In the span of a single day, the town of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run towards the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot.
Told through the eyes and lenses of professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople, “Into the Storm” throws you directly into the eye of the storm to experience Mother Nature at her most extreme.
From New Line Cinema, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, comes the action-packed disaster thriller “Into the Storm.” The film was directed by Steven Quale (“Final Destination 5”), and produced by Todd Garner (“Zookeeper,” “Knight and Day”)
In the span of just a few hours, the city of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of the most furious twisters they’ve ever seen. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run toward the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot.
Told through the eyes and lenses of professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople, “Into the Storm” throws you directly into the eye of the storm to experience Mother Nature at her most extreme.
“Into the Storm” stars Richard Armitage (“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”), Sarah Wayne Callies (TV’s “The Walking Dead”), Matt Walsh (“Ted”), Alycia Debnam-Carey (“Where the Devil Hides”), Arlen Escarpeta (“Final Destination 5”), Max Deacon (“Hatfields & McCoys”), Nathan Kress (TV’s “iCarly”), Jeremy Sumpter (“Soul Surfer,” TV’s “Friday Night Lights”), Kyle Davis (“Friday the 13th”) and Jon Reep (“Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay”).
Quale directed the film from a screenplay by John Swetnam. The executive producers are Richard Brener, Walter Hamada, Dave Neustadter, Mark McNair, Jeremy Stein and Bruce Berman.
Quale’s behind-the-scenes creative team consists of several members of his “Final Destination 5” roster, including director of photography Brian Pearson, production designer David R. Sandefur, editor Eric Sears and composer Brian Tyler, as well as costume designer Kimberly Adams (associate costume designer the “Chronicles of Narnia” films).
New Line Cinema presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Broken Road production, “Into the Storm.” The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
There is no calm before the storm…
In the funnel of a massive EF5 tornado, the highest point on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, winds whip at more than 200 miles per hour. The sheer fury of such a twister can—and usually does—destroy everything in its path. “Into the Storm,” a cli-fi disaster thriller, takes moviegoers on an intensely wild ride right inside an EF5, as awesome as it is devastating.
“What do you do when confronted by a two mile-wide tornado coming at you?” asks director Steven Quale. “Do you hunker down, do you run away, or you run toward it? I thought it would be really interesting to show how different people react, to see who rises to the occasion when faced with such an imposing natural phenomenon and there’s nowhere to go, no place to hide.”
The idea for “Into the Storm” came from producer Todd Garner, who was keen on exploring what can happen when Mother Nature wields one of her most terrifying and destructive weapons.
“Tornadoes, in their most perfect form, are like monsters,” Garner relates. “It can feel like they’re actually chasing you, and yet their path also seems completely random. I grew up in Los Angeles living under the threat of earthquakes, which are scary because they are so unpredictable. But for the most part they happen and a few seconds later, it’s over. Tornadoes let you know they’re coming, so you have to live with the anticipation of how much damage they might do.”
The producer felt that audiences would be in even more suspense if the film was presented in first-person narrative, essentially putting them behind the cameras. “I love how that style really brings the viewer into a story, almost as if you’re an unseen character who is part of the experience, going along for the ride.”
Quale considered Garner’s concept of a first-person camera style within a disaster film to be a great pairing. “I’ve always thought that the closer a movie is to happening in real time, the more tension you can have; there’s a certain built-in urgency,” he says. “It’s a difficult process when you’re looking at all the action that takes place in a story like this, so I knew it would be a fun challenge to take on.”
Garner took his idea to screenwriter John Swetnam, who developed it into a script. “Todd Garner approached me with an idea to do a POV tornado movie and I immediately knew how I would execute it. It was about using today’s technology to really get on the ground level and have the audience experience these storms up close. I lived in Tennessee for years, and have many friends still there who have been through the devastation of these tornadoes, so it was something that felt close to home for me, and I wanted to do their stories justice. At the end of the day, my goal was to tell an entertaining story that also had a real sense of heart. This is an inspirational tale about how far people will go for the ones they love, and how, when people band together, they can persevere and overcome any obstacle.”
“What I liked about John’s screenplay is that it wasn’t just a spectacle disaster movie,” Quale recalls. “It had a variety of interesting characters that you followed in a believable, day-in-the-life manner. We feel the angst of a high school kid trying to ask out a girl for the first time as well as his relationship with his father at that awkward teenage stage. There’s a group of storm chasers with different views of how to go about determining the path of something as erratic as the ultimate storm, and even a couple of local guys who videotape themselves doing crazy things so they can be on the Internet.”
It was the role of the everyman facing extraordinary circumstances that drew actor Richard Armitage, who plays a single dad, to the project. “No matter who you are, I think a series of crushing tornadoes coming through your town forces you to find out just what kind of person you are. I was excited to play a very ordinary man thrust into a situation whereby he has to behave in a way he could never prepare for,” he offers. “The analogy I thought of was, if you walked past a burning building and heard a child screaming, are you the kind of person who runs in to save him or are you the one who looks around for someone else to do it?”
Actress Sarah Wayne Callies was also captivated by the evolution of the relationships that occurs over the course of this disaster-laden day. “Under what can only be described as incredibly chaotic events, people begin as strangers and then experience, in the course of a few hours together, incredible intensity and an overwhelming range of emotions. By the end of one very long, very bad experience, they come to mean something to one another in the way that only people who endure this kind of crisis together can. That was something I was very eager to explore.”
The filmmakers knew that, apart from the human relationships in the film, the most important element for moviegoers would be that monster of a cyclone. In a world with cell phone cameras, 24/7 news cycles and the Internet, savvy viewers know what such a storm should look like. It was the job of Quale’s visual effects team, led by VFX producer Randall Starr, to deliver an EF5 that would keep even weather junkies on the edge of their seats.
Quale states, “Whether in person or through media coverage, we all know how devastating natural disasters can be. I grew up in the Midwest and was very aware of the power of tornadoes. With this film, we wanted to do justice to this uncontrollable force—to put audiences right into the eye of the storm and show how breathtaking it can be.”
On the morning of what would become the most terrifying day of their lives, many of the younger citizens of Silverton were anticipating one of the best: their high school graduation. A seminal moment in everyone’s life, it’s generally marked by memories one hopes will last a lifetime. Such recollections are usually expected to be good ones, but that’s not what the kids, teachers and parents of Silverton will have.
As vice principal of Silverton High School, Gary Fuller is largely responsible for making sure everything goes smoothly at the ceremony. However, even before he leaves his house that morning, the weather report gives him pause.
Cast in the role, Armitage notes, “On any given day, Gary has a lot on his plate. He’s a vice principal, an upstanding member of the community, prominent in the school and somebody that the kids look to for support, someone they rely on. And he’s the father of two teenage boys, Donnie and Trey, whose mother died, so he has to be both mom and dad to them.”
“Richard is a very charismatic actor,” Quale states. “He has a quiet but commanding presence, and he brought a lot of inner strength to the character who, because he’s not the top dog at work, has had to learn to be very diplomatic. He’s a caring father, too, and he’s trying to apply that diplomacy to his home situation. Of course it doesn’t necessarily always work as well with your own kids.”
The unexpected ferocity of the weather thrusts Gary out of his comfort zone and into a position of a reluctant hero who has no choice, really, but to rise to the occasion. Not only must he look out for the students under his care at the school, including Trey, but making matters worse, Donnie is nowhere to be found. It didn’t take long for Armitage to develop his own protective nature when it came to the actors playing his on-screen sons.
“At first it was a bit of a shock to realize I was playing the father of a 17- and a 16-year-old,” he recalls. “I kind of looked at them as mates, but then as we began to work, I did begin to feel protective of them, especially Max, and our off-screen relationship began to reflect that.”
Max Deacon plays Donnie Morris, the older brother who, from the very start, has a somewhat thorny relationship with his dad. That’s not helped by Donnie’s decision to ditch his duties filming the graduation ceremony in order to hang out with his longtime crush, Kaitlyn.
