Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed when he takes on a new client, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson). A simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession. As Bannister fights to find the truth about Mae's disappearance, he uncovers a violent conspiracy, and must ultimately answer the question: how far would you go to hold on to the ones you love?
All during her first pregnancy, Lisa Joy was never far from her laptop. The coinciding watershed moments of profound loss and new life stoked the creative sparks that compelled her to explore the overriding theme of memory within a wholly-created and genre-bending world.
The filmmaker says, “Some of the most incredible moments of our lives are locked in our heads; they’re the stories that we revisit again and again, that make our life worth living. Sometimes, those stories aren’t shared by anyone else and so when you go, they go. In the end, I think we all become stories. We coalesce into a couple sentences over generations, and I’ve always thought, ‘Try to make it so your sentences are good, that you add more joy into this world than you took from it.’”
For all of the cinematic acumen and filmic references present in Joy’s work, it is perhaps surprising that she did not grow up steeped in the art of the cinema. Her real instruction in and appreciation for the classics began when she was in college, working as an au pair her senior year to “finance working for literary magazines in New York.”
When her young charge had been tucked in for the night and his parents had gone out, Joy would hole up in bed and watch old films. She confesses, “Film noir really spoke to me, the same way that mythology spoke to me. They are both about complex people in a world that can be dark, cruel, lawless. There are no clear-cut heroes, no clear-cut victims. The complexity of those characters navigating that world, that’s what I was drawn to. In writing ‘Reminiscence,’ I wanted to delve even deeper into that complexity, twisting around traditional notions of noir… starting with the term ‘noir’ itself. We’re used to those kinds of films being very dark and for me, I wanted it to be flooded with light and natural beauty, because sometimes the darkest things hide in the most beautiful surroundings.”
Producer Jonathan Nolan—co-founder with Joy of Kilter Films—remembers his first reaction to the script: “I read it and I was completely astonished. She had referenced some of my favorite movies, film noir and the classic, richer movies, when you could really play with questions of character, fate, memory… She'd taken all of those ideas and turned them on their head, inside out. Blown them to pieces and reassembled them in this breathtaking way. She sold the script. Then, after a couple of years of gentle prodding from her friends and me that the best director for the project would be her, with her usual incredible precision and dedication, she set about bringing it to life.”
Producer Michael De Luca relates, “To be a participant in this arc that Lisa Joy has experienced has been immensely gratifying. She was really exploding when the industry began to experience ‘Westworld,’ and then to have this screenplay actually begun just before all of that. ‘Reminiscence’ is a heady piece that includes the same thoughtful discussions that are present throughout ‘Westworld’ and, like that, it plays in and around so many genres—action, thriller, mystery, romance. Lisa balances her storytelling with really resonant themes, but they never get in the way of the popcorn enjoyment of her explosive way with narrative.”
Long-term collaborator, friend and producer Aaron Ryder recalls, “Everyone responded to the script’s intelligence. As it was making its way around, Lisa would come and talk with me about where things stood. Then, at one point, she just decided, ‘What am I waiting for? I should do this.’ There were other opportunities that had been presented to her, other things she could have directed. But it was her passionate, unshakeable determination to tell this specific story, that it needed to be told at this moment. Every movie’s got a moment. I’m just happy to have been a part of this coming together.”
In the case of her leading man, the filmmaker’s reputation opened the door, but the goods—even the promise of them—sealed the deal. Hugh Jackman tells, “When I met with Lisa, she had shown me some of the visuals and I understood what the movie was about in general, but I hadn’t seen the script. And I was already excited about it. I was excited about the world of the film. I was excited about the character and really excited about her as a writer-director. I think she’s incredibly talented, but when I met her in person, she just gave off an air of confidence and surety, not only about the material, but how she was going to tackle it. Her passion for it. It’s a rare thing for me to just have that instant sort of gut feeling that ‘I’ve got to do this’ and, to be honest, I felt that 20 pages in when I later got the script.”
Rebecca Ferguson likewise responded to Joy and her way with words, both spoken and on the page. Ferguson says, “Lisa’s way of writing—there’s a poetry, a musicality without sounding ridiculous. It makes me, as an actor, want to be absolutely truthful to each and every word. I think, other than the writing, the first thing I fell in love with was that Mae was portrayed in many different ways. She’s portrayed through others’ ideas of her. Her existence is defined by each person who thinks they see her. Talking to Lisa, it became, who is Mae? What is her true identity? When does she let things slip through the cracks? I’d never done something like this before. I eventually created a timeline of Mae, and it became about starting in the middle and working her out, both to the end and to the beginning. It was incredible.”
For the part of Watts—Nick Bannister’s aide-de-camp, support and colleague in one package—Joy turned to the “inimitable” Thandiwe Newton. Newton reveals, “When ‘Reminiscence’ came along, it took me a week just to wake up to the fact that Lisa wanted me to be a part of her first feature. I don’t think it’s an obvious choice to have me in the role, but that’s where magic kind of happens—when you’re entrusted to do something bold, something different, to use my skills as an actor to transform. Lisa saw me as Maeve in ‘Westworld,’ and had a very strong sense that I could create that character, which has been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me personally or professionally. With Watts, I got to explore and play a personality that I don’t think I would’ve necessarily gotten the opportunity to do.”
Looking Back, Looking Forward
Joy can easily access and acutely describe her process: “Whenever I’m writing, I fall in love with my characters, whether they’re villains or heroes, and it doesn’t matter what sex they are or how big they are or how flawed they are, there’s always a little piece of me in them. I think that’s the only way you can write truthfully and see something beyond those lines of expectation, like this is a girl who has to be written this way, or this is an action hero who has to be written this way. Everybody has a soul, and everybody contemplates similar issues… they just do it in different ways. You want to be noble, you want to experience love and happiness, and you want to survive.”
Nick Bannister is a distinguished war veteran who makes his living helping others relive their pasts, but his kind-hearted tendency not to charge his damaged clients renders it not much of a living. Joy feels his experiences put him in step with the current culture and allows her to explore a sometimes maligned aspect of life. She attests, “Nick talks at one point about how many sunsets he saw when he was at war and how he learned to appreciate each one of those moments, because the fighting began just after the sun went down. I think sometimes if you live through an extremely difficult experience, it gives you the ability to give yourself over to happiness when you see it. We’ve lived in very cynical times and it feels like, for a long time, earnestness has been somewhat passé; it hasn’t been cool. But the world is just coming out of an incredibly traumatic… basically plague, and there’s really no need for that level of irony anymore. We get a shot to express ourselves and interact with this world and each other. Maybe, in that time, we shouldn’t take things for granted and we should go for the things that bring us pleasure. I think this is a lesson that Bannister really learned, and maybe we have as well.”
