A RELIANCE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY PRESS PACK, Certificate: 18, Run Time: 96 minutes
The future. America is an irradiated wasteland. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC lies Mega City One a vast, violent metropolis of over 400 million citizens living in perpetual fear. The only ones attempting to impose order in the urban chaos are The Judges. Law enforcers, juries, judges and executioners rolled into one. The epitome of these Judges is Dredd. The Chief Judge gives Dredd a mission. To road test a rookie Judge, the powerful psychic Cassandra Anderson. It is to be a training day. The Judges head for a seemingly routine homicide in the notorious Peach Trees mega-block – a 200 story vertical slum run by the pitiless Ma-Ma clan. When the Judges attempt to arrest one of Ma-Ma’s chief henchmen, Ma-Ma shuts down the entire building and orders her clan to hunt the judges down. Our two judges are now caught in a vicious and relentless fight for survival.
The near future. America is an irradiated wasteland with a single vast outpost stretching across the eastern seaboard: Mega City One. This massive urban dystopia has a population of over 400 million people, and each one of them is a potential perpetrator.With government and country now gone, a powerful and efficient hybrid of the police and judicial system has given birth to a group of new guardians of the law with the power to dispense instant justice and punishment. Trained from an early age to be unbreakable, incorruptible upholders of the law, The Judges are judge, jury and executioner.
One of these judges, Judge Dredd is a living legend – six feet of single-minded armoured justice devoted to enforcing the law. Twelve serious crimes are reported every minute. Seventeen thousand per day. The Judges can only respond to six percent. We first see Dredd in hot pursuit of a van full of criminals. They open fire on Dredd but he catches up with the van and takes it out, dispensing instant justice on the surviving occupant as he tries to take a hostage and escape the law.
Dredd is called to the Hall of Justice by the Chief Judge. He is to assess a twenty-one year old rookie, Cassandra Anderson, who wants to prove she can become a Judge after narrowly failing the aptitude test. Anderson is a mutant. At age seven she lost both her parents to residual-fallout cancer, but she’s also the most powerful psychic the academy has ever encountered. The Chief Judge wants to give her one more chance, by chucking her in the deep end with the most feared elite street Judge of them all: Dredd. Dredd is highly sceptical. With one day to make the grade, Dredd offers Anderson the choice of action and she calls it: a multiple homicide in the PEACH TREES mega-block.
The most common form of mass-housing in Mega City One are “mega-blocks”, averaging a population of 60,000. The mega-blocks are brutal concrete monoliths; despite 96% unemployment, people live and breed here in these vertical apocalyptic slums. Unbeknownst to the Judges, Peach Trees is under the complete control of the vicious hoodlum Ma-Ma and her Clan.
Dredd and Anderson arrive to find a turf-war has erupted. Three victims have been drugged with Slo-Mo, a new drug that has just hit the streets, and skinned alive, then thrown off the dizzying two-hundred stories of the Atrium. With the help of a Paramedic the Judges trail possible clan perps to a drug den, a squalid apartment and distribution point on level thirty nine littered with broken, empty inhalers, junkies and gangsters indulging.
When the smoke from their bust clears, the judges are left with four bodies and six live suspects ready for two years in the iso-cubes. But as Anderson is cuffing a perp she uses her psychic powers to “read” him. She discovers that this is KAY, the man responsible for the turf murder. What she doesn’t know is that he’s one of Ma-Ma’s lieutenants and Ma-Ma is watching everything, cursing the fact that the rookie and Dredd are taking her man in for interrogation. Ma-Ma’s technological hub is at the heart of her base overlooking the atrium from the top floor, the CCTV room has a bank of monitors overseen by a scrawny half-robotic Clan Techie, malnourished and abused he can make almost any wish of Ma-Ma’s come true.
With the help of Caleb, her right-hand man, the Peach Tree Control room is secured and they’re routed into the city’s mainframe. With that Ma-Ma calls on emergency controls reserved for war – the Blast Shield Protocol.
As Dredd and Anderson escort Kay, their prisoner, outside the block, lead lined shutters suddenly come slamming down. Two metre thick blast doors block all entrances, even the atrium is closed over, its top shuttered up by metal blocking the sky above. Ma-Ma has locked the entire place down. There’s no way out. Ma-Ma makes a deafening public announcement to her entire Clan on every level to hunt the two Judges down and kill them on sight.
Unable to contact Control, Dredd and Anderson head for the Med Centre as clan members, vigilantes and gangsters prepare themselves for war. Completely outnumbered, the Judges are under siege.
Dredd and Anderson make their way through Peach Trees. As they are confronted by Clan members Dredd despatches them with efficient ease. However, they cannot find a place to defend. Even the Paramedic won’t allow them in the med centre. Peach Trees has been sealed by blast doors to withstand attack. No one is getting out. No one is getting in. And they have every Clan affiliate in the block after their blood. As the Paramedic says, he’s not picking sides, “You’re already dead.” What’s more they have a perpetrator with them, a possible liability whom they don’t want to cut loose.
With Anderson’s psychic abilities they manage to find a route through the building, into homes and finally to a service elevator. But even there Ma-Ma can keep track of them, but with thirty plus men down she’s not happy. Her Techie triggers riot protocols and all doorways, elevator shafts and access corridors are sealed. She has them cornered and it’s going to be messy.
Dredd suspects an ambush, Anderson and Dredd split up, and Kay tries to freak Anderson out. With Ma-Ma and her henchmen positioned on the balcony around the atrium armed with Mini-Gun Shooters (each with six rotating barrels, electric driven, air-cooled, firing six thousand rounds a minute) things are not looking good for Dredd or Anderson’s first day on the job.
Ma-Ma unleashes a fury of violence upon the Judges and the unfortunate occupants around them, seemingly with no way out, Dredd blasts a hole in the side of the building and they escape the firing. They call for support. Dredd knows that if they’d executed Kay in the bust, Ma-Ma would have let them walk out of there. Anderson reads Kay and plays some mind games of her own to find out the truth about the Slo-Mo manufacturing base that is Peach Trees and Ma-Ma’s empire. She’s controlling all the Slo-Mo in Mega City One.
Dredd and Anderson are left with three options – Defend, Hide or Attack… When they decide to go straight for Ma-Ma on the 200th floor, Kay manages to break free and drag Anderson back to Ma-Ma’s base.
Ma-Ma decides that Anderson’s death must look like a drug bust gone wrong. Dredd continues his route up to the 200th floor, finishing off Clan members as he goes. Under increasing pressure with Dredd heading inexorably in her direction, Ma-Ma calls in four corrupt Judges to take Dredd out. Kay is dispatched to kill Anderson but his attempt to use her ‘Lawgiver’ gun backfires and blows off his arm. Anderson finishes him off. She escapes, dispatching one of the bad Judges en route.
Dredd dispatches two of the bad Judges but now he has run out of bullets and the bad Judge leader, Lex, is on his trail. Dredd and Lex confront each other in the drug manufacturing base. Dredd is wounded but just as Lex is about to finish him off, Anderson comes up from behind and shoots Lex, saving Dredd.
Dredd and Anderson make their way to Ma-Ma’s quarters. Anderson ‘reads’ the hapless Clan Techie to get the entrance code. During the final shoot out in Ma-Ma’s quarters, Anderson is injured and Ma-Ma’s remaining followers are finished off by Dredd. Ma-Ma has one final card to play. She has rigged up the entire floor with enough explosives to take out the whole building. A device on her arm will detonate it all if her heart beat stops. Calling her bluff, Dredd administers his judgement on the injured Ma-Ma and gives her a blast of the Slo-Mo drug before pushing her to her death in to the vast 200 storey atrium. From the atrium floor, Ma-Ma’s detonator signal is rendered useless.
Dredd and Anderson make their way out of Peach Trees. The Chief Judge is there. “Is she a pass or a fail?” she asks Dredd of Anderson. “She’s a pass” says Dredd before riding back out into the Mega City.
The future world of Judge Dredd created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra back in 1977 for 2000AD has grown to have a life of its own. With countless stories and characters, it was voted best British comic and Best Comic in the World Ever at the National Comics Awards.
Now, the endlessly inventive mind of writer Alex Garland brings DREDD to life as a futuristic neo-noir action film that returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s revered comic strip.
