Cobra Buckle hardware rated at 500lbs, which ensures security of K-9s during lift, load and carry operations. The harness also features two strips of molle along both sides, and the top incorporates two handles from one single molle strip for additional reinforcement and for attachment of ID pouches or patches. In addition, the triangular Modular Harness Breastplate he wore features a spacer mesh inner lining that provided additional padding and allowed for cooling air flow, which was very helpful during the summertime shoot. These harnesses are approved for military application and such harnesses were used in Afghanistan.
Once stateside, Max may shed his flak jacket but he does not shed his animal traits, including loyalty, which becomes the bridge for the family and Max between loss and love and healing.
Yakin says, “There’s something about identifying with an animal that allows us to drop our judgments and inhibitions, and often our cynicism. And if we can drop those, we can bridge whatever gap there is with the people in our lives, as well.”
ABOUT THE CAST
JOSH WIGGINS (Justin Wincott) is one of Hollywood’s rising young actors. He recently wrapped production on Trey Nelson’s “Lost in the Sun,” starring Josh Duhamel and Lynn Collins. The action thriller is scheduled for release in 2015.
Wiggins first gained critical attention in 2014, when he made his big screen debut in “Hellion” at the Sundance Film Festival. In the film, Wiggins portrays Jacob Wilson, a troubled 13-year-old boy who is dealing with the loss of his mother and the hardships of a neglectful father. Although rebellious, Wiggins’ character attempts to take care of his younger brother. Directed by Kat Candler, the cast also includes Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis and Deke Garner.
Wiggins currently resides in Texas.
LAUREN GRAHAM (Pamela Wincott) is best known for her roles on the popular drama series “Parenthood” and “Gilmore Girls.” In addition to her successful acting career, Graham recently became a New York Times bestselling author with her debut novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, which was optioned for television series development by Ellen DeGeneres’ Warner Bros. Television–based company, A Very Good Production.
On the big screen, Graham was most recently seen in the feature “A Merry Friggin’ Christmas,” in which she stars opposite Robin Williams and Joel McHale.
Graham garnered critical acclaim for her performance as Lorelai Gilmore on “Gilmore Girls,” a series on which she also served as producer in its final season. For her work on the show, Graham was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series, two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards for Outstanding Female Actor in a Drama Series, and two Television Critics Association Awards for Individual Achievement in Drama and Comedy. Additionally, she earned two Teen Choice Awards, a Best Actress nod from Viewers for Quality Television, and was honored by Planned Parenthood as a Champion of Choice for her work with family issues on and off screen.
Graham’s other feature film credits include the critically acclaimed film “Flash of Genius,” opposite Greg Kinnear; “The Answer Man,” with Jeff Daniels; the blockbuster comedy “Evan Almighty,” alongside Steve Carell; “Because I Said So,” opposite Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore; “Bad Santa,” with Billy Bob Thornton; “The Pacifier”; “Birds of America,” with Matthew Perry, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; “The Amateurs,” with Jeff Bridges; “Nightwatch”; and “One True Thing,” with Renee Zellweger and Meryl Streep.
On stage, Graham starred as Miss Adelaide in the Broadway musical comedy “Guys & Dolls” in 2009. In 2002, she starred in the 1929 comedy “Once in a Lifetime” at The Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Graham holds a degree in English from Barnard College, and an M.F.A. from SMU Meadows School of The Arts.
THOMAS HADEN CHURCH (Ray Wincott) is an award-winning actor who has received accolades for his performances on both the small and large screen, including an Academy Award nomination for “Sideways.”
Most recently, Church finished production on the independent drama “Cardboard Boxer,” in which he stars opposite Terrence Howard. Written and directed by Knate Gwaltney, the film centers on a homeless man who is recruited by a group of rich kids to fight other impoverished people for entertainment.