The filmmaker took a page from her own book when contacting her hoped-for leading man, and “cold-called” with an email, saying a little about herself and “Westworld.” Also, that “Reminiscence” was her first feature, that (to that point) she’d only directed one episode of her series and that she didn’t want to send him the script until they were able to meet. Joy describes, “But, because it’s Hugh, he said, ‘Okay, we can meet,’ but I didn’t necessarily tell him that I was flying in from L.A. to New York for the meeting! He was so warm and inviting. I showed him all of the artwork that had already been designed and walked him through it. He understood the most important thing, which to me speaks to his lack of vanity as an actor—he’s someone willing to do whatever it takes to convey certain aspects of his character. What I told him was, ‘You think you’re the hero of this and, in some ways, you are, but not always and not fully. It’s not a simple tale. You don’t get to just be a superhero.’ And I left him the script.”
Jackman remembers the meeting vividly: “What attracted me beyond working with Lisa, I think, was a movie that felt so original. I think audiences more and more are going to the movies to see something they haven’t seen before. To be immersed in a world that they don’t know. They want to go on a journey that they don’t expect, and this is what you get with this. So, the world of the film really was exciting, but I think it was the originality and the fact that I had no idea where the story was going. And just when I thought I’d worked it out, I would get a massive surprise. The story would zig and then it would zag and had one of the best endings I’ve read in a script for a long time.”
Jackman welcomed the dive into troubled, sometimes dark, character waters and says, “He’s a solitary guy; a veteran, and he’s scarred. He has a lot of darkness to him. That’s probably why he’s so isolated, because he’s learned to cope that way. And with the reminiscence machine, you’re dealing with memory and the mind. My character is the person who takes you there to that memory, so that you don’t go down the wrong path or veer into the places you don’t want to go. The mind, the brain, is a very confusing and potentially dangerous place, so my character leads you to where you need to go in a safe way and will bring you back.”
His role as safe guide, per Joy, is perhaps owing to his experience of reminiscence both as a tool of war and of peace, how he’s haunted by the fact that someone can just vanish, be erased from this world. He and Watts, with their analog tendencies (storing the sessions/memories on tangible files rather than digitally), may be the only ones who possess the last remaining earthly traces of some of their clients. In a way, Bannister is already primed to cling tenaciously to anyone who causes ripples in his equilibrium and then vanishes… Enter the enigmatic Mae.
“Mae is a complicated character,” expands Joy. “When I look at noirs, they’re famous for the femme fatales. You get a woman with a past, who’s tortured and torturing other people, full of betrayals and secrets. I wanted to play with that idea. There are scores of films—and I work with this on ‘Westworld,’ too—where there is the innocent, virginal good girl and then the treacherous, sexy vixen. There’s always this complete dichotomy, never the twain shall meet, and needless to say, it’s incredibly reductive and wrong. One can be loving and sexy at the same time; one can be intelligent and still sweet, but these ideas are so steeped in our society that it’s always fun to both play with and subvert them. So the question is, who is Mae? And the answer is, a human being full of complexities, not a saint, not a pure sinner. Bannister, in order to find her, has to see her for all of those things. No love story can exist in which you only see the good parts of someone, the seductive parts of someone. That’s not love, that’s some kind of infatuation. What starts as a journey of infatuation and obsession deepens as he gets to know her.”
Rebecca Ferguson relished exploring all of the facets accorded to Mae, as well as the labyrinthine world through which she maneuvers: “Lisa Joy is a highly intelligent human being and I think she uses all the instruments she has to create her work. And I don't know how her mind works. I don't know how she knows when to play the bloody harp or the flute or the bass or the cello, but I sometimes feel like I don't want to question it. It works. And it’s impossible to shelve the film as sci-fi, or anything else. There are so many levels to it. For me, there's so much drama and emotion in it. It’s a thriller. It's suspense. It's character. The sci-fi bit is a generator to move us into different spaces and to different areas of drama. There’s also this wonderful sense of film noir, old-school cinematography feel to it. And this world, it’s this broken beauty.
“I think it’s always interesting to find the broken aspects,” Ferguson goes on, “in every character. Otherwise, we’re just one- or two-dimensional. But with all of this, what I love is that we don’t have to overanalyse everything. This rich world is beautiful, perfect or broken; it’s in the eye of the beholder. Just as Mae often is, defined by someone’s view of her. It became about finding the right tone in each moment.”
According to Joy, “Rebecca radiates intelligence as an actor. There’s something about her eyes that you can see the steeliness and the brains that Rebecca herself possesses, and I loved that for this character. I loved that we would always know there was something a little extra going on in Mae’s mind, because there’s always something going on in Rebecca’s mind. When we first talked about the role, we immediately hit it off just as humans, as women, as people, as artists. ‘You will be the femme fatale in the sexy dress, but you will be so much more than that.’ She goes through every permutation of what a character can be as we try to unpack her layers and her past, to get to the core of who she. Rebecca is able to upend and challenge the notions of a traditional femme fatale by first appearing as just that and then, over time, revealing herself to be much, much more.”
That intricate dance of performer and character was made more sturdy, perhaps, being built on a solid ground of artistic trust forged over time between Jackman and Ferguson, having been previously paired in “The Greatest Showman.”
Per Ferguson: “There was such an instant friendship, connection and simplicity with Hugh. Nothing uncomfortable. Automatic boundaries. To find that without needing words, the space in which you can move… such freedom. For Mae, I wanted to go to those broken moments, to those shades, to those cracks. There is no other person with whom I could feel so comfortable. For me, it is about that safety. There’s a natural generosity, kindness and fun with Hugh. I could say to him, ‘I’m going to try something; no one else knows.’ And he would just respond, ‘I’ll see what you do.’ We were like two siblings playing in sand.”
Jackman adds, “Rebecca is one of the most talented actors out there. And she effortlessly draws you in. There’s a mystery about Mae. There is obviously a sexiness and a mercurial quality about her. It’s got a hard edge, but there’s this vulnerability that she gradually unveils through the story, but never really giving away that mystery. And it’s completely enticing to Nick Bannister; it’s completely enticing to Hugh Jackman; and I think it’ll be completely enticing to the entire audience.”
Such galvanized relationships are everywhere among the filmmakers and cast of “Reminiscence.” Joy thinks back to one of her first meetings with Thandiwe Newton to discuss her possible participation in the new HBO series “Westworld.” Joy elaborates, “I literally met Thandiwe on FaceTime and we were both breast-feeding our children. It doesn’t get more real than that. I respect her so much as an artist, as an advocate, as a friend. She’s this beautiful, live woman—when she walks down the street, so delicate and poised, you would never imagine that she is the most badass, ass-kicker action star there is. She’s maybe five-foot-six and it doesn’t matter. I would put the odds on her in a fight over anyone, because she’s able to summon this toughness, this steeliness—she’s a mother, she’s an advocate. She’s a tough woman, but she’s tough with heart, and that’s exactly what Watts needed to be. With her, I understand the character’s longing, her fear, her fierce loyalty, her brokenness and her resilience.”