“Donnie is a kid who is very thoughtful, introverted, introspective,” Garner relates. “He’s seeing the world through a camera lens, more comfortable capturing other people’s reactions and emotions than his own.”
Offering further insight into the character, Deacon says, “I felt like he was in that stage of his life where he was in his own head a lot of the time. He’s in the AV club at school and kind of does his own thing. He’s not a nerd, and he’s not popular; he just exists in his own world. He’s supposed to be making a video time capsule for the school, but he’s not really into it—probably because his dad asked him to do it.”
“Max has a very natural, believable delivery and a great command of the craft,” Quale says. “It was a joy to work with him, and he and Richard and Nathan had a great rapport, on and off camera.”
Part of Donnie’s insular nature stems from the loss of his mother. “I think Trey has adjusted a little bit better to the changes in their lives,” Deacon observes. “But they have a good banter and, even with the sort of strained relationship with their dad, the brothers are very close. What’s interesting is that Donnie is a lot more like his dad than he realizes. They both play by the rules most of the time but, in a way, that’s probably why he’s rebelling against him.”
Nathan Kress plays the slightly younger, significantly more extroverted sophomore, Trey Morris. “I have older and younger brothers, so that’s a familiar situation for me to play,” he says. “Trey is always joking, always going for the laugh, and trying to get Donnie to loosen up, too.”
Quale appreciated the playful nature the actor brought to Trey. “Nathan’s really funny. He has an innate comedic sensibility that added a little levity to his scenes. Even amidst these very dire situations—enormous tornadoes coming at them and so forth—he could throw a one-liner in a way that didn’t feel out of place for the scene or the character.”
Kress concedes that Trey is also “a bit of a troublemaker, though he doesn’t see it that way until he realizes he was the one who encouraged Donnie to approach Kaitlyn, and he thinks, because of that, Donnie might be in real trouble. I think that’s why Trey is determined to help search for him, though his dad would like him to be somewhere safe.”
Unfortunately, Donnie and Kaitlyn are directly in harm’s way. After volunteering to help her with a video project concerning environmental awareness, he goes with her to an abandoned paper mill. But once the storm hits, the structure begins to fall in on them, trapping them in a closed-in space that is rapidly filling with water.
Alycia Debnam-Carey, who plays Kaitlyn, says, “Filming in the pit was hard. It was really confined, wet, cold and dark…and with the pelting sound of the rain and wind machines outside it was a little overwhelming. But the realistic conditions really got our adrenaline pumping and helped our performances. And we had great crew members down there with us, so it felt like we were all in it together.”
Unlike the many residents of Silverton attempting to run from the oncoming atmospheric assault, a small group of professional storm chasers has come to town with the intent of getting as close to a twister as possible—in fact, right inside the funnel, if it can be done. Meteorologist Allison Stone, portrayed by Sarah Wayne Callies, is charged with the difficult task of pinpointing and tracking the path of the storm front. The actress met with a professor of meteorology at the University of Michigan to research the role.
“Allison’s prior experience of weather events like these has been primarily academic,” Callies offers. “She’s has a PhD, so she understands the science of it. She also comes at this job from the perspective of, if we can make people more aware of what’s going on with climate change—what she believes to be the underlying cause of these mounting weather events—we can generate public demand for modification. On the other hand, she’s also a single mom with a little girl at home, so while she has to make a living, she’s not really trying to be a big risk taker.”
Single parenthood is something Allison and Gary share, though they have little time to draw comparisons. “Basically, Allison meets Gary when she’s flying through the air—literally—and he grabs hold of her and saves her. It’s a pretty intense introduction,” Callies laughs. “Had they met under any other circumstances, other than this crazy storm, they probably would have just been ships that pass in the night. But they’re a good example of how two people, thrown together in these incredibly chaotic conditions, become allies and even develop instant intimacy the way people in a common crisis can.”
Quale felt the actress embodied all the qualities he wanted for the character. “Sarah has an effortless intelligence as well as a tangible sensibility and compassion that really come across on camera and made her perfect for Allison,” he says.
While Allison and Gary are able to work together toward a common goal, she has a much more contentious relationship with her boss, storm chaser and documentary filmmaker Pete Moore. At, as Pete puts it, “0 for 365 over the past year,” he is more than a little panicked about getting a tornado on film for his tornado-themed documentary, and he makes no secret of the fact that the responsibility for that failure falls largely on Allison’s shoulders.
“Pete heads up the storm chasing team,” cites Matt Walsh, who plays the role. “He’s spent the last ten years perfecting the ideal vehicle—he calls it the Titus—and this was supposed to have been the season that he gets inside the eye of a tornado and films what no one’s ever shot before. But they’ve been on the road for three months and have nothing that can’t be found on the internet, so his investor’s pulling his money. He blames it on Allison because all of her fancy data analysis hasn’t come through. And he had wanted to hire someone else anyway, someone like him, who goes more on instinct.”
“Pete’s really at the end of his rope,” Quale adds. “He’s been doing this a long time and he hasn’t found the success he wants, so he has an air of desperation about him. Matt was great.”
In addition to Allison and Pete, the storm-chasing crew consists of three camera operators: Lucas, played by Lee Whittaker; Daryl, played by Arlen Escarpeta; and Jacob, played by Jeremy Sumpter.
“Lucas is Pete’s right-hand man and they’ve been working together for years,” Whittaker states. “Like Pete, he has no fear. It’s all about getting the shot.”
Having done a great deal of stunt work throughout his career, Whittaker found his background especially suitable for his work in “Into the Storm.” “They put me in front of the pack for a lot of the scenes—vehicles crashing into each other, a big tree falling—because I’m used to gauging and reacting to dangerous elements in a scene and creating a safe zone behind me for the other actors.”
Escarpeta, who previously worked with Quale in “Final Destination 5,” says his favorite part of playing Daryl was operating the camera. “The prop steady cam was great. It was really fun to learn how to work the angles, the balance, and figure out how to walk very smoothly and gently, but also be strong enough to hold the camera and tilt it up and down and so on. And the hand-held cameras, you could jump, run, anything…wherever I went, my camera went. I really enjoyed it.”
The actor also liked working under Quale’s direction again. “I really respect Steve. He has a great eye and he’s very hands-on, and he knows how to get the maximum benefit out of every frame of film. He’s always prepared to capture what’s happening in the foreground, as well as that action over there, and so on—the full scope—so you get the full experience.”
Though Lucas is an old pro and Daryl has some experience, Jacob is completely new to storm chasing. “Jacob and Daryl are friends, which is how he comes on board,” Sumpter relates. “So he’s hoping to impress Pete, but he gets a little more than he bargained for when things get crazy.”
In trying to get the all-important shot, Jacob lingers a little too long in the path of the storm, requiring a bit of wire work for Sumpter—designed and supervised by stunt coordinators Bob Brown and Scott Workman. “In the scene, there’s a huge tornado and an explosion, and I’m running in the opposite direction when they pull me up into the wind, about 40 feet in the air,” Sumpter recalls. “It was pretty awesome.”
While Pete and his team put themselves in harm’s way primarily, if not solely, for the greater good, Silverton’s homegrown adrenaline junkies, Donk, a self-proclaimed amateur daredevil with a whopping 302 YouTube hits, and Reevis, his accomplice and instigator, come up with wacky ways to harm themselves for their own amusement—and to entertain their friends and “fans” on the internet. When they spot the Titus rolling through town, they immediately follow, video camera in hand, hoping to make their own history.
According to Quale, Kyle Davis’s Donk and Jon Reep’s Reevis provide a little humor to the increasingly serious tone of the film as the tornadoes appear and the suspense builds. “Kyle and Jon were just great as Donk and Reevis, exactly what we needed,” he says. “I’ve always found that a little levity goes a long way, and keeps things feeling more realistic, too. Often in real-life dramatic circumstances, someone will try to make a joke just to ease the tension; it’s a very natural reaction in a fearful situation. In a film, it also gives the audience a chance to let out the breath they’ve been holding if they’re really into the action on screen.”