Alex Garland says, “I grew up reading Judge Dredd. The incredible writers and artists of 2000AD were formative influences on me. Andrew, Allon and I have developed this adaptation of Judge Dredd with an emphasis on adrenaline and realism, but with all the scale and spectacle of Mega City One.”
And Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner and 2000AD are on board, “Alex Garland’s script is faithful to the original concept that made Judge Dredd a favourite bad-ass hero. It’s a high-octane sleigh-ride through the dark underbelly of the vast future city. A fan pleaser.”
Getting the story right
Judge Dredd, John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s revered comic strip about a single-minded lawman in a distant future was born over three decades ago and has since spawned a legacy of its own. Novels, magazines, board and card games, computers and role-play games, action figures, duvet covers, pinball machines and even dressing gowns have been devoted to the iconic policeman, judge, jury and executioner who became a legend through a comic-book.
In its heyday in the late 1970s and then under Thatcherism, British comic 2000AD sold 100,000 copies a week, and the young Alex Garland, was taken by its dark, visceral, ironic violence. “I was around 10 when I found a copy of 2000AD at the local newsagent and started reading it,” the celebrated screenwriter and novelist says, “I got quite fixated about all of the stuff in there, but particularly Judge Dredd. That story you know of finding 2000AD in a shop and getting hooked on Judge Dredd is really common amongst guys my age…and we’ve all carried something about that into our adult lives, I remember it was partly because Dredd has an adult aspect to it, like I was maybe slightly too young to be reading it. Like watching an 18 certificate film when you were 12, that particular thrill.”
The novelist and screenwriter, famed for his mix of psychological exploration, moral conundrum, and suspenseful plotting in his novels The Beach, The Tesseract and The Coma as well as his intense screenplays for 28 DAYS LATER, SUNSHINE and NEVER LET ME GO, says he always thought he’d end up telling stories through comic strips, “My dad’s a cartoonist, and I always thought I was going to end up doing cartoons. I used to draw comic strips constantly, so I picked up a lot of how to construct a narrative by that.” He believes that this graphic-novel sensibility comes through in his books which are cinematic, “and comic strips are quite cinematic, the length of the chapters, and the speed with which the plot moves. So it is in my background in one kind of way, a graphic way of dealing with narrative.”
Co-creator of the comic book John Wagner understands Garland’s visceral reaction to his work and believes that the main attraction of Dredd is that he is a combination of good guy and bad guy, “He’s a real bad-ass cop and in some respects you are all for what he’s doing and in others you think – ‘thank god someone like him doesn’t exist today’.” That contradictory mix of good and evil is something that he believes is the real drawing force of the legendary character, “Although Dredd would never see himself as villainous, he believes he’s upright and righteous but he is certainly not someone you would want on the streets looking after you, because you’d probably end up inside.”
Producer Andrew Macdonald first collaborated with Garland when he produced Danny Boyle’s film of THE BEACH ten years ago. In 2002 Garland wrote 28 DAYS LATER for Boyle and Macdonald, who was now running the UK independent company DNA Films together with Allon Reich. Garland went on to write Danny Boyle’s acclaimed sci-fi thriller SUNSHINE and adapt Kazuo Ishiguro’s masterful novel Never Let Me Go into a moving and provocative film for DNA Films.
The writer was inspired when the company decided to expand its horizons and venture into bigger budget waters with franchise-based, genre pictures aimed at a larger audience base with wider releases. Producers Allon Reich and Andrew Macdonald became aware that they might be able to get the rights to Judge Dredd and Garland would obviously be the perfect talent to pen the script.
Tracking down the rights, however, was intricate says Macdonald, “It was complicated because the film rights had moved through different owners. At one stage Disney owned them, then Stallone’s version. We spent two years getting the rights sorted.” But all along the team had faith that they’d get them and so Alex started working on the first drafts of a script.
The irony is that because the 1995 Stallone vehicle never delivered on the goods it enabled the filmmakers to get this reboot into gear. “It bizarrely enabled us to get the rights,” says Garland, “If the first film had been a smash hit, we would have never got the rights. It opened the door for us. And also we knew that people’s expectations would be defined by that film, so from the beginning we wanted a whole different thing. Something that was much more hard-core and edgy.”
Macdonald echoes Garland’s sentiments, “The rights were held by Rebellion, run by two brothers, Jason and Chris Kingsley, who are also producers and they were very protective and knew the property had value and, like us, wanted to exploit it properly. It took a while to convince them that we were the right people but we had just done 28 DAYS LATER and we said we wanted to do it like that. A movie that would not please everyone, which the first one tried to do and ended up diluting Dredd’s character. They changed the tone of the comic which was a big mistake.”
Even Sylvester Stallone agrees with their criticism, and has been quoted as saying it was a “real missed opportunity….for me it is more about wasting the great potential there was in that idea…it didn’t live up to what it could have been.” This time round the filmmakers wanted to remain true to Wagner and Ezquerra’s vision and both Reich and Macdonald have always maintained the importance and integrity of the screenwriter and original content.
“We have always taken the view that any originator of material is important to keep on side and it’s vital to work with their wealth of knowledge and information about the material. On NEVER LET ME GO we worked very closely with Ishiguro and he was very involved at strategic moments,” says Macdonald, “When we wanted to do DREDD, it was essential to go and see if we could get the support of the person whose imagination it first came out of and that was John Wagner and we went to meet him. He has had other novels made into movies and was essentially a sceptic, even though he was perfectly polite!”
Wagner recalls getting an email from Garland requesting a meeting, “I thought ‘aha not another one!’ Then I met up with them and I thought to myself ‘these guys are genuinely serious?!’ He says he was “desperate for a second Judge Dredd film to be made, because I wanted it to be made right and after our meeting I was impressed by their honesty and I really believed they were serious. I mean the fact that they cared enough to get me involved at such an early stage meant a lot to me. In 1995 they made the wrong film; they didn’t read Judge Dredd and just filmed another story. What they were embarking upon this time I knew was going to actually be the Judge Dredd I know.”
Garland was thrilled that they brought in Wagner at the first opportunity, “If at that first meeting John had said I just don’t want another film, the last one was too bruising and he doesn’t work on film and should stay as a comic book character and that’s where he should stay. I think we would have walked away and said fair enough. But I knew Dredd. I read him my whole life and I felt confident we would be able to do this.”
Producer Allon Reich reckons the meeting of minds in Garland and Wagner was fortuitous and led to a unique cinematic take on Dredd, “It is his creative vision. Alex is a big comic book fan, he grew up with Dredd and is immersed in the world of 2000AD and Mega City One and is also an experienced screenwriter.” Garland used a lot of the original material says Reich but he also made it stand alone as a film in its own right. “It is absolutely his imagination and his creative vision and that is the stamp on this movie, without any question.”
But writing it proved no easy task, “I started writing a story with another character in the Dredd universe, Judge Death who is a nemesis character for Dredd and worked on that for a year through several drafts,” Garland says, “And in fact that was the first draft that John saw, but I realised I couldn’t crack it so I shifted on to pro-democracy terrorists which is another of the storylines that John created that I found particularly interesting.”
But the writer felt that wasn’t working either as an efficient narrative for the rebooting of Dredd onto the screen. “Suddenly I thought, ‘I keep trying to go too big with this’ that I needed to be thinking in a more reductive way and think of different kind of stories that John would tell. Which were not the big grand sweeping narratives of which there are many over the course of the Dredd mythology.” Garland started to pare it all down and look at “some of the punchier stories which are like short stories.”
What he decided was to write a day in the life movie and Wagner couldn’t be more thrilled, “That was what was wrong with the first movie, it was too sweeping. They tried to show far too much. Alex has narrowed it down to a day in the life of Dredd and I think it is so much better for that.”
The long journey to the page proved fruitful and everyone responded to the script with delight, Pete Travis says, “I read Alex’s script and it blew me away. I think Alex created a story that goes beyond your needing to be a fan of the comic. If you live in a city, violence frightens you, and DREDD is set in a future that is not so far from ours. I think he has managed to fashion a character you can really grab hold of.”
Andrew Macdonald sums it up when he says, “What made DREDD possible was that we had a great character and we had a great script. Everyone who read it wanted to do it.”
