North Country - Production Notes

Last Update: 25 Oct 2005


NIKI CARO (Director) is one of the most original and inventive filmmakers to emerge from New Zealand in recent years. Her first feature film, Memory and Desire, was selected for Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998. It was voted Best Film in the 1999 New Zealand Film Awards, also winning a Special Jury Prize for Caro’s work as both writer and director. Her short films have been similarly honored: Sure to Rise in competition in Cannes in 1994; and Footage at the Venice Film Festival in 1996.

Caro completed a BFA at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland and a Postgraduate Diploma in Film from Swinburne in Melbourne. Returning to New Zealand, she wrote and directed several highly regarded television dramas: Plain Tastes, a one-hour television drama commissioned by the prestigious Television New Zealand Montana Sunday Theatre slot; The Summer the Queen Came, a half hour television drama; and a half-hour episode for the 1995 New Zealand Film and Television Awards best drama series winner, True Life Stories.
Caro has received global recognition for her internationally acclaimed and multi-award-winning feature film Whale Rider. Caro wrote the screenplay for Whale Rider, adapting Maori author Witi Ihimaera’s acclaimed novel of the same name. She also directed the film. Whale Rider has become New Zealand’s most financially successful movie, playing in Australia, America, Europe, Asia, and South America.

Caro and Whale Rider have won or been nominated for over fifty international awards, including audience awards at prestigious international film festivals including Toronto, Sundance, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Seattle, Maui and Lake Placid. Caro was also awarded the Audience Choice Best Director Award at Seattle. Most recently, she won a Humanitas Award, an American-based prize for film and television makers whose work offers insight into contemporary society. Her screenplay for Whale Rider also won the Sundance Feature Film Category.
She is married to architect Andrew Lister, and the couple recently had their first child.

NICK WECHSLER (Producer) was a founder and co-chairman of Industry Entertainment (formerly Addis-Wechsler and Associates) and recently left Industry to focus exclusively on production.

Wechsler recently produced Fierce People, directed by Griffin Dunne and written by Dirk Wittenborn, based on his novel. Fierce People premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and stars Diane Lane, Donald Sutherland, Anton Yelchin and Kristin Stewart.

He is an executive producer on the upcoming The Fountain, directed and written by Darren Aronofsky and starring Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz and Ellen Burstyn.
Wechsler’s producing and executive producing credits include a distinctive and award winning mix of independent and studio movies including: sex, lies and videotape, winner of the 1989 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or; Drugstore Cowboy, winner of the 1989 National Society of Film Critics Best Film; The Player, winner of the 1991 Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Comedy; Little Odessa, winner of the 1995 Venice Film Festival Silver Lion Award; Love Jones, winner of the1997 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best Film; Eve’s Bayou, winner of the 1998 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature; and Quills, winner of the 2000 National Board of Review Award for Best Picture.
More recently, Wechsler executive produced Spike Lee’s film 25th Hour, starring Ed Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper. He also executive produced Requiem For A Dream, the follow-up film to Darren Aronofsky’s award winning Pi.

MICHAEL SEITZMAN (Screenplay) has been very busy since writing the script for North Country. He is currently adapting Mary Doria Russell’s classic space epic The Sparrow, for Warner Bros. Pictures, which is set to star Brad Pitt; writing an adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s The Chancellor Manuscript, to star Leonardo DiCaprio; as well as an adaptation of the upcoming book Storming the Court, which Seitzman will write and direct next year, also for Warner Bros. Pictures.
Prior to North Country, Seitzman wrote the original screenplay for the teen romance Here On Earth, starring Josh Hartnett, Chris Klein and Leelee Sobieski, and wrote and directed the heist film Farmer & Chase, starring Lara Flynn Boyle and Ben Gazzara.

Originally from New Jersey, Seitzman currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

Born in Washington, D.C., HELEN BARTLETT (Executive Producer) went to Madeira School and then to Trinity College. At Trinity, she created an interdisciplinary major in creative writing and dance, where she graduated with Honors in 1981 and won the John Curtis Underwood Memorial Poetry and Trinity Fiction prizes. She was chosen to be the Trinity Poet at the Glascock Poetry Reading, Mount Holyoke College and also studied poetry with poets Galway Kinnell and Sharon Olds at New York University’s MFA Creative Writing Program.
In the film business, she was Vice President of the Mount Company and Paul Maslansky Productions at Warner Bros. Pictures. Since 1993, she and Tony Bill have partnered in Barnstorm Films. Bartlett produced Untamed Heart, starring Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei in 1992; associate produced A Home of Our Own, starring Kathy Bates in 1993; produced Beyond the Call, starring Sissy Spacek and David Strathairn for Showtime in 1996; and The Fixer, starring Jon Voight for Showtime in 1998.

In 2001, Bartlett executive produced In the Time of the Butterflies, based on the award-winning novel by Julia Alvarez. Also in 2001, she produced Last Call with Jeremy Irons, Neve Campbell and Sissy Spacek.