Thandiwe Newton offers, “What I love about Lisa is that she projects herself into the future—she doesn’t see it as an end in isolation. She’s thinking about the flux that takes place before ‘the future’ is realized, about the changes that occur, like are we evolving or devolving? That place of change, the growing pains of humanity, the physical reality around us…that is a really rich place. Lisa is highly capable and intellectual, but she also is an incredible empath with a big heart. Her concern for the most innocent, the most natural, is so at odds with the technological reality and the science fiction. And yes, she places her characters in this very cold—or in this case, deadly hot—and difficult environment. She creates stories that allow us to think about our future and really, really question whether getting there is worth the loss of our humanity.”
Like Bannister, Watts carries with her the troubled and damaged soul of a veteran and continues her post-war existence nearly in lock-step with her days as a soldier—in steadfast service to her trusted comrade. Newton says, “They had a great platonic friendship in the military. I think we came up with the idea that Nick kept an eye out for Watts, although she can hold her own without doubt. As a result of her past, Watts is addicted to alcohol and is metaphorically running away from the pain. Her only friend is her employer. I think one of the things that the movie does so beautifully is serve as a reminder that no matter how much pain you’ve suffered, there is a route back. Certainly in my life, in conversations I’ve had with Lisa, these are important messages from one human to another, to be able to express the pain, the difficulty of life. But also, to tell these stories of survival, where someone has turned pain into power, not given in. That’s what I feel is really behind Watts and Bannister’s friendship.”
Someone for whom pain is both motivator and friend, police officer Cyrus Boothe skims profit from the disadvantaged. Boothe is firmly in the pocket of Saint Joe, one of the leading figures in the distribution and sales of baca, the leading opiate of the current world masses. Cliff Curtis portrays Boothe, and Daniel Wu plays Saint Joe.
Joy states, “Cliff Curtis is such a chameleon and commits so fully to every character that he plays. I knew that I wanted Boothe to have a depth to him, to have an almost tragic quality, even though he’s unforgivable in his cruelty. There is a moment where you can almost understand how that cruelty arose in a world so broken, in a world where, as he describes it, ‘You’re beyond good and evil, when everybody’s drowning.’ When it’s a matter of life and death, what is morality anymore? Is it just a will to survive, if that will to survive causes you to do cruel things? And I knew that Cliff could bring all of those nuances to this character and make him so much more than just a criminal, a killer.”
For his part, Cliff Curtis admits, “I wanted to find some poetry in it, because there’s a whole section Lisa’s written that’s beautifully composed, deeply philosophical and soul-bearing from the point-of-view of my character. It’s like slam poetry, and it was exciting trying to find my way into it. I think there are lots of different flavors of villains. Some enjoy what they do in a sadistic way, and Cyrus Booth is really that. I do think he’s found his place in society and he feels powerful when he does what he does, because he can be of service to powerful people. They reward him, and then he gets to feel powerful, taking power and choices away from others. I don’t have to understand everything about him. But I understand enough, an interpretation of who he is, from the architecture Lisa provided for him.”
“For Saint Joe,” Joy points out, “I didn’t have any preconception about who I would cast as the villain or what he would look like. But when I saw Daniel Wu’s work, I just knew I wanted to collaborate with him. He’s just so talented, versatile and magnetic, so I cast him. It opened up levels to the character that I hadn’t been accessing before. It opened up a lot of avenues in the script that I hadn’t anticipated. I realized that it was a chance to explore again the theme of morality, the theme of sins heaped upon sins and the gray zones of what criminality and heroism mean in a compromised world.”
Daniel Wu had been waiting for the right part when Joy reached out to him. “I’d taken around nine months off, waiting for a good script,” he recalls. “And I was just getting to the point of, well, nothing’s coming. Then, I got a call from Lisa and she sent me the script—I was so glad I waited. I have never played a character this richly layered. I mean, he’s a gangster, a baddie, but at the same time he’s vulnerable, because he’s had his heart ripped out. He’s damaged goods, but he’s also a badass on top of that, so it’s a quite an interesting character, one that I’ve never really had an opportunity to play before.”
Joy and her “Reminiscence” team rounded out the cast with a varied list of accomplished actors, several previous collaborators, including: Marina de Tavira as Tamara, Mojean Aria as Sebastian and Brett Cullen as Walter, respectively the mother figure, scion and father of the wealthy land baron dynasty, the Sylvans; Natalie Martinez as super tough Miami D.A. Avery Castillo; and Angela Sarafyan as the fragile Elsa Carine.
Darkness Even In Light
To help construct the visual and aural complexities of the “Reminiscence” environments, Joy turned to her trusted colleagues from “Westworld,” including director of photography Paul Cameron, production designer Howard Cummings, editor Mark Yoshikawa and composer Ramin Djawadi, along with a new collaborator, costume designer Jennifer Starzyk.
“Howard is used to us coming to him with impossible tasks and somehow making the impossible happen; that’s his superpower,” comments Joy. “I went to him and said, ‘We need to sink Miami, mostly in New Orleans,’ and he laughed and said, ‘Okay, I’ll sink Miami for you.’ With incredible help from our special effects team, under Peter Chesney, we put a sunken city inside a dilapidated theme park. But you have to be really careful with water, and you have to be patient and organized, and happily Brian Machleit, my stunt coordinator, was meticulous about preparing the team, making everybody feel safe, understanding aesthetically what I was going for and helping to tell that story. “Filming was crazy, with all of us in waders, chasing boats, but it was a lot of fun and the scenes look exactly like what I imagined,” she continues. “I have to thank my actors and Brian and Howard for creating the world and my incredible crew for shooting underwater like that. I think there’s something to not doing things all in CGI, having a world you can interact with and the magic of bringing a place to life.”
Cummings responds, “Lisa had great images that she’d been pulling for a while. In ‘Westworld,’ we kind of use three colors—grey, black and white—four, with red for blood. This was a chance to explore, with Miami, neon lights, shimmering water, the mood of it. Using a defunct New Orleans amusement park called Jazzland, it was all overgrown; the decayed beauty was too good to pass up. Lisa also developed this idea that as the water invades structures, the people move up higher rather than abandon them. Then it becomes about, how do you get people across the street besides boats? Are there bridges? People are living on roofs—are there places to grow things? How do they get energy, solar panels? How would they rig electricity in all this water? With a lot of research, we could choose things that were perhaps grounded in science and reality, but also invent things for our story.”
Joy and Cummings sought to create a warm feel inside Nick and Watts’ place of business, Bannister & Associates, eschewing a customary “sci-fi” palette of cold blues and whites for the warmth of oranges and ambers, and the tactile energy of old wood. While initial discussions heavily involved the architectural elements of the Art Deco style, a bank was found in the Old Financial district in Miami with 1920s aesthetics that was “transported” to the corner of Gravier Street & St. Charles Avenue in the French Quarter, with façades created employing more Deco into the exterior.