Getting the characters right
“We put together a pretty compelling package of mainly rights, producers, script, and a director with a solid track record and all our lead people were excited and on board,” says Macdonald, “but we wanted to make a film that would be tough and grown up, the violence we required meant it would be R-rated in America and 18 in Europe, so we knew we could only spend about 40 million. It was not going to be big-budget, plus we knew we had a character that couldn’t take off his helmet, which we wanted and was in our contract with the Kingsleys. So you can’t then have a huge movie star whose face you don’t see. We needed a great or good actor as opposed to a marquee name like Will Smith.”
Reich weighs in with his take on casting the iconic character, “Dredd is an extreme character, he is the ultimate Judge and for him the law is everything. The rules are the rules and he administers justice with an extreme lack of prejudice. He is the best at what he does and the most feared. He brooks no argument and is tough as can be. He was inspired by Dirty Harry, is Britain’s longest lasting graphic novel character and remains one of the most loved; what’s more the term ‘Dredd-like’ is common currency even for people who have never even read the comic strip.”
The team needed an actor who would embrace that legacy and not feel hindered by the idea of playing a monolithic icon. Meanwhile STAR TREK and LORD OF THE RINGS star Karl Urban heard that they were rebooting the comic strip for the big-screen and was curious, “I was very interested because of my history of reading the comics, so I took a meeting with Alex, Andrew, Allon and Pete and listened to their take and it was clear that they wanted to make a radical departure to what had come before and wanted to make a film that was a lot more gritty, realistic and hardcore. A high-octane, action adventure which would be a lot more faithful to the source of the material and that immediately intrigued me.”
Reich says of Urban, “He comes from a kind of interesting place in terms of STAR TREK and LORD OF THE RINGS and he brought forward a trip he was making to LA to meet us and it was nice to see the passion. He grew up with the comic and had an attitude towards it and was very excited by the screenplay.”
The actor says his first introduction to Judge Dredd was through the comics, “I started reading them when I was 16 when I was working in a pizza parlour in Wellington, New Zealand. I was pretty enamoured with the character as I was already a fan of sci-fi and enjoyed the world of Mega City One and I really loved the character of Dredd. He is this hardcore, futuristic lawman, the ultimate lawman in a society where the normal process of justice has changed. There are no more juries and lawyers and protracted legal system, it has all be condensed into one man. Since that age I’ve always loved a vigilante-type character and Judge Dredd is one of the best.”
A devout fan, the actor was doubly enthused by the fact that the filmmakers never, ever, wanted to see Dredd’s face, “One of the great aspects of Dredd is that you never fully see his identity. Since he was created in 1977 he was the faceless representation of the law and an enigma and to do anything else just wouldn’t have been Dredd.”
“You can’t make the mistake of playing the icon, you have to play the man and he is a man who has an insanely tough job working in this society that is fragmenting and falling apart,” says the actor, “His heroism is defined by an ordinary man. To me he is closer to those heroic firefighters who went into one of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and you couldn’t be further away from stereotypical superhero because he is not a Superman or Batman. He doesn’t have an alter ego, what you see is what you get and he calls the way he sees it but the huge challenge for me as an actor was to try and inject as much dynamism as possible. It’s tough, how do you convey a subtle emotion like doubt or concern when you don’t have the use of your eyes, so it has been a very challenging process.”
Urban says that he has always been attracted to darker roles, “When I approach a character I am interested in faults and flaws and what makes them human and three-dimensional. Dredd is an interesting kettle of fish in that his emotion is completely repressed, any normal social life that he may have enjoyed has been completely burned from his psyche, and in some ways I think he is tragic because he is charged with the job of protecting these people in society but at the same time he is incapable of functioning normally in that society.”
Apart from the psychological and emotional challenges of the role, playing Dredd was, of course, an intensely strenuous assignment. “This has been a very physical role. When I came into the movie and during pre-production I spent time in the gym getting into the right mindset and physical condition and then when I arrived for the shoot I was thrown into a boot camp for about two and a half weeks. That involved weapons training, technical movement, learning how to move under fire, learning to bust ‘perps’, breach doors and arrest people. One of the insane aspects of what I do is constantly learning skills you can never learn in real life!”
Urban was grateful that in making a more realistic version, the tone of DREDD meant they used real weapons and guns, “The lawgiver is a fully functioning weapon based on a 9mm system, so it actually fires and you can change to automatic to semi-auto. It is an added bonus as an actor when you don’t have to imagine it and it is actually there. Lawmaster is Dredd’s motorbike and it is based on a 500cc bike with a massive frame built over the top with machine guns, an extended wheel base, the chunkiest tires that they could find and it is a beast of a machine and that was real fun to ride.” The actor says it was one of the things that he had a strong opinion about, “I thought it was important that the audience got to see me on that bike, riding the bike, weaving in and out of traffic. There is no blue-screen/ green-screen trick. When you see Dredd on the bike, you are there for the ride.”
Then there was the question of dialogue and how the Judge would actually speak, Urban had to decide what voice would have leapt out of that comic-strip. “To me in all the research I had done, Dredd’s voice was described like a saw cutting through bone,” he says, “So I felt I was trying to attain a resonance that wasn’t centred in my normal register. It was a lot more harsh and raspy in many ways which can be difficult to sustain and you can’t shout with a rasp, so it has its own set of issues.”
The actor did, however, insist on cutting down the dialogue and found a perfect collaborator in scripter Garland, “If it can be said in one sentence it would be better than three. I wanted it to be very minimalistic with Dredd just saying the bare minimum. And I can’t speak highly enough of Alex and how he helped; we were blessed to have him there. He has made an incredible contribution to this entire movie and for me it was a wonderful asset to have the writer on set. If I have questions about a scene or intentions of a beat I can just ask him and Alex is not precious about it. He is quite happy to improve on the material and is a wonderful collaborator and quite often you will go to him and he will say that is great, what about this and he will take it to you the next step and really elevate the material and improve upon it.”
Keeping consistent with Garland’s vision and staying true to the origins of the Dredd phenomenon was equally important to Urban and he felt truly privileged to meet its creator, “I had the great fortune of meeting John Wagner and he was really lovely and complementary. I felt somewhat nervous about it, Dredd is his creation and when you meet the creator you hope that you live up to the expectations and I imagine the expectations are pretty high,” the actor says, “I have to say he was really wonderful and was happy with what he saw. He recognised that we are being faithful to his creation and while we are not 100 percent transferring a complete world from comics into the medium of cinema, I think he could see and recognise that the heart of what we are doing is in the right place.”
Reich says that they always wanted to cast Dredd before considering his rookie partner, the psychic Anderson. “We saw a lot of different girls and Olivia Thirlby was shooting a movie in Moscow and she put herself on tape and it was a fantastic reading. Finally we did a screen test with her and Karl in London and it worked perfectly.”
The classically trained actress, who became an indie darling and part of Hollywood’s new wave of talent when she was discovered as the best friend in sleeper hit JUNO, says like everyone else it was the screenplay that got her fired up, “Alex Garland wrote a brilliant script and that is what brought me in, in the first place. The moment I read Anderson’s first line of dialogue she jumped right into my heart and I have Alex to thank for that. I really connected with the character, so I made an audition tape, which is something I do and all actors do when you can’t audition in person. Then I didn’t hear anything for maybe three weeks and forgot about it and thought, ‘oh well I guess they found someone else.’ I took no news as bad news and as it turned out: no news is good news, because out of the blue I heard they really liked my tape and it all kind of went from there.”
Thirlby has what Reich calls an “Indie New York actress” vibe to her and “that works perfectly. Anderson was based on Debbie Harry in John Wagner’s mind and that key vibe Olivia has in spades. Dredd doesn’t take his helmet off and that is hard for an actor and an audience and Anderson can’t wear a helmet, luckily, because it interferes with her psychic ability. We can see her eyes, so she is our human way into the film and it was important to have an actress who could show that vulnerability as well as the strength to be a judge.”
Thirlby sees Anderson as an underdog in the narrative, “The odds are stacked against her in every conceivable way. As with many people she has to lose herself to find herself and she has to give up before she is able to do what it is she is actually able and wants to do. She begins the film trying very hard to impress and do the right thing and follow the right procedure and during the course of the film the stakes become so high, so life and death, the plot thickens and she is forced to let go of all these things she is trying to do and completely be herself.”
