She terrified you in “The Conjuring,” but this is where it all began for Annabelle.
Capable of unspeakable evil, the actual doll exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut—visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month. New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller “Annabelle” begins before the evil was unleashed.
John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia—a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long.
On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now...Annabelle.
She terrified you in “The Conjuring,” but this is where it all began for Annabelle.
Capable of unspeakable evil, the actual doll exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut—visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month.
New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller “Annabelle” begins before the evil was unleashed.
John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia—a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now...Annabelle.
Annabelle Wallis (“X-Men: First Class”) and Ward Horton (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) star as the Forms. Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard (“Cross Creek,” “Twelve Years a Slave”) stars as Evelyn, a neighbor who owns a bookstore. Rounding out the cast are Kerry O’Malley (TV’s “Those Who Kill”) and Brian Howe (“Devil’s Knot”) as neighbors Sharon and Pete Higgins; Tony Amendola (TV’s “Once Upon A Time”) as Father Perez; and Eric Ladin (TV’s “Boardwalk Empire,”) as Detective Clarkin.
“Annabelle” reunites the filmmakers behind 2013’s hugely successful supernatural thriller “The Conjuring.” John R. Leonetti, who served as cinematographer on “The Conjuring,” directed the film. James Wan, director of the global hit, produced “Annabelle” with Peter Safran.
Gary Dauberman wrote the script. Richard Brener, Walter Hamada, Dave Neustadter and Hans Ritter are the executive producers. Also joining Leonetti behind the scenes are director of photography James Kniest, production designer Bob Ziembicki, editor Tom Elkins, and costume designer Janet Ingram. Joseph Bishara composed the score.
New Line Cinema presents an Atomic Monster/Safran Company Production, “Annabelle.” It will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.
Since the dawn of time, dolls have been cherished by children,
worshipped by primitive peoples, and invoked
as magical weapons for good and evil.
Annabelle, the infamous doll at the center of one of paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren’s most profiled cases, made her terrifying screen debut in James Wan’s box office sensation “The Conjuring.” Even while shooting the film, Wan and producer Peter Safran were already entertaining the idea that the not-so-innocent doll needed an entire movie of her own.
Wan, who has always been fascinated with the Annabelle case, says, “We know she’s so bad that, even after all this time, she still has to be kept locked up ...but, how did she get that way?”
Safran adds, “How does something so charming, so sweet, become a conduit for pure evil and destruction?”
The two approached Wan’s longtime director of photography, John R. Leonetti, to direct the film. “I have been very fortunate to have had John there right by my side, shooting on most of my films, so it was a natural progression for John to direct ‘Annabelle,’” Wan attests. “His visual style, his passion for this story and his innate ability to connect with cast and crew was the total package and we were very fortunate to have him on this film.”
Leonetti, who crafted chilling shots for Wan on “The Conjuring” and “Insidious” films, among others, was just as intrigued with the sinister doll’s beginnings and translating that to the screen, this time as director.
“I’m a huge horror fan,” says Leonetti. “I also love collaborating with James and Peter and am thrilled they had faith in me to take the helm. I couldn’t wait to bring all that I’ve experienced shooting with James, who is the master of scares, and put it into this project.”
Safran notes, “John and James have worked together so extensively they really have a mind meld going, and the three of us worked so closely on ‘The Conjuring’ that there’s a certain trust among us as a creative team. They’re tremendous partners in the process.”
Leonetti immediately responded to screenwriter Gary Dauberman’s script positing how the doll had turned devious. “Gary’s take on how this might have all started was great; the story was suspenseful and had such a cool psychological layer,” he comments.
Dauberman had been eager to work with the team that had frightened him so intensely with the previous film. “I couldn’t wait to play in this playground with these guys,” he offers. “Everybody loves a good scare, and that was our number one goal.”
Leonetti adds, “Annabelle is an incredible way to facilitate fright because she’s real, and nothing is scarier than that.”
“Everyone’s had a toy that they’ve thought was alive at night,” says Annabelle Wallis, who stars in the film as an expectant stay-at-home wife who also happens to collect dolls. “It definitely resonated with me and I think will resonate with a lot of other people too.”
Ward Horton stars opposite Wallis. The story also made a big impression on him. “I loved the script,” he offers. “It rattled me to the core at the same time that it made me care about the characters.”
Alfre Woodard had never done a supernatural thriller, but “thought it would be fun. To tell you the truth this film really disturbed me because it creates a very convincing reality where truly alarming paranormal events take place.”