For Saint Joe’s lair, production initially looked at historic locations within the Quarter, including Preservation Hall, but wound up in Algiers Point, on the west bank of the Mississippi River across from the Quarter. Inside a former bar, which had previously functioned as a general store, the teams shored up the structure, but left a great deal of the raw environment intact. Per Cummings: “Joe’s has a hangout upstairs, and this structure had been half demoed, and rather than spend to remake it in some way, we set the pieces—a bit of Rococo, furniture and paintings—inside this destroyed space. Sometimes, when you get to a location, it informs. The bank for Bannister was pretty much as I wanted it in my head. But Saint Joe’s was a present, because I walked in and thought, ‘I didn’t think of this… This is better.’”
For the Coconut Club, where Bannister encounters Mae at her job as chanteuse, Cummings and team landed on a former burlesque house and current music venue in the French Quarter. According to Cummings, “My favorite thing about it is this skinny, dumpy dressing room behind the stage, all red and black, and we managed to jam a camera in there. It gives a great setup to Mae as someone who perhaps needs rescuing. You emerge from the club into the sort of beautiful blues of Miami, where the romance begins.”
To create the Asian-inspired floating market, docks at the amusement park were fortified and extended into the swamps, resulting in a place that Lisa Joy felt “was what people would have to do to adapt—take their wares onto docks, barges and flatboats.” The greens and animal wrangling departments were kept busy, as much of the overgrown vegetation had to be cleared; alligators, wild boar and snakes were humanely captured and relocated. Cummings quips, “Once the animals were relocated, they had no interest in coming back.”
While empires rose—well, a near-future Miami and New Orleans were being created—Joy and cinematographer Paul Cameron were in discussion to craft a look for the film that furthered the expectation-defying realities of the screenplay. Cameron offers, “What I love about ‘Reminiscence’ is that it’s this kind of analog futuristic romantic thriller. It was important to Lisa, Howard and me to not have this futuristic dystopian feel. There’s something about Miami, even partially sunken, underwater, that’s still romantic. The trade winds blowing in. Lisa fell in love with this beautiful, standalone tower, which is an old immigration tower by the arena downtown. We used the top of it for this romantic scene between Hugh and Rebecca, where he’s telling her the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It was always about conveying romance over dystopia.”
The inclusion of the Greek myth was yet another way Joy surreptitiously upends expectation. Joy explains, “People tend to define the worth of a relationship by how it ended, or if it ended. That puts a primacy upon the most recent moment as being the most legitimate moment. In a film about memory and about time, I wanted to challenge that notion, because all endings are sad, especially if the story was happy. If the ending is the destination, we would never go anywhere, because it ends sadly.
“There are so many poetic interpretations as to why Orpheus chooses to look back, but in doing so, Eurydice fades and is lost to him forever,” Joy continues. “The myth works on so many levels. If you ended the myth in the middle—if you end the story of many relationships in the middle—it would be a happy story. Why do we look back? Nostalgia’s a bittersweet feeling, beautiful in the remembrance, but painful because whatever it is, it’s gone. The cruelty of time is that you wind up losing people. Maybe, sometimes you have to lose someone to move forward. At a certain point, you can no longer look backward and still move forward in life.”
For costume designer Jennifer Starzyk, the inclusion of the noir elements was never meant to detract from the timeframe of the story. She comments, “We didn’t want to be in an old film—we’re not remaking something that’s in the past. It’s just little nods to things that are classic. We’re also in a tough environment, dangerously hot and humid, along a coast that’s sinking. It’s not boat culture, but more survival gear. Most in the story are having to adapt to an environment that’s changing. And this is a big contrast to the wealthy, who live in the drylands, and they’re completely oblivious to anything that’s not in their bubble.”
For Jackman’s Bannister, Starzyk built a simple wardrobe with a handful of versatile pieces, with a couple of added elements for his and Mae’s time together, because who doesn’t dress up for a new relationship? For Newton’s Watts, the designer explored her military past, with utilitarian cuts of mostly linen, sun-faded pieces, t-shirts and pants with men’s tailoring. Booth is an example of a fall from grace, retaining vests from his early bureau power suit days, now much scrappier, sporting a hoodie to cloak his scars. For Saint Joe, it became about underworld flash, with a green velvet suit and, for his big showdown, a flowing robe bedecked with sea creatures.
But for Ferguson’s Mae, her looks varied with each Rashomon-like version of her character. Again, Starzyk: “We have Mae the seductress—fabric was key, using silks and others that have a luminosity. There are fun little references to Lauren Bacall, and with Mae being a club performer in Miami, I even threw a little J-Lo in there. Then, we see her in other times of her life, not all of them great. In all, there are about 20 looks for Rebecca’s character.”
Chasing The Light
In a film that weaves a story around the notion of looking back, of reminiscing, it was paramount for Joy and the team that the memories examined literally come to life for the moviegoers. As Bannister is privy to the past of the subject in the reminiscence tank, the occurrences play out in 3D and he (and anyone else present) can observe in a tangible way. This meant that Joy and company were going to have to create their own kind of onscreen magic to bring the activities of the mind into actuality—they named it “the hologauze.” Succinctly put by visual effects supervisor Bruce Jones, “We were tasked with building a 3D holographic effect in order to allow our actors to react to shots and scenes in real time and move about the hologram with correct eyelines.”
Joy describes the goal: “I wanted a warm, analog feel, and I didn’t want my actors to have to interface with only a voice when they were circling the machine. I thought it would help with performance and with establishing the look and the reality of the conceit to have a practical hologram there. Unfortunately for my DP Paul, it involved much, much difficulty. That meant we had to shoot all of the memories first. I would block the scene by anticipating the ways in which Hugh would walk around the scene, and then we had to have the camera move on the same axis that would dovetail with his later movements around the screen. I have never been on a set where all of the cameramen and director were walking around with giant rulers, forever gauging where the hypotenuse of the triangle of the projector would be,” she smiles.
Everything from design decisions to furniture placement came under scrutiny, to allow for the finished “reminiscence” to fit within the space as it was seamlessly projected onto a thin mesh stretched on the set in the shape of a half cylinder. Joy summarizes, “It was one of the more masochistic things we did.”
For Cummings, the choice of shooting in New Orleans was serendipitous. He says, “New Orleans is an amazing place. And when you create a totally whacked world, you also can create your own rules. You get to establish new criteria of aesthetics. What’s been great about this project is that a lot of things that are ruined, messed up, decayed, are actually quite beautiful. It’s fun that we get to operate in this range of texture and beauty. Our local crews worked so hard, and once they started seeing it come together… I’ve seen multiple people from my design department came back after they had finished and brought their families; they heard how it turned out and they wanted to see it and share it. That makes any job—even one as challenging as this one—worthwhile.”
