Transcendence (2014) Production Notes

Director: Wally Pfister
Writer(s): Jack Paglen
Main Cast: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Clifton Collins Jr., Morgan Freeman
Release Date: 2014-05-30
Age Rating: 5 V
Runtime: 120 mins. / 2 h 0 m

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him.

However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should.

Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.

Please note: Some production notes may contain spoilers.

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him.

However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should.

Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.

“Transcendence” stars Oscar® nominee Johnny Depp (“Finding Neverland,” the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films), Rebecca Hall (“The Town,” “The Prestige”), Paul Bettany (“The Da Vinci Code,” “A Beautiful Mind”), Cillian Murphy (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises”), Kate Mara (“House of Cards,” “Shooter”), Cole Hauser (“Olympus Has Fallen”), Clifton Collins, Jr. (“Star Trek,” “Pacific Rim”) and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby,” the “Dark Knight” movies).

“Transcendence” marks the feature film directorial debut of Oscar®-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister (“Inception,” the “Dark Knight” movies). Pfister directed the movie from a screenplay by Jack Paglen.

Oscar® nominees Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson (“The Blind Side”) produced the film with Kate Cohen, Marisa Polvino, Annie Marter, David Valdes, and Aaron Ryder.

Pfister’s behind-the-scenes collaborators include director of photography Jess Hall (“Brideshead Revisited”), production designer Chris Seagers (“X-Men: First Class”), Oscar®-nominated editor David Rosenbloom (“The Insider”), costume designer George L. Little (“Zero Dark Thirty”), and Oscar®-nominated visual effects supervisor Nathan McGuinness (“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”). The music is composed by Mychael Danna, who won an Oscar® for his score for “Life of Pi.”

Alcon Entertainment presents, in association with DMG Entertainment, a Straight Up Films production, a film by Wally Pfister, “Transcendence.” The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

“Transcendence” has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality.

About The Production

“Once online, a sentient machine will quickly overcome the limits of biology…its analytical power will be greater than the collective intelligence of every person born in the history of the world. Imagine such an entity with the full range of emotions, even self-awareness. I call it Transcendence.”

Is Artificial Intelligence a threat to the way we live our lives today? Perhaps not yet, but what happens if we take it to the next level, if computers are given the capacity not only to think, but to feel?

Set in a not-too-distant future, “Transcendence” explores the very real possibility that humans—in our attempts to create a better, more efficient, more self-sustaining world through technology—can go too far. For emotions are not always positive: doesn’t a machine that has the capacity for kindness also have the capacity for menace? Wally Pfister, a renowned cinematographer making his feature directorial debut on the film, states, “I was struck by the power and the weight of the ideas in this story, which I think are very much on people’s minds right now.”

“Transcendence” proposes that we can achieve what’s been called singularity. Pfister comments, “As we define it for the film, singularity is basically the uploading of the human brain into a super computer: the duplication of every synapse, every neuron…every bit of activity in the brain goes into a machine, which then becomes sentient.”

The film seeks to exemplify the coercive nature of the machines we create and how they control us as a culture. It is a path one could argue we are already on, and the film endeavors to project where we could be in 10 or 20 years as revolutionary, exciting…and equally troubling.

Johnny Depp stars as the scientist who not only provides the breakthroughs to make singularity—transcendence—possible, but whose brain becomes its first test subject. “What I really found intriguing about this story was the idea that one man with a brilliant mind, a simple guy who adores his wife and does the crossword puzzle every morning, is able to take his expertise to the point where ego, power and passion could ultimately evolve him into something of a mechanical god.”

Producer Andrew A. Kosove found the subject matter equally fascinating when he read the screenplay. “I have always been interested in how advancing technologies impact people’s lives. I thought that the writer, Jack Paglen, posed the question beautifully as to what defines a person versus an inanimate object, and he wrapped it up in a big, exciting action thriller.”

Producer Broderick Johnson liked what he calls “the juxtaposition of an action thriller with a very emotional, relatable core—the collision of technology with the human experience. But the idea that a loved one could be uploaded into a computer and you could then continue that relationship beyond its physical form was the heart of the film for me,” he says.

“I love Jack’s writing,” producer Annie Marter relates, “and I’d wanted to work with him for a long time. Then I read about singularity and was instantly gripped by the idea. I thought it was both captivating and scary and, surprisingly, not all that farfetched. Jack and I talked about it, and he agreed.”

Paglen, who for some time had been toying with the basic premise, developed the story by first speaking with his wife, a computer scientist. “She’s my secret weapon,” he smiles. “We talked out the sci-fi angle.” Developing the idea with Marter, he continues, “it all really came together with the idea of a woman trying to save her husband’s life by any means possible, even if her only option was keeping him alive in a virtual way,” he continues. “That opened up a world of possibilities for me, and the emotional storyline humanizes the actions of these characters while also allowing the audience to question them.”

Paglen pitched the concept to producers Kate Cohen and Marisa Polvino, who were instrumental in Pfister coming on board to direct. “Wally’s vision and understanding of ‘Transcendence’ aligned perfectly with what we found most compelling about the story and the deeper implications of technology in our society,” Polvino states.

Cohen agrees. “We already knew Wally as an incredible cinematographer, but after meeting with him we knew he was the only one who could direct the film.”

Pfister loved the screenplay, and sought additional information from several experts, including University of California, Berkeley’s Dr. Jose Carmena, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Neuroscience, and Dr. Michel Maharbiz, Professor of Electrical Engineering, who served as technical consultants on the film. He also contacted former California Institute of Technology researcher Christof Koch, PhD, who is now Chief Scientific Officer with the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. Through his work with them and others, Pfister discovered that the script’s scientific premises were not quite as fantastical as he originally thought. Progress in their various fields of research—neurosciences, nanotechnology, cell research and robotics—is slowly turning science fiction into fact.

Carmena notes, “I think the premise of the film is definitely inspiring and futuristic and, at the same time, forward-looking with respect to developments in brain-machine interfaces.”

The filmmakers naturally took some dramatic license in order to serve the plot and the “what-if” thriller aspect of the film. They also wanted to make what is an extremely intellectual study clear and accessible to the audience, and to provide a feeling of suspense and danger as the story progressed. However, as Maharbiz says, “Certainly it’s a sci-fi movie, but the root of a lot of the issues discussed, especially in the first half of the film, are being researched in real time.”

“Every day, these guys are pushing the frontiers of technology,” says producer Aaron Ryder. “It’s exciting just to have a conversation with them. They were absolutely instrumental in helping us not only tell the story, but to understand the story we were telling with respect to the advancements in AI and singularity.”

“Imagine your brain suddenly being able to connect to the Internet, to have access to every bit of information there—financial, medical, political…” Pfister posits. “What would you do with that kind of knowledge, that kind of ultimate power? Would you use it for the greater good, or your own gain, or something else entirely? This film gives moviegoers a chance to see the possibilities and wonder if it’s a choice they’ll ever have to face.”

“What is the nature of consciousness? Is there a soul? And, if so, where does it reside?”