Leonetti notes, “There are realms beyond our senses we can’t comprehend and there are entities we can’t fathom. The mythology of demonology will always fascinate people—and mess with their heads…especially a possessed doll that is beautiful and creepy all at the same time. We had a lot of fun with that.”
There are things going on here that I can’t explain. -Mia
When a violent home invasion upends expectant couple John and Mia’s world, events are set in motion that become not only increasingly threatening but harder to explain. Is it all in Mia’s head? Is she suffering post-traumatic stress? Or is something evil out to get her family?
Leonetti says, “I love stories with female protagonists and Mia is the linchpin of this movie.” Casting directors left no stone unturned and brought Leonetti options from the United States to South Africa. They taped Annabelle Wallis, who was working on another film in the UK, and sent it to filmmakers.
“Annabelle was half-lit with natural light through a window, which was a double-edged sword,” the director recalls. “On the one hand it was a little hard to see her eyes because the light wasn’t directly on them, but it was very dramatic. She had fortitude as well as vulnerability in her reading, and both are important for Mia’s journey. There was one point where she just leaned in slightly and I saw her eyes, and that was it. ”
Safran notes, “John had this instinct and said ‘She’s the girl.’ It was just clear that she was our Mia.” Filmmakers cast Wallis to star as Mia before they even met her in person.
Wallis describes her character as “a lovely, quiet storm of a woman. I was really intrigued by her. She’s intelligent and vulnerable, and fighting a battle very much on her own because people assume motherhood has just heightened her anxiety and made her paranoid. But her situation is more complex than that and so is she.”
Leonetti attests, “It’s a big responsibility for one person to be on the screen so much of the time and reel the audience into her character’s fight, but she handled it with ease.”
“John is so warm and enthusiastic and has such knowledge of cinema and a passion for it that he can’t help but exude that,” says Wallis. He communicated his vision so well and was so inclusive of the actors in his process. It made me feel very much part of a family. It was such a pleasure working with him.”
Ward Horton’s audition for the role of Mia’s husband, John, was just as memorable for filmmakers. Horton had shown up in character, wearing what a med student would have worn in the ‘70s, down to the glasses and haircut.
“Ward came in and it felt like he’d walked right out of the era, in a 1970s Brooks Brothers sort of way. He was that young medical student we were looking for,” Safran remembers.
As soon as they saw Wallis and Horton together, the filmmakers knew they had the Forms, the young couple whose contact with the Annabelle doll wreaks havoc on their lives.
Wan offers, “I think the two of them together as Mia and John are a great fit, very genuine. You can ultimately relate to them as this young loving couple and go with them on their frightening journey. You are invested emotionally so the terror is even more disquieting. I think that’s what Annabelle and Ward really bring to this film.”
Both Wallis and Horton felt the connection immediately. Wallis says of her on-screen husband, “It’s so important to really believe these two love each other so the audience will root for them. Ward was wonderful and wonderful to work off of.”
“We just clicked. Annabelle’s great, she’s ridiculously smart, and she’s hilarious, so much fun to work with,” says Horton. “Mia and John are very different people; it’s the case of opposites attracting—they somehow yin and yang it to the point where they are a perfect couple together and I think they’d be lost without each other.”
At first, the couple seems to have everything they want: her baby bliss, his medical career. Their future is laid out before them. But soon Mia and John’s bright future is jeopardized and, ironically, it is John being a loving husband that kicks off the string of hair-raising episodes.
Horton laughs, “Yep. It’s all his fault. Mia collects dolls and John has searched extensively to find a very rare one she has always wanted for her collection. He gives it to her as a gift, to celebrate the child that is on the way, and she puts it in the nursery. They are so happy. If they only knew.”
But they have no idea that what is about to happen will rip their perfect world apart in one short night. When Mia wakes to hear a scream next door, John goes to investigate, leaving Mia in the house alone—though not for long. Satanic cultists break in, and in an attempt to summon a demon, smear a bloody rune on the nursery wall, dripping blood on Mia’s prize doll. The couple survives, but after that night, ominous incidents only escalate.
Mia is so distraught that they decide to leave their house and move to Pasadena. It’s a fresh new start…or is it?
“They’re both experiencing different things and it puts them in a difficult position,” says Wallis. “Mia has gone into maternal survival mode since the attack and selfishly wants to protect her baby, so she ices John out in a sense.”
Horton says, “Being a doctor, things are black and white for John, there’s no gray area. So when she tells him about these strange events, he has a tough time believing it. He wants a rational explanation.”