That sense of looking anew also filters into the philosophy of Joy’s piece. Thandiwe Newton illustrates, “The reality of life, the lengths we go to be happy, to be content, to be safe... But how quickly things can change. I’ve always loved this quote from British anthropologist Dame Mary Douglas, ‘Dirt is matter out of place.’ It’s about how we see things. What we see as ugly, as dirt, in a different context, it has great beauty. It’s not that we can’t have opinions, belief systems, likes and dislikes—it’s not that. It’s about opening up what we’re able to accept so that we have a broader sense of humanity. I love that about ‘Reminiscence.’ Looking at things from so many different angles. People aren’t bad, people aren’t good, it’s all the gray in-between. The world is underwater and it’s also incredibly hot. That’s the kind of duality. There’s this amazing cityscape, wild and modern, and nature’s overtaking the concrete jungle.”
Even for industry veteran Jonathan Nolan, the breadth of vision and execution was noteworthy: “I was blown away by how faithfully Lisa had been able to bring her vision to life. I don’t think anyone could have made this movie but Lisa—the ambition and the beauty that she put into the characterizations and the world-building. We’ve done some ambitious things on ‘Westworld,’ but standing with her in an abandoned theme park in Louisiana and listening to her and Howard—practically family at this point—talking about turning it into the Miami in her script, and then seeing it...”
Rebecca Ferguson found her own reasons to be impressed, recalling, “One of my favorite moments, when I arrived, I walked into the costume department. I had thought that maybe, because it’s a studio movie, that everything I thought needed to be torn and rugged was going to be beautiful and newish and incredible. But Lisa had respected the narrative of the story, and she allows it shine through in every detail—the landscape, the rooms, the furniture, the molding, the faces of the people who have to live in this harsh environment. And the club where I got to sing those songs—so much history. It wasn’t dirty and dingy—it had soul. The dressing room behind the stage was an epiphany, like this archetype of one of those 1930s photo shoots with the lighted mirrors and the girls in their little dresses right before going onstage. It got me completely in the mood to sing. I said, ‘Give me that dress that reveals everything and my microphone, darling!’”
The reason why Hades, the god of the underworld, allows Orpheus to enter and seek his deceased wife is because he is a charmed musician—his father Apollo gifts him with a lyre and teaches him how to play. In “Reminiscence,” Mae is a singer, and part of Bannister’s initial attraction to her is underscored by her haunting voice.
In order to realize the lush and sophisticated musicality Joy wanted for her feature debut, she turned to her “Westworld” composer Ramin Djawadi. As in previous filmmaker conversations, the word “broken” played into artistic choices. The polished sound of a traditional, full orchestra was sparingly reserved for the wealthy residents of the drylands. Rather, layered use of guitars, piano and drums featured into the scoring for Bannister and Mae, the characters around them and the worlds they inhabit. Djawadi hinted at the mystery of the film with early inclusion of the theme later heard as Nick and Mae fall in love, which is then enlarged and taken over by the orchestra, driving and developing under Nick’s obsessive search.
Djawadi notes, “The core of the movie is about memories, thinking back and hanging onto the past. So we wanted the sound to be more timeless for these characters, the mysteries and the memories. The simplicity of the guitar/piano music felt appropriate.”
It was that duality, comparing what was to what is, that not only initially drew Hugh Jackman to the film, but provided him with a larger context in which to see “Reminiscence” and its core theme. Jackman closes, “So every character in this movie, in particular my character, has a choice to make—on whether they move forward and look forward, or whether they live in the past, hold onto memories and live in that memory. And now, we live in a world where you can literally live in memory. I think that’s a really powerful way for everyone in the audience to look at themselves and the way they’re living life. I think that is where movies and art is at its best. When a story can take us to places we didn’t expect to go, get involved with characters, make us laugh, make us cry, take us away…but, at the same time, just open our hearts to what’s happening in our own lives.”
HUGH JACKMAN (Nick Bannister) is an Academy Award-nominated, Golden Globe, Emmy and Tony Award-winning performer who has made an impression on audiences of all ages with his multi-hyphenate career persona, as successful on stage in front of live crowds as he is on film. From his award-winning turn on Broadway as the 1970s singer/songwriter Peter Allen, to his metal claw-wielding Wolverine in the blockbuster “X-Men” franchise, Jackman has proven to be one of the most versatile actors of our time.
The Australian native made his U.S. film appearance as Wolverine in the first installment of the “X-Men” series, a role he reprised in the enormously successful “X2” and “X-Men: The Last Stand.” He then starred as the title character in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” a prequel to the popular series which grossed an outstanding $90 million domestically in its first weekend of release. Audiences once again went to see Jackman in the popular role in the next chapter titled “The Wolverine,” which grossed over $400 million worldwide. In 2014, Jackman and the X-Men team reunited for “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Jackman’s journey as Wolverine ended with his critically acclaimed performance as the self-healing superhero “Logan.”
Jackman garnered his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Actor, for his performance in Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables,” based on popular stage show created from Victor’s Hugo famous novel of the same name. Jackman’s standout performance as protagonist Jean Valjean also earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, as well as Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations, for both Best Ensemble and Best Male Actor in a Leading Role, and a BAFTA Award nomination.
In 2009, Jackman took on hosting duties at the “81st Annual Academy Awards,” earning an Emmy Award nomination for his work. This wasn’t, however, Jackman’s first foray into awards show hosting. Previously, he served as host of the Tony Awards three years in a row, from 2003 to 2005, earning an Emmy Award for the 2004 ceremony, and an Emmy nomination for his appearance at the 2005 ceremony.
Jackman’s film credits include “Prisoners,” “Real Steel,” Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia,” Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige,” Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain,” Woody Allen’s “Scoop,” “Deception,” “Someone Like You,” “Swordfish,” “Van Helsing” and “Kate & Leopold,” for which he received a 2002 Golden Globe nomination. In addition, he lent his voice to the animated features “Happy Feet,” “Flushed Away” and “Rise of the Guardians.” He’s been nominated for an Emmy Award for his portrayal as Frank Tassone, in HBO’s critically acclaimed “Bad Education.”
On Broadway, Jackman received rave reviews for his performance as The Man in the “The River.” In 2011, he made a splash on the Great White Way in his one-man show, “Hugh Jackman – Back on Broadway.” Backed by an 18-piece orchestra, the revue, which previously opened to rave reviews during its limited engagements in San Francisco and Toronto earlier that year, was comprised of both Broadway hits and a selection of some of his personal favorite standards. Jackman’s continued dedication to the Broadway community was fêted at the 2012 Tony Awards, where he received a Special Award from the Tony Awards Administration Committee, recognizing his accomplishments both as a performer as well as a humanitarian.