Dr. Will Caster, a brilliant researcher, has spent decades trying to harness the full potential of Artificial Intelligence, and years building a potentially sentient computer dubbed PINN (Physically Independent Neural Network), designed to process history’s collective knowledge and marry it with an uploaded conscious mind, including its complete range of emotions. On the verge of a breakthrough, Will is gunned down—the latest target of Revolutionary Independence From Technology, or RIFT, an extremist organization whose motto is Evolution without Technology. They will stop at nothing, including murder, to halt humankind’s ever-growing dependence on technology and its influence on our world, and the damage they inflict on Will’s body is fatal. But what of his heart and mind?

Their attempt to stop Will’s research backfires, providing the very opportunity for the realization of what they fear the most, and inadvertently leads to the ultimate test of Will’s hypothesis. Will’s wife, Evelyn Caster, a fellow computer scientist, will not allow death to take the love of her life. She enlists their best friend, neurobiologist Dr. Max Waters, to help “save” her husband in the only way they can: by uploading Will into PINN, thereby achieving transcendence. If they succeed, the possibilities are infinite…but so may be the dangers.

The filmmakers knew they needed a compelling actor to play a role that required him to be a largely virtual presence for much of the film. They were thrilled to have Johnny Depp create the character of Will.

“Johnny is an intelligent man, so he plays that very comfortably, and that was important,” Pfister says. “But he also brings a warmth and charisma that are undeniable on screen. He’s a great communicator and a joy to work with as well.”

The seasoned Depp found the first-time director “incredibly collaborative, very open. His approach to each shot was not only technically appealing, thanks to his background behind the camera, but there was real poetry and emotion in the way he saw each scene playing out and they way he wanted to tell the story. I think he really made a seamless transition.”

Turning to his character, Depp says, “Will’s a good guy who has the world’s best interests at heart in trying to achieve transcendence. But because he becomes so powerful, has access to basically all the information on the Internet and believes in his own methods, it becomes very hard to stop him. Anyone with that much control, even with what may be the best of intentions, well…there will always be those who see things differently. In Will’s case, it seems like it may be too late to stop him.”

The dilemma for both Evelyn and Max is in believing whether the voice and image emanating from PINN are actually Will’s heart and soul…or neither. Beyond that they are forced to consider his curious directives and intentions: are they truly benevolent as they seem, or are they part of a sinister master plan he is withholding?

“The relationship that Will and Evelyn have is one of mutual respect and passion,” Depp offers. “There’s nothing about one that the other isn’t totally fascinated with. He loves that she’s totally brilliant and can relate to him on every level.”

How far would you go to save a loved one, a soul mate, who is dying right before your eyes? Is it a philosophical or a moral choice, or just a gut instinct? Evelyn is too blinded by love and loss to make an objective decision. To see Will’s life’s work go to waste is one thing, but to waste the chance to hold onto him is unthinkable. And if, in the process, she can see to it that his life’s work is fulfilled and perhaps keep him alive forever…that is irresistible to her.

Actress Rebecca Hall plays Evelyn, who, she says, “had to be a very strong and dynamic force at the center of this story, and make some fairly complicated decisions. I suppose if she wasn’t in a position where her emotions were so heightened, she’d have more of an ethical dilemma about what she does. But she’s grieving for her husband, so those issues become lessened for her; she doesn’t examine them in the same way she would under different circumstances.”

Despite Evelyn’s questionable actions as a grief-stricken widow, Hall found her character’s goals as a scientist to be more than admirable. “She wants to make a better future, to heal big problems like disease and the environment and so many other concerns the planet is facing. Her vision gets fast-tracked—and possibly off-track—by these unforeseen circumstances.”

“Rebecca’s character really gets beat up emotionally in the picture,” Pfister says. “She goes to hell and back, and Rebecca did a phenomenal job.”

Hall was happy to work out the intricate nuances of her character’s journey with Pfister, whom she’d first met on the set of “The Prestige.” “I had never worked with a first-time director who has as much experience as Wally. He had all the enthusiasm and optimism of someone new, and the understanding of someone who’s been doing it for years and knows everything about it.”

Producer Kate Cohen observes, “This unrelenting love story got to me; the idea of Evelyn holding onto Will in any and every way she can—even living with him underground, in a computer screen—just so she can still feel like she’s with him. She’s let go of any possibility of moving on with her life, and he can’t let her go, either. I’m a hopeless romantic, and the tragic love between these two characters was what really drew me to the project.”

The third person in this love story is Dr. Max Waters, played by Paul Bettany. With Will’s death, Max is also left to grieve the loss of one of his closest friends. He is also the only one who can help Evelyn fulfill the destiny she sees for Will by attempting his transcendence.

Although he is a willing participant, there is a fundamental difference of opinion between them: Max believes there must be appropriate limitations to technology, and that it ought to aid human beings, not supplant the human mind. Thus when Will’s transcended consciousness—if indeed it is Will—begins to expand and absorb an infinite amount of knowledge, Max fears it will lead him to become a controlling, omniscient presence. And to what end, Max cannot fathom.

To play a neurobiologist, Bettany did his homework. “I read a book called Consciousness, which is just extraordinary, and then I went to meet the author, who’s a brain scientist. I walked into the room and he was looking at brain scans and listening to Wagner,” Bettany smiles. “I said, ‘Um, Professor Koch?’ And he held up his hand so I wouldn’t speak until, you know, the aria was finished.”

Bettany discussed his character at length with Pfister, particularly the connection between Max, Will and Evelyn. “I really liked that at the center of this story about our dependence on technology and computers and the potential benefits and repercussions of that, was this really complicated relationship between these three best friends,” he says. “Will and Evelyn are married, but I felt there was a slight sort of unrequited love for Evelyn somewhere deep down in Max, which I thought added to the heart of the film in a beautiful way.”

“Paul is an extraordinary actor,” Pfister remarks. “Max has an emotional ride in this movie from beginning to end and Paul really brought so much to his performance. I was delighted to have him in the part.”

In the film, Will, Evelyn and Max have all known each other since they studied under Professor Joseph Tagger. Still close with their mentor, the four are brought together early in the story when Tagger and his team are targeted by RIFT.

Morgan Freeman, who portrays Tagger, says, “I play an old computer expert who’s been working for years to develop artificial intelligence. He’s supportive of Will and Evelyn’s work, too, but he’s also mindful that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ You can’t put that much power in one person’s hands because, however good that one person is, however much good they want to do, they could wind up doing more harm than good.”

The busy actor was eager to work with Depp. “I would’ve read the phone book,” he jokes. “Johnny knows what he wants and how to achieve it with no histrionics. It’s a very subtle performance.”

Freeman was also happy to see Pfister in a different role, having worked with him several times as a DP. “One of Wally’s biggest assets is he listens. He listens very well, and that’s really important.”

Tagger narrowly escapes death, though others, including Will, are not so lucky. Kate Mara plays Bree, the extremist group’s leader, whose commitment to her anti-technology ideology knows no limits.

“Wally and I talked a lot about what might’ve brought Bree to this place in her life, what would cause someone to start out with very good intentions about keeping the environment safe to go so far as to start killing people,” Mara offers. “What we discover about her in the film is that she has seen firsthand the potential dangers of AI experimentations while working in a lab. Obviously it affected her in such a way that drove her to the other side.”