But there isn’t one. Although the neighborhood may be new, Mia can’t seem to escape odd “accidents” that keep disrupting their world. Feeling isolated, Mia decides to go back and explore the possibility that the cult didn’t just try to summon a demon that awful night they invaded Mia and John’s home, but succeeded. That quest leads Mia to Evelyn.
Alfre Woodard plays Evelyn, a neighbor who also happens to own a book store. “Evelyn knows answers to things we haven’t asked….or are afraid to ask,” says Leonetti. “Alfre is an awesome person, and a terrific actress. We had a really fun vibe going on set, but she was very serious when it came to her character. I’m grateful she was our Evelyn.”
Woodard offers, “When we meet Evelyn, there’s a little mystery to her, you already know there’s something more going on with her. She may or may not be on the light side…she may or may not be on the dark side.”
Wallis says of her co-star, “Alfre is a tour-de-force,” and describes Evelyn as “someone who sheds light on this supernatural world that Mia’s very confused by, and helps her get a better sense of what’s really going on around her.”
Throughout the film, as Mia continues to confront the sinister force attacking her, she and John also turn to their priest for advice. Tony Amendola plays Father Perez.
Leonetti reflects, “I was raised in the Catholic Church, I was a major altar boy, knew the Latin prayers, all of it. I wanted an actor who could evoke that old school sensibility. There’s a naturally comforting feeling about Tony’s voice. He brought a real gravitas to the role and really embodied the notion of a spiritual advisor who wants to help. He was wonderful.”
Amendola explains, “The more violent it gets, the more Father Perez begins to believe something is afoot. He tells them demons can attach themselves to objects…using the object to achieve their goal: claiming an innocent.”
And who is more innocent than a child?
“It’s alarming enough to have a demon after you. But to have a child in harm’s way raises the stakes and forces Mia to fight with everything in her soul,” says Leonetti.
Even if that means fighting Annabelle to the death.
Rounding out the cast are Kerry O’Malley and Brian Howe as neighbors Sharon and Pete Higgins; and Eric Ladin as Detective Clarkin, who investigates the heinous crime.
And, of course, there’s Annabelle…
The doll. We have to get rid of her. -Mia
The real Annabelle doll was reportedly purchased at a thrift store as a birthday present for a college student in the ‘70s. She tormented her owner and purportedly moved on her own, wrote notes on paper, lied about her identity, clawed and scratched the living, and is even blamed for at least one death. Annabelle currently rests in a glass case at the Warren’s Occult Museum in Connecticut, behind a sign that reads “Warning: Positively Do Not Open.”
Wan’s initial screen interpretation of the doll for “The Conjuring” was meticulously designed. “It was really important that she look somewhat human,” he says. “I think that kind of sensibility plays into the scary psychological factor of the film. When you see her propped up against the chair or in a corner of a room, you have to look again to realize ‘Oh, that’s not a person, that’s a doll.’“
For the doll’s return in “Annabelle,” the same artist in North Carolina who created the molds for the original one Wan used in “The Conjuring” created two additional versions of Annabelle, each very distinctive. The first doll was new, pristine, and innocent, and what audiences initially see when John bestows her as a gift. The second doll, which was more distressed, was used as the supernatural events of the film unfold: the more the demon leached off it, the darker her skin got and the more her eyes reflected that darkness and possession.
Leonetti was impressed with the chilling detail of the new Annabelle dolls. “Before I met the Annabelle doll on ‘The Conjuring,’ I thought, ‘It’s a doll, so what?’ But then I saw her. She’s the size of a small child—that in itself throws you. And when she looks at you, she looks at you. But watching her transform from pretty to pretty creepy this time was even more unnerving.”
Wallis, who worked the most with Annabelle, notes, “She is incredibly frightening because it’s what you least expect. It’s so eerily disarming; you look at her and she is so symbolic of all that is good and innocent, yet there’s something about her…she is this menace.”
“I saw her for the first time in the makeup chair, and I had to look twice to make sure she wasn’t real, or moving…I’m not sure which,” Horton relates, laughing. Whenever the Annabelle doll arrived on set it was like a diva arriving, amidst whispers and murmurs from cast and crew. “We actually had to wait on set for her a few times; she really was a member of the cast. And she did bring a fear factor. I was always uneasy around her,” he adds.
Woodard describes the doll as “creepy. I jumped several times on set, just because she’d be sitting there and take me by surprise.”
“She really freaked me out,” says Amendola, who has his own harrowing scene with her.