Church also co-starred opposite Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly and Connor Corum in Randall Wallace’s 2014 drama “Heaven is For Real,” based on the New York Times best-selling book of the same name. Prior to that, he co-starred in “Lucky Them,” opposite Toni Collette, which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and opened in select U.S. theaters in 2014. Also premiering at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival was the French-Canadian independent film “Whitewash,” in which Church starred.
In 2012, Church starred opposite Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in acclaimed filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s family dramedy “We Bought A Zoo,” and in 2011 was seen in William Friedkin’s critically acclaimed crime thriller “Killer Joe,” alongside Matthew McConauhey, Emile Hirsh, Juno Temple and Gina Gershon, which premiered at The Venice Film Festival.
In 2010, Church was seen in the comedy “Easy A,” co-starring opposite Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci, Penn Badgley and Patrica Clarkson. The film was directed by Will Gluck and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. “Easy A” was a critical and box office success both domestically and internationally.
Church gained world-wide appreciation for starring as the villian Sandman, aka Flint Marko, in the blockbuster “Spider-Man 3,” 2007’s largest box-office success. That same year, he starred opposite Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker in the art-house film “Smart People.”
In 2009, he co-starred with Elisabeth Shue in the indepdent feature “Don McKay,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Church also utilized his unique voice in two voiceover roles in 2006; first as a cow in “Over the Hedge,” and as the crow, Brooks, in the remake of the classic “Charlotte’s Web.”
In 2004, Church starred opposite Paul Giamatti in Alex Payne’s critically acclaimed film “Sideways.” He earned Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations for Best Supporting Role his performance as Jack. Church was also honored as Best Supporting Actor by the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Independent Spirit Awards. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to win numerous awards in 2004 and 2005, including a Golden Globe for Best Comedy Picture, Broadcast Film Critics award for Best Picture, a SAG Award for Best Ensemble Cast and six Independent Spirit Awards.
Church received his third Golden Globe nomination in 2007, as well as another SAG Award nomination, for his role as Tom Harte, opposite the legendary Robert Duvall, in the western epic “Broken Trail,” directed by Walter Hill, which premiered on AMC. Church also garnered an Emmy Award for his performance in the critically acclaimed film, which was also a ratings success.
His other television roles include the bucket-headed mechanic Lowell Mather on the long-running NBC series “Wings,” for which he first gained promenence. He is also known for his lead role in the Fox series “Ned and Stacey,” in which he starred opposite Debra Messing as the self-righteous Ned Dorsey.
Church co-wrote and directed the film “Rolling Kansas,” which premiered as an official selection to the Sundance Film Festival in 2003. He made his feature film debut in the film “Tombstone” in 1993.
ROBBIE AMELL (Kyle Wincott) is one of the most sought after young actors in Hollywood, and can currently be seen recurring as Firestorm on the The CW series “The Flash.”
Amell most recently starred in the hit teen comedy feature “The DUFF,” in the lead role of Wesley. The film also stars Bella Thorne, Mae Whitman and Allison Janney.
In 2014, Amell starred in The CW series “The Tomorrow People.” In 2013, he starred as a regular on the NBC series “1600 Penn,” and appeared in an eight episode arch in the MTV series “Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous.” In 2011 and 2012, Amell was cast as the leading character in the Fox pilot “Like Father,” created and directed by Bill Lawrence, and also Marc Cherry’s ABC pilot “Hallelujah.” Amell’s other TV credits include guest-starring roles on such popular television shows as “Hot in Cleveland,” “Hawaii 5-0,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “CSI: NY,” “Brothers and Sisters,” and “How I Met Your Mother,” as well as a recurring role on the hit series “Revenge.” He also starred as the lead character of Fred in Cartoon Network’s made-for-TV movies “Scooby Doo! The Curse of the Lake Monster” and “Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins.” In addition, he played the leading role of Andy Brazil in the TNT original movie “The Hornet’s Nest.”
Amell’s other motion picture credits include “Struck by Lightning,” “Anatomy of the Tide” and “American Pie Presents: Beta House.” He also played the sexy Drew Patterson in “Picture This,” opposite Ashley Tisdale.