“We are evolving into this society that is so reliant on computers and texting that personal relationships are dissipating,” says producer Marisa Polvino. “We really wanted to question whether that’s good or bad, will it be our demise? RIFT felt like the kind of radical group that would arise from those fears and makes it hard to determine whether to agree or disagree with them.”

Once hallmarks of a terrorist group emerge, the FBI becomes involved. Cillian Murphy stars as Agent Buchanan, who initially leads the charge in protecting the AI scientists from further attacks by RIFT, and later has to focus his attentions on Will.

Murphy says, “Buchanan may not be exactly sure what Will’s ultimate purpose is once he’s garnered so much control, but being an agent of the government, he knows he can’t allow it to go any further, so he’ll do whatever is necessary to shut him down.”

Like Freeman, Murphy is a veteran of several film sets with Pfister. “I was thrilled when Wally called me up and said he had a part for me and would I be interested,” the actor recalls. “I always want to work with people I admire and have a prior relationship with, and he’s such a tremendously talented guy. I told him to count me in right away.”

Rounding out the cast are Cole Hauser as Colonel Stevens, who assists Buchanan on the hunt for Will; Clifton Collins, Jr., as Martin, who helps Will further his goals; and Lukas Haas as a dangerous member of RIFT.

“To be surrounded by such an incredible group of actors was amazing,” Pfister says. “And we had fun every day—there wasn’t a day on that set that we weren’t enjoying ourselves as we were hunkering down and getting to the work at hand.”

“The Internet promised to expand our horizons, to make the world a smaller place… Maybe it was all inevitable, an unavoidable collision between mankind and technology.”

Filmed in Los Angeles and New Mexico, “Transcendence” takes place in a variety of settings, from the urban streets of Berkeley, California, to a dying desert town and a forested mountain hideout. Production designer Chris Seagers worked closely with Pfister, director of photography Jess Hall, and visual effects supervisor Nathan McGuinness to create the desired look and feel for the movie.

“We had a fantastic crew comprised of artists who were all very interested in the subject matter and excited to be part of it,” Pfister says. “My experience has made me appreciate streamlined sets married with interesting visual effects and an overall naturalistic style, and they were able to create exactly what I’d envisioned.”

“Wally always had a very clear idea of what he wanted,” Seagers says, “but then he let us run with it and really embraced our work.”

Seagers notes that, from his perspective, “it turned out to be a slightly unusual project, in that the look itself transcends from the traditional and familiar to an almost disturbingly sterile world that doesn’t need humans, but just runs itself. So we started with the humans that built the place, and then began to present less and less humanity.”

The set he refers to is a compound in the fictional remote desert town of Brightwood, called the Brightwood Data Center. Built by locals hired by Evelyn at her husband’s direction, it is a primarily underground facility where the ever-evolving Will is able to continually expand his scope of knowledge, accessing and merging with every hard drive in the world. The set was created on stages in Albuquerque and, according to Seagers, required long corridors to accommodate Pfister’s vision. Luckily, much of what they needed was already there. “Wally wanted something that felt both not of this world, but not purely science fiction either,” Seagers says. “The stages off I-25 in New Mexico were perfect because they had low ceilings and very flat concrete floors, and very, very long corridors—one was 300 feet long—so we could shoot everything practically, which he likes to do as much as possible.”

The exterior of Brightwood was filmed in the city of Belen, where Seagers’ team constructed five buildings and a number of trailer homes. The “town” was designed, drawn and built in just eight weeks, and the people of Belen were very accommodating to the production, which basically took over their town for the duration of their time there. In addition, the visual effects team, under the supervision of McGuinness, used green screens to give the town the remote desert atmosphere desired.

In Rio Puerco, the production built a solar field where many of the film’s action sequences take place. Seagers was prepared to shoot in a real solar field, but quickly realized that it wouldn’t be safe to do the required explosions and stunts there. “In the end,” he says, “we decided to make our own, taking what is available today and giving it a slightly more skeletal structure. And we did everything in black-and-white to give it a very stark look.”

The film opens in Berkeley, where Seagers says, “it’s all very Northern California wood tones, but urban. When we see RIFT’s headquarters, which is also in the woods, it’s all natural—in fact, because they are anti-technology, everything there is very simple, analog-based, and so we used the Luddites for inspiration.

The film’s color palette transitions as the story moves to the desert. “Once we get to the BDC,” he continues, “it’s very neutral with a lot of glass, so it’s also reflective and translucent.” The translucency plays out at its height in Evelyn’s Brightwood residence, where Will also resides in his virtual world, and his image appears everywhere she looks. “That was a tricky set to work out, because the whole thing was done by back projections, so it was getting reflections on the reflections. The danger was that it could become a big mirror box, so we had to play with texture and structure to get it to work.”

“The design and effects teams and our DP, Jess Hall, came up with an incredible way to keep Johnny present in the scenes after his character’s body dies and his mind is uploaded,” Kosove says. “They had Johnny on set, acting right there with Rebecca, but his performance was being projected into the wall. So, instead of shooting his performance later against a green screen, we have the authenticity of him being there in the moment. I think the result is not only visually stunning, but emotionally truthful as well.”

Hall sought inspiration for this technique from contemporary video artist Bill Viola. “His work related to what we were doing because we were working so intensely with camera projection, and that’s something he mastered in the gallery space,” Hall says. “I went back and looked at the way he projects onto different materials, and then we did some experimenting and finally came up with the way we wanted to do it for the film.”

Hall shot the movie on 35mm film with a photochemical finish. “It has wonderful depth, color saturation and contrast. You can achieve an intensely rich, yet subtle and realistic texture,” he says. “You know you’re working with light and emotion, not ones and zeros, and I love the way it captures the faces and skin tone of the actors.”

In addition to providing the computerized world in which Will resides, McGuinness’s effects team enhanced and extended the sets wherever necessary, especially on the larger builds, such as the solar fields and BDC.

“No matter how much was actually built for the set, when you’re in the desert even 400 solar panels would have felt small,” McGuinness reasons. “We built 75, shot all the action inside of those, and then created the rest to extend as far as the eye could see.”

However, McGuinness points out that the visual effect that was most specific to “Transcendence” was much more connected to the character of Will Caster and his evolving abilities, “in order to serve the overall concept of the film. The technology being designed and implemented by Will was a permeating extension of what he had become. It could be organic, metal, solid, liquid, or a combination of all of that. For instance,” he says, referencing one of the most difficult effects, “what would reverse rain look like? We had to figure all of that out and so much more, down to the smallest detail.”

Johnson observes, “Johnny’s character goes from a humble man of science in a modest home to an omnipresent artificial intelligence that manages to overtake the entire Internet. Whether or not he’s a benevolent or malevolent being, we needed the audience to feel his presence in every frame of the film.”

The filmmakers and cast reflect that the movie poses some profound questions within its sci-fi storyline, and raises some thought-provoking scenarios about the effects that advancing, evolving technologies might have on our culture and on us as individuals.