“I don’t care how skeptical you are: if somebody offers to have the Annabelle doll sleep in your house, you will almost certainly reject that possibility,” Safran smiles. “Annabelle still scares everybody. I am always convinced that something bad will happen if she’s around.”
In fact, several strange things did happen to the cast and crew during production.
The night they shot the seminal home invasion scene, screenwriter Dauberman describes a weird event. “The cultists are summoning a demon in a bloody ritual involving a rune. It was very intense and dark and violent. We finished about 5:30 in the morning, and when I woke up later in the afternoon, right above me on the ceiling in my bedroom was that rune—that distinctive looking A. Could sunlight have been reflecting off a lamp? Sure. But I have never seen it since. It definitely unnerved me. A lot.”
Horton attests to what he believes was a mischievous presence following him from the set to the temporary apartment he was renting while away from his home in New York. Objects disappeared and reappeared somewhere he had not put them. And the very first night the vanity fell off the wall with a loud crash—only to do the same thing after it was secured again. “There was clearly something bigger going on during this film,” says Horton.
An incident also happened on set in Mia and John’s apartment building the very first day that put everyone on edge. While shooting the supernatural sequences involving otherworldy forces, a huge glass fixture came unhinged and smashed to the ground.
Leonetti also observed scratches that appeared eight stories up outside a window of the Langham building, that looked like a hand had clawed the pane. “It was pretty disturbing in light of the fact that the real Annabelle doll would scratch her victims,” the director points out. “Everyone took photographs, partly because they thought no one would believe them, and partly because I think it shook them so much they didn’t want to believe it themselves. I know I didn’t.”
Next door, I heard a scream, I think something’s wrong. -Mia
Filming on “Annabelle” took place at practical locations in and around Los Angeles, where Leonetti chose to shoot the film almost entirely in sequence.
To lens the story set in the ‘70s, Leonetti turned to director of photography James Kniest. “Jimmy’s incredibly talented. He’s someone that is open enough to let me add my three cents, yet he gets my vision and my sensibility enough to be able to just make it happen,” he says.
They decided to desaturate the colors to help the look appear like a ‘70s film, shooting camera tests to find out what color values would work for that process and adjusting accordingly. The overall color scheme started with period accuracy, but they determined early on to lean toward a subtle timelessness. Both Leonetti and production designer Bob Ziembicki grew up in Los Angeles in the ‘70s and each had their own personal reference points for the basic aesthetic. In fact, the inspiration for the Form house interior, where Mia and John start out as a happy young couple, was Leonetti’s own father’s house. “We used that as a touchstone and went from there,” says Ziembicki.
The Form home was the setting of one of the most intense sequences in the film, from both a “scare value” as well as technical difficulty standpoint. The home invasion begins with Mia and John in bed, Mia waking to a scream, looking out the window, and taking the audience’s eye outdoors to the neighbor’s, where the cultists are in the midst of their first attack. The camera then comes back to the Forms’, where the cultists wage an attack on pregnant Mia.
Leonetti wanted to do what is known on set as a “one-r,” a sequence shot all in one take with one camera. The director has crafted many of them as a cinematographer. Leonetti describes, “I wanted to grab the audience and bring them along, like they’re the ones who woke up in bed, they’re the ones who heard the scream. Take them right into the middle of the brutal mayhem. By doing that, we set the tone and the stakes for the whole movie as real and visceral.”
The production design team built the set for the neighbors’ bedroom, where it all begins, in the backyard of the Form house location. His physical effects team then worked in tandem with Leonetti and his camera crew and actors. “You have to have everybody coordinating every moment of that together. And if you can pull that off, it’s a big pay off,” says the director.
Leonetti used a MoVI to achieve the complicated one-shot sequence. He describes, “It’s a long take. Neither a steady cam nor a hand-held camera could accomplish the whole thing. With the MoVI, you have the best of both worlds: the camera floats in a similar way to a steady cam and if you grab the handles with your elbows and lock it, you can achieve the rigidness of a hand-held camera.”
“John likes to say, ‘The best idea wins,’ and he means it,” notes Wan. “We were very much on the same page about how to ratchet up the psychological tension, and build it from there. But the ‘one-r’ was John’s and it really sets up the audience for more scares to come.”
Stepping out of his director’s chair, Leonetti shot the scene while Kniest operated a B camera for coverage.
“It was very challenging and exciting,” says Wallis. “There was a lot going on, a lot of moving parts, and it all had to work in that one take. It was a very interesting process.”