Amell’s mother secured a commercial and print agent for him at the age of six, but Amell concentrated on and was successful in sports in school. As a junior in high school he was called in for his first movie audition and got the role as Eugene Levy and Carmen Electra’s son Daniel in the motion picture “Cheaper by the Dozen 2.”
LUKE KLEINTANK (Tyler Harne) began his professional career and made his debut in “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” following his graduation from high school in Maryland. Soon after, he began his co-starring role as Elliot on the hit series “Gossip Girl.”
Upon moving to Los Angeles, Kleintank landed multiple roles, including guest starring roles on such shows as “Parenthood,” “CSI: Miami,” “Greek,” “Law & Order: Los Angeles,” and “The Good Wife,” as well a recurring role on “Person of Interest.”
Kleintank also completed a recurring role on the ABC drama series “No Ordinary Family,” as well as the continuing role of medical intern Finn Abernathy on the hit Fox series “Bones.” He has also recurred on the popular teen drama “Pretty Little Liars.”
On the film side, Kleintank starred in the sports-themed indie film ”1000 to 1: The Cory Weissman Story”; the dramatic thriller “Sacrifice,” opposite Dermot Mulroney and executive produced by Forest Whitaker; and “Phantom Halo,” for director Antonia Bogdanovich, which premiered at the 2014 Austin Film Festival.
Kleintank is currently starring in the dramatic series “The Man in the High Castle,” for Amazon Studios and executive producers Frank Spotnitz and Ridley Scott.
DEJON LaQUAKE (Chuy) is an actor, songwriter, musician and lead vocalist/producer for the group 1 Rebel Nation, along with his sister, Dakota Love.
His previous film roles include “Happy Birthday Mr. Bracewell” and “Robbin’ in Da Hood” as well as voices in “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”. On television he has appeared in “Bones,” “CSI: Cyber” and “Murder in the First.”
His stage credits include “The Bout.” LaQuake is also featured in several national commercials.
LaQuake is a native of Los Angeles, California.
MIA XITLALI (Carmen) makes her feature film debut in “Max.” In 2014, Xitlali starred as the title character in “Selling Rosario,” a narrative short film written and directed by Michael Winokur and Iana Simeonov, which tells the story of a young girl growing up in a migrant labor camp and her parents’ risky plan to get her out of an unsafe, squalid environment. It premiered at the Napa Valley Film Festival.
At the age of eight, she joined a cast including Reba McEntire, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Michael McKean in “South Pacific,” on stage at the world famous Hollywood Bowl. Xitlali graced the stage for four consecutive nights and performed to sold out crowds.
A native of Los Angeles, Xitlali was born into a musical family and was raised singing, dancing, and playing Latin rhythms. She studies classical piano and has made numerous musical appearances on stages like the John Anson Ford and the Levitt Pavillion, as well as several music festivals throughout Los Angeles, including Earth Day and Dia de los Muertos. Additionally, Xitlali has appeared in a music video for “Baby Einstein.”
CARLOS (Max) was born on February 28, 2012 in Hawesville, Kentucky at Liberty Dog Camp. His father’s name was Cache and his mother was Ember. He has two brothers and three sisters.
As a puppy, although he was very loving and curious, he was also very focused. It was because of this trait he was named Carlos, after Carlos Hatchcock, the Vietnam War sniper who had 93 confirmed kills and was known for his incredible concentration.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
BOAZ YAKIN (Director/Writer/Executive Producer) made his first directorial effort with “Fresh,” which was based on his own screenplay. It attracted talent such as Samuel L. Jackson and Giancarlo Esposito to star in it, and the film earned the Filmmakers Trophy at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, as well as prizes in the Tokyo film festival and other festivals throughout Europe.