Donk and Reevis trail after the real storm chasers in their beat-up 1980s pickup truck, on which they’ve attached several rotted plywood boards with duct tape, thinking that will protect them from the tornado. “What happens, naturally, is the complete opposite of what they thought would,” Quale allows. “They’re loveable, silly guys who don’t have a clue…or anything that comes close to the Titus.”
In “Into the Storm,” storm chaser Pete Moore hopes to document the ultimate tornado from right inside the very heart of it, and he’s created the ultimate vehicle to do just that: the Titus. Designed by David Sandefur, the film’s production designer, the Titus is outfitted with bulletproof Lexan windows, 4mm solid steel armor plating, a 12-ton capacity winch, and a mini weather center complete with anemometer, a humidity sensor and a potentiometer.
“The Titus was the first thing I started designing, and it was a lot of fun,” Sandefur says. “I took a lot of inspiration from armored vehicles—tanks, personnel carriers—as well as stealth naval ships. We wanted it to look like it just had what was required, nothing space-aged, purely functional.”
Built by specialists at Detroit’s Kustom Creations, using a modified Dodge pickup truck chassis as its base, the Titus was designed to stay firmly rooted to the ground in winds up to 170 miles per hour. To achieve this, it has custom grappling claws: heavy steel struts that, when triggered, just out from its sides and drive anchors deep into the earth.
“Custom Creations did a phenomenal job,” Sandefur continues. “They went above and beyond—that thing could probably run for 100,000 miles the way they constructed it.”
The Titus’s job is not only to withstand the powerful forces of a tornado, but to document it as well. Mounted to its roof is a glass turret with a full 360-degree view for maximum coverage by the gyroscopic stabilized digital cinema camera tucked inside, just one of 24 cameras mounted onto the vehicle to capture the ultimate shot inside the eye of the storm.
Quale was equally captivated by the finished product. “It was so impressive when they first delivered it; it was this perfectly painted, gorgeous beast of a vehicle,” he remembers. “Unfortunately, in order for it to look like it’s been built over several years and driving around looking for weather systems for months at a time, we had to muddy it up, dent it…make it look like it’s been through hell before it even drives into our little town.”
Ironically, in filming “Into the Storm,” one of the production’s major obstacles was the weather. “We chose Michigan because it’s a beautiful state, very flat, very close to the topography of the Tornado Alley states, and they have weather—real weather,” Quale notes. “Except when we were there.”
Director of photography Brian Pearson elaborates, “The biggest challenge I faced on this film was the weather, the sun, wind and rain—and we made the rain. Much of the film was written to take place under cloudy skies. However, shooting in the greater Detroit area in the middle of summer meant it was sunny 25 days out of the month…exactly what we didn’t want.”
The production utilized daily two or three 120-foot construction cranes that could each fly a 40 foot-by-60 foot truss covered with charcoal-colored grid-cloth above the set, which diffused the sun. “I wanted the highlights and reflections on the actors’ faces to look as if a cloudy, dark sky was above them,” he continues. “We covered the foreground elements with this man-made shade to make it look cloudy, and everything else in the background of the shot that had sun on it was left to the visual effects department to work with. This was especially challenging for them because of all the foreground practical rain elements.”
Pearson says the man-made torrential rain and punishing winds were also a challenge at first. “Once we got rid of the sun, there were 100 foot-long rain-bars pouring down water and 100 mile-per-hour high wind machines blowing it toward the cast, cameras and camera crew. Water got into everything, but the camera team did a wonderful job keeping the equipment dry and working, and the water off the lenses.
One way Pearson’s crew dealt with the rain, he reveals, was to use the “eliminator spray deflectors. They’re fantastic. They’re loud, a little bulky, but they spin at an extremely high 5000 RPMs and whisk the water right off the lens immediately. You could pretty much throw a bucket of water on the lens and it was spun away instantly, and that was a real asset for us under these torrential conditions.”
Despite the lack of rain coming from the sky, the actors dealt with manufactured wind and rain for more than half the shoot, requiring them to be wet—or look it—most of the time. To achieve this, the hair department used leave-in conditioner on the actors’ hair. And though each actor had essentially one outfit to wear, because of the effects of the “weather,” costume designer Kimberly Adams and her team created dozens of the same costume for each of the main cast in various stages: clean, dirty, torn, and so forth.
The actors weren’t the only ones who had to look as though they were hit with Mother Nature’s wrath; the town of Silverton had to be created and then appear to be destroyed, street by street, building by building. Once he had the Titus design behind him, Sandefur began his research.
“Steven and I have a really good shorthand in talking about the look of a film. Once I knew what he wanted, I searched for photos of real locations that had been through tornadoes and would correlate to what was needed for the film, then had the set pieces illustrated for each phase.”
One key set for Sandefur was the school. Oak View Middle School in Oakland Township, Michigan, doubled for Silverton High. “We warned them it was going to be a tornado movie. It was all just on the surface, though—we didn’t break anything other than a window and a few sidewalks, but as in all movie magic, it all gets swept away. We returned it to them in pristine condition. It was a beautiful school, and it’s beautiful again,” the production designer smiles.
Sandefur admits the end result didn’t keep their Oak View liaison from worrying. “He worked with us the entire time and kept a good attitude about it, but you could see in his eyes sometimes he had to be thinking, ‘What did you guys do to my school?’ But I think now they probably have a better-looking campus than they started with.”
Another of the major post-tornado destruction scenes takes place on a residential street near the Fuller’s home. It took the art department about three weeks to make the Auburn Hills neighborhood look like a tornado hit it, utilizing empty lots between newly constructed houses. They spent nearly a week cleaning it up when they were through.
The abandoned paper factory drainage pit where Donnie and Kaitlyn become trapped was shot in three different locations: an old warehouse, a dirt lot serving as the exterior, and on stage at Michigan Motion Picture Studios. The pit itself made for close quarters during filming, at a mere eight feet deep, six feet wide and ten feet long, with the actors and necessary crew treading in up to 10,000 gallons of water. The claustrophobic conditions served the film well, providing the two actors, Max Deacon and Alycia Debnam-Carey, realistic conditions to draw on for their scenes together.
Adding another touch of realism throughout the film is the weather van that accompanies the Titus wherever it goes, providing meteorologist Allison and the rest of the storm chasing team with up-to-the-minute statistics and, in essence, a sense of where the next storm will hit. Sandefur designed it so it would be functional for filming, and set decorator Brana Rosenfeld met with premiere storm chasers in order to determine exactly what equipment—from Doppler radar to the array of eight computer monitors—should be inside.
“The work that David and his team did was such an integral part of the realistic look we wanted in this movie,” Quale states. “For example, it’s not that easy to get debris to look believable, and there was a ton of that required in this film. But David was also able to locate and rent debris from a salvage company, so we had an enormous supply of giant I-beams and bricks and more to strategically place among the plaster and foam molds. He created a really synergistic look and it shows.”
Quale’s extensive background in visual effects meant he knew exactly what he needed to create the monster-sized tornadoes that ravage the fictional town in “Into the Storm” and leave audiences breathless. To accomplish that formidable task, he turned to visual effects producer Randall Starr.
“The very first work Steve and I tackled was pre-visualization, crafting what we wanted the sequences to look like in the computer,” Starr relates. “A tornado is hard to visualize in three dimensions if you’re using flat storyboards, so computer pre-vis was critical in order to get the essence of how it would appear, and also what the storm chasers in the film would see when they were trying to intercept it. We had to do this numerous times for different sequences in the film because they encounter twisters of various types, such as traditional wedge tornadoes, slender rope tornadoes, a fire tornado and a massive two-mile-wide tornado. Once we could ‘see,’ or visualize, each tornado in the computer for ourselves, we turned to Hollywood’s top visual effects companies to begin the process of photorealistic renderings of every aspect of the tornado, from the supercell clouds to the shape of the funnel to the blowing ground debris.”