Pete Travis adds “I think Olivia has a huge depth of strength that she has brought to the role. She has a way of looking that makes your heart go out to her, but at the same time she is super tough when she needs to be.”
“Dredd is black and white,” the actress says, “whereas she exists in a grey area where everything is enhanced or clouded, depending on how you look at it by the fact that she actually knows what is going on in the very interior of a person, maybe even more than they themselves do. She is unique in that she has deep understanding in the scope of human experience. She knows the greatest joy and the deepest sorrow, because she can feel it in other people.”
Anderson’s psychic abilities lead to some intense situations in the story which Thirlby admits were emotionally taxing, “They usually have to do with when you get a very specific read on someone’s pain and especially in this slum there are a lot of really bleak things that happen here and there are several times in the film where she has no choice but to take in the entirety of the pain of what people are feeling. And that is always very hard on her because her gifts are a curse; she has no choice but to feel the pain.”
But the actress revelled in the stunt training and weapons and tactical training needed for the performance, “I am proud that I can re-load and rack a gun and it’s great to approach a set with corridors and figure out how you would tactically move through these spaces properly. I had to learn how to roundhouse kick, which was very difficult, and other basic fight training but everything was done so that you believe Anderson could be physically commanding enough to kill somebody with her bare hands.”
British actress Lena Headey, best known for playing Cersei in hit HBO TV series GAME OF THRONES and the female lead in the blockbuster visionary graphic-novel adaptation 300 was the last to be cast as Ma-Ma, the villainess behind the Slo-Mo drug empire featured in the story. “One of our archetypes was Pattie Smith,” says Reich, “and that kind of incredible self-containment and ability to feel that she does not care at all what anybody thinks or feels and she will do and behave, as she wants. Then you add a vicious criminal element. And for that Lena has amazing attitude and went somewhere you wouldn’t expect.”
When he crafted the screenplay for DREDD Alex Garland set-up two opposites on a training day, as John Wagner explains, “Well there’s Dredd (your greatest hero and biggest nightmare wrapped up into one) and Anderson (is fragile, interesting, intelligent and you would think she could never make a judge as she has too much heart). The pair make for a really interesting contrast, especially the way Alex has put them together. They are both from the original comic, but the antagonist Ma-Ma and her gang are creations for the movie but they are born out of the same universe and tonally they belong to that world.”
Garland says, “Ma-Ma has had a hard life and at a certain point has decided to take it back on the world. She does things that are irredeemably brutal. But then you also want to find some dimension in her, and know that for Ma-Ma herself, she’s wondering ‘why are all these bullets missing me?’ There’s a kind of idle animalistic streak there, and she’s on a course in her life and it is to always meet Dredd, in a funny kind of way.”
Headey immersed herself in the role, even though she’s not a fan of the violent hardware she has to brandish in the role, “It isn’t a thrill for me. It looks cool but they scare me and I am rubbish at it!”
For the casting of Ma-Ma’s sidekick Kay the filmmakers wanted to emphasise the gritty, realism of the film, “We tried to do something more real with our 3D treatment than an ordinary comic book film,” says Reich, “and to have someone from THE WIRE like Wood Harris, was like a statement of intent to the movie. That kind of calibre of baddy and the realism of what he does is a key to our tone and he is fantastic.”
The star who leapt to fame as hot-tempered drug kingpin Avon Barksdale in the acclaimed HBO series and impressed as high school football player Julius Campbell in the 2000 motion picture REMEMBER THE TITANS has a complex take on playing intense villains on screen. “People do bad things and are bad guys but often have a lot of good reasons to do the things they do. Kay is definitely a villain but I see him as a justified villain in that sense. He sees himself no worse than the judges. Judge Dredd goes around literally judging and killing people if they do wrong and what is right or wrong is dictated by the system. Anyone, throughout history, who goes against the system, is the bad guy. And sometimes we look back and realise they weren’t that wrong. For me as the actor from my perspective, I can do what he does and be ok about it because I realise how he has justified it in his mind. He doesn’t see himself as a villain…He is caught up in his lifestyle and a lot of bad guys are that way. You meet them and they are brilliant and smart but villains in our world but in their world, they are playing chess.”
The making of DREDD
Making DREDD in 3D was a commercial choice, even though none of the key creative team had worked in the medium before. “It is a new technology and nobody on my side had done it before,” says Andrew Macdonald. DNA Films had recognised that 3D was dominating kids, family and fantasy films on the big screen. It seemed an obvious and natural way to go, but because of the nature of the film they wanted to do something different. Macdonald knew that if they were going to make their first 3D movie it better have a unique take on the medium, and so the first person he thought of shooting the film was legendary maverick cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle whom he’d worked with before on THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND and 28 DAYS LATER.
Dod Mantle won an Oscar and virtually every other professional accolade for his work on Danny Boyle’s SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE where he captured life in the dense, fast moving Mumbai slums with an energy and urgency of on-the-fly unforced realism. “You look at 3D and think I would love to get my hands on that and do something interesting,” says Macdonald, “and I knew working with Anthony, who films on everything from domestic digital cameras to 35mm, I knew if I convinced him to work on this movie he would do something really interesting and brave.”
Macdonald’s instincts and the relationship of Dod Mantle to DNA Films turned out to be one of DREDD’s greatest assets. Star Karl Urban is in awe, “We are blessed to have Anthony Dod Mantle as the DOP. It’s very unusual for a film like this to have a cinematographer of his breed making it and he’s making really interesting choices, which you wouldn’t necessarily associate with an action adventure style film. That gives us an edge that I am really looking forward to seeing in the final product, because the 3D component is going to be a stunning addition to this film.”
“I thought would be interesting to do something different and push the boundaries a bit,” Macdonald continues, “In order to do that I had to find the right people to do it with, as I had never done it before. And the most important person is the cameraman, Anthony worked with me before on 28 DAYS LATER on domestic video cameras and 16mm on THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND and he’s a man who likes to push ideas and technology and he gets some of his most exciting results that way. He came on board and wanted to do something different with 3D. He wanted to really feel it and ‘envelop’ it into the story as something ultra-realistic. Anthony is one of the great handheld cameramen in the world and on this he’s particularly keen on doing close ups in 3D which hasn’t ever really been done.”
The cinematographer is self-effacing about whether the movie will change the parameters of a 3D action movie, “Maybe we’ll hit the world with a vengeance. But the truth is we aren’t making AVATAR, RESIDENT EVIL, TRON or ALICE. Our movie is about violence,” he says deflecting modestly all the praise he’s been given on this shoot, “The people around this project will ultimately define whether we are making a new 3D film or not.”
Dod Mantle says shooting in 3D forces one to think in terms of depth, “I now think more about 3D space and on this film I think I am allowed to think more about depth vs. longitude or horizontal lines. It makes you think about the depth versus the horizontal across the frame. I don’t think people are thinking in 3D, it’s very hard because we’re geared for 2D.
Producer Allon Reich gives a great hint to the style of the film, saying they were inspired by vintage crime movies in creating their vision for DREDD, “We were bound up in the decision to make it in 3D, which felt like a commercial decision we needed to make. But we wanted to make it exciting and the script is very real and visceral and that is what we wanted to do with the film. We looked at models like DIRTY HARRY, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, and GOODFELLAS. They were films that were really centred in a very, specific world, even though our world was going to really be a future world. But in the same way you can feel concrete on our walls and it works with our vision of Mega City One by trying to harness our 3D into something very real, not Alice in Wonderland.”
Dod Mantle explains that Garland’s screenplay informed their visual choices, “We looked at film references and how violence has been depicted in the last few years on film, and how fear works in film. So we looked at early Coppola, early Clint Eastwood. The idea of a Dirty Harry baddy as the epitome of evil. On DREDD the way and how we move the camera has its feet firmly in just around the corner reality, it’s kind of tangible but just around the corner. We’re dealing with a kind of area between action, drama and an art political film. While we’re engaging with characters and elements that are spectacular, we are trying to hit our own little genre somewhere between art, entertainment and political.”