Yakin’s experiences with the Chassidic community informed his next directorial effort, “A Price Above Rubies.” Yakin next took on “Remember the Titans,” starring Denzel Washington, for producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The film was a box office success, and a perennial audience favorite. He then made a foray into comedy with “Uptown Girls,” starring Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning. Yakin wrote, produced and directed “Death in Love,” a controversial film that had its premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
He has also written several graphic novels, including The Remarkable Worlds of Phineas B. Fuddle, illustrated by his brother Erez Yakin and released by Paradox Press. He wrote two other graphic novels published by 1st Second Books: Marathon, illustrated by Joe Infurnari, came out in June, 2012, and Jerusalem, illustrated by Nick Bertozzi, was released in April 2013.
Yakin most recently wrote and directed “Safe,” an action film starring Jason Statham, released in April of 2012, and wrote and served as an executive producer on Louis Letterrier’s 2013 box office success “Now You See Me.”
SHELDON LETTICH (Writer) is a screenwriter, movie director, producer, and playwright who has written and/or directed a number of classic action films. Prior to his motion picture career he spent nearly four years with the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as a radio operator in Vietnam with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, and later with the elite 1st Force Reconnaissance Company at Camp Pendleton, California.
Based partly upon his experiences in Vietnam, he co-authored the renowned Vietnam Veterans play “Tracers,” which was first performed at the Odyssey Theater in Los Angeles. The play then traveled to Joseph Papp’s Public Theater in New York City, the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, directed by Gary Sinise, as well as numerous venues worldwide. It received both Drama Desk Awards and L.A. Drama Critics Awards, and is still being performed throughout the world.
One of his Vietnam-based screenplays caught the eye of Sylvester Stallone, which resulted in an overall deal with Stallone’s White Eagle Productions, and led to him co-writing “Rambo III” with Stallone. At the same time, Boaz Yakin was also employed by White Eagle and Stallone, and that’s when Lettich and Yakin met. They have been close friends ever since.
Lettich wrote the screenplay for the classic martial arts film “Bloodsport,” which launched the career of Jean-Claude Van Damme. The new action star returned the favor by helping to launch Lettich’s directing career with the film “Lionheart,” followed by “Double Impact,” both of which starred Van Damme. Lettich’s next discovery was Mark Dacascos, who debuted in “Only the Strong,” a film that introduced the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira to international audiences.
Lettich was also a writer/producer on the historical French Foreign Legion film “Legionnaire,” which starred Van Damme and was shot on location in Morocco. He has directed or produced several films in other foreign countries, including “The Last Patrol” in Israel, “The Order” in Bulgaria, “The Hard Corps” in Canada and Romania, “Perfect Target” in Mexico and, most recently, “Black Rose” in Russia.
KAREN ROSENFELT (Producer) is a producer based at 20th Century Fox, where she has produced “The Book Thief,” based on Markus Zusak’s New York Times bestselling novel and directed by Brian Percival. She also produced “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.” Rosenfelt served as an executive producer on “Twilight” and a producer on “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.” Rosenfelt also produced “The Big Year,” “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief,” “Marley & Me” and “Yogi Bear.” Her other executive producer credits include the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” franchise and “The Devil Wears Prada.”
For 16 years, Rosenfelt was a production executive at Paramount Pictures, where she oversaw live-action features such as “The First Wives Club,” “Indecent Proposal,” “Runaway Bride” “Save the Last Dance,” “Coach Carter” and “Mean Girls.” She was instrumental in setting up Paramount’s partnership with Nickelodeon Movies, overseeing film adaptations of the Nickelodeon television properties “Rugrats” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” as well as “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” based on the bestselling children’s books.
Rosenfelt began her career at ICM as an assistant to talent agent Sue Mengers. She went on to become a creative executive at Jerry Weintraub Productions and a senior vice president at MGM.
KEN BLANCATO (Producer) began his career in advertising in New York at J. Walter Thompson and Young & Rubican in the late 1970s, creating national campaigns for Dr. Pepper, Kodak, Ford, Eastern Airlines and KFC.