In addition to creating tornadoes that weren’t actually there, the VFX team had to remove numerous elements that were, but weren’t supposed to be. According to Starr, “Not only did we have to replace the blue skies, which were supposed to be cloudy, but we also replaced the trees, bushes, grass, cars and, in some cases, entire city streets. In an actual tornado, these elements are completely demolished, so the VFX team needed to destroy nearly every element in the original frame. At the end of the day, we were questioning, well, what’s left in the original plate except the foreground actor?” he laughs. Of course, having the actors in the real setting worked best since it gave Quale the opportunity to elicit real performances from them as they battled the raging winds and fierce conditions.
Starr’s team quickly discovered that in addition to the tornado itself, “our job was really about how the tornado was effecting the environment around them by ravaging foliage and kicking up enormous amounts of debris. So, wherever there’s a tornado we had to create the digital fury kicked up by the storm, including digital rain, debris, tree trunks, branches, car parts and whatnot.”
Starr is also quick to point out that the movie relied heavily on practical special effects as well. “We needed their help to create enormous wind with large fans to blow leaves, debris and dust. Everything that you see in the film where clothes or hair is blowing on the actors, or grass is blowing in the background, was all accomplished with practical effects.”
Special effects were integral to one of the most harrowing scenes in the film, which takes place in a storm drain where a group of people have taken shelter, trying to escape the coming E5 twister above. The cast and crew were subjected to 100-mile-per-hour winds and rain and rubble flying through the air all around them. “That definitely called for a lot of practical effects and was a real challenge for everyone who was there. Such great effects made it much easier to believe there was a huge tornado coming right for them,” Starr says.
Another key component to capturing the overwhelming assault of the tempest in “Into the Storm” is the intense, deafening sound that accompanies it, which was overseen by supervising sound editor Per Hallberg. “Per is an amazing sound editor and designer,” Quale raves. “For such a visual story as this, he created an experience in sound that I think even if you closed your eyes, you’d still be terrified by what’s coming based solely on what you are hearing.”
The director recalls that, when they first began working together, “Per told me, ‘I’m going to have a field day with this, I can do lots of things here.’ And he did, he really found a way to use both sound, and the absence of it, to incredible effect.”
Another aural aspect of the film is the music. Composer Brian Tyler created an emotional context for the story as it builds from just an ordinary day to the most extraordinary experience in the characters’ lives.
Quale summarizes, “My hope is that when audiences see this film, they will be in awe of what Mother Nature can do. I also hope they are emotionally moved by what the characters go through, how they come to understand what matters in life—the importance of family, our humanity. And, finally, that we will have taken them on the kind of thrill ride you can only find at the movies.”
RICHARD ARMITAGE (Gary) has been a favorite of critics and audiences in the UK for several years, and his popularity is quickly rising worldwide.
Armitage, who originated the part of Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” most recently reprised his role in the second part of the Trilogy, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” and will appear in the final film, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” due out in December.
Armitage gained a huge fan following in the UK with starring roles in such high-profile television productions as “North and South,” “Spooks (US title: MI-5),” “Robin Hood” and “Strike Back.”
His first film in the U.S. was the 2011 hit “Captain America: The First Avenger,” directed by Joe Johnston and starring Chris Evans in the title role. Armitage played the super hero’s nemesis, Heinz Kruger, in the film, which also starred Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci and Hayley Atwell.
His recent television credits include “Macbeth,” part of the BBC’s 2005 “ShakespeaRe-told” miniseries, opposite James McAvoy and Keeley Hawes, and the ITV telefilm “Marple: Ordeal by Innocence.” British TV audiences have also seen him on such programs as “Sparkhouse,” “Cold Feet,” “Ultimate Force” and “Between the Sheets.”
Born and raised in Leicester, England, Armitage was classically trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). He has appeared in numerous stage productions, including such plays as “Hamlet,” “The Four Alice Bakers,” “Macbeth” and “The Duchess of Malfi.”
SARAH WAYNE CALLIES (Allison) has made an indelible impression on television audiences by portraying strong, independent women in adverse circumstances. She starred in the highly acclaimed AMC series “The Walking Dead,” about a group of survivors navigating a post-apocalyptic world. It premiered in October 2010 and garnered the largest number of viewers for any series premiere that year. Additionally, the show was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 2011 for Best Television Series – Drama. The second season premiered in October 2011 and broke cable records with 7.3 million viewers. The midseason premiere later broke that record with 8.1 million viewers.
Callies was also seen in “Black November,” directed by Nigerian filmmaker Jeta Amata, alongside Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Anne Heche, Akon and Wyclef Jean. The movie premiered at the Library of Congress, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC and was screened in September 2012 for the United Nations before its theater release in December of that year.
Callies recently wrapped production on “The Other Side of the Door” in Mumbai, India. Johannes Roberts wrote and is directing the horror thriller, starring Callies as a woman who loses her 8-year-old son and must find him in the Mumbai underworld.
From 2005 to 2009, Callies starred with Wentworth Miller in the hit FOX television drama “Prison Break.” The show aired four seasons and was nominated in 2006 for a Golden Globe Award for Best Dramatic Television Series.
Prior to “Prison Break,” Callies had multiple recurring roles in such projects as the CBS series “Queens Supreme,” which aired from 2003-2005; as Jane in the WB’s series “Tarzan,” from producer Laura Ziskin; and she starred in and co-produced the CBC pilot “Tangled.”
In 2011, Callies starred in the independent feature film “Foreverland,” with Juliette Lewis. The previous year, she appeared with Rupert Friend and Forest Whitaker in “Lullaby for Pi,” a film about a washed-up musician who befriends a reclusive artist with an unusual name. This film gave Callies the opportunity to highlight her passion for music by contributing to the soundtrack, writing and performing an original song for the film.
Callies made her feature film debut in 2006 as the female lead in the adaptation of James Redfield’s international best-selling novel The Celestine Prophecy. In this mystical adventure film, Callies acted alongside Annabeth Gish, Hector Elizondo and Jurgen Prochnow.
In addition to acting, Callies wrote the feature screenplay, “Elena’s Serenade,” which she adapted from Campbell Geeslin's award-winning children's book. The story centers on a girl who crosses the Mexican desert to become a glass blower.
Callies was born in Illinois to two college professors and spent most of her childhood in Honolulu, Hawaii. Throughout her youth, she expressed her interest in acting by participating in numerous plays at the independent Punahou School. In 2002, she earned a Master of Fine Arts in classical acting from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver. During her time there, she appeared in several stage productions with the Denver Center Theatre Company. She had previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in Drama from Dartmouth College, with a minor in Women’s Studies and a Senior Fellowship in Indigenous Theology.
In 2002, Callies became affiliated with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which helps to raise awareness about the humanitarian needs of refugees worldwide. They offer life-saving care and life changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. As the granddaughter of a refugee, this is a cause very close to her heart. In the summer of 2011, Callies was named an IRC “Voice” for the organization.
MATT WALSH (Pete) Walsh currently stars in HBO’s award-winning comedy series “Veep,” as the deadpan press secretary Mike McLintock to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s vice president. This year, Walsh shared a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nomination with his fellow “Veep” cast members in the category of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
Walsh is a founding member of the national improv-sketch comedy theatre Upright Citizens Brigade, which has schools and venues in both New York and Los Angeles. A graduate of Chicago’s ImprovOlympic, Walsh was instructed by the legendary comedy sage Del Close, whose distinguished pupils included John Belushi, Bill Murray, Tina Fey and Mike Myers. Walsh co-founded the Upright Citizens Brigade improv troupe with Amy Poehler, Matt Besser and Ian Roberts in Chicago in 1991. During the group’s performances in New York, Comedy Central had their pulse on the foursome and aired their sketch-improv show, “The Upright Citizens Brigade,” for three seasons, from 1998 to 2000. In 2013, Walsh and his peers co-authored The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual, which received a rave review from The New York Times.