Horton agrees. “The first time I sat down with John he talked about how he’d shoot the initial attack. It sounded so cool, and it was even cooler to actually shoot it.”
The Form house kitchen was re-built on a parking garage rooftop for a harrowing sequence involving pyrotechnics, when a pregnant Mia is alone in the house with the Annabelle doll.
The production filmed in the Langham apartments in Korea Town for the main portion of the schedule. Ziembicki’s team built the nursery and all the other required rooms for the Form apartment in the building’s penthouse. In the Langham basement, they built in the elevator and storage compartments, as well as Father Perez’s office and the interior of Evelyn’s bookstore.
Just as subtle choices were made with the sets, Wallis notes that costume designer Janet Ingram chose classic, timeless styles to reflect Mia’s character. “Wardrobe was so helpful in understanding Mia, even in terms of posture and movement,” says Wallis, who loved her character’s clothing. “Although the ‘70s was an iconic era for fashion, John wanted Mia to stand out from the crowd. She’s reserved, almost European in her tastes. Janet was great in coming up with clothes that were classic, with an influence of Grace Kelly, having Mia a little more covered up than her counterparts at that time.”
As with all films, but especially those aiming to scare the pants off an audience, the score for “Annabelle” was extremely important, and Leonetti brought in Joseph Bishara, who wrote the scores for the “Insidious” films and “The Conjuring,” to compose the music. Bishara also has a creepy cameo, which isn’t a first. He has been in the films he previously scored for Wan. “I love Joe. What an amazing guy and what a talented composer. I had to carry the tradition forward,” says Leonetti.
Wan notes, “While purposely retaining some familiar elements, John really put a unique and eerie tenor into this film. He did a fantastic job and I’m excited for audiences to see it. ‘Annabelle’ is suspenseful and thrilling, and all of that makes for a lot of fun.”
Safran comments, “There’s truly a progression of scares, an escalation, John just keeps it going and going until all hell breaks loose. It’s an intense ride.”
Leonetti concludes, “I hope ‘Annabelle’ gets under your skin, then gets in your head, and your soul and your blood. And if your blood starts tingling and the hair on your arms stands up, we’ve done our job.”
ANNABELLE WALLIS (Mia Form) is a British actress whose resume spans both film and television.
Wallis is currently filming Louis Letterier’s spy comedy “Grimsby,” starring alongside Isla Fisher, Ian McShane, Penélope Cruze, Sasha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong, slated for a summer 2015 release.
On television, Wallis was seen earlier this year in the role of Muriel Wright, the woman who inspired Ian Fleming to create the Bond girl, in Sky Atlantic’s four part series “Fleming,” directed by Mat Whitecross and co-starring Dominic Cooper, Samuel West and Lara Pulver.
Wallis was seen last year in BBC 2’s hugely popular and critically acclaimed six-part epic gangster series “Peaky Blinders.” Wallis returns for the second season as Grace Burgess alongside Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Sam Neill, Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley. The series is set for release in the US this year. Her other TV credits include the role of Jane Seymour in the hit Showtime series “The Tudors,” alongside Jonathan Rhys-Myers and Henry Cavill, and also “Pan Am,” in which she appeared alongside Christina Ricci and Margot Robbie.
Wallis’ previous film credits include Madonna’s “W.E.,” starring James D’Arcy, Andrea Riseborough and Laurence Fox and Matthew Vaughan’s “X Men: First Class,” starring James McAvoy and Hugh Jackman.
WARD HORTON (John Form) was seen last year in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He recently completed shooting the independent films “Alto” and “Marcy.”
Among his other independent film credits are “The Mighty Macs”; “Veronika Decides to Die; “I Hate Valentine’s Day,” with Nia Vardalos and John Corbett; “Falling for Grace”; and “Dress Rehearsal.”
On the small screen, Horton has appeared in the following television shows: “Royal Pains,” “White Collar,” “Body of Proof,” “Mercy,” “CSI: Miami,”“Law & Order,” “Fringe,” “Gossip Girl,” “Day Break,” “Hope & Faith,”and “Law & Order: SVU,” as well as “One Life to Live,” “All My Children,” and “Guiding Light.”
Horton has also been involved in the theater, appearing in such productions as “In Masks Outrageous and Austere” at the Bleeker Street Theater, Culture Project; “The Autobiography of God” at the Sol Theater Co., New York City; “Supper’s Ready” at Producers Club, New York City; “Bash: Latter-day Plays” at the Raleigh Ensemble Players, North Carolina; “Equus” at the Theater in the Park, North Carolina; “Dancing with Dani” at Burning Coal Theater, North Carolina; and “Lost in Yonkers” at Wake Forest University, North Carolina.