In 1980, he moved to Los Angeles and was hired by Columbia Pictures’ CEO Frank Price to head up movie marketing and create an in-house ad agency. He created national and international campaigns for “Tootsie,” “Ghandi,” “Stripes,” “Stir Crazy,” “Tess,” “Das Boot,” “Annie,” “Karate Kid,” “Heavy Metal,” “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “Absence of Malice,” “The Big Chill,” “Blue Thunder,” “Only When I Laugh,” “Seems Like Old Times,” “American Pie” and “Richard Pryor Live on Sunset Strip.”
In 1983, he founded Sunswept Entertainment and continued to do marketing for Columbia Pictures, Universal and TriStar Pictures, as well as consult for producers and directors on various film projects such as “The Bear,” “Legal Eagles,” “Bat 21,” “Casual Sex,” “Ghostbusters” and Lawrence Kasdan’s “Silverado.” In 1985, he wrote and directed the comedy “Stewardess School.”
In 2005, Karen Rosenfelt joined Sunswept Entertainment as a full partner and they turned the focus away from marketing to feature film development. The film production slate included the Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson “Twilight” five-film franchise, David Frankel’s “Marley & Me,” the three-film “Alvin & the Chipmunks” franchise, the two-film “Percy Jackson” series, “Yogi Bear” and “The Book Thief.”
Sunswept Entertainment currently has a number of films in pre-production.
BEN ORMAND (Executive Producer) is originally a writer and cinematographer by training, and a native of North Carolina. He graduated from Davidson College before moving to Los Angeles to start his professional career.
After beginning work as a camera technician on major features and commercials early in his career, Ormand shifted onto a producing track when he co-founded a development company to independently produce the critically acclaimed feature film “Home Room.” Based on this experience, he began pursuing production and executive producing opportunities on a wide variety of projects, including “Butter,” and “Hot Tub Time Machine 2,” and is currently serving as a producer on “Keanu.” Ormand has overseen numerous features for several studios.
Ormand lives in Charlotte, NC with his family.
STEFAN CZAPSKY (Director of Photography) has lensed visually iconic films such as “Edward Scissorhands,” “Batman Returns” and “Ed Wood” for director Tim Burton. For the latter, Czapsky won four cinematography awards from the National Society of Film Critics as well as the Los Angeles, New York and Boston Film Critics.
Czapsky’s feature resume also includes comedic hits “Matilda” and “Blades of Glory,” along with various action pictures, including “Bulletproof Monk,” “Fighting” and “Safe.”
For his first project as a DP, Czapsky shot director Errol Morris’ acclaimed “The Thin Blue Line,” attracting the attention of many high profile directors. He subsequently worked on inventive cult pictures that include “Vampire’s Kiss,” starring Nicolas Cage, and “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” starring Jennifer Jason Leigh.
For his commercial work, Czapsky has won four CLIO Best Cinematography awards, the Communication Arts Award of Excellence and an AICP Best Cinematography award, as well as being an AICP at MOMA Honoree.
The renowned DP’s interest in filmmaking began as an undergraduate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he took an Introduction to Film class and fell in love with the art form. His fascination with the craft grew and he became president of the university’s Film Society, screening cinema classics to the university community. After graduating with a BFA in Humanities, Czapsky briefly considered pursuing a career in film history. However, he decided to leave Cleveland for the Big Apple after being accepted into the film studies graduate program at Columbia University.
After two years in New York, he made the transition from studying films to making them. He worked as an assistant cameraman and gaffer for 11 years on such groundbreaking independent productions as Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours” and John Sayles’ “Matewan.” Czapsky credits ASC members Ed Lachman, Fred Murphy, Haskell Wexler, Allen Daviau, Gerald Feil and Michael Ballhaus with helping him mature as a filmmaker.
Czapsky was born in Oldenburg, Germany, the son of Ukrainian parents who migrated to Cleveland when he was still an infant. He currently resides in New York City with his wife and five daughters.