In the wake of his success with “The Upright Citizens Brigade,” Walsh has become a highly coveted actor in films, working with the most renowned directors in the comedy genre. Behind the camera, Walsh made his feature directorial debut in 2011 with the ensemble improvised comedy “High Road,” featuring an all-star cast including Ed Helms, Abby Elliott, Rob Riggle, Horatio Sanz and Joe Lo Truglio. The film earned Walsh the Outstanding Achievement in Directing Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Walsh is finishing his second comedy directorial feature, “A Better You,” about an egocentric L.A.-based hypnotherapist who can cure everyone but himself. The film stars Sanz, Lo Truglio, Rob Huebel, Erinn Hayes, Brian Huskey and Reid Scott, among others.
At the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Walsh received critical praise for his role as a paranoid New York State municipal worker in David Cross’s directorial debut, “Hits.” This summer, he flew to Spain to star in the comedy “Wild Oats,” in which he plays a con man. The film also stars Shirley MacLaine, Demi Moore and Jessica Lange.
Walsh also appeared in Seth MacFarlane’s $500 million-grossing comedy “Ted,” and has appeared in six of Todd Phillips’ hit films, including “The Hangover,” “Old School” and “Due Date.” He has also made memorable turns in such widely appealing comedies as “Step Brothers,” “Elf,” “Cyrus” and “Role Models.” Walsh has also written and starred in a number of independent feature comedies, including “Martin & Orloff” and “Wild Girls Gone,” titles which have headlined a number of his fellow UCB alums.
Walsh created and starred in Spike TV’s sports comedy “Players.” Other TV shows created and/or written by Walsh include Comedy Central’s “Dog Bites Man”; David Arquette and Courteney Cox’s TBS reality show “Daisy Does America”; and the hit MTV sketch show “Human Giant.” Walsh has been a correspondent for “The Daily Show,” hosting such hysterical segments as “Boom Town” and “The Other Killer White Meat.” His other notable TV appearances include HBO’s “Hung” and NBC’s “Outsourced,” as well as a number of guest-starring roles: Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”; NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”; “Animal Practice”; Adult Swim’s “Childrens Hospital” and “NTSF:SD:SUV”; and Comedy Central’s “Pretend Time” and “Drunk History.”
In his spare time during football season, Walsh gets together with his fellow Chicago-buddies, screenwriter Scot Armstrong and actor Joe Nunez, to break down the scores and plays of their beloved hometown team, The Chicago Bears, with their “Bear Down Podcast” http://www.beardownpodcast.com/.
Though Walsh has a busy career on and off screen, he continues to be active with the Upright Citizens Brigade, both as an instructor and performer at their Sunday improv show, “Assssscat.”
ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY (Kaitlyn) is an Australian native who made her feature film debut in Rachel Ward’s “Martha’s New Coat.” She most recently starred alongside Rufus Sewell in this year’s thriller “Where the Devil Hides,” and will next be seen as the lead in Simon Verhoeven’s “Unfriend,” which just completed filming in Germany. She has also appeared in such short films as “Jigsaw Girl,” “At the Tattooist” and “The Branch.”
On the small screen, Debnam-Carey had roles in the popular series “McLeod’s Daughters” and “Dance Academy,” and appeared in the telefilm “Dream Life.” Up next, she will play the female lead in AMC’s upcoming “Galyntine.”
ARLEN ESCARPETA (Daryl) marks his second film directed by Steven Quale with “Into the Storm,” as the two previously teamed up for the New Line Cinema hit “Final Destination 5.” This year, Escarpeta will be seen in the Science Fiction drama “Extant,” produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Halle Berry. He is currently in production as Bobby Brown in the telefilm “I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story,” opposite Yaya DaCosta as Houston, directed by Angela Bassett.
Escarpeta first earned critical acclaim for his breakout role as an honor student caught with a handgun at school in the IFC drama “American Gun.” The film made its premiere at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, and starred Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden and Donald Sutherland. The film was nominated for three Independent Film Spirit Awards, including Best Picture.
In 2010, Escarpeta hit the big screen in the ensemble cast of “Brotherhood,” which also debuted that year at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Two years earlier, he starred in the Michael Bay-produced, re-imagined take on the classic “Friday the 13th.” Prior to that, he starred alongside Matthew McConaughey and David Strathairn in the football feature film “We are Marshall,” directed by McG. Soon after, he shot the film “The Ten,” starring opposite Oliver Platt, and also starring Jessica Alba and Adam Brody. The quirky film made its world premiere at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. His earlier film roles include Carl Franklin’s courtroom thriller “High Crimes,” opposite Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
Perhaps best known for his role as a charismatic college athlete on NBC's “American Dreams,” Escarpeta made his television debut as a guest star on FOX’s “Boston Public.” He has since landed a recurring role on The CW’s “The Secret Circle,” and guest starring roles on hit television shows like FOX’s “House M.D.,” CBS’s “NCIS Los Angeles,” “Without a Trace,” “Cold Case” and “Judging Amy,” NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” and “ER,” and FX’s “The Shield.” He also appeared in the pilot episode of NBC’s “Boomtown” as the ill-fated character Cantrel.
Escarpeta moved to Los Angeles from his native country Belize when he was three years old. A born performer, the youngster began to dance and sing for the Young Saints Scholarship Foundation. During his secondary school years at Hollywood High School, he juggled two roles—performing in several drama productions onstage while serving as a football captain on the gridiron. He went on to attend Pasadena City College, where he concentrated on his sociology studies and the development of his acting career.
MAX DEACON (Donnie) has television credits that include the Emmy-winning “Hatfields & McCoys,” directed by Kevin Reynolds for The History Channel; the BAFTA-nominated “The Promise,” directed by Peter Kosminski; “Casualty”; and “Zip & Hollow.”
His film credits include “Summer in February,” directed by Chris Menaul; “The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich,” directed by Antonin Svoboda; “I, Anna,” directed by Barnaby Southcombe; and “Flashbacks of a Fool,” directed by Baillie Walsh. He is currently in production on Jim Gillespie’s “Take Down.”
NATHAN KRESS (Trey) is known around the world for his lead role on Nickelodeon’s hit show “iCarly.” Kress plays Freddie Benson, Carly’s smitten next-door neighbor and technical producer of her web show. Now that “iCarly” has ended its stellar run, Kress is breaking into feature films.
Born in Glendale, California, Kress began acting at the age of three and quickly landed a feature film role as the voice of Easy the Chimp in “Babe: Pig in the City.” By the fifth grade, he had landed a recurring role as a sketch performer on “The Jimmy Kimmel Show,” playing various characters, one of his favorites being a young Simon Cowell of “American Idol.” Shortly thereafter, he began to book guest-starring roles on such shows as “Without a Trace,” “Standoff,” “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” “House M.D.” and “Notes from the Underbelly.” However, it was his guest role on Nickelodeon’s top-rated show “Drake and Josh” that led the show’s creator, Dan Schneider, to cast him in “iCarly.”
Since then, Kress has starred alongside Christopher Meloni in Nickelodeon’s “Gym Teacher: The Movie”; guest-starred on “True Jackson, VP,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” and “Growing Up Fisher”; and reunited with “iCarly” star Jennette McCurdy on “Sam & Cat.” He also starred in an NBC television movie “Game of Your Life,” which revolved around college students studying video game design.
His future plans are to continue acting and to attend college. As he is a die-hard Bruins fan, his number-one choice school is UCLA.
JEREMY SUMPTER (Jacob) was most recently seen in the independent feature film “Animal,” which was executive produced by Drew Barrymore, and is starring as Augie Baccas in “The Squeeze.” “The Squeeze,” which he also co-produced, is scheduled for release this year and marks Emmy-winning TV sports director Terry Jastrow’s feature film directorial debut. Jastrow directed from his own screenplay, based on a true story. The film is being produced by Jastrow, along with George Parra, Anne Archer, Michael Doven and Brian McCormack. Sumpter recently completed filming “Take Down” in the UK.
Sumpter was born in northern California but grew up in a small town in Kentucky, where his family had moved when he was very young. When he was 11, he entered a talent competition, winning numerous awards. He signed with a personal manager and moved to Los Angeles in 2000. After a few months in Los Angeles and a few auditions, he booked a role in “Frailty,” a feature film directed by Bill Paxton.