“People have been fighting wars over ‘my god is better than your god’ for thousands of years,” Depp says. “In the 21st century, I think it’s appropriate to look at the way human beings worship technology and what that could mean for our future. Whether you’re on the side of technology or ecology, a pacifist or an extremist, most people have very definite opinions, and the question of how far we should allow our dependence on computers to go is a question that needs to be asked.”

Pfister summarizes, “According to the experts, artificial intelligence of the sort we present in ‘Transcendence’ is coming, like it or not. What I wanted to do with the film is give people a peek into one direction our world could take in the coming decades, and engage them in an emotional, moral and intellectual debate about this very timely topic in a way that is both thought-provoking and entertaining.”

About THe Cast

JOHNNY DEPP (Will Caster) is an award-winning actor who is also producing under the banner of his company, infinitum nihil.

A three-time Academy Award® nominee in the category of Best Actor, Depp was honored with his first Oscar® nod for his work in Gore Verbinski’s 2003 blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” which launched the hugely successful film franchise. He also won a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® and an Empire Award and garnered Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for his creation of Captain Jack Sparrow, who became an instant screen classic. Depp went on to reprise the role in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” earning another Golden Globe nomination; “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

Depp’s second Oscar® nomination came for his performance in Marc Forster’s acclaimed 2004 drama “Finding Neverland.” For his portrayal of Peter Pan author James Barrie in that film, he also received Golden Globe, BAFTA Award and SAG Award® nominations.

He earned his latest Oscar® nomination for his work in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” director Tim Burton’s 2007 screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical. For his performance in the film’s title role, Depp also won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. Depp has collaborated with Burton on eight features to date, starting with the title role in “Edward Scissorhands,” for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. He also earned Golden Globe nominations for his work under Burton’s direction in “Ed Wood,” for which he won a London Film Critics Circle Award; “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”; and “Alice in Wonderland.” Additionally, he starred in “Dark Shadows” and lent his voice to Burton’s animated hit “Corpse Bride.”

Depp began his performing career as a musician, before segueing to acting. He made his feature film debut in the horror hit “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” followed by Oliver Stone’s Oscar®-winning war drama “Platoon.” In 1987, he landed his breakout role on the hit television show “21 Jump Street.”

After starring in the series for four seasons, Depp returned to the big screen in John Waters’ “Cry-Baby.” His early film work also includes “Benny & Joon,” gaining a Golden Globe nomination; Lasse Hallström’s “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”; “Don Juan DeMarco,” with Marlon Brando; Mike Newell’s “Donnie Brasco”; and Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” In 1997, Depp made his writing and directing debut with “The Brave,” in which he also starred with Brando.

Depp has also starred in such diverse films as Lasse Hallstrom’s “Chocolat,” for which he was Golden Globe-nominated; the Hughes brothers’ “From Hell”; Robert Rodriguez’s “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”; Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies”; “The Tourist,” earning another Golden Globe nomination; “The Rum Diary,” which he also produced; and Verbinski’s “The Lone Ranger.” In addition, he voiced the title character in Verbinski’s Oscar®-winning animated feature “Rango,” and was a producer on Martin Scorsese’s Oscar®-nominated “Hugo.”

Upcoming, Depp stars this holiday season in Rob Marshall’s screen adaptation of the hit musical “Into the Woods.” Additionally, he stars in and produces the drama “Mortdecai,” and is directing a Keith Richards documentary feature.

REBECCA HALL (Evelyn Caster) has emerged as a leading talent of the stage and screen, having worked with many of the industry’s most honored artists and trod the boards of some of the world’s most renowned theatres.

She is currently in production on Sean Mewshaw’s “Tumbledown,” in which she stars opposite Jason Sudeikis. Hall plays a woman struggling to move on with her life after the death of her husband. Upcoming, Hall will also be seen in Patrice Leconte’s “A Promise,” which is adapted from Stefan Zweig’s novel Journey into the Past. The independent romantic drama, set in Germany just before World War I, will be released on April 18, 2014.

Hall most recently made her Broadway debut in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s “Machinal,” directed by Lyndsey Turner. Inspired by the infamous 1927 murder trial of Ruth Snyder, the play was written by journalist and playwright Sophie Treadwell.

On screen, Hall received critical acclaim for her starring role in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” alongside Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem. For her performance, she received Golden Globe, BAFTA Orange Rising Star, London Critics Circle and Gotham Award nominations in the performance and breakthrough categories.

Her additional film credits include John Crowley’s “Closed Circuit”; Shane Black’s “Iron Man 3”; Stephen Frears’ “Lay the Favorite”; Nick Murphy’s “The Awakening,” for which she earned a British Independent Film Award Nomination for Best Actress; Ben Affleck’s “The Town,” which received the 2010 National Board of Review Award for Best Ensemble; “Everything Must Go”; Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give,” for which the cast and filmmakers were honored with the Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award and a Gotham Independent Film Award nomination for Best Ensemble Performance; Oliver Parker’s “Dorian Gray”; Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon”; for which she shared in a Screen Actors Guild Award® nomination for Outstanding Cast Performance; Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige,” for which she received UK Empire Award and London Critics Circle Award nominations for Best Newcomer; and Tom Vaughan’s “Starter for 10,” which marked her feature film debut.

In 2012, Hall was seen in Susanna White’s miniseries “Parade’s End,” for which she won a Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress, as well as receiving a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Leading Actress, and a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries. Her additional television credits include Julian Jarrold’s “Red Riding: 1974,” for which she received a BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress; Philip Martin’s “Einstein and Eddington”; Stephen Poliakoff’s “Joe’s Palace”; Brendan Maher’s “Wide Sargasso Sea”; Stuart Orme’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way”; and Peter Hall’s “The Camomile Lawn.”

On stage, Hall received an Ian Charleson Award for her West End portrayal of Vivie in “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.” The following year, she went on to be recognized with an Ian Charleson Special Commendation Award for her portrayal of Rosalind in “As You Like It,” which opened at the Theatre Royal Bath and later toured in both the UK and U.S. Her appearances at the Theatre Royal Bath also include the title role in “Galileo’s Daughter” and the part of Ann Whitfield in George Bernard Shaw’s “Man and Superman.” She also appeared in “Don Juan” and D.H. Lawrence’s “The Fight for Barbara.” More recently on the London stage, she portrayed Viola in “Twelfth Night,” at the National Theatre in London. Additionally, she played Varya in “The Cherry Orchard” and Hermione in “A Winter’s Tale,” receiving an Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination and another Ian Charleson Special Commendation Award for the latter. Both plays were part of The Bridge Project, a transatlantic company of actors performing on tour in seven cities around the world.

PAUL BETTANY (Max Waters) has earned praise for his work in several high-profile films, including two for director Ron Howard: “The Di Vinci Code,” with Tom Hanks, and the Academy Award®-winning “A Beautiful Mind,” starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. He reunited with Crowe to star in “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” for director Peter Weir. Bettany’s performance in that film brought him a London Film Critics Circle Award for Best British Actor, as well as BAFTA Award and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. He also won an Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for his work in both “Master and Commander” and “The Heart of Me,” in which he starred with Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Williams.