Before her involvement with film, Bartlett was a journalist and a published poet. She worked for The Paris Review, where she continues to be a contributing editor and has written articles for Los Angeles Magazine and The Los Angeles Times.

As for Bartlett’s hobbies, she prints on an 1889 Chandler & Price letterpress and raises Bantam chickens. She collects first editions of 20th century American Women’s fiction and has soloed in a Tomahawk single-engine plane. Other productions – also in association with Tony Bill – include daughters Madeline and Daphne.

NANA GREENWALD (Executive Producer) worked as an in-house production executive/producer at Industry Entertainment from 2002-2004. Before joining the company, she worked at Kopelson Entertainment from 1989-1995 as Executive Vice President and from 1997-2001 as President of Creative Affairs, where she co-produced Don’t Say A Word, A Perfect Murder, Seven, Outbreak, the Academy Award-nominated The Fugitive and Falling Down. She was also a production executive on U.S. Marshals and Eraser, and produced a Showtime movie, Past Tense, starring Scott Glenn and Lara Flynn Boyle. Between her Kopelson tenures, she served as Vice President of Production at Paramount-based Douglas-Reuther Productions. While there, she worked on The Ghost and the Darkness, The Rainmaker and Face/Off.

Greenwald began her career at Vestron Pictures in Stamford, Connecticut and Los Angeles, where she was involved in numerous film projects including the independent hit Dirty Dancing; the remake of And God Created Woman, directed by Roger Vadim; and Parents, directed by Bob Balaban. She is currently developing several Industry projects including Sealand and World Record Man at Warner Bros. Pictures.

DOUG CLAYBOURNE (Executive Producer) came into the film business from a background of advertising and art direction studies. Thereafter, came two years of post graduate study at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles before Claybourne turned to film. It took a six month stint as an assistant art director on The City of San Francisco magazine and a working relationship with its owner, Francis Ford Coppola, to convince Claybourne to make the switch official.
Early in 1976, during his first semester of film school, Claybourne offered to work for Coppola “at no charge” for the next eight weeks, just to find out if the movie business was something he really wanted to pursue over the long term. The film was Apocalypse Now and eight weeks turned out to be 3 ½ years. Claybourne’s mentor association with Coppola and Zoetrope continued through the years with The Black Stallion (assistant director), The Escape Artist (producer), The Black Stallion Returns (producer/assistant director), Rumble Fish (producer), Peggy Sue Got Married (assistant director) and Jack as executive producer. The Zoetrope relationship also produced the 1992 Emmy and ACE award winning documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, which Claybourne conceived with George Zaloom and executive produced with his long time associate Fred Roos.

In July of 1998, Claybourne completed work on The Mask of Zorro, which was nominated for two Golden Globes, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Antonio Banderas.

Claybourne met Rob Cohen during the making of The Legend of Billie Jean. This meeting led to a three picture producing association with the Taft/Barish Company and to the first picture in the franchise of The Fast and the Furious with Cohen directing. Other movies with Cohen were Light of Day and The Serpent and the Rainbow.

In 2003, Claybourne executive produced his 23rd feature, the family adventure Duma, directed by Carroll Ballard in over 60 locations in South Africa.
Claybourne also actively develops projects for his own production company, Poetry & Pictures Inc., while pursuing his passion for writing poetry and painting in watercolors. Since 1995, he has written some 25 books of poetry, only one of which has he taken time to publish, One Hundred Love Sonnets and One Sad Poem.

JEFF SKOLL (Executive Producer) founded Participant Productions in January, 2004 and serves as Chairman and CEO.

Skoll has been a leader in technology and philanthropy for many years. In 1996, Skoll joined eBay as its first president and first full-time employee, and developed the business plan that the company still follows.

In the months before eBay went public in 1998, Skoll led the company’s effort to give back to the community, creating the eBay Foundation through an allocation of pre-IPO shares, an innovation that inspired a wave of similar commitments nationwide.

But Skoll didn’t stop there. In 1999, he launched his own philanthropic organization, the Skoll Foundation for which he serves as chief visionary and chairman. He created the foundation in alignment with his core belief that it is in everyone’s interest to shift the overwhelming imbalance between the “haves” and “have-nots.” The foundation takes up this challenge by focusing on social entrepreneurs – people who couple innovative ideas with extraordinary determination, tackling the world’s toughest problems to make things better for us all. In five short years, Skoll and the foundation have emerged as social sector leaders; in 2002 through 2004, Skoll was recognized as one of today’s most innovative philanthropists by Business Week, and he is frequently cited for his leadership in advancing the work and field of social entrepreneurship.
Skoll also serves on the Board of Directors for the eBay Foundation, the Community Foundation Silicon Valley, and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, among others. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

His recent honors and awards include Canada’s 1999 Leafy Award for his contributions to high technology; a 2001 Visionary Award from the Software Development Forum; the 2002 Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Silicon Valley chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals; the 2003 Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the International Association of Fundraising Professionals; and, in 2003, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto. In 2004 the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley awarded him its National Leadership Award.