He was able to use his surfing skills on his next film, “Local Boys.” Following that, Sumpter was chosen by Danny Glover to play Henry Sturbuck in the Showtime original film “Just a Dream”; for his performance, Sumpter received the Best Performance in a TV Movie, Mini-series or Special—Leading Young Actor from the Young Artist Awards.
After a worldwide search, Sumpter was chosen to play Peter in P.J. Hogan’s version of “Peter Pan.” For the coveted role, he trained extensively in sword fighting and gymnastics prior to shooting the movie in Australia. He then shot “Calvin Marshall,” a feature film which allowed him to show off his baseball skills. He has also appeared in several other features, including “The Sasquatch Gang” and “Soul Surfer,” the true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton.
Well known for his role on the highly acclaimed TV series “Friday Night Lights,” Sumpter also appeared on the small screen in “Clubhouse,” his first series; the TV movie “Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life”; and guest starred on “ER” and “CSI: Miami.”
LEE WHITTAKER (Lucas) has worked extensively on both sides of the lens all over the world. Whittaker began as one of the top stunt performers in the industry with two decades of elite work on some of Hollywood's biggest blockbuster films.
After a decade’s experience as a second unit director and stunt coordinator, Whittaker safely and creatively pushes the boundaries of designing and capturing the most intense extreme action through innovative styles of cinematography.
His Bollywood debut came with the film “Vishwaroopam,” for which he did second unit direction and action direction. The film became one of India’s biggest hits of 2013, and he is currently at work on the sequel. He also directed second unit and action directed another Indian film, the action thriller “Arrambam.”
Most recently, he wrote and directed a short film, “Catching Fireflies,” about a homeless young girl, which is now on the festival circuit as he hopes to make a difference by bringing awareness to this far-reaching topic.
KYLE DAVIS (Donk) has appeared frequently on the small screen, playing characters on such popular series as “Dexter,” “American Horror Story,” “Wilfred,” “NCIS” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” and, most recently, as a regular on the comedy series “Enlisted.” Davis has also been seen in the feature films “Friday the 13th,” “The Hitcher” and “Catch Me If You Can,” among many others.
Born in Downey, California, he lived there until he moved to Arizona, at the age of 14, with his parents. Davis attended Sedona Red Rock High School and later he went on to study photography at Yavapi Community College. In 1998, he moved back to Southern California to pursue his dream of becoming a professional skateboarder. A short while after moving, he tore his ACL. His cousin pushed him to consider acting after the injury.
Davis began his acting career at the age of 20. He made his first on-camera appearance on “The Dating Game,” and started working as an extra for various shows and commercials, earning his Screen Actors Guild card. Among his first TV series appearances were guest spots on “Felicity,” “CSI,” “The Shield.”
Self-taught as an actor, Davis learned the other end of the business when he took a job working with a talent agency. He also worked with several casting directors, and was later hired on as a professional reader, reading for Jamie Foxx in “Collateral.”
JON REEP (Reevis) is a nationally touring stand-up comedian and actor. His authentic point of view is a result of being born and raised in rural Hickory, North Carolina. He lived there until he moved to Raleigh in 1992, to attend North Carolina State University. Shortly thereafter, he began performing stand-up comedy at Goodnights comedy club.
He graduated from NCSU in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater, Mass Communication, and Public & Personal communication. Upon graduating, Reep was employed at UNC-TV, where he became the assistant director of such TV shows as “North Carolina Now” and “Legislative Week in Review,” while at night simultaneously honing his skills as a stand-up comedian.
In 1998, Reep left UNC-TV to pursue a full-time comedy career. He traveled all over America, performing in comedy clubs and colleges in every state in the country. In 2000, he was invited to perform at the Montreal Just for Laughs festival, and shortly thereafter moved to Los Angeles, California, to further his career as a stand-up comedian and actor.
As an actor, Reep played the pot-smoking farmer Raymus in the movie “Harold & Kumar escape from Guantanamo Bay,” and the dim-witted cop Gerald Bob on the ABC Sitcom “Rodney.” He played a goodwill worker in Disney Channel’s “Good Luck Charlie” and was the HEMI guy in Dodge Truck’s popular ad campaign. Most recently, he was seen in HBO’s “Eastbound and Down,” and was the host of SPEED TV’s “R U Faster than a Redneck?”
As a comedian, he was the winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” Season 5. He’s been on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” the half-hour special “Comedy Central Presents: Jon Reep,” and his own special, “Jon Reep: Metro Jethro.” He’s been on TBS’s “Pit Stop Comedy,” NBC’s “Late Friday,” and CMT’s “Comedy Club” and “Comedy Stage,” among others.
STEVEN QUALE (Director) made his feature film directing debut with “Final Destination 5.” He has an acclaimed 20-year career in visual effects, cinematography and directing, most notably serving as second unit director on the two highest-grossing films of all time, “Avatar” and “Titanic.”
Next up for Quale will be directing the action-thriller “Hunter Killer,” based on the novel Firing Point by George Wallace Cdr. USN Ret. and Don Keith.
A longtime collaborator with James Cameron, Quale first served in Cameron’s art department on “The Abyss,” where he helped design complex action sequences by building and filming study models of various sets with a miniature camera. After a summer working at George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic, Quale was called back to work on “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” where Cameron enlisted his help in shooting second unit sequences.
Quale next served as director of photography on Alex Graves’ “The Crude Oasis.” He also performed a multitude of duties on the special edition of “The Abyss,” including picture editing and the insertion of all new music.
For “Titanic,” Cameron recruited Quale to join his select crew aboard the Russian research ship Academik Keldysh, for the diving expedition to explore the wreckage. When principal photography began one year later, Quale directed a large second unit shoot that by many standards was bigger than most first units. He designed and executed the Engine Room sequences, the Boiler Room and all of the below-deck flooding shots as the Titanic strikes the iceberg. Quale also supervised the visual effects for the Engine Room sequence. The film won an Academy Award for its visual effects.
After “Titanic,” Quale continued his second unit work on “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle” and “The Haunted Mansion.” In addition, he shot commercials and music videos, working with such artists as Eminem, Dream and Montell Jordan.
In 2001, Quale directed the ABC TV movie “Superfire,” for which he created a blazing inferno in the woods of New Zealand. The film, with its spectacular fire sequences, was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects.
In 2004, Cameron asked Quale to return to the Russian research ship Keldysh to co-direct the 3D IMAX documentary “Aliens of the Deep.” Quale directed above the surface while Cameron focused on the deep ocean dives.
Cameron called Quale back to work on “Avatar” as second unit director and visual effects supervisor for non-Weta effects. Quale became an expert on the revolutionary performance capture technology that allowed the film’s actors to convey nuanced and emotional performances on digitally rendered creatures. It is this blending of cutting edge effects and human storytelling that has become a hallmark for Quale’s directing style.
JOHN SWETNAM (Screenwriter) was an Air Force kid and grew up all over the world. He sold his first spec script, “Evidence,” which was released in 2013. He was brought on to script the fifth installment of the half-billion dollar dance franchise, “Step Up: All In,” which is being released August 8, 2014. In addition, he has several other scripts currently in development at studios, including the action-thriller “Spinback” and an untitled martial arts project.
In 2013, he launched his production company, Mad Horse Films, and is writing, producing and making his feature directorial debut with “Breaking Through,” shooting this summer. For the film, he is teaming up with R&B singer John Legend, who is also producing, on the coming-of-age drama that will be the first feature of its kind to combine two subgenres—dance and found footage—in a plot the filmmakers described as a documentary-style dance drama for the YouTube generation.
John holds a BA from MTSU and an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman University, and currently resides in Los Angeles.
TODD GARNER (Producer) is the head of Broken Road Productions and a veteran producer and Hollywood creative executive with a unique gift for creating and nurturing mainstream, commercial motion pictures. He is very active in various charities such as the Learning Garden and Doheny Eye Institute and is on the board of the Environmental Media Association. In various capacities throughout his career, Garner has developed, overseen, executive produced or produced well over 170 movies, many of them major hits for their respective studios.