More recently, Bettany shared in the Robert Altman Award at the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards for his work in J.C. Chandor’s drama “Margin Call,” with Kevin Spacey. He has also lent his voice to the character of Jarvis in the blockbuster “Iron Man” and “The Avengers” franchises.

He is about to debut the feature film “Shelter,” which he wrote, directed and produced and stars his wife, Jennifer Connelly, and Anthony Mackie. In addition, he stars in David Koepp’s “Mortdecai,” which reunited him with Johnny Depp and is slated for release later this year.

Earlier in his career, Bettany won a London Film Critics Circle Award for his performance in “A Knight’s Tale,” starring Heath Ledger. He was also nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor, as well as a London Film Critics Circle Award for British Newcomer of the Year, for his work in Paul McGuigan’s “Gangster No.1.”

His additional film credits include McGuigan’s “The Reckoning”; Lars von Trier’s “Dogville”; the Richard Loncraine-directed films “Wimbledon” and “Firewall”; “The Secret Life of Bees”; Jean-Marc Vallée’s “The Young Victoria”; Jon Amiel’s “Creation,” opposite Jennifer Connelly; and the horror films “Legion” and “Priest,” both for director Scott Stewart. On television, he starred in the TNT production of “David Copperfield,” directed by Peter Medak.

Classically trained at the Drama Centre in London, Bettany made his stage debut in the West End production of “An Inspector Calls,” under the direction of Stephen Daldry. He then spent a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing in productions of “Richard III,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Julius Caesar” before landing his first feature film role in “Bent.”

His subsequent stage credits include “Love and Understanding” at London’s Bush Theatre, later reprising his role at the Long Wharf Theatre in Connecticut, and the Royal Court Theatre productions of “One More Wasted Year” and “Stranger’s House.”

CILLIAN MURPHY (Agent Buchanan) is currently filming the second season of the acclaimed BBC Two drama series “Peaky Blinders,” created by Steven Knight, who wrote David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises” and Stephen Frears’ “Dirty Pretty Things.”

Murphy most recently completed work on “Heart of the Sea,” the Ron Howard-directed adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick book. Later this year, Murphy also stars opposite Jennifer Connelly and Mélanie Laurent in “Aloft,” Claudia Llosa’s drama that premiered in competition at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

Last year, Murphy appeared in “Broken,” which opened the International Critics' Week section at the Cannes Film Festival and won the 2012 Best British Independent Film Award. Directed by Rufus Norris from a screenplay by Mark O'Rowe, the drama about a young North London girl who witnesses a violent attack co-stars Tim Roth and features a breakthrough performance by Eloise Laurence. For his role as teacher Mike Kiernan, Murphy also received a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Murphy first garnered international attention for his performance as Jim, the reluctant survivor in Danny Boyle's “28 Days Later.” In 2005, he made an indelible impression as Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow in “Batman Begins,” for which he received a London Film Critics Circle Award nomination, and later reprised the role in “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Murphy also co-starred as the billionaire heir apparent/mark in “Inception,” Nolan’s critically acclaimed sci-fi hit.

Following “Batman Begins,” he garnered a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as the transgender outcast Patrick "Kitten" Brady in Neil Jordan's “Breakfast on Pluto,” and starred opposite Rachel McAdams in Wes Craven’s thriller “Red Eye.”

Murphy starred in Ken Loach’s 2006 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” and in 2007, he re-teamed with Boyle and “28 Days Later” writer Alex Garland on the sci-fi thriller “Sunshine.”  For “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” and “Sunshine,” Murphy garnered consecutive British Independent Film Award nominations.

Murphy’s diverse filmography also includes Rodrigo Cortés’ “Red Lights,” opposite Robert De Niro and Sigourney Weaver; Andrew Niccol's “In Time”; “Perrier’s Bounty,” with Brendan Gleeson and Jim Broadbent; John Crowley's dark comedy “Intermission,” with Colin Farrell and Kelly Macdonald; Peter Webber's period drama “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” with Scarlett Johansson; Anthony Minghella’s “Cold Mountain” and John Carney’s “On the Edge.”

On stage, Murphy most recently starred in Enda Walsh's "Misterman" at the National Theatre in London.  Originally produced for the Galway Arts Festival, "Misterman," is a stunning monologue in which the actor explores the depths of a young man's physical and psychological collapse.  For the run at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, Murphy received the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance. He also garnered The Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Actor for the original production in Galway.  Murphy and Walsh also collaborated on the world premiere of “Ballyturk,” in which he will star on stages in Ireland and the UK this summer and fall.

Murphy first made his mark on stage with a stunning performance in Walsh’s “Disco Pigs.” After receiving commendations for Best Fringe Show at the 1996 Dublin Theatre Festival and the Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 1997, “Disco Pigs” went on to tour extensively in Ireland, the UK, Canada and Australia. Murphy later starred in the film version directed by Kirsten Sheridan.

In 2006, Murphy made his West End debut at the New Ambassador Theatre in John Kolvenbach’s “Love Song,” directed by John Crowley.  His stage collaborations with Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes include “The Country Boy,” “Juno and the Paycock,” and “Playboy of the Western World” at the Gaity Theatre in Dublin. Murphy also starred as Konstantin in the Edinburgh Fest production of “The Seagull,” directed by Peter Stein, as Adam in Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things,” at the Gate Theatre in Dublin, and as Claudio in “Much Ado About Nothing,” at Kilkenny Castle. 

KATE MARA (Bree) was born and raised in Bedford, New York and began acting at age 14 in local theater projects. At 15, Mara made her major feature film debut in Sydney Pollack’s romantic drama “Random Hearts,” starring Harrison Ford.

In 2005, she was seen as the teenage daughter of Heath Ledger’s character in Ang Lee’s groundbreaking drama “Brokeback Mountain.” Her other film credits include McG’s “We Are Marshall,” with Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox; Antoine Fuqua’s “Shooter,” starring Mark Wahlberg; “The Open Road,” with Justin Timberlake and Jeff Bridges for director Michael Meredith; “Iron Man 2,” with Robert Downey Jr. for director Jon Favreau; “Iron Clad,” with Paul Giamatti and James Purefoy for director Jonathan English; and “HappyThankYouMorePlease,” with Josh Radnor and Malin Akerman. She has also starred in a range of independent features, including “Transsiberian”and “Stone of Destiny.”

Mara recently co-starred with James Franco in Danny Boyle’s riveting true-life dramatic feature “127 Hours.” Last fall, she starred in “Ten Years,” with Channing Tatum, Oscar Isaac, Brian Geraghty and Max Minghella for director Jamie Linden, and in the independent film “Deadfall,” opposite Eric Bana, Charlie Hunnam and Olivia Wilde, for director Stefan Ruzowitzky.

She recently completed filming “Captive,” in which she stars with David Oyelowo as a single mother struggling with meth addiction in the adaptation of the best-selling book An Unlikely Angel.

On the small screen, Mara is currently starring with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in the award-winning Netflix series “House of Cards.”