He insists that the 3D element not be gratuitous and says it’s firmly allied with Garland’s take on the comic-strip, “3D can be ‘gimmicky’, catchy and seductive and very entertaining and very visual. But because this is a serious story about controlling violence, to avoid violence or administer violence, camouflaged in a legendary hero story we shouldn’t do that.” He says that his exploration of the medium was exciting, “I am trying to define the undefined space, which hasn’t been explored before in 3D. In fact, I am finding my own alphabet in 3D and it can mess with perception and in this story the slow motion and multilayer sections will be extraordinary. There are very complex images so you feel you don’t what to look at what you’re looking at, but it’s strangely, compellingly beautiful.”
The world of Mega City One was central to the vision of DREDD, “As much as the story is about Judge Dredd it is also about the people living there and what it is like to live in this world,” says Urban, “In this film Alex has done a great job of showcasing these people’s lives with tiny little beats that kind of humanizes the film. The conditions are appalling and there are haves and have-nots and you feel life is a bit of a struggle for these people. It is a society in decay.”
Macdonald says they were thinking of real-life cities when imagining Mega City One, “DREDD is a futuristic crime story and I wanted to make it realistically. The first film tried to re-create everything and that’s very difficult to do, whereas BLADE RUNNER or DISTRICT 9 use a real place and blend it in with the future. So there’s a feel that around you there are buildings that are old and new. There’s a mixture of stuff like Megacities in the world today, slightly crazy and out of control, like Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Jakarta or Johannesburg, and the production of DREDD took a positive turn when Macdonald met DISTRICT 9 star Sharlto Copley who invited him to South Africa, where they teamed up with Michael Murphey of Kalahari Pictures, the South African producers behind DISTRICT 9. The availability of the newly built Cape Town Film Studios provided the ideal place to re-create Mega City One in South Africa.
“The city for those who don’t know it, is big, chaotic, it’s ridiculous and one of the key things about it is its sense of scale,” explains writer Garland, “The habitation blocks where people live, are colossal. They are like cities themselves, because they have a lot of stuff contained within them. Not just shopping areas but medical centres, schools, you can be born and live and die and never set foot outside it if you wanted to and establishing that has been a key part of the film. The city is a character and in this instance the block is a character too.”
When violence erupts the film calls for massive setups which the Cape Town Studios were well equipped to deal with, despite this being the first film to shoot at the brand new facility. Macdonald says they shot 70% of the film there, “One or two huge sequences like when Ma-Ma and her gang set up her machine and massacre hundreds of people in her aim to kill Dredd. That is a massive sequence which required ten days of filming, loads of doubles, eight different sets, some outside and some inside and all mixed together with visual effects which will be extraordinary.”
The production of DREDD has been blessed with a synergy of possibilities that have all been met, and as the starting point for this re-boot of the legendary comic-strip everyone is feeling there might be a franchise in the works. As Karl Urban says, “There’s a certain scope and scale to our ambitious little film. We are trying to push the envelope and yes, it is the introduction story, where you get to meet Dredd and Anderson and you get to meet the world of Mega City One and its inhabitants and I guess the hope would be that if it is successful and finds an audience we would get to make more of these and expand and explore these characters and the world that they live in.” From now on the possibilities for DREDD are endless.
Judge Dredd Karl Urban
Anderson Olivia Thirlby
Ma-Ma Lena Headey
Kay Wood Harris
Clan Techie Domhnall Gleeson
Judge Lex Langley Kirkwood
Paramedic T.J Deobia Oparei
Caleb Warwick Grier
Chief Judge Rakie Ayola
Zwirner Jason Cope
Judge Alvarez Edwin Perry
Judge Chan Karl Thaning
Judge Kaplan Michele Levin
Cathy Nicole Bailey
Amos Junior Singo
Freel Luke Tyler
Big Joe Joe Vaz
Driver Porteus Xandau
Passenger Andile Mngadi
Japhet Scott Sparrow
About the cast
KARL URBAN – JUDGE DREDD
New Zealand born, Karl Urban is a huge Judge Dredd fan and like Alex Garland has followed him since his youth.
Karl is most widely known for playing Éomer in the second and third instalments of Peter Jackson’s epic THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the 2009 J.J. Abrams’ smash-hit blockbuster, STAR TREK. He played Russian assassin, Kirill in Paul Greengrass’ action thriller, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY alongside Matt Damon, and won acclaim for his performances in New Zealand films, THE PRICE OF MILK and OUT OF THE BLUE.
In 2010, Urban starred as William Cooper in Robert Scwhwentke’s DC Comics graphic novel adaptation, RED opposite Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Dame Helen Mirren; followed by PREIST 3D starring Paul Bettany and Christopher Plumber in 2011.
Karl will next be seen in the upcoming STAR TREK sequel, scheduled for release in 2013.
OLIVIA THIRLBY – ANDERSON
RADA trained New York actress, Olivia Thirlby first gained attention in Paul Greengrass’ award-winning film UNITED 93. Since then she acted in a variety of feature films, most notably Jason Reitman’s Oscar nominated sensation, JUNO opposite Ellen Page, Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner; Jonathan Levine’s Sundance award winning film THE WACKNESS opposite Sir Ben Kingsley; David Gordon Green’s SNOW ANGELS opposite Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale; NO STRINGS ATTACHED opposite Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher; Kenneth Lonnergan’s MARGARET with Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo and Matt Damon; and the star-studded NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU. She has also had a recurring role opposite Jason Schwartzman in HBO comedy, BORED TO DEATH and starred off Broadway in FARRAGUT NORTH as well as in the LA production at The Geffen opposite Chris Pine.
Thirlby has most recently starred in BEING FLYNN, opposite Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore and Paul Dano, and later this year, will star in NOBODY WALKS opposite Rosemarie Dewitt and John Krasinski. Olivia just wrapped Paul Weitz’s play LONELY, I’M NOT at Second Stage Theatre, Off Broadway, opposite Topher Grace.
LENA HEADEY – Ma-Ma
Lena Headey brings to life the role of Cersei in HBO’s epic television series GAME OF THRONES, based upon the popular fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin. She is currently in production on the feature film adaptation of MARIAH MUNDI AND THE MIDAS BOX and recently completed filming VIGILANDIA alongside Ethan Hawke. Her next film, THE NAKEDS will begin pre-production in the fall of 2012, with director Steven Shainberg (SECRETARY) at the helm.
She previously played the title role in the Fox Network television series THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, which continues the saga of THE TERMINATOR movies. In 2006, Headey showcased her talents in horror thriller THE CAVE; fantasy adventure THE BROTHERS GRIMM, alongside Matt Damon and Heath Ledger; and the British romantic comedy IMAGINE ME & YOU, with Piper Perabo and Matthew Goode.
Headey made her feature film debut in 1992’s WATERLAND, starring Jeremy Irons, and in 1993 she appeared in the period drama CENTURY and the award-winning Merchant-Ivory film THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. Her first leading role came in the live-action version of Rudyard Kipling’s THE JUNGLE BOOK, and she continued to star in such independent films as MRS. DALLOWAY, FACE, ONEGIN, GOSSIP, POSSESSION and RIPLEY’S GAME.
WOOD HARRIS – KAY
Wood plays the captured clansman Kay in DREDD. Wood landed his first role in Jeff Pollack’s urban-themed sports drama ABOVE THE RIM, starring opposite the late Tupac Shakur, Marlon Wayans, and Duane Martin. Wood’s work continued, and 2000 marked his breakthrough year; the year that not only brought with it a highly visible role as a footballer in the inspirational sports drama REMEMBER THE TITANS and also a lead in the Showtime telemovie Hendrix, a biopic of rock demigod Jimi Hendrix. The drama paved the way for more prominent billings, and Harris continued to realise his potential with a regular role on HBO’s THE WIRE (as Avon Barksdale) and a key supporting part as Dion Warner (aka Dion Element) in Richard Kelly’s SOUTHLAND TALES. Woods more recent work includes roles in HOUSE, NOT EASILY BROKEN, NEXT DAY AIR and HAWAII FIVE-0; and is currently acting in the new Broadway production of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE.
DOMHNALL GLEESON – CLAN TECHIE
Irish actor/ writer / director Domhnall, began his career as a stage actor and was nominated for a Tony award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for the role of Davey in Martin McDonagh’s THE LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE on Broadway.