Formerly a founding partner of Revolution Studios and before that co-head of production at Walt Disney Studios, Garner founded Broken Road Productions in summer 2005. In the last nine years, Broken Road has produced thirteen movies and counting. Broken Road recently released “Here Comes the Boom,” with Kevin James and Salma Hayek, and is awaiting release of the TV show “Snack-Off,” which is set to air on MTV in July. Projects in production include “Mall Cop: Blart 2” and “Scouts vs. Zombies.”
Garner was executive producer on films such as “XXX,” “Anger Management,” “13 Going on 30” and “Are We There Yet?” After producing the runaway hit “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” which grossed over $183 million at the box office worldwide, Broken Road most recently produced “Zookeeper,” which grossed $170 million. Broken Road also produced “Knight and Day,” which grossed over $261 million worldwide; the film starred Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.
Garner joined Revolution as a partner in May 2000. He was responsible for overseeing all aspects of development and production for the company’s motion pictures during its remarkable first five years. Garner oversaw such hit Revolution films as “Black Hawk Down,” “Hellboy” and “Daddy Daycare.”
RICHARD BRENER (Executive Producer) has been a New Line Cinema veteran for more than a decade, and currently serves as President of Production for the company.
During his tenure at New Line, Brener has overseen and served as executive producer on many of the company’s most successful films, including such blockbusters as “Sex and the City,” the “Harold & Kumar” franchise, “Wedding Crashers,” “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” “The Wedding Singer,” “Monster-in-Law,” “We’re the Millers” and the “Final Destination” franchise. Other successful films Brener worked on include “The Butterfly Effect” and “Boiler Room.” He also executive produced the 2011 hit ensemble comedy “Horrible Bosses,” and is serving in the same capacity on the sequel, “Horrible Bosses 2,” due in theaters this fall.
Brener joined the company as a temp in 1995 and rapidly rose through the ranks, from story editor to President. Over the course of his career, Brener has overseen the studio’s relationships with much of its key talent, including Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and the late Ted Demme.
Born and raised in Short Hills, New Jersey, Brener graduated with a BA in History from Yale University in 1994.
WALTER HAMADA (Executive Producer) is New Line Cinema’s Senior Vice President of Production. Among the feature films he has produced are “Final Destination 5,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th.” His latest release was the box office success “The Conjuring,” starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, based on the true case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Slated for this fall is “The Conjuring” spin-off “Annabelle,” which tells the origin story of the notorious Annabelle doll.
Prior to joining New Line in 2007, Hamada spent four years as a partner at H2F Entertainment, a management/production company he co-founded. While there, he helped build the careers of such writers as Chris Morgan (“Fast & Furious 6” and “Wanted”), Brad Gann (“Invincible”), and Matt Allen and Caleb Wilson (“Four Christmases”). He also produced the indie horror film “Whisper.”
A graduate of UCLA, Hamada began his career as an assistant at TriStar Pictures, where he quickly rose through the ranks and ultimately served as Vice President of Production for Columbia Pictures. While there, he oversaw the development and production of such films as “The Big Hit,” “Vertical Limit,” “Godzilla” and “S.W.A.T.”
DAVE NEUSTADTER (Executive Producer) has been a development executive with New Line Cinema since 2007 and currently serves as the Vice President of Production for the studio. He most recently produced “We’re the Millers,” starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, as well as “The Conjuring,” the true story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. His other credits include “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” starring Jim Carrey and Steve Carrell, “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and the romantic comedy “Going the Distance.” He’s currently in post on his latest production, “Annabelle,” a spin-off of “The Conjuring,” which is slated for an October 2014 release.
Neustadter began his career at New Line in 2003 as an intern in the development department, and was then hired as Richard Brener’s executive assistant. He is a graduate of Indiana University.
MARK McNAIR (Executive Producer) most recently served as co-producer on the blockbuster family fantasy adventure “Oz the Great and Powerful.”
Previously, McNair served as Executive Producer on the first completely live action digital 3D film ever made, “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D,” starring Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson. He was co-producer on the music-themed comedy “Soul Men,” directed by Malcolm D. Lee and starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac; and the hit comedy spoof “Meet the Spartans,” which opened at number one at the domestic box office in January 2008.
His credits as associate producer include “Joy Ride,” directed by John Dahl, with Paul Walker, Steve Zahn and Leelee Sobieski; Neil LaBute’s “Nurse Betty,” starring Renée Zellweger, Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock; and the comedy “The Big Tease,” directed by Kevin Allen, starring Craig Ferguson.
McNair’s credits as line producer include the independent features “Thursday,” directed by Skip Woods, with Thomas Jane and Aaron Eckhart; Jill Sprecher’s cult favorite “Clockwatchers,” starring Toni Collette, Lisa Kudrow and Parker Posey; the Western “Los Locos,” with Mario Van Peebles; and the 25th anniversary Woodstock documentary “My Generation.”
He also served as Head of Physical Production at Intermedia Films, working on such projects as Oliver Stone’s “Alexander,” starring Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie; “Basic Instinct 2,” directed by Michael Caton-Jones and starring Sharon Stone; and Billy Ray’s espionage thriller “Breach,” starring Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe.
For television, McNair is just wrapped producing duties on the horror series “From Dusk Till Dawn,” inspired by the feature film of the same name. He also produced the second and third seasons of the hit HBO series “True Blood,” for which he received Emmy, PGA, and AFI nominations for best drama series.
JEREMY STEIN (Executive Producer) is currently in development on several projects he will produce, including “Go Fast,” written by Rich Wilkes (“xXx”) and to be directed by Jeff Wadlow (“Kick-Ass 2”), and an original drama from “Into the Storm” writer John Swetnam, “Spinback.”
BRUCE BERMAN (Executive Producer) is Chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures. The company has a successful joint partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures to co-produce a wide range of motion pictures, with all films distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
The initial slate of films produced under the pact included such hits as “Practical Magic,” starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; “Analyze This,” teaming Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal; “The Matrix,” starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne; “Three Kings,” starring George Clooney; “Space Cowboys,” directed by and starring Clint Eastwood; and “Miss Congeniality,” starring Bullock and Benjamin Bratt.
Under the Village Roadshow Pictures banner, Berman has subsequently executive produced such wide-ranging successes as “Training Day,” for which Denzel Washington won an Oscar; the “Ocean’s” trilogy; “Two Weeks’ Notice,” pairing Bullock and Hugh Grant; Eastwood’s “Mystic River,” starring Sean Penn and Tim Robbins in Oscar-winning performances; “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions”; Tim Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Johnny Depp; the blockbuster “I Am Legend,” starring Will Smith; the acclaimed drama “Gran Torino,” directed by and starring Clint Eastwood; director Guy Ritchie’s hit action adventure “Sherlock Holmes,” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, and its sequel, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”; and Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” nominated for Best Picture by the Australian Film Institute. Most recently, Berman served as executive producer on the international blockbuster hit “The LEGO Movie,” directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and featuring an all-star vocal cast, and the sci-fi thriller “Edge of Tomorrow,” starring Tom Cruise.
His upcoming projects include “The Judge,” a drama starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall; Ron Howard’s action adventure “Heart of the Sea,” based on the Nathaniel Philbrick bestseller about the dramatic true journey of the whaling ship Essex; the Wachowskis’ original sci-fi action adventure “Jupiter Ascending”; and George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Berman got his start in the motion picture business working with Jack Valenti at the MPAA while attending Georgetown Law School in Washington, DC. After earning his law degree, he landed a job at Casablanca Films in 1978. Moving to Universal, he worked his way up to a production Vice President in 1982.
In 1984, Berman joined Warner Bros. as a production Vice President, and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Production four years later. He was appointed President of Theatrical Production in September 1989, and in 1991 was named to the post of President of Worldwide Theatrical Production, which he held through May 1996. Under his aegis, Warner Bros. Pictures produced and distributed such films as “Presumed Innocent,” “GoodFellas,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” the Oscar-winning Best Picture “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Batman Forever,” “Under Siege,” “Malcolm X,” “The Bodyguard,” “JFK,” “The Fugitive,” “Dave,” “Disclosure,” “The Pelican Brief,” “Outbreak,” “The Client,” “A Time to Kill,” and “Twister.”