CLIFTON COLLINS, JR. (Martin) earned acclaim for his portrayal of murderer Perry Smith in Bennett Miller’s Oscar®-nominated biopic “Capote,” also sharing in a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® nomination for Outstanding Motion Picture cast. Collins earlier won a SAG Award® in the same category for his role in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic.”

Upcoming, Collins will be seen in an as-yet-untitled Terrence Malick feature. He recently co-starred in Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi action adventure “Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Pacific Rim.” Among his additional credits are Taylor Hackford’s “Parker”; Jim Sheridan’s “Brothers”; Mike Judge’s “Extract”; “Crank: High Voltage”; J.J. Abrams’ blockbuster “Star Trek,” as the Romulan Ayel; “Sunshine Cleaning”; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Babel”; Michael Avery’s “The Rules of Attraction”; “The Last Castle,” with Robert Redford; Joel Schumacher’s “Tigerland”; Antoine Fuqua’s “The Replacement Killers”; John Singleton’s “Poetic Justice”; and the Hughes Brothers’ films “Dead Presidents” and “Menace II Society.”

On television, Collins earned an Emmy nomination for his supporting role in the 2006 miniseries “Thief.” In 2011, he starred on the NBC series “The Event.” He has also had recurring and guest roles on some of primetime’s highest-rated shows, including “CSI: NY,” “The Shield” and “Alias,” to name only a few.

Behind the camera, Collins directed the video for Zac Brown Band’s single “Chicken Fried,” which was nominated for two CMT Awards, Group Video of The Year and won the CMT USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year Award. He also directed the videos for the Zac Brown Band’s follow-up single, “Whatever It Is,” as well as Jamey Johnson’s “High Cost of Living.”

MORGAN FREEMAN (Joseph Tagger) is an Academy Award®-winning actor, whose films are among the most critically and commercially successful of all time, with a combined worldwide box office of more than $3 billion.

Freeman won the 2005 Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “Million Dollar Baby,” for which he also won a Screen Actors Guild Award®. He has received three more Oscar® nominations, in 1987 for Best Supporting Actor for “Street Smart,” in 1994 for Best Actor for “The Shawshank Redemption,” and in 2010 for Best Actor for “Invictus.”

Freeman won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in 1990 for his role in “Driving Miss Daisy.” In 2011, he was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe Awards and, that same year, received the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2000, Freeman received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor for his distinguished career. He also received the Hollywood Actor Award at the 2000 Hollywood Film Festival.

In 2010, Freeman won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor for his performance as Nelson Mandela in the acclaimed film “Invictus.” He also received a Golden Globe nomination and a Critics’ Choice Award nomination, in addition to the aforementioned Oscar® nod. The picture was produced by Revelations Entertainment, the company Freeman co-founded in 1996 with a mission to produce films that reveal truth.

Since its inception, Revelations has continued to be a frontrunner in the field of digital technology. The company’s other features include “The Code,” “The Magic of Belle Isle,” “Levity,” “Under Suspicion,” “Mutiny,” “Bopha!”, “Along Came a Spider,” “Feast of Love,” “10 Items or Less,” “Maiden Heist,” and the Peabody Award-winning ESPN 30 For 30 documentary, “The 16th Man.”

Through Revelations Entertainment and CBS, Freeman is an executive producer of the new CBS pilot “Madame Secretary,” staring Tea Leoni. Currently, Freeman hosts and is an executive producer of the Emmy-nominated series “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.” Produced in conjunction with Revelations Entertainment, the show is in its fourth season on the Discovery Science Channel.

Upcoming, Freeman will be seen in the feature films “Life Itself,” "The Last Knights," "Lucy," Eagle Films and Revelations’ "Ruth and Alex," and "Dolphin Tale 2."

He recently starred in "The LEGO® Movie," "Last Vegas," "Now You See Me," "Oblivion," "Olympus Has Fallen" and "The Dark Knight Rises." Freeman’s past credits include “Dolphin Tale,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Bucket List,” “Glory,” “Clean and Sober,” “Lean on Me,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “Unforgiven,” “Se7en,” “Kiss the Girls,” “Amistad,” “Deep Impact,” “The Sum of All Fears,” “Bruce Almighty,” “Nurse Betty,” ”Coriolanus,” “Attica,” “Brubaker,” “Eyewitness,” “Death of a Prophet,” and “Along Came a Spider.”

He has also narrated two Oscar®-winning documentaries, “The Long Way Home” and “The March of The Penguins,” as well as the documentaries “Born To Be Wild 3D” and “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar.” Freeman also recently narrated the Science Channel program "Stem Cell Universe," and will narrate the upcoming history documentary "We the People."

Freeman began his acting career in the off-Broadway stage productions of “The Niggerlovers” and the all African-American production of “Hello Dolly,” before segueing into television. Many people grew up watching him on the long-running Children's Television Workshop classic “The Electric Company,” where he played the iconic Easy Reader among several recurring characters. Looking for his next challenge, he set his sights on both the stage and the silver screen.

In 1978, Freeman won a Drama Desk Award and earned a Tony nomination for his role as Zeke in “The Mighty Gents.” His stage work continued to earn him accolades and awards, including four Obie Awards, the latest in 1987 for the role of Hoke Colburn in the Alfred Uhry play “Driving Miss Daisy.” He also earned another Drama Desk Award nomination for his creation of that role, which he reprised in the Oscar®-winning 1989 film.

In 1973, he co-founded the Frank Silvera Writers' Workshop, now in its 37th season. The workshop seeks to serve successful playwrights of the new millennium. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Earth Biofuels, a company whose mission is to promote the use of clean-burning fuels. He also supports Artists for a New South Africa and the Campaign for Female Education.

About The Filmmakers

WALLY PFISTER (Director) is an Academy Award®-winning cinematographer who makes his directorial debut on Alcon Entertainment’s “Transcendence.” Pfister is best known for his work alongside director Christopher Nolan, which has brought him three additional Oscar® nominations, and numerous other accolades. They began their famed collaboration in 1999 on the intriguing drama “Memento.” Pfister earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his work as a cinematographer on that film.

Pfister continued to rise to prominence as one of the industry’s most respected cinematographers. He received Oscar® nominations for Best Cinematography for his work on “Batman Begins,” “The Prestige” and the worldwide blockbuster “The Dark Knight,” before winning the Academy Award® in the same category for “Inception.” His many other honors include BAFTA Award nominations and a number of critics groups’ awards.

Pfister’s work can also be seen in other films, including “Insomnia,” “The Italian Job,” “Laurel Canyon,” “Moneyball” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Films on which Pfister has served as director of photography have earned a cumulative box office total of more than four billion dollars worldwide.

JACK PAGLEN (Screenwriter) counts “Transcendence” as his first produced feature film screenplay, based on his original idea.

Paglen received an MFA from Columbia University.