His film roles include Bill Wesley in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS part 1 and 2, Moon in the Coen Brothers’ Western TRUE GRIT, and Rodney in DNA’s movie of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel NEVER LET ME GO adapted by Alex Garland. Domhnall can next been seen in James Marsh’s upcoming SHADOW DANCER and Joe Wright’s ANNA KARENINA alongside Keira Knightley and Jude Law.
WRITER/PRODUCER – ALEX GARLAND
Long time fan of Judge Dredd and 2000AD, Alex Garland wrote the script for the film only after he had received approval from Judge Dredd creator, John Wagner.
Garland’s first novel, the cult-hit THE BEACH was made into a film by Danny Boyle, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. His second novel, THE TESSERACT, was also made into a film starring Jonathon Rhys Meyers.
Garland’s partnership with Danny Boyle continued when he wrote the screenplay for 28 DAYS LATER starring Cillian Murphy, which was produced by DNA Films. He went on to write SUNSHINE, which Boyle directed and produced by DNA Films, and later served as Executive Producer on 28 WEEKS LATER – the sequel to 28 DAYS LATER.
Garland continued his successful partnership with DNA Films when he wrote the screenplay for NEVER LET ME GO, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Garland also served as a producer on the film.
PRODUCER – ANDREW MACDONALD
In 1993, at the age of 27, Macdonald produced his first feature film
SHALLOW GRAVE for Channel 4. Written by John Hodge and directed by
Danny Boyle, the film was a major box office success and won the BAFTA
for Best British Film. The same creative team went on to make a number of films together: the critically acclaimed and extremely popular film version of the Irvine Welsh novel TRAINSPOTTING, A LIFE LESS ORDINARY, the 30-minute science fiction film ALIEN LOVE TRIANGLE and the big screen adaptation of Alex Garland’s book THE BEACH, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Since 1997, Macdonald has headed DNA Films. Through DNA Films, Macdonald has produced the following titles: BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, STRICTLY SINATRA, THE FINAL CURTAIN, THE PAROLE OFFICER, HEARTLANDS, SEPARATE LIES, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, NOTES ON A SCANDAL and THE HISTORY BOYS. For DNA Films and Fox Searchlight, Macdonald has also produced the highly successful 28 DAYS LATER and, more recently, its sequel 28 WEEKS LATER and the science fiction thriller SUNSHINE. 2011 saw the release of NEVER LET ME GO – an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s critically acclaimed Booker Prize shortlisted 2005 novel of dystopian Britain, starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield.
PRODUCER – ALLON REICH
Reich has been producing partner to Andrew Macdonald at DNA Films since
November 2002 working on all of DNA Films’ recent projects, including:
THE HISTORY BOYS, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, NOTES ON A SCANDAL, 28 WEEKS LATER, and NEVER LET ME GO. Formerly, Reich was at Miramax, where he had been the Head of Film UK and executive produced Shekhar Kapur’s FOUR FEATHERS, Damien O’Donnells’ HEARTLANDS and Stephen Frears’ DIRTY PRETTY THINGS. Previously at Film Four, he worked on many productions including FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, SHALLOW GRAVE, THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE, BRASSED OFF and TRAINSPOTTING.
DNA Films is a renowned production and finance company with a track record for producing high quality commercial British feature films. DNA’s slate of 15 films has achieved broad audience appeal and commercial and critical success under the producing talents of Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich. One of the UK’s most successful production companies with access to international distribution, DNA has collaborated with leading British writing, directing and acting talent to produce films such as NEVER LET ME GO staring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield, written by Alex Garland based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s critically acclaimed novel; zombie franchise 28 DAYS LATER, 28 WEEKS LATER, created by Danny Boyle and Alex Garland; the science fiction thriller SUNSHINE written by Alex Garland and directed by Danny Boyle; Academy Award winning THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND starring Forrest Whittaker and James McAvoy, written by Peter Morgan and directed by Kevin Macdonald; Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett in Richard Eyre’s NOTES ON A SCANDAL and Alan Bennett’s adaptation of his award winning play THE HISTORY BOYS. The adaption of 2000AD’s famous graphic novel character JUDGE DREDD is DNA’s latest collaboration with writer Alex Garland.
DIRECTOR – PETE TRAVIS
Travis’ first studio film, VANTAGE POINT starring Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Matthew Fox and Sigourney Weaver opened in the United States in February 2008 to the number one spot at the box office. His next film, ENDGAME starring Chiwetel Elijor, Johnny Lee Miller and William Hurt premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and won the Grierson Award for Best Drama Documentary in 2010. ENDGAME was also nominated for Outstanding Made for TV Movie Emmy Nomination 2010 and nominated for an RTS Award for Best Single Drama.
Travis’ earlier film, OMAGH, produced and co written by Paul Greengrass, premiered at the 2004 Toronto Film Festival and was the winner of the Discovery Award. OMAGH also won the Best Film award at the Irish Film and TV Awards and was Best Single Drama award winner at the BAFTA’s in 2005.
His TV work includes: Peter Morgan’s HENRY VIII for Granada Television starring Ray Winstone, which won the International Emmy Award for TV Movie, and also for ITV Peter Morgan’s THE JURY starring Gerard Butler and Mark Strong.
Pete has recently completed FALCON for Sky Atlantic based on Robert Wilson’s bestselling crime novel starring Marton Csokas and Hayley Atwell.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY – ANTHONY DOD MANTLE
Multi-award winner, Anthony Dod Mantle has brought his expertise and creative talent to DREDD in what promises to be groundbreaking work in 3D.
In 2009, he won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Cinematography for Danny Boyle’s SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. His work on the film earned him a host of other awards, including among others: ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases, the BAFTA for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, a British Independent Film Award for Best Technical Achievement, Camerimage Golden Frog Award and National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography.
Dod Mantle photographed three DOGME 95 films and the first two episodes of the British TV series WALLANDER, for which he won the British Academy Television Craft Award for Photography & Lighting (Fiction/Entertainment) and was nominated for a RTS Craft & Design Award for Lighting, Photography & Camera – Photography-Drama. Dod Mantle was the first person to use the Red One Digital camera on a TV production.
His feature work with DREDD producers, DNA Films includes critically acclaimed films such as 28 DAYS LATER and THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND.
Dod Mantle’s recent work includes BAFTA and Academy Award nominated 127 HOURS, THE EAGLE, and Ron Howard’s upcoming film, RUSH.
PRODUCTION DESIGNER – MARK DIGBY
Digby’s most recent projects have been Ron Howard’s RUSH, DNA Films’ NEVER LET ME GO and Danny Boyle’s smash hit SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA Award, won the Excellence in Production Design Award from the Art Directors Guild and the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Technical Achievement. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is Digby’s third film working with Danny Boyle, following MILLIONS and 28 DAYS LATER. Straight after NEVER LET ME GO Mark went to Italy and Sweden to design THE AMERICAN directed by Anton Corbijn. Digby’s other production design and art direction credits include: Michael Winterbottom’s GENOVA; A MIGHTY HEART; THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO, 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE and CODE 46; Roger Michell’s THE MOTHER, and acclaimed photographer, Rankin’s THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS.
COSTUME DESIGNER – MICHAEL O’CONNOR
Michael O’Connor’s creativity and versatility has seen collaborations with some of the most talented directors in the film industry. Most notably his work with Saul Dibb on THE DUCHESS, starring Keira Knightley, won him the Oscar, BAFTA and Costume Designers Guild Awards. His other feature credits include Sarah Gavron’s adaptation of BRICK LANE, Bharat Nalluri’s MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY starring Amy Adams and Frances McDormand for Focus Features; and the BAFTA winning THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND starring Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker. His most recent credits include JANE EYRE for which he was nominated for 2012’s Oscar, BAFTA and Costume Designer Guild Awards.
He is currently designing costumes for Ralph Fiennes’ second directorial outing, THE INVISIBLE WOMAN.
MUSIC – PAUL LEONARD-MORGAN
Paul Leonard-Morgan is a BAFTA award-winning and Ivor Novello nominated British composer/producer/artist.
His soundtrack for Neil Burger’s Box Office No 1 LIMITLESS starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro was nominated for the prestigious World Soundtrack Discovery Award in 2011.