In 2009, Broadway audiences saw Jackman in the Keith Huff-penned “A Steady Rain,” in which he starred with Daniel Craig. For his portrayal of the 1970s singer/songwriter Peter Allen in “The Boy From Oz,” Jackman received the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a musical, as well as Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards. His additional theater credits include “Carousel” at Carnegie Hall; “Oklahoma!” at the National Theater in London, for which he received an Olivier Award nomination; “Sunset Boulevard,” for which he garnered Australia’s prestigious ‘MO’ Award; and “Beauty and the Beast,” for which he received a ‘MO’ Award nomination.
Hugh is scheduled to star in “The Son,” directed by Academy Award-winning writer and director Florian Zeller, and make his return to Broadway in the revival of “The Music Man” in February 2022.
REBECCA FERGUSON (Mae) first caught the attention of international audiences playing the iconic Queen Elizabeth in the BBC/Starz series “The White Queen,” for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. She has since established herself as a leading actress in the industry.
Ferguson will next be seen starring in Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated film, “Dune,” which is the feature-length adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel. Ferguson stars as the female lead opposite Timothée Chalamet, as well as an ensemble of actors, including Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Charlotte Rampling, Zendaya and Oscar Isaac, among others. The film will premiere at the 2021 Venice Film Festival and will be released this fall.
Ferguson will star opposite Tom Cruise in Chris McQuarrie’s “Mission: Impossible 7” on May 27, 2022. She will reprise her role as Ilsa Faust from “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018) and “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015). For the performance in “Rogue Nation,” Ferguson was nominated for a Critics Choice Award.
Ferguson’s other recent film credits include: starring opposite Ewan McGregor in Mike Flanagan’s “Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep” – the continuation of King’s cult classic “The Shining”; opposite Hugh Jackman in Michael Gracey’s “The Greatest Showman”; opposite Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal in Daniel Espinosa’s sci-fi feature, “Life”; opposite Michael Fassbender in Tomas Alfredson’s “The Snowman”; and alongside Emily Blunt in Tate Taylor’s “The Girl on the Train.”
In September 2021, Ferguson begins production on “Wool,” a major new series for Apple TV+, adapted from the acclaimed novel by Hugh Howey. Ferguson stars in the leading role and she will executive produce, alongside showrunner Graham Yost and director Morten Tyldum.
THANDIWE NEWTON (Emily “Watts” Sanders) stars on HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Westworld,” for which she won the 2018 Emmy Award and was nominated for a 2020 Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Additionally, she won the 2016 and 2018 Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and was nominated for a 2017 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. In 2017 and 2019, Newton was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, as well as two SAG Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2017.
Newton recently wrapped production on Julian Higgins’ feature directorial debut “God’s Country,” as well as Janus Metz’s spy thriller, “All the Old Knives,” opposite Chris Pine for Amazon Studios.
Newton is well-known for her work in the Academy Award-winning Best Picture, “Crash.” For her performance, she received a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Newton was also praised for her role in Gabriele Muccino’s critically acclaimed box office hit “The Pursuit of Happyness,” opposite Will Smith. She has also starred in several other blockbuster films, including: John Woo’s “Mission: Impossible II,” opposite Tom Cruise, which grossed over $540 million worldwide; Roland Emmerich’s “2012,” which grossed over $760 million worldwide; Ron Howard’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” ($390 million box office); Nash Edgerton’s “Gringo”; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half a Yellow Sun,” opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor; Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds”; “For Colored Girls,” opposite Whoopi Goldberg; Guy Ritchie’s “RocknRolla”; Oliver Stone’s “W.,” playing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice opposite Josh Brolin; Xavier Dolan’s “The Death & Life of John F. Donovan,” which premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival; David Schwimmer’s “Run Fatboy Run”; and Jonathan Demme’s “The Truth About Charlie” and “Beloved,” in which she received rave reviews for her astonishingly original and bold performance as the title character and which co-starred Oprah Winfrey.
Newton also executive produced the film “Liyana,” which is a documentary about a group of young children in Swaziland who use the power of storytelling to work through personal traumas. “Liyana” opened in select theaters on October 10, 2018. Additionally, Newton executive produced the feature documentary “President,” about the elections in Zimbabwe. Directed by Camilla Nielsson, it played at the AFI on June 24, 2021.
Newton’s other television credits include: the acclaimed BBC One drama “Line of Duty,” which garnered her rave reviews and a 2018 BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Leading Actress; “ER”; “American Dad!”; “Rogue”; “The Slap”; and “Big Mouth.”
In 2012, Newton made her stage debut in London’s West End starring in “Death and the Maiden” by Ariel Dorfman. And in 2016, she recorded the audiobook for Jane Eyre, which was the #9 highest customer-rated audiobook for the year. More recently, she recorded the audiobook War and Peace for Audible.
As an activist and philanthropist, Newton was named to the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, receiving an OBE for services to film and charity. She is a founding board member of the V-Day Foundation and their One Billion Rising campaign, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. In 2011, she attended the opening of City of Joy, which is a transformational leadership community for women survivors of violence, located in Bukavu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In conjunction with V-Day, Netflix released a documentary, “The City of Joy” on September 7, 2018. Additionally, Newton memorably spoke at the 2011 TED Global Conference on the topic of “Embracing Otherness” and the video has been viewed over 3.2 million times.
When not filming, Newton resides in London with her husband, writer/director Ol Parker and their three children, Ripley, Nico, and Booker.
CLIFF CURTIS (Cyrus Boothe) is well-known for his work in “Whale Rider” and “Once Were Warriors,” and has worked with some of the top filmmakers—including Darren Aronofsky, Danny Boyle, Jane Campion, Ted Demme, Antoine Fuqua, Michael Mann, David O. Russell and Martin Scorsese, to name a few.
Curtis produced and starred in the independent feature “The Dark Horse,” garnering extraordinary reviews for his performance; he gained more than 60 pounds to play bipolar Maori speed-chess master Genesis Potini, who found purpose by teaching underprivileged children about the rules of chess and life.
His recent film credits include “Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep,” opposite Ewan McGregor, Universal’s “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” opposite Dwayne Johnson and Vanessa Kirby, and the hit Warner Bros. feature “The Meg,” opposite Jason Statham.
On the TV side, Cliff starred for three seasons as the lead of AMC's “Fear the Walking Dead.”
Curtis is about to start filming the Netflix feature “True Spirit,” opposite Anna Paquin. He also stars alongside Kate Winslet in James Cameron’s much-anticipated films “Avatar 2,” “Avatar 3” and “Avatar 4.”
DANIEL WU (Saint Joe) is a California native who graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in architecture, but his natural athleticism, camera-ready looks and Wushu mastery steered him into an explosive career in feature films in Asia and Hollywood.
His earlier work in Chinese-language film (Wu speaks Shanghainese, Cantonese and Mandarin, in addition to English) saw his popularity grow with such titles as “One Nite in Mongkok” and “New Police Story.” His performances also netted him nominations and awards from Hong Kong Film and Gold Horse Awards, culminating in Best New Director statues at both Hong Kong and Chinese Film Media Awards for “Sei dai tinwong” (“The Heavenly Kings”). The film was a mockumentary about a Hong Kong boy band called Alive (comprised of Wu, Andrew Lin, Terence Yin and Conroy Chi-Chung Chan), formed expressly for the film, which was directed, written by and starred Wu. Wu’s English-language feature debut was in 2011’s “Inseparable.”