ANDREW A. KOSOVE and BRODERICK JOHNSON (Producers) are Oscar®-nominated producers as well as co-founders and co-CEOs of Alcon Entertainment. One of the longest running independent film finance and production companies in the world, the Los Angeles-based, wholly independent company develops, finances, produces and markets theatrical motion pictures. Alcon’s next films to hit theaters are the drama “The Good Lie,” starring Reese Witherspoon, and family film “Dolphin Tale 2,” reuniting director Charles Martin Smith and the cast of the first film, including Nathan Gamble, Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, and Winter the dolphin as herself. The company is also working with Ridley Scott to develop another chapter to his iconic sci-fi thriller “Blade Runner,” and is in pre-production on a remake of the action thriller “Point Break,” starring Gerard Butler and Luke Bracey under the direction of Ericson Core.

Kosove and Johnson received an Academy Award® nomination as producers of the 2009 Best Picture nominee “The Blind Side,” which earned more than $300 million at the worldwide box office. Based on a true story, the film was written and directed by John Lee Hancock and starred Sandra Bullock, who received a number of Best Actress honors for her performance, culminating in an Academy Award®.

Under the Alcon banner, Kosove and Johnson more recently produced the acclaimed drama “Prisoners,” with an all-star ensemble cast led by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, under the direction of Denis Villeneuve. Alcon’s diverse list of films also includes Charles Martin Smith’s family hit “Dolphin Tale,” inspired by the amazing true story of Winter, the dolphin who was rescued and learned to swim again after losing her tail, and the post-apocalyptic action drama “The Book of Eli,” directed by the Hughes brothers and starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis.

Among the company’s earlier projects are Richard LaGravenese’s romantic sleeper hit “P.S. I Love You,” starring Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Kathy Bates, Lisa Kudrow and Harry Connick, Jr.; Ken Kwapis’ ensemble hit “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and its sequel, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2”; Christopher Nolan’s thriller “Insomnia,” starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank; the hit comedy “Dude, Where’s My Car?,” starring Ashton Kutcher; and Jay Russell’s acclaimed family film “My Dog Skip,” starring Diane Lane and Kevin Bacon.

KATE COHEN (Producer), together with partner Marisa Polvino, launched Straight Up Films in 2008. In addition to “Transcendence,” their film slate includes “Jane Got a Gun,” directed by Gavin O'Connor, starring Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton and Ewan McGregor; “Apex,” produced with Barry Josephson; “Variant 13,” produced alongside Tripp Vinson; and “Someone Marry Barry,” a comedy produced with Barry Josephson, starring Tyler Labine and Lucy Punch. Cohen’s first film as a writer and producer was “Away From Here,” which was completed last year and released under the Straight Up Films banner.

Forging her career in New York, Cohen applied her exceptional sales skills and ability to build relationships, which were integral to her early success working in freelance PR for high-end brands and, subsequently, in raising significant financing for films. The latter endeavor eventually led to her moving into feature film production.

In addition to building the Straight Up Films business, Cohen launched the commercial division, Disorderly Conduct, where she has been a key player in developing a prominent roster of directors, and in discovering new marketing, branding, and cross-media opportunities between the two divisions.

MARISA POLVINO (Producer) formed Straight Up Films in 2008, along with Kate Cohen, and has since been integral in growing the company and securing its film slate. Their upcoming films include “Apex” produced with Barry Josephson and Voltage Pictures; “Variant 13”, produced with Tripp Vinson; “La Divina,” the story of legendary opera singer, Maria Callas, produced with Bruce Cohen; and the documentary “Shot: The Mick Rock Documentary,” alongside Eddy Moretti.

Polvino has a proven track record with branding, PR, and cross-media promotion, as well as financing and investor relations. In her previous positions, at Revere Pictures and Eagle Beach Productions, she secured multi-million dollar financing deals. During this time, she produced or co-produced “Outside Providence,” starring Alec Baldwin; “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” starring Clive Owen and Jonathan Rhys Meyers; “The Education of Charlie Banks,” starring Jesse Eisenberg; and the award-winning “The Door in the Floor,” starring Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger. In addition, she served as the unit production manager on “American Buffalo,” starring Dustin Hoffman;

Earlier this year, Polvino helped lead Straight Up Films to launch the commercial production division, Disorderly Conduct, with Ron Cicero as executive producer. The company currently represents directors Brett Foraker, Luis Gerard, Jan Wentz, Daniel Levi, Eric Stoltz and Francesco Calabrese.

ANNIE MARTER (Producer) has worked in the film industry for 13 years in a variety of capacities. She is a producer on several upcoming films, including “Abandon,” to be helmed by award-winning director James Strong; an untitled science fiction film being developed for Straight Up Films, with the Purchase brothers attached to direct; and “S.O.S.,” a dark comedy to be directed by Mark Waters.

Before going out on her own, Marter worked as Vice President of Production and Acquisitions for Overture Films. During her tenure, she was involved in all of the company’s productions, including “Let Me In,” “Law Abiding Citizen,” “The Crazies,” “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” “Traitor,” “Sunshine Cleaning,” and “The Visitor,” which brought an Oscar nomination to its star, Richard Jenkins.

Marter previously served as Director of Development for Greene Street Films and was also a creative executive for Revere Pictures. She earlier spent three years in physical production, getting her start on the Oscar®-winning film “Girl, Interrupted.”

DAVID VALDES (Producer) received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture for his work as a producer on Frank Darabont’s “The Green Mile,” which received a total of four Oscar® nominations.

His producing credits also include Richard LaGravenese’s “Beautiful Creatures”; Rob Reiner’s “The Magic of Belle Isle”; the Hughes brothers’ “The Book of Eli,” starring Denzel Washington; Andrew Dominik’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck; “Babylon A.D.,” starring Vin Diesel; Kevin Costner’s “Open Range”; the re-imagining of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”; “The Stars Fell on Henrietta,” starring Robert Duvall and Aidan Quinn; and “Like Father Like Son.” He also recently served as an executive producer on the sci-fi thriller “I Am Number Four.”

Valdes has collaborated with Clint Eastwood on 17 films. He produced Eastwood’s “A Perfect World,” starring Costner and Eastwood, and “The Rookie,” successfully teaming Eastwood and Charlie Sheen. He was also a producer on “Pink Cadillac” and the last of the popular Dirty Harry movies, “The Dead Pool,” both starring Eastwood. In addition, Valdes was an executive producer on the Eastwood-directed films “Unforgiven,” which won four Oscars®, including Best Picture; “Bird,” starring Forest Whitaker as Charlie “Bird” Parker; and “White Hunter, Black Heart.” He also executive produced Wolfgang Petersen’s “In the Line of Fire,” starring Eastwood.

In addition, Valdes has collaborated on four films with Francis Ford Coppola, including serving as a co-executive producer on the Vietnam War-era drama “Gardens of Stone.”

A California native, Valdes earned a Bachelor of Theatre Arts degree from UCLA, magna cum laude, and began his film career as an assistant director alongside such esteemed directors as Martin Scorsese and Wim Wenders, as well as Eastwood and Coppola. The films on which he worked include “Raging Bull,” “Oh God! Book II,” “Any Which Way You Can,” “Hammett,” “The Outsiders,” “Rumble Fish,” “Sudden Impact” and “Tightrope.” He segued into producing as an associate producer on Eastwood’s “Pale Rider” in 1984.