KALINA IVANOV (Production Designer) was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. In 1979, during the height of communism, she escaped with her parents and landed in New York.
“Max” is Ivanov’s second collaboration with Boaz Yakin, after “Uptown Girls.”
Ivanov won an Emmy award and Art Director’s Guild award for the critically acclaimed HBO film “Grey Gardens,” directed by Michael Sucsy. For television, she has also designed season two of “Smash,” and the pilot for “Person of Interest.”
Among her additional feature film credits are “Poltergeist,” directed by Gil Keenan; “The Conspirator,” directed by Robert Redford; the Oscar-nominated films “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Rabbit Hole”; “The Vow”; “Made of Honor”; “My Sassy Girl”; “Brown Sugar”; “Swimfan”; “The Best Man”; “Monday Night Mayhem”; “Household Saints”; and “Smoke.”
She is currently designing the independent film “Oppenheimer Strategies.”
Ivanov received her BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Design Department and her MFA from their Film Department. Her designs have been exhibited at Lincoln Center.
BILL PANKOW (Editor) has worked in the editing room since graduating from NYU Film School in 1974. Born and raised in New York City, he attended Fordham Preparatory High School in the Bronx and spent two years at Fordham University before transferring to NYU.
His first few years in editing were spent in various apprentice and assistant positions in commercial, film and sound cutting rooms. He started working as Academy Award-winning editor Jerry Greenberg’s assistant in 1978, on “Kramer vs. Kramer,” and subsequently became his associate editor on Brian De Palma’s “Dressed to Kill” and “Scarface.” Pankow graduated to editor on De Palma’s 1984 thriller “Body Double,” and continued his affiliation with the filmmaker on “The Untouchables,” “Casualties of War,” “Bonfire of the Vanities,” “Carlito’s Way,” “Snake Eyes,” and “Femme Fatale,” for which he received the Seattle Film Critics’ 2002 Best Editing Award. He subsequently collaborated with De Palma on “The Black Dahlia” and “Redacted,” named best film of 2008 by France’s Cahiers du Cinema.
Pankow has also worked with such noted filmmakers such as Abel Ferrara on “The Funeral” and “’R Xmas”; Robert Benton on “Still of the Night”; and Paul Schrader on “The Comfort of Strangers.” His other feature credits include “Parents,” “Money Train,” “Whispers in the Dark,” and “Once in the Life,” for actor/director Laurence Fishburne. He has edited films for acclaimed Hong Kong filmmakers, including Tsui Hark’s “Double Team” and Ringo Lam’s “Maximum Risk.” Director Charles Stone had Pankow edit all three of his feature films: “Paid in Full,” “Drumline” and “Mr. 3000.” In 2007, Pankow shared editing credit on “Feel the Noise” and also worked on the film “Day Zero.”
His 2004 collaboration with Jean Francois Richet on “Assault on Precinct 13” continued in 2008 with “Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy #1,” for which Pankow was nominated for a 2009 César Award for best editing by the Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema.
Pankow first met director Gary Winick when he edited “Sweet Nothing,” and later worked with him on “The Tic Code” and “Letters To Juliet.” After this, he went on to edit the thriller “Trespass,” directed by Joel Schumacher.
His collaboration with Dan Algrant on “Greetings From Tim Buckley” continued a relationship that began when Pankow edited Algrant’s first theatrical feature film, the critically acclaimed “Naked in New York.”
His other projects include “The East,” for director Zal Batmanglij, and “The Harvest,” for director John McNaughton. He was also co-editor on the action comedy “Let’s Be Cops.” Pankow’s television work includes: “Tales from the Dark Side,” the highly regarded Fox series “Tribeca,” “The Equalizer,” and HBO’s “Undefeated,” for actor/director John Leguizamo. Prior to that, he was the supervising editor on the Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries “The Corner,” for which he received an American Cinema Editors Eddie Award nomination. Recently, he edited an episode of “Treme,” entitled “Dippermouth Blues.”