Paul was nominated for a BAFTA for his scores for the long running award-winning BBC spy drama SPOOKS (MI5 in US).
Working as a producer and arranger, Paul has collaborated with artists such as Snow Patrol, Belle & Sebastian, Craig Armstrong, Nada Surf, Mogwai, Joy Zipper and Mercury music prize nominee Isobel Campbell. Most recently Paul has worked alongside producer Mark “spike” Stent on No Doubt’s highly-anticipated new album.
Paul was honoured by the US Olympic Committee when chosen to compose the official US Olympic Team Anthem, previously scored by John Williams.
SOUND DESIGN – GLENN FREEMANTLE
Now one of the UK’s most experienced sound designers, with over 70 films to his credit, Glenn Freemantle began work in the cutting rooms at the age of sixteen. He learnt his trade from the bottom up in a bourgeoning British film industry, and over the past 30 years has produced soundtracks for films from all over the world, working with some of the industry’s best known directors.
With such varied credits as YENTL, LEGEND, and BACKBEAT, to HACKERS, WING COMMANDER and THE BEACH. The two Bridget Jones movies, LOVE ACTUALLY and, in the last few years V FOR VENDETTA, 28 WEEKS LATER, SUNSHINE, GOLDEN COMPASS and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. He is currently working on the forthcoming films QUARTET, TRANCE and GRAVITY.
Freemantle has come to be known in the industry the world over for his passion for creative, inventive sound and his enthusiasm and unbounded energy, both in the cutting room and on the mix stage
SENIOR VFX SUPERVISOR – JON THUM
Oscar winner Jon Thum began his career as a 3D animator and Flame artist in London before relocating to Sydney to work on feature films at Dfilm. As a Compositor and VFX Supervisor it was there he worked on and won the Oscar for THE MATRIX. Jon returned to the UK in 1999, joining CFC where he supervised and composited shots for prestigious titles including MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2, SLEEPY HOLLOW, and THE BEACH. In 2002, Jon resumed collaboration with the Wachowski Brothers on THE MATRIX RELOADED, supervising the infamous Freeway Chase scene at ESC Entertainment. At Framestore, Jon was VFX Supervisor on TROY, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN and QUANTUM OF SOLACE. Through his career Jon has gained extensive on set experience having been on the shoot for many of the films he has supervised. He now brings his wealth of imagination, experience and sharp eye for detail to his role as Senior Visual Effects supervisor for Prime Focus.
PRODUCERS FOR REBELLION – JASON AND CHRIS KINGSLEY
Together with younger brother Chris, Jason Kingsley formed Oxford-based developer Rebellion in 1991. Their first published title was Alien vs. Predator on the Atari Jaguar, in 1995 but they gained wider acclaim in the late 90’s with a PC title for the same franchise. After building up the company to become one of Europe’s leading games developers, in 2000 Jason bought famed UK comic publisher 2000 AD, which publishes iconic British characters such as Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog and ABC Warriors. The first fruits of the deal came with 2003’s PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC game Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death, while Rogue Trooper, released in 2006 for the same platforms, has been its most successful comic-to-game transition.
Rebellion’s portfolio grew considerably with the purchase of Eidos’ Core Design, and Empire Interactive’s Strangelite in 2006, and Ignition’s Awesome Developments in spring 2007. Games such as 2005’s Sniper Elite sealed the company’s reputation for intelligent game design and 2010’s Aliens vs. Predator was the fastest-selling game that year.
The firm diversified into genre novel publishing in 2007 by setting up the imprint Abaddon Books, before purchasing another imprint, Solaris, in 2009. Rebellion’s latest game, Sniper Elite V2, has rocketed to the top of the pre-order charts and looks set to become one of the games of the year.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER STUART FORD
Stuart Ford is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of IM Global, one of Hollywood’s leading independent film financing, production and international sales companies which he started in April 2007 and which currently has offices in Los Angeles, London and Mumbai.
Ford was educated at the Bluecoat School in Liverpool, England and later obtained both a BA and an MA in Law from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University. He began his career in the early nineties first in the City of London as a corporate finance associate at law firm Richards Butler and then as a media and entertainment attorney with Olswang, before moving to New York in 1997 to join Harvey and Bob Weinstein’s Miramax Films. In 7 years at Miramax Ford filled a variety of senior roles including as Senior Vice President of European Operations, as Executive Vice President and Co-Head of the company’s Acquisitions division and from the relatively young age of 33 as President and Co-Head of the company’s then dominant international sales and distribution operation Miramax International. During this period he was profiled by The Hollywood Reporter as one of Hollywood’s top executives under 35. After leaving Miramax Ford briefly served as President of veteran sales company First Look International before acquiring the First Look International platform and going on to start IM Global with the backing of German public company Internationalmedia AG.
In its five years of existence IM Global has quickly risen to become one of the most high profile and active companies in the international film world. The company is recognized as one of the elite international sales businesses globally – Ford was profiled by the Hollywood Reporter in May of 2010 as one of the international industry’s “Super Agents”. The Company has also developed an expertise in structured independent film financing, becoming a prolific financier of mainstream commercial cinema. At least five films spawned from the Company’s financing and production activities will be released widely in 2012. The Company continues to be an innovator within the independent motion picture community. In 2010 the Company formed a groundbreaking Asian rights acquisition and distribution vehicle Apsara Distribution to take advantage of the emerging media markets in the region. The Company is also at the vanguard of the digital distribution revolution. IM Global is a shareholder in and advisor to PreScreen, an online video on demand platform founded by a former senior Groupon executive that utilizes social media tools such as Facebook to link subscribers. The Company is also a partner in the 1840 Fund with Penny Black, a New York based technology fund that is a subsidiary of the Permal Group, one of the world’s largest alternative asset management firms. The 1840 Fund acquires and develops intellectual property for ‘transmedia’ exploitation with particular emphasis on digital content and transmission.
At IM Global Ford oversees the Company’s day to day production, financing, foreign sales, acquisitions, marketing, publicity, financial and legal operations as well as being the Company’s senior strategic decision maker. Ford is a regular speaker, panelist and broadcaster around the globe on the subjects of film distribution and financing, the evolution of digital technologies within the entertainment world and on the evolving cultural and technological issues influencing the global film industry. In late 2010 the UK’s Guardian newspaper listed Ford as one of the 50 most influential individuals in global cinema. Ford lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two young sons.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER DEEPAK NAYAR
Deepak Nayar, one of the most respected independent Producers, has worked with some of the industry’s most exciting and esteemed Directors, including David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Paul Schrader and Gurinder Chadha.
Nayar began his career in his native India, collaborating with the Merchant Ivory group on films including Heat & Dust, The Deceivers, and The Perfect Murder. After a move to Los Angeles, he set up his own Production Company, Kintop Pictures. In 1997 he produced David Lynch’s highly acclaimed Lost Highway followed by The Million Dollar Hotel, which he produced alongside Bono (U2) starring Mel Gibson.
His collaboration with Wim Wenders earned an Oscar-nomination for The Buena Vista Social Club and a Grammy-nomination for the music video Teatro.
In 2001, he produced the hugely successful Bend It Like Beckham, earning both Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. He followed this with, another collaboration with Gurinder Chadha, the cross-cultural box office hit Bride and Prejudice and Mistress of Spices
Some of his other notable films have been Paul Schrader’s Thriller The Walker, Wim Wender’s End of Violence and Mika Kaurismaki’s LA Without a Map.
Besides working with Auture film makers, Nayar has given many first time filmmakers their first break, 7-teen Sips with Stephen Berra, Harlem Aria with Bill Jennings, Matt Dillion’s directorial debut City of Ghosts, Jonathan Newman’s Swinging With The Finkels and Foster, Mahesh Mathai’s, Bhopal Express and Broken Thread and very recently Eli Craig’s directorial debut Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, which won the Audience Award at SXSW and premiered at The Sundance Film Festival.