Born in Morristown, New Jersey, Horton moved to North Carolina with his family before deciding to move to New York City to further pursue acting. He currently resides in Connecticut.
TONY AMENDOLA (Father Perez) has appeared in many films. Among his credits are Ted Demme’s “Blow,” opposite Johnny Depp; Martin Campbell’s “The Mask of Zorro,” alongside Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas; and John Sayles’ “Lone Star,” with Chris Cooper.
On television, Amendola currently has a recurring role as the iconic Gepetto in ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” as well as Edouard Kagame in “Continuum.” His TV guest appearances include recurring roles on “CSI: NY,” “Dexter,” “Stargate SG1” and “The Practice.”
Amendola spent the first 12 years of his professional life in the theatre, appearing Off-Broadway in an acclaimed production of “Filumena” and in leading roles on the stages of America’s top regional theatres, including the Mark Taper Forum, American Conservatory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, La Jolla Playhouse and the Old Globe. His stage credits include “Cyrano,” “Iago,” “Uncle Vanya,” and “In the Belly of the Beast,” in the role of Jack Henry Abbot. He recently appeared at the Disney Concert Hall in their premiere First Night series for Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”
He is also currently voicing the role of Khadgar in the upcoming fall release of “World of Warcraft.”
ALFRE WOODARD (Evelyn) is an award-winning actress with an illustrious career spanning both film and television. She currently stars as President Constance Payton in NBC’s “State of Affairs.” Woodard also recently completed shooting roles in the independent films “Mississippi Grind,” starring Ryan Reynolds, and “Knucklehead.”
For her performance in Martin Ritt’s “Cross Creek,” she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Among her other, more recent film credits are Steve McQueen’s “Twelve Years a Slave,” in the role of Mistress Harriet Shaw; Tyler Perry’s “The Family That Preys”; Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “Love and Basketball”; Maya Angelou’s “Down in the Delta”; Spike Lee’s “Crooklyn”; Lawrence Kasdan’s “Grand Canyon”; and John Sayles’ “Passion Fish,” for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress.
In television, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for “Holiday Heart,” and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for HBO’s critically-acclaimed “Miss Evers’ Boys,” which also garnered her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries. She was also nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress for “The Piano Lesson,” “A Mother’s Courage: The Mary Thomas Story,” and “Unnatural Causes.”
Woodard won her first Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for “Hill Street Blues,” and was nominated in the same category for “Gulliver’s Travels,” “The Water is Wide,” “Desperate Housewives,” “The Picture of Hollis Woods,” and “Steel Magnolias.”
She received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Performer for her roles on “L.A. Law” and “The Practice,” and was also nominated for her guest roles on “St. Elsewhere,” “Homicide: Life on the Street,” and, most recently, “True Blood.”
Woodard has also been honored with multiple Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, including Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor for HBO’s “Miss Evers’ Boys,” Hallmark Hall of Fame’s ”The Piano Lesson” and, most recently, Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias.” She won a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble, shared with the cast, for “Desperate Housewives” and was also nominated in the same category for “How To Make an American Quilt,” and, most recently, “Twelve Years a Slave.”
In addition, the audiobook “Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales,” featuring Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, and Samuel L. Jackson, which she produced and directed, won the 2010 Audiobook of the Year Award and received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Children’s Spoken Word Album.
A longtime activist, Woodard co-founded Artists for a New South Africa. In 2009, President Obama appointed her to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Woodard also currently serves on the National Film Preservation Board and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences International Outreach Committee.
JOHN R. LEONETTI (Director) has enjoyed a long collaboration with “Annabelle” producer James Wan, which began when he served as Wan’s cinematographer on the horror film “Dead Silence” in 2007. This was followed by “Death Sentence,” a revenge drama starring Kevin Bacon. He also served as cinematographer on Wan’s hits “Insidious” and “Insidious: Chapter 2,” as well as “The Conjuring.”
Leonetti previously directed “Mortal Kombat Annihilation” and “The Butterfly Effect 2.”
His additional films as cinematographer include “Soul Surfer,” “Pirhana 3D,” “I Know Who Killed Me,” “The Woods,” “Raise Your Voice,” “The Perfect Man,” “Honey,” “The Scorpion King,” “Joe Dirt,” “Detroit Rock City,” “The Mask,” a music video directed by James Cameron, and “Mortal Kombat.”