Wu continues to enjoy popularity on both sides of the Pacific, with notable appearances in such Hollywood blockbusters as “Warcraft,” “Geostorm” and 2018’s “Tomb Raider” (opposite Alicia Vikander), and Chinese hits “Beginning of the Great Revival,” “Chinese Zodiac” (opposite Jackie Chan), “Go Away Mr. Tumor” and “Caught in Time.”
Wu is also known from his lead role of Sunny in AMC’s series “Into the Badlands”; he also served as executive producer on all 32 episodes of the run.
LISA JOY (Writer / Director / Producer) is an Emmy Award -nominated writer, director and producer, highly regarded for her genre work across television and film.
Joy is the co-creator, co-showrunner, executive producer and episodic director of HBO’s “Westworld.” “Westworld” was the most-watched first season of an HBO original series ever and has amassed 54 Emmy nominations for its first three seasons, along with SAG, DGA, WGA and PGA nominations. HBO has just announced plans for an upcoming fourth season.
Her writing career began in 2007 on the Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated ABC show “Pushing Daisies,” which earned her a Writers Guild nomination.
In 2011 Joy co-founded the production company Kilter Films with Jonathan Nolan. Following the company’s phenomenal success with “Westworld,” Kilter Films signed an overall deal with Amazon Studios in June of 2019. Through this deal, the company is currently in pre-production on “The Peripheral,” the series adaptation of William Gibson’s 2014 sci-fi thriller novel, starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Gary Carr. Kilter is also set to develop horror anthology “Unknown” for Amazon, which is described as a psychological horror anthology series that plunges into the corners of the American landscape, probing the intersection of folklore and our bloody history of true crime. The first season of the show is centered around an estranged brother and sister who return to the Texas Killing Fields, only to encounter a dark spirit that inhabits the region from their childhood.
Additionally, Amazon Studios has licensed the rights to the worldwide best-selling game franchise “Fallout” for Kilter to develop a television adaptation, which has received a series commitment. Outside of their overall deal, they will executive produce the HBO series adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s novel, “The Son,” which will star Jake Gyllenhaal, to be directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Lenore Zion. Prior to her career in entertainment, Joy graduated from Stanford University undergrad and Harvard Law School. She then went on to work as a management consultant in the tech sector and practice law in California. Joy is biracial and a first-generation Asian American, born and raised in New Jersey. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
JONATHAN NOLAN (Producer) is an Academy Award- and Emmy Award-nominated writer, director and producer. Nolan and Lisa Joy’s production company, Kilter Films, is based at Amazon Studios. They are currently in production on “The Peripheral,” based on William Gibson’s seminal novel. They are also developing “Fallout” with Bethesda Games, based on the landmark game series.
At HBO, they are currently in production on the fourth season of “Westworld,” which they co-created. Nominated for 54 Emmys, “Westworld” remains the highest-rated first season show in HBO’s history. Nolan directed the pilot, for which he was nominated for an Emmy and DGA award. They are also developing “The Son,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Denis Villeneuve, and “Sphere,” based on Michael Crichton’s novel, with partners Team Downey. Nolan’s first foray into television, the Emmy-nominated crime series “Person of Interest,” ran for five seasons and more than a hundred episodes.
In feature films Nolan, along with his brother Christopher Nolan, co-wrote “Memento,” for which they were nominated for an Academy Award, along with “The Prestige,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Night Rises” and “Interstellar.”
MICHAEL DE LUCA (Producer) is an esteemed and prolific producer with three decades in the film business, who has been nominated three times for an Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year (for David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield; Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill; and Paul Greengrass’s “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi) and three times for an Emmy Award (for producing both the 2017 and 2018 “The Oscars” and most recently for producing Ben Stiller’s award-winning “Escape At Dannemora”). Additionally, he has been nominated four times for a Producer’s Guild of America Award.
De Luca also produced the film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” as well as its two sequels, “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed,” starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. The trilogy was a global phenomenon and a box office sensation that grossed over $1 billion internationally.
Over the course of his career, De Luca has held several key positions in the film industry. At age 27, De Luca served as one of the youngest heads of production in Hollywood history when he was appointed President and COO of New Line Productions, where he helped to launch lucrative franchises including “Friday,” “Blade,” “Austin Powers” and “Rush Hour.” During his tenure, he championed such groundbreaking sleeper hits as “Seven,” “Wag the Dog,” “Pleasantville,” “Magnolia,” “I Am Sam” and “Boogie Nights,” and helped to launch the directing careers of Jay Roach, Gary Ross, Alan and Albert Hughes, F. Gary Gray, the Farrelly brothers, David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson.
From New Line, De Luca went on to serve as DreamWorks’s Head of Production from 2001 to 2004, overseeing the live-action division and the production of such films as “Old School” and “Anchorman,” which continued the rise of both Will Ferrell and Todd Phillips.
Beginning in 2004, De Luca launched his own production company, Michael De Luca Productions, which had a development and production agreement with Columbia Pictures that brought the studio three Academy Award Best Picture nominees—“The Social Network,” “Moneyball” and “Captain Phillips”—as well as mainstream success with films such as “Ghost Rider” and “21.” As an independent producer, De Luca focused on developing provocative specialized films with visionary filmmakers, as well as elevated genre films with franchise potential.
Prior to launching a multi-year production deal at Universal Pictures, De Luca served as President of Production for Columbia Pictures, where he revitalized the studio’s slate with commercial fare and filmmakers, including the thriller “The Shallows,” starring Blake Lively and directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, and the western “Magnificent Seven,” starring Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington and directed by Antoine Fuqua.
De Luca currently serves as MGM’s Motion Picture Group Chairman, steering all aspects of the studio’s global film operation, including oversight of development, production, marketing and distribution of MGM’s film and staged production slates.
De Luca is originally from Brooklyn, New York.
AARON RYDER (Producer) is one of the industry’s leading and most prolific producers working today. He recently formed Ryder Picture Company, a film and television production company with a first look deal with MGM Studios. Formerly, as one of the founding members of FilmNation Entertainment, Ryder contributed greatly to the company’s creative direction and enduring success.
During his time at FilmNation, he produced such hits as: Denis Villeneuve’s Academy Award-winning, science fiction epic “Arrival”; Jeff Nichols’s “Mud”; and “The Founder,” directed by John Lee Hancock and starring Michael Keaton. More recent films produced include: “The Good House” for Amblin Pictures; Apple’s WWII hit “Greyhound,” starring Tom Hanks; the critically acclaimed Oscar-winning film “Pieces of a Woman”; and Amazon’s hit film “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things.” “Misanthrope,” starring Shailene Woodley, is currently in post-production.