He is currently working alongside Reliance Entertainment as an Executive Producer with Jesus Henry Christ as the first film under that collaboration which was followed by Safe starring Jason Statham. Subsequent films under the partnership are the greatly anticipated Dredd 3-D starring Karl Urban, Bullet To The Head starring Sylvester Stallone, Enchanted Kingdom, along with Hummingbird starring Jason Statham and Dead man Down starring Colin Farrell. He is also producing Walking with Dinosaurs 3-D and Paranoia starring Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford & Liam Hemsworth under same partnership
He has had a notable career in TV production producing episodic shows like On The Air for ABC, Hotel Malibu & Second Chances, for CBS, White Dwarf with Fox and Hotel Room series for HBO.
In addition to producing films, Nayar is the co-founder of Filmaka, an award-winning global digital entertainment studio. Filmaka produces multi-platform branded and non-branded entertainment content through an online community of filmmakers in over 150 countries.
Nayar also co-founded India Take One Productions, a production services company based in Los Angeles and India. India Take One has worked on films such as Holy Smoke, Alexander the Great, Slumdog Millionaire, Eat, Pray, Love, Mission Impossible, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Life of Pi, and the Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project.
Dead Man Down (2013)
Bullet to the Head (2013)
Enchanted Kingdom (2012)
Dredd 3-D (2012)
Jesus Henry Christ (2011)
Walking with Dinosaurs (2011)
When The Lights Went Out (2011)
Swinging with the Finkels (2010)
Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (2010)
The Walker (2007)
Broken Thread (2007)
The Mistress of Spices (2005)
Bride and Prejudice (2004)
City of Ghosts (2002)
Bend it like Beckham (2002)
7-Teen Sips (2000)
The Million Dollar Hotel (2000)
Bhopal Express (1999)
Harlem Aria (1999)
Buena Vista Social Club (1998)
L.A. Without a Map (1998)
End of Violence (1997)
Lost Highway (1997)
CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER – MICHAEL ELSON
Michael started his career in the early days of digital film post production at the UK’s first digital film company, The Computer Film Co, in 1990. Subsequently Michael was COO at The Moving Picture Company from 1998 to 2008. He built the company from a starting line-up of half a dozen to over 650 people, with an annual turnover of over £50M. Michael was responsible for all aspects of MPC’s film business and in 2007/8 established MPC’s first overseas film studio in Vancouver. Prior to MPC Elson was a VFX producer at Cinesite, and The Mill; and also ran his own TV effects company WingNut, producing and supervising on numerous TV projects.
Michael has recently established a start-up VFX facility with Prime Focus Films to complete the VFX on DREDD, employing over 200 staff as well as establishing the UK’s first full feature film 2D to Stereo 3D conversion business.
Michael is also a founding partner of In Dreams, an independent film production company established with film director Anand Tucker.
ABOUT IM GLOBAL
IM Global was founded in April 2007 by current CEO Stuart Ford. The Company is one of the leading feature film financing, production, international sales and distribution companies in the world with offices in Los Angeles, London and Mumbai. In April 2010 Reliance Entertainment, a subsidiary of Reliance ADA, India’s largest privately held company, acquired a majority shareholding in the company. Reliance’s other principal investment in Hollywood is as a partner to Steven Spielberg in DreamWorks Pictures.
In its earliest years the company’s core business was international film sales and distribution, built around Ford’s reputation and relationships as former Co-Head of International Sales and Distribution for Hollywood mini-major Miramax Films. The company’s international film sales business currently operates in more than 100 international territories on a daily basis. Significant box office successes the company has handled internationally include “Paranormal Activity”, “Skyline”, “Insidious” and “A Single Man”. Aside from a core international sales output of 12-15 traditional Hollywood films per year the company has also become a champion of international cinema and in the past few years has distributed globally local box office juggernauts from India, Brazil, Japan, Italy and the UK building upon CEO Ford’s profile in the global film sector. The Company’s gross sales revenues have risen from US$9 million in 2007 to more than US$170 million in 2011.
Since the introduction of Reliance’s considerable financial backing the Company has rapidly evolved from being an international film sales company into also being one of the most prolific film financiers outside of the major Hollywood studios. It currently has features with cumulative budgets of more than US$225m at different stages of production and post-production. Major releases from IM Global/Reliance in 2012 will be action thrillers “BULLET TO THE HEAD” (Budget US$42m) starring Sylvester Stallone and “SAFE” (Budget US$30m) starring Jason Statham and sci-fi actioner “DREDD” (Budget US$38m) starring Karl Urban. Ford and his senior executive team are acknowledged industry experts on structured financing in the motion picture arena, frequently assembling financing structures that involve the company’s own capital, private equity, senior and mezzanine debt and a variety of domestic and international tax incentives.
In late 2010 the Company brokered and became a party to a $100m co-production and distribution joint venture with shareholder Reliance Entertainment and BBC Worldwide which has so far spawned the 3D CGI feature “WALKING WITH DINOSAURS” (Budget US$75m) and African wildlife documentary feature “ENCHANTED KINGDOM” (Budget US$20m).
The Company also has a thriving strategic production joint venture, Automatik Entertainment, with leading Canadian entertainment company Alliance. Since its inception in mid 2010 Automatik has spawned one global box office US$100m hit “Insidious” and currently had four features in post-production. The Company enjoys a distribution output agreement with Alliance on its own productions in Canada, the UK and Spain.
In recent years the Company has also developed a successful film rights acquisition and licensing business in the emerging entertainment markets of India, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines via its Apsara Distribution label which licenses both high profile box office hits and library titles from third party studios such as Lionsgate, Relativity Media, The Weinstein Company and Summit Entertainment for sub-distribution via a network of local partners.
Aside from its high levels of activity in the traditional film financing and distribution arenas IM Global is also striving to be at the leading edge of the digital distribution evolution via strategic third party relationships. The Company is an advisor to and shareholder in PreScreen, an online VOD platform that curates films for an “opinion former” subscriber base that it reaches through social media founded by former Groupon key executive Shawn Bercuson. The Company is also a partner in The 1840 Fund with Penny Black, a New York based technology fund that is a subsidiary of the Permal Group one of the world’s largest asset management firms. The 1840 Fund is intended to acquire and develop intellectual property suitable not just for feature film exploitation but across a range of new and old media platforms with particular emphasis on digital and mobile content.
The Company currently controls a library of international film rights of more than 90 titles and has handled sales on films that have accumulated more than half a billion dollars of global box office. That box office figure is expected to exceed US$1 billion in the next eighteen months as the Company’s slate of bigger budget wide release pictures is rolled out. It is widely viewed as one of the most active and ambitious independent companies in Hollywood and the global film arena. In May 2010 the UK’s Guardian newspaper listed Ford as one of the 50 most influential people in world cinema.
ABOUT RELIANCE ENTERTAINMENT
Reliance Entertainment (www.relianceentertainment.net) is the flagship motion picture arm of India’s Reliance Group with a significant presence in filmed entertainment (film production, distribution, and exhibition). Reliance Group also has key interests in broadcasting and new media ventures.
Reliance Entertainment has built an impressive film production slate in Hindi, English & other Indian languages, which it markets and distributes worldwide. Following its association with IM Global, the company now benefits from an international sales team with an excellent reputation and global presence dedicated to selling its Bollywood and regional language slate.
In Hollywood, Reliance Entertainment has partnered with Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider on the formation of DreamWorks Studios and has development deals with Nicolas Cage’s Saturn Films, Jim Carrey’s JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney’s Smokehouse Productions, Chris Columbus’ 1492 Pictures, Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions, Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, Jay Roach’s Everyman Pictures, Brett Ratner’s Rat Entertainment, Julia Roberts’ Red Om Films and Brian Gazer and Ron Howards’ Imagine Entertainment.
Group company, Reliance MediaWorks Limited is India’s fastest growing film and entertainment services company. It operates BIG Cinemas, India’s largest cinema chain with over 550 screens spread across India, USA, Malaysia, Nepal and Netherlands. Reliance MediaWorks currently has a dominant and comprehensive presence in Film Services: Motion Picture Processing and DI; Film Restoration and Image Enhancement; 3D; Digital Mastering: Studios and Equipment rentals; Visual Effects; Animation; TVC Post Production with presence across India, USA, UK, Russia and Japan. Its television venture, BIG Synergy, is among the top players in the television programming industry.
The Reliance Group (www.relianceadagroup.com) is amongst India’s top 3 business houses and has interests in telecommunications, energy, financial services, infrastructure and media and entertainment.