Pankow has also been an Adjunct Professor of editing at New York University’s Kanbar Institute of Film and Television.
ELLEN LUTTER (Costume Designer) was given a script to read for an interview with a first-time director in 1993, at the beginning of the independent film surge. She fell in love with the language and images of the script and hoped she would win the job. The director was Boaz Yakin, the script was for a feature called “Fresh,” and it became the first collaboration for the two of them. This was followed by Yakin’s “A Price Above Rubies.”
Other highlights from Lutter’s long and impressive feature career include the hit films “Grown Ups” and “Grown Ups 2,” “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry,” “Click,” “The Longest Yard,” “50 First Dates,” “Mr. Deeds” and “Big Daddy,” as well as the highly acclaimed features “Mississippi Masala” and “Mississippi Burning.”
For television, Lutter designed costumes for the series “The Job.”
MARK FORBES (Animal Coordinator) grew up in Southern Oregon. He moved to Los Angeles in 1984 to attend the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College. After graduating, he worked in the Dolphin & Sea Lion show at Knott’s Berry Farm. In 1987, Forbes started working for Birds & Animals Unlimited as an animal trainer in the Universal Studios Animal Actors Show, which he later managed for four years.
Forbes quickly began television and film work. He trained and worked Dreyfuss, the long-running character on the television show “Empty Nest.” Forbes’ first major character in a feature film was Pongo in “101 Dalmatians.”
Forbes has displayed his skills as Head Trainer on such films as “Dr. Dolittle,” “102 Dalmatians,” “Homeward Bound II” and “Wonder Boys.” He has also been the Animal Coordinator, overseeing all of the animal work, on “Dr. Dolittle II,” “Hidalgo,” “Because of Winn Dixie,” “The Shaggy Dog,” “Prince Caspian” and “Evan Almighty.” His most recent projects include “Marley & Me,” “Hotel for Dogs,” “Zookeeper,” “We Bought A Zoo” and “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Really Bad Day.”
Forbes is currently the General Manager of Birds & Animals Unlimited and lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife and two children.
TREVOR RABIN (Composer) has written the music for 13 Jerry Bruckheimer productions, including such films as “Con Air,” “Armageddon,” “Enemy of the State,” “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” “Remember the Titans,” “Bad Boys II,” the “National Treasure” films and “Glory Road.” He most recently composed the score for Peter Segal’s “Grudge Match,” starring Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone.
Rabin has earned a worldwide reputation for his innovative work as a musician and composer. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, he is the son of prominent lawyer Godfrey Rabin, who was also a highly respected violinist for the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra. His mother was a well-known actress and an accomplished classical pianist. As a teenager, Rabin was a sought-after session guitarist and also played with the bands Conglomeration and Freedom’s Children. One of the songs that Rabin wrote for the latter band, “Wake Up! State of Fear,” was a controversial anti-Apartheid song. After a stint with the South African Army (into which he had been drafted), Rabin formed the band Rabbitt, which became the most successful rock act ever to emerge from South Africa.
Rabin moved to London in 1978, where he produced such acts as Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and released his first of four solo albums. He then moved to Los Angeles, where his demos came to the attention of former Yes bass player Chris Squire, who was seeking a guitarist for the new group Cinema. As the album neared completion, Jon Anderson joined the band and a new incarnation of Yes was born. The band’s comeback album, “90125,” became the biggest-selling of the group’s career, launching its only number one single, Rabin’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Rabin parted ways with Yes in 1989 and soon became one of the most sought-after film composers in the business.
In addition to his collaborations with Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Rabin’s other film scores have included Renny Harlin’s “5 Days of War,” and D.J. Caruso’s “I Am Number Four,” as well as “Deep Blue Sea,” “The 6th Day,” “Coach Carter,” “Flyboys,” “Snakes on a Plane,” “Gridiron Gang,” “The Guardian,” “Get Smart” and “Race to Witch Mountain.”