Leonetti started working at age 13 in the manufacturing and rental departments at his father’s business, Leonetti Cine Rentals. Leonetti subsequently became an assistant cameraman and camera operator, working for cinematographer Vittorio Storraro, and directors such as Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Walter Hill.
In 1989, Hill asked Leonetti to be the director of photography on one of HBO’s first “Tales from the Crypt” episodes, entitled “The Man Who Was Death,” for which he earned a nomination for a CableAce Award for Best Cinematography. Leonetti went on to achieve three more CableAce nominations for his work on the series, collaborating with series directors Peter Medak, Tom Hanks and John Frankenheimer, who became a mentor and friend.
Leonetti reunited with Frankenheimer on the acclaimed HBO films based on real events, “Against the Wall” and the “The Burning Season,” the latter of which won the Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series.
Among his other television credits serving as cinematographer are “Sleepy Hollow,” “Zero Hour,” “The River” and “Providence.”
PETER SAFRAN (Producer) is the President and founder of The Safran Company, a leading Hollywood production and talent management company.
He recently executive produced Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s thriller “Dark Places,” adapted from the Gillian Flynn novel, starring Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, and Chloë Grace Moretz. Safran will next produce an adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks’ bestseller “The Choice,” and the indie thriller “Mine,” starring Armie Hammer, which both start shooting in the fall. In addition, Safran is producing the next installment of “The Conjuring,” 2013’s worldwide box office success starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, which he also produced.
The following films on which he is a producer are currently in post production: “The Atticus Institute,” the directorial debut of Chris Sparling; “Summer Camp,” starring Maiara Walsh and Diego Boneta; and the “Fast and Furious” spoof, “Superfast.”
Among his other producing credits are the dramatic thriller “Hours,” starring Paul Walker; the hit spoof films “Meet The Spartans” and “Vampires Suck”; “Vehicle 19”; and the thriller “ATM.” Safran also produced the 2011 Sundance comedy “Flypaper,” starring Patrick Dempsey; and the Sundance hit “Buried,” starring Ryan Reynolds, which was distributed theatrically in 2010.
Among his other numerous feature executive producer credits is the blockbuster parody “Scary Movie.” In addition, he executive produced HBO’s stand-up comedy series “P. Diddy presents: The Bad Boys of Comedy.”
Born in New York and raised in London, Safran graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He earned his law degree at New York University’s School of Law and honed his negotiation skills as a corporate attorney in New York City.
JAMES WAN (Producer) is regarded as one of the most creative filmmakers today.
He is currently in postproduction on “Fast & Furious 7,” the new chapter of the hugely successful series, which he directed. The film starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Kurt Russell and Jason Statham will be released on April 3, 2015.
Co-creator of the popular “Insidious” series, Wan is currently producing “Insidious: Chapter 3,” starring Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, and Leigh Whannell, with the latter trio reprising their roles from the first two movies in the franchise. This time directed by longtime writing partner Whannell, the film will be released on May 29, 2015. Wan previously directed “Insidious” and “Insidious: Chapter 2,” starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey. He also had a story by credit on “Insidious: Chapter 2.”
He directed the 2013 global success “The Conjuring,” starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston, taken from the case files of famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The film grossed over $318 million worldwide.
Wan is the co-creator of the “Saw” franchise, the most successful horror film series of all time. In addition to directing the first “Saw” film, which premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, he served as executive producer for the entire franchise.
Wan’s other credits include the cult horror film “Dead Silence” and the audience favorite revenge thriller “Death Sentence,” starring Kevin Bacon and Garrett Hedlund.
In 2004, Wan received the prestigious Greg Tepper Award for outstanding achievement in Film.
He is an Australian citizen and a U.S. resident.
“Annabelle” is the first film under Wan’s Atomic Monster production banner.
GARY DAUBERMAN (Screenwriter) has several projects in development with various production companies and studios, including another horror movie with New Line Cinema. He has also worked extensively with New Line on both original scripts and as a script doctor.
Dauberman’s first break came when his spec, “Burst,” sold in a bidding war to Mandate and Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures.
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. He most recently executive produced “Into the Storm.”
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 releases are “Into the Storm,” and the worldwide box office success “The Conjuring,” starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, based on the true case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
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 “Into the Storm“; “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.”
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.