He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Latino Theater Company (LTC) and is also a mentor to graduate students at the USC Peter Stark graduate producers program.

AARON RYDER (Producer) currently serves as President of FilmNation Entertainment, where he oversees the entire slate. Since joining the company in 2009, as its President of Production, Ryder has produced such films as the award-winning “Mud,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon; “House at the End of the Street,” starring Jennifer Lawrence; and James McTeigue’s “The Raven,” starring John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe..

Earlier in his career, Ryder served as head of production for Newmarket Capital, where he was an executive producer on Christopher Nolan’s Oscar®-nominated drama “Memento”; Gore Verbinski’s crime comedy “The Mexican,” starring Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and James Gandolfini; and “Donnie Darko,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal in the title role.

After working with directors like Nolan and Verbinski, Ryder shifted his focus to build Newmarket’s distribution arm by acquiring films, including “Monster,” which brought an Oscar® to Charlize Theron, and “Whale Rider.”

Ryder went on to form his own production entity, Raygun Productions, in 2004. In 2006, he reunited with Nolan to produce the mystery thriller “The Prestige,” starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. His producing credits also include “Hamlet 2” and “My One and Only.”

JESS HALL (Director of Photography) most recently lensed James Ponsoldt’s award-winning independent drama “The Spectacular Now.” He has also served as the cinematographer on such films as Julian Jarrold’s “Brideshead Revisited”, Edgar Wright’s “Hot Fuzz,” Jon Amiel’s “Creation,” Ruben Fleischer’s “30 Minutes or Less,” Garth Jennings’ “Son of Rambow,” and a segment of the horror anthology “Grindhouse.”

Born in England, Hall studied Film and Fine Art at London’s esteemed Central Saint Martins and New York University. He began his career working on music videos and commercials with directors such as Rupert Sanders and Ringan Ledwidge. He has also worked on various documentaries and short films, including Kevin Macdonald’s “Marley,” John Malkovich’s “Hideous Man” and Chris Palmer’s “The Boy with Chocolate Fingers.”

CHRIS SEAGERS (Production Designer) recently served as the production designer on Bruce Robinson’s “The Rum Diary” and Matthew Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class.” He had previously been Tony Scott’s production designer of choice, working with the director on the actioners “Unstoppable,” “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” “Déjà Vu,” “Domino” and “Man on Fire.” He was also the production designer for the Morocco unit on Scott’s “Spy Game.”

Seagers has also served as an art director on such films as Steven Spielberg’s Oscar®-winning World War II drama “Saving Private Ryan,” for which he earned an Art Directors Guild Award nomination; the Neil Jordan-directed films “The Good Thief,” “The End of the Affair” and “The Crying Game”; and Peter Howitt’s “Johnny English,” among others.

DAVID ROSENBLOOM (Editor) earned an Academy Award® nomination for his editing work on Michael Mann’s award-winning drama “The Insider.” He has also worked repeatedly with a number of other directors. For Gregory Hoblit, Rosenbloom edited the features “Primal Fear,” “Frequency,” “Hart’s War,” “Fracture” and “Untraceable.” He also collaborated with Mimi Leder on the films “The Peacemaker,” “Pay It Forward” and “Deep Impact,” and with David Anspaugh on the films “Fresh Horses,” “Rudy” and “Moonlight and Valentino.”

Rosenbloom’s more recent film work includes Scott Cooper’s “Out of the Furnace,” Tarsem Singh’s “Immortals” and Mikael Håfström’s “The Rite.” His additional film editing credits include Peter Berg’s “Friday Night Lights,” Roger Donaldson’s “The Recruit,” and William Friedkin’s “Blue Chips.”

He began his career in television, editing the first three seasons of the groundbreaking series “Hill Street Blues,” followed by pilots for such series as “Miami Vice” and “I’ll Fly Away,” for which he earned an Emmy nomination.

NATHAN McGUINNESS (Visual Effects Supervisor) is an Oscar®-nominated visual effects supervisor who most recently worked on Ron Howard’s “Rush,” Justin Lin’s “Fast & Furious 6” and Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables.”

McGuinness was nominated for an Academy Award® in 2004 for his work on Peter Weir’s “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” for which he also received a BAFTA Award nomination. He won a BAFTA Award for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and also earned nominations for Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report” and Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!”

McGuinness’ wide array of projects also includes Michael Bay’s “Transformers,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Pearl Harbor”; Gore Verbinski’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”; McG’s “Terminator Salvation” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle”; Tim Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Planet of the Apes”; and Peter Jackson’s “King Kong.”

GEORGE L. LITTLE (Costume Designer) previously worked with director Kathryn Bigelow on the Oscar®-winning films “Zero Dark Thirty,” for which he received a Costume Designers Guild Award nomination, and “The Hurt Locker.”

He has also frequently collaborated with director John Moore on such films such as “Behind Enemy Lines,” “Fight of the Phoenix,” “The Omen” and “Max Payne.” His other costume designer credits include the independent films “The Crazies” and “Warm Bodies.”

Little is currently designing the costumes for Josh Trank’s reboot of “The Fantastic Four,” set for release in 2015.

MYCHAEL DANNA (Composer) won an Oscar® and a Golden Globe Award for his score for Ang Li’s acclaimed 2012 drama “Life of Pi.”  He earned a second Oscar® nomination, for Best Song, for “Pi’s Lullaby,” as well as BAFTA Award, Grammy Award and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for the score.

His upcoming films include “Devil’s Knot” and “The Captive,” both for director Atom Egoyan.

Danna hails from Canada, where he has won five Genie Awards, the latest for his score for “Water,” directed by Deepa Mehta.  He has won four of his Genie Awards for his composing work on the Egoyan-directed films “Ararat,” “Felicia’s Journey,” “The Sweet Hereafter” and “Exotica.”  Danna has also repeatedly collaborated with other noted filmmakers, including Bennett Miller, on “Moneyball” and “Capote”; Mira Nair, on “Vanity Fair,” “Monsoon Wedding” and “Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love”; Ang Lee, on “Ride with the Devil” and “The Ice Storm”; Billy Ray, on “Breach” and “Shattered Glass”; and Terry Gilliam, on “Tideland” and “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.”

In addition, Danna composed the score for the hit “Little Miss Sunshine,” for which he shared in a Grammy Award nomination for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album.  His long list of film composing credits also includes “Going the Distance”; “(500) Days of Summer”; Neil LaBute’s “Lakeview Terrace”; the animated “Surf’s Up”; Gregory Hoblit’s “Fracture”; István Szabó’s “Being Julia”; Denzel Washington’s directorial debut, “Antwone Fisher”; Scott Hicks’ “Hearts in Atlantis”; James Mangold’s “Girl, Interrupted”; and Joel Schumacher’s “8MM.” 

For television, Danna won an Emmy Award for his score for the miniseries “World Without End,” and received an Emmy nomination for the main title theme of the Starz original series “Camelot.”  In addition, he has composed music for such series as “Medium,” “Dollhouse,” “New Amsterdam” and “Avonlea.” 

He studied music composition at the University of Toronto, winning the Glenn Gould Composition Scholarship in 1985.