Classmates CLARA BINGHAM and LAURA LEEDY GANSLER (Book Authors) graduated from Harvard University in 1985. Currently a freelance journalist, Bingham has served as White House correspondent for Newsweek and is also the author of Women on the Hill: Challenging the Culture of Congress. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and their three children. Gansler has taught law at American University and is now counsel for a dispute resolution firm. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with her husband and sons.

CHRIS MENGES (Director of Photography) has lent his cinematography talents to film for over three decades. He is a two time Oscar winner for Best Cinematography for his work on The Mission and The Killing Fields, for which he also won the BAFTA Award. Menges was also nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Michael Collins.

Menges’ numerous credits as director of photography include Criminal; Dirty Pretty Things, for which he was nominated for Best Cinematographer at the European Film Awards; The Good Thief; The Pledge; The Boxer, for which he was nominated for an ASC Award; Shy People; Marie; Kes; and Local Hero and Angel, both of which were Evening Standard Award winners for Best Technical Achievement.

His upcoming films include Tickets and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
Menges also directed the film A World Apart, which won the Grand Jury Prize and three Best Actress Awards at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Independent Film Awards in 2001.

RICHARD HOOVER’s (Production Designer) designing credits encompass film, television and stage. Currently, he is working on the feature film Drunk Boat.
Hoover most recently designed HBO’s Lackawanna Blues, Blind Horizon and HBO’s Live From Baghdad, for which he earned both an Art Directors Guild Award and an Emmy Award nomination in 2003.

Hoover’s other recent feature film credits include Mothman Prophecies, The Prime Gig, Girl Interrupted, The Cradle Will Rock, Payback, Twilight: Los Angeles, Apt Pupil, Blackout, Nightwatch, Dead Man Walking, Panther, Ed Wood, You So Crazy, Dream Lover, Bob Roberts, Storyville, Torch Song Trilogy and It Takes Two. His credits as art director include Checking Out, Miracle Mile, In the Mood and The Sure Thing.

For the small screen, Hoover has worked as a production designer on Numb3ers, Hamburg Cell, Entourage, Street Boss, Failsafe, Twin Peaks and Heat Wave, among many others.

In theatre, Hoover’s design talents on Not About Nightingales won him a Tony Award, Evening Standard Award and Critics’ Circle Award, as well as nominations for an Olivier Award and a Drama Desk Award.

Additionally, Hoover has worked on music videos for Bruce Springsteen and the Traveling Wilburys. Other music video and commercial credits include collaborating with directors such as David Lynch, David Fincher and Mark Pellington, to name a few.

DAVID COULSON (Film Editor) most recently worked on Niki Caro’s critically acclaimed Whale Rider, winner of the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award in 2003 and an Independent Spirit Award in 2004.

Coulson’s credits as editor include Broken English, Desperate Remedies, The Footstep Man, User Friendly, Illustrious Energy, Trespasses and Strata. He won New Zealand Film and TV Awards for Best Editing for his work on Broken English, The Footstep Man and Illustrious Energy, and was nominated for his work on Whale Rider. For television, he edited Amazon High.

Couslon has also edited numerous documentaries including Man of the Trees, Every Dancer’s Dream, I’m in Concert, The Fastest Gun Downunder, Cold Feet, Gold Sheep, Inquiry, Mikhail Lermontov, Haka, American Pie, Behind Closed Doors, Peter Peryer – Portrait of a Photographer and Visible Evidence.

In February 2005, GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA (Music) was awarded the British Academy Award for outstanding achievement in film music for The Motorcycle Diaries.

In 2004, he was awarded the music industry’s most prestigious award, the Grammy, for his work as a producer of Café Tacuba’s “Cuatro Caminos.” He also won a Latin Grammy for his work with Café Tacuba and was nominated for Producer of the Year for his work with Juanes, Molotov, Bersuit Vergarabat and countless other influential artists, as well as his own critically-acclaimed project Bajofondo Tango Club.

Santaolalla solidified his reputation as one of America’s premiere record producers in 2003 by virtue of three Grammy nominations. Between himself and his label, Surco (a joint venture with Universal), his nominations included albums by Juanes and Orishas in the Latin Rock / Alternative Album category and as producer of the Kronos Quartet album Nuevo as best Classical Crossover Album.

Santaolalla settled in the U.S. from his native Argentina in the 1980s. In 1995, he released the album Gas featuring the smash hit “Todo Vale,” which was frequently rotated on MTV Latino. His breakthrough as a solo artist came with the release in 1996 of the album Ronroco by the prestigious Nonesuch Label. The album earned rave reviews and put Santaolalla at the forefront of the Latin music world. As a producer, Santaolalla has also worked with such artists as The Gypsy Kings, Maldita Vecindad and many others.

Santaolalla has become a sought-after film composer, writing original scores for such films as the Oscar-nominated 21 Grams and Amores Perros, as well as The Motorcycle Diaries and Ang Lee’s upcoming Brokeback Mountain.

He has also been featured on the original soundtracks for the films Shrek 2, The Insider and Star Maps.



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