HANS RITTER (Executive Producer) is a film producer based in Los Angeles specializing in independent, art house and elevated genre films. Under his Skyscraper Content banner, he produced Todd Louizo’s “Hello, I Must Be Going,” starring Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner and Christopher Abbott, which opened the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; “Between Us,” starring Julia Stiles, Melissa George, Taye Diggs and David Harbor, which won several awards; Zal Batmanglij’s “Sound of My Voice,” written by and starring Brit Marling; and, most recently, “Electric Slide,” starring Jim Sturgess, Chloe Sevigny, Patricia Arquette and Isabel Lucas.
He has also been a co-producer on such critically acclaimed films as “Hard Candy,” directed by David Slade, which introduced Ellen Page to American audiences and co-starred Patrick Wilson; Tommy O’Haver’s “An American Crime,” also starring Ellen Page as well as Katherine Keener; and Gregg Araki’s “Mysterious Skin ” and “Smiley Face.”
Between feature projects Ritter produces commercials for David Slade, Drake Doremus and Henrik Sundgren. Currently, he is developing a TV series.
JAMES KNIEST (Cinematographer) makes his motion picture debut as a cinematographer with “Annabelle.”
Previously, Kniest has lensed national commercials, long form branded content, television promos, short films, and documentaries for clients including Chevy, Southwest Airlines, McDonalds, and Scion. He has shot all over the world, including South Africa for Shark Week, Kiev for a Twix commercial, and Canada for British Columbia Tourism.
Raised in Southern California, Kniest grew up surfing and sailboat racing. Inspired early on by nature and underwater documentaries, he worked directly with Ernest Brooks, the founder of Brooks Institute of Photography, studying underwater filmmaking.
Kniest went on to become a gaffer, during which he was mentored by some of the industry’s most established cinematographers, including Salvatore Totino and Dariusz Wolski.
BOB ZIEMBICKI (Production Designer) designed Steve Pink’s “Hot Tub Time Machine,” Adam Shankman’s comedy “The Wedding Planner,” Wes Craven’s “Scream 2,” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights.”
Ziembicki began as a production assistant on Roger Corman’s “Death Sport.” He worked his way up in the art department on various Golan-Globus films, making his debut as production designer on the Golan-Globus production “Barfly,” directed by Barbet Schroeder.
He has also collaborated with George Gallo on “Middlemen,” “Local Color,” “Trapped in Paradise” and “29th Street”; Rob Cohen on “The Skulls” and “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story”; and Hugh Wilson on “Dudley Do-Right ”and “Blast From the Past.”
His additional work includes “Little Black Book,” “The Amateurs,” “Masked and Anonymous,” “Dead Man” and “The Waterdance.”
Ziembicki was born in Chicago and educated at the College of Art and Architecture at the University of Illinois Chicago Circle.
TOM ELKINS (Editor) most recently edited the horror film “The Haunt.” He directed and edited “The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia,” and served as editor on “The Haunting in Connecticut.” His other credits as editor include “The New Daughter,” “For Love of Amy” and “White Noise 2: The Light.”
His credits as assistant editor include “The Da Vinci Code,” “Red Eye” and “Cursed.” He began his career as an apprentice editor on “The Missing.”
JANET INGRAM (Costume Designer) makes her debut as costume designer with “Annabelle.”
She previously served as costume supervisor on “The Conjuring.” Ingram’s other credits include costume supervisor or key costumer on over 25 movies, including “Insidious: Chapter 2,” “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” “Lords of Dogtown,” “All the Pretty Horses,” and “Boogie Nights,” as well as numerous commercials.
Born in Lancashire, England, Ingram graduated university in London, and started her career in production at Working Title Films and the BBC.
JOSEPH BISHARA (Composer) is a composer and music producer who assembles unique scores, combining elements ranging from classical to punk to industrial, all which inform the aesthetic evident in his work.
His film scores include “11-11-11,” “Night of the Demons,” “Autopsy,” “The Gravedancers,” and, most recently, “The Conjuring,” “Insidious” and “Insidious: Chapter 2.”
Bishara has also appeared onscreen as a creature performer in “Insidious,” as the Lipstick-Face Demon, and “The Conjuring,” as Bathsheba.
His additional work includes producing the soundtrack for the cult film “Repo! The Genetic Opera,” and its musical successor, “The Devil’s Carnival.”
Bishara began his career as the guitarist and keyboardist for LA industrial metal band Drown, and followed with soundtrack work for “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” “Heavy Metal 2000” and “John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars.” He has contributed to remixes for many notable artists, including Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Danzig and Christian Death, as well as programming and production work for the likes of Jane’s Addiction, Bauhaus, Megadeth, Rasputina, 16Volt and Prong.