In May of 1996, Berman started Plan B Entertainment, an independent motion picture company at Warner Bros. Pictures. He was named Chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures in February 1998.
BRIAN PEARSON (Director of Photography) started working as a camera assistant in 1990 on commercials, music videos, television and features. He purchased a 16mm camera package shortly afterward and began to shoot short films, music videos and low-budget features in between assisting jobs. Within a few years his DP work overtook his assisting work and Pearson began working full time as a camera operator and cinematographer on a variety of different projects, including commercials, feature films and action units.
Some of Pearson’s feature films as a first unit cinematographer include “Final Destination 5,” “Step Up: All In,” “Reasonable Doubt,” “Drive Angry,” “My Bloody Valentine,” “After Alice” and “White Noise: The Light.” He is a frequent collaborator with directors Patrick Lussier and Steven Quale and has photographed four 3D feature films to date. “Into the Storm” marks Pearson’s second collaboration with Quale.
Pearson has also overseen the cinematography for the second unit action sequences on “The Seventh Son,” “I Am Legend,” “Underworld: Evolution” and “Hot Tub Time Machine,” and additional action scenes on “Total Recall” and “I, Robot.”
Pearson became a member of the American Society of Cinematographers in early 2014 and continues to live, and occasionally work, in Los Angeles.
ERIC SEARS (Editor) received his masters in film from the University of Southern California, and began his career as an assistant editor for filmmaker Martin Scorsese on “New York, New York” and the documentary “The Last Waltz,” and for Franco Zeffirelli on “The Champ.”
As a film editor, his credits include the generational comedy feature “Dad,” directed by Gary David Goldberg, as well as Goldberg’s romantic comedy “Must Love Dogs”; “Encino Man”; “Original Sin”; “Final Destination 2” and “Cellular,” both from David R. Ellis; Antoine Fuqua’s “Shooter”; and “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising.”
For his work on the small screen, Sears won both the Emmy Award and American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for HBO’s “Gia” and the ABC miniseries “The Path to 9/11.” He also received Emmy Award and ACE Eddie nominations for the telefilms “The Rat Pack” and “Cheaters,” and an ACE Eddie nod for “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.”
He edited several episodes of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” and the series “Crash,” for which he received his latest ACE Eddie nomination. His additional television credits include the ACE-nominated TV films “Baby M,” “Queenie,” “Into Thin Air” and “North and South, Book II,” and the Emmy-nominated “The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson.”
Sears served on the Board of Directors of American Cinema Editors and is an active member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences.
DAVID R. SANDEFUR (Production Designer) hails from the Boston area and studied architecture at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He first worked as an architect in Philadelphia, before launching his entertainment career in set decoration and set design on the 1998 thriller “Wicked.” He graduated to assistant art director and worked on such films as “Best Laid Plans”; Renny Harlin’s nautical thriller “Deep Blue Sea”; Dominic Sena’s crime thriller “Swordfish”; Peyton Reed’s period romantic comedy “Down With Love”; Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller “Minority Report”; and Wolfgang Petersen’s seafaring adventure “The Perfect Storm,” for which Sandefur shared an Excellence in Production Design Award nomination from the Art Directors Guild.
He moved into art direction with F. Gary Gray’s actioner “The Italian Job”; the showbiz comedy “Showtime,” Richard Donner’s sci-fi feature “Timeline”; Michael Bay’s “The Island”; Peyton Reed’s romantic comedy “The Break-Up”; Joel Schumacher’s dark thriller “Number 23”; and Doug Liman’s “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”
Sandefur designed his first feature film in 2001, “Ricochet River.” He served as production designer on Eric Brevig’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and most recently completed work on Steven Quale’s “Into the Storm,” having previously worked with him on “Final Destination 5.” He also designed “Yogi Bear,” re-teaming with director Brevig. His other credits as production designer include the sci-fi thriller “Repo Men,” starring Jude Law, Liev Schreiber and Forest Whitaker, and the pilot episode of the hit TV medical drama “HawthoRNe.”
KIMBERLY ADAMS (Costume Designer) most recently saw her work in costume design showcased on the 1980s-set AMC television series “Halt and Catch Fire,” starring Mackenzie David, Scoot McNairy and Lee Pace. She has also served as the costume designer on such features as Hampton Fancher’s psychological thriller “The Minus Man,” starring Owen Wilson, Janeane Garolfalo and Sheryl Crow, and Ric Roman Waugh’s fact-based drama “Snitch,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon.
Adams has worked in costume design worldwide, building the best resources and creative teams in New Zealand, Australia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Germany, Mexico, Jamaica and all across the U.S. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, and then began her career in the fashion industry in New York City.
Returning to Los Angeles, she segued into costume design work for feature films. On Wes Craven’s “Shocker,” she assisted costume designer Isis Mussenden. Adams continued to work with Mussenden for over two decades, including as associate costume designer on all three “Chronicles of Narnia” movies. She was also mentored by the late, great costume designer Richard Hornung, serving as assistant costume designer on such films as Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” and Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Barton Fink,” for which Hornung received an Academy Award nomination; and by two-time Academy Award-nominated costume designer Julie Weiss, working with her as assistant costume designer on such features as Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
In addition to working on some of Hollywood’s most iconic films over the last 20 years, including “The Grifters,” “Boogie Nights” and “There Will Be Blood,” Adams served as costume designer for Nickelodeon’s TV series “Supah Ninjas” and Disney Channel’s “Lizzy McGuire,” as well as several television movies.
BRIAN TYLER (Composer) is a composer and conductor of over 60 films and recently won Film Composer of the Year at the 2014 Cue Awards. He is currently scoring “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Tyler also composed “Iron Man 3,” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Kingsley, as well as “Thor: The Dark World,” starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins. He conducted the London Philharmonic at Abbey Road Studios for both films. He also scored “Eagle Eye” for producer Steven Spielberg, and the box office hits “Fast Five” and “Fast & Furious” for director Justin Lin. He was nominated for a 2014 BAFTA Award and was inducted into the music branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2010.
Tyler began scoring features shortly after he received his master's degree from Harvard University, as well as a bachelor's degree from UCLA. He is a multi-instrumentalist and plays piano, guitar, drums, bass, cello, world percussion, synth programming, guitarviol, charango, and bouzouki, amongst others. He showcased many of those instruments for the 2013 retro heist film “Now You See Me,” about a team of illusionists, starring Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Caine, Woody Harrelson and Mark Ruffalo.
Tyler arranged and conducted the new film logo music for Universal Pictures and composed a theme for the 100 year anniversary of the studio, as well as composing the music for the Marvel Studios logo which now plays before of all of their films. He also scored “The Expendables” films, and “Rambo,” directed by Sylvester Stallone; “Law Abiding Citizen,” starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler; the Keanu Reeves thriller “Constantine,” and the science-fiction film “Battle Los Angeles.” Tyler’s score for Bill Paxton’s “Frailty” won him a World Soundtrack Award in 2002, as well as The World Soundtrack Award as Best New Film Composer of the Year. He has received three Emmy Award nominations, ten BMI Music Awards, five ASCAP Music Awards, and recently won 12 Goldspirit Awards, including Composer of the Year.
After composing the score for “The Hunted” for Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin, Tyler composed the score for the turn-of-the-century drama “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” starring Shia LaBeouf. His soundtrack for “Children of Dune” reached #4 on the Amazon.com album charts while “Thor: The Dark World,” “Iron Man 3,” and “Fast Five” all hit #1 on the iTunes soundtrack charts.
Tyler’s upcoming projects include “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” produced by Michael Bay, “The Expendables 3,” “Fast & Furious 7,” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” For television, he scores the series “Hawaii Five-0” and “Sleepy Hollow,” for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music this year.