Some of his past credits include Christopher Nolan’s “Memento” and “The Prestige,” “The Mexican” and the cult classic “Donnie Darko.”
PAUL CAMERON’s (Director of Photography) visually groundbreaking work on feature films has helped shape the craft of cinematography in the 21st century.
This summer, Cameron will return once again to HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Westworld” to direct the fourth episode of the fourth season. For the show’s third season, he shot only the first episode of season three, “Parce Domine,” with director Jonathan Nolan, earning a 2020 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour). He then put down the camera to direct “The Mother of Exiles”, the season’s fourth episode. Cameron set the look for the dystopian show on the pilot, which he shot on 35mm film for Jonathan Nolan, earning a 2017 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series and a 2017 ASC Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in a TV, Movie, Miniseries or Pilot.
Previously, he shot the thriller “21 Bridges” for director Brian Kirk, following one cop’s quest for redemption, and the action thriller “The Commuter” for director Jaume Collet-Serra, with Liam Neeson starring. Cameron spent the larger part of 2015 shooting “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” on location in Australia.
Collaborations with accomplished directors include: Tony Scott (“Man on Fire,” “Déjà Vu”), Michael Mann (“Collateral”), Neils Arden Oplev (“Dead Man Down”), Len Wiseman (“Total Recall”) and Dominic Sena (“Swordfish,” “Gone in Sixty Seconds”), among others.
His cinematography for director Michael Mann’s “Collateral” confirmed the capabilities of the still young digital medium, immortalized as one of the first major studio films to embrace digital cinematography. The film earned Cameron a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award and the Los Angeles Critics Award for Best Cinematography.
In 2003, his masterful lensing caught the eye of the Clio and AICP awards. His photography on the BMW featurette “Beat the Devil” with director Scott took top cinematography honors at both events and is now part of the NYC Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. He won another Clio in 2008 for the VW Golf Night Drive spot with director Noam Murro, his third Clio to date.
Cameron currently resides in Los Angeles.
HOWARD CUMMINGS (Production Designer) is a two-time Emmy Award winner, honored for his work on Cinemax’s “The Knick,” starring Clive Owen, and HBO’s “Behind The Candelabra,” starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. Both projects were directed and produced by Steven Soderbergh.
Cummings has had a longstanding relationship with Steven Soderbergh, first working with him on “The Underneath.” He has since collaborated with him on “Haywire,” “Magic Mike,” “Side Effects,” “Mosaic” and “Logan Lucky.”
Cummings has also collaborated with a Who’s Who of esteemed directors on almost three dozen projects. His affiliations include such directors as Francis Ford Coppola (“The Rainmaker”), Bryan Singer (“The Usual Suspects”), Danny DeVito (“Death to Smoochy”), Terry Zwigoff (“Art School Confidential”), John Schlesinger (“The Next Best Thing”), Bruce Beresford (“Double Jeopardy”), Renny Harlin (“The Long Kiss Goodnight”) and Alan Rudolph (“Mortal Thoughts”). His resume also includes the award-winning “The Spitfire Grill,” the thriller “A Shock to the System” and the drama “Signs of Life.”
Other films that he has designed include his work with director Chris Columbus on “Percy Jackson & The Olympians,” “I Love You, Beth Cooper” and the musical “Rent”. Cummings is also a favorite of filmmaker David Keopp, having designed “The Trigger Effect,” “Ghost Town” and “Secret Window.” For television, Cummings more recently completed the HBO pilot for “Lovecraft Country,” directed by Yann Demange. Cummings also served as the production designer for the second and third seasons of “Westworld,” both of which garnered him Emmy nominations and Art Directors Guild Award nominations for his work. It was on “Westworld” where Howard had the good fortune of working with Lisa Joy, who was not only the co-creator of the series, but a director as well, leading to their “Reminiscence” collaboration.
Cummings graduated from New York University with an M.F.A. in scenic design.
MARK YOSHIKAWA (Editor) previously collaborated with Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan on the first season of “Westworld.” A member of AMPAS and American Cinema Editors and a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Yoshikawa has worked in editing room for over 25 years; he lives and works in Los Angeles.
Some of his notable past projects include Terrence Malick’s “The New World,” “The Tree of Life,” “To the Wonder” and “Knight of Cups”; Francis Lawrence’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Parts 1 & 2”; the first season of Apple TV+’s “See”; and the pilot of HBO’s “Succession.”
In addition to Joy and Nolan, Yoshikawa has also enjoyed collaborations with such distinguished filmmakers as Patty Jenkins, Adam McKay and Phil Alden Robinson, among others. He is currently working again with Francis Lawrence on the upcoming Netflix Original “Slumberland,” starring Jason Momoa.
JENNIFER STARZYK (Costume Designer) is known for costume designing both seasons of the gripping Netflix Original series “Mindhunter” for David Fincher. She created a unique, restrained vision of the late 1970s, concentrating on silhouette and color palette that complimented the intense plot.
In 2020, her work was seen in “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” starring original cast Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. For the film, she designed a colorful world of costumes for the iconic film characters who visit themselves in the future, while their irreverent daughters visit a cast of characters in the past.
Jennifer Starzyk received her Bachelor of Science in fashion design and costume from Woodbury University. She has been working in the costume industry for over 20 years.
RAMIN DJAWADI (Composer) is an extensive collaborator with filmmakers Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, having scored all 28 episodes of the pair’s HBO hit “Westworld” and Nolan’s series “Person of Interest.”
Djawadi has amassed an impressive list of composing credits in his more than 20 years in the music business and has seen his work lauded with awards and nominations, including two Primetime Emmys for his scoring of episodes “The Long Night” and “The Dragon and the Wolf” for HBO’s juggernaut “Game of Thrones,” as well as multiple ASACP Awards and Grammy nominations and for his work in both television and feature film. The artist also conducted his compositions from “Game of Thrones” around the U.S. during a live orchestral tour celebrating the popularity of the show.
His work will soon be heard in Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao’s Marvel Universe entry “Eternals” and Patrick Hughes’ action comedy “The Man from Toronto.” He is also scoring the HBO Max series set 300 years before the events of “Game of Thrones,” “House of the Dragon.” More of his feature composition work can be heard in “Elephant” (2020), “Slender Man” (2018), “A Wrinkle in Time” (2018), “The Mountain Between Us” (2017), “The Great Wall” (2016), “Warcraft” (2016), “Dracula Untold” (2014), “Pacific Rim” (2013), “Safe House” (2012), “Clash of the Titans” (2010), “Iron Man” (2008), “Open Season” (2006) and “Batman Begins” (2005).
His additional work for television includes such popular and acclaimed series as “Jack Ryan,” “The Deuce,” “The Strain” and “Prison Break.” His compositions can also be heard in multiple video game titles, including properties based on “Game of Thrones,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Marvel’s Avengers.”