Sunshine State : About The Filmmakers

JOHN SAYLES (Writer/Director/Editor) SUNSHINE STATE is John Sayles' 13th feature film. His most recent film was LIMBO, which starred Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and David Strathairn and was shot on location in Juneau, Alaska. Prior to LIMBO, John directed the critically applauded MEN WITH GUNS, which was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1999 for Best Foreign Language Film. Prior to that, he created LONE STAR for which he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Sayles is currently developing JAMIE MacGILLIVRAY with Maggie Renzi, a period adventure story set in Scotland and the New World. They hope to shoot in spring of 2003. The film will star Robert Carlyle. In July of this year Sayles will go to Mexico to film "Casa De Los Babys. "

Beginning as a screenwriter for producer Roger Corman, Sayles wrote such pictures as PIRANHA, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, ALLIGATOR and THE HOWLING. Sayles first film as director was the counterculture classic RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN, winner of the 1978 Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay. He followed this with LIANNA, the story of a woman coming to terms with her lesbianism.

Sayles broadened his audience with the youthful romantic comedy-drama BABY IT'S YOU and the satirical BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, about a black extra-terrestrial whose ship crash-lands in New York City. His next two projects were stories about which he had long been passionate, MATEWAN and EIGHT MEN OUT. Sayles had written both of these years before he was able to film them; both were considered commercially risky and he had difficulty raising the funds to make them. In 1986, MATEWAN, the story of a 1920 miners' strike in West Virginia, went before the cameras. The following year, the movie was part of the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. Sayles also wrote a book about the experience, entitled Thinking in Pictures: The Making of the Movie MATEWAN.

EIGHT MEN OUT, based on the book by Eliot Asinof, which detailed the 1919 baseball World Series scandal, was among Sayles' most popular efforts. It is also one of only two scripts (the other being Rosalie Fry's THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH) that he has directed based on material from another source. Sayles' urban epic CITY OF HOPE was shot in five weeks in 40 locations and included 48 speaking roles. Covering the mix of generations and ethnicities living in a small metropolis, the film won the Grand Prix at the Tokyo Film Festival and appeared on numerous Ten Best lists.

Sayles scaled down his dramatic canvas for his next picture, the intimate PASSION FISH, about the healing relationship between a nurse and her patient, set in Louisiana. Starring Mary McDonnell and Alfre Woodard, the film earned McDonnell an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and Sayles an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH, Sayles' next film, wove a lush tale about the 'selkie,' a beautiful woman who turns into a seal. Most recently, Sayles executive produced GIRLFIGHT, written and directed by Karyn Kusama, which was released in 2000.

Among Sayles' published prose is an O. Henry Award-winning short story and the novel Union Dues, which was nominated for a National Book Award. His numerous scripts for other directors include the features THE CHALLENGE for John Frankenheimer and BREAKING IN for director Bill Forsyth. He also created the acclaimed television series Shannon's Deal. He has published two additional novels, Pride of the Bimbos (1975) and Los Gusanos (1991), as well as the short story collection The Anarchists' Convention (1979). He is also the subject of Sayles on Sayles published by Faber & Faber. In 1985, Sayles received the John D. MacArthur Award, given to 20 Americans in diverse fields each year for their innovative work. He has also been the recipient of the Eugene V. Debs Award, the John Steinbeck Award and the John Cassavettes Award.

The early films of pioneer indie filmmaker John Sayles, including THE RETURN SEACAUCUS SEVEN (1979), LIANNA (1980) and THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET (1985), which were fully restored this year by Sayles's company, Anarchists Convention, Inc, in consultation with the expert preservationists of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, will be released by IFC Films as a retrospective on April 1st.

MAGGIE RENZI (PRODUCER) Producer Maggie Renzi began her professional association with John Sayles when she acted in his first directed feature, RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN, for which she also served as unit manager and assistant editor. Since then, she has produced and acted in many of Sayles' films. She met John Sayles after graduating from Williams College in 1973 and has lived with him ever since. Before she became a fulltime producer, she worked as a bookstore clerk, a pediatric receptionist, a substitute teacher, a casting assistant, a talent agent's assistant, and for two years as a salad chef in southern California. She began her acting career at age 8 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival where she continued to perform into her twenties. Renzi also produced three Sayles directed music videos for Bruce Springsteen: "Born in the USA," I'm on Fire" and "Glory Days," which won an American Video Award. Recently Renzi was a producer on GIRLFIGHT, winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2000. Currently, Maggie is developing JAMIE MacGILLIVRAY with John Sayles.

PATRICK CADY (Director of Photography) shot the acclaimed feature JUMP TOMORROW, directed by Joel Hopkins, and the acclaimed GIRLFIGHT, which won the Directing Award and shared the Grand Jury Prize Award at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. His other feature work includes THE SPIRIT AND THE BODY and PASTRY, PAIN AND POLITICS. Cady's extensive cinematography work ranges from VH-1's diverse programming, including the celebrated Fashion Awards, to numerous commercials and music videos. Cady, who began as a camera intern on Sayles’ PASSION FISH, was recently honored as a “Director of Photography To Watch” by Variety.

MARK RICKER (Production Designer) has designed Jill Sprecher's THIRTEEN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ONE THING starring Alan Arkin, Matthew McCounaghey, John Turturro and Clea Duvall; LISA PICARD IS FAMOUS for Griffin Dunne; Alex Winter's FEVER and JULIE JOHNSON, starring Lili Taylor, Courtney Love and directed by Bob Gosse. Other design credits include BETTER LIVING, WALKING TO THE WATERLINE and HARVEST for Goldheart Pictures. As an Art Director, he contributed to the designs of Sweetland Films' JUST LOOKING (directed by Jason Alexander), MONTANA, A BROOKLYN STATE OF MIND, Hallmark's PRINCE CHARMING and Dan Sullivan's film adaptation of THE SUBSTANCE OF FIRE. Rucker has an MFA in Scenic and Production Design from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

MASON DARING (Composer) has composed more than forty scores over his career, concentrating on feature films but also including many television movies, documentaries, and series. His feature credits include MUSIC OF THE HEART, John Sayles' LIMBO, and Tony Goldwyn's directorial debut A WALK ON THE MOON. His more recent films include the Farrelly Brothers production SAY IT ISN'T SO; WHERE THE HEART IS, featuring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd; and the Emmy nominated Bailey's Mistake for ABC TV/Disney.

Daring has done numerous scores for John Sayles, including the pan-Latin score of MEN WITH GUNS, the Tex-Mex border music of LONE STAR, the Celtic tinged THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH, and the Cajun-Zydeco based PASSION FISH, as well as MATEWAN, EIGHT MEN OUT, THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, CITY OF HOPE, LIANNA and THE RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN. Among his other feature credits are Don Roos’ THE OPPOSITE OF SEX; PREFONTAINE (from the makers of Hoop Dreams); John Ridley’s debut COLD HEART; WILD HEARTS CAN’T BE BROKEN, for Disney; and FATHERS AND SONS. He has composed several scores for cable movies, including The Old Curiosity Shop for the Disney Channel, Showtime’s Hidden In America, three episodes of the HBO mini-series From The Earth To The Moon, as well as the Peabody Award winning PBS/BBC documentary, The Great War & The Shaping Of The 20th Century. A recent project for PBS’ The American Experience was a three hour biography on George Wallace, Settin’ The Woods On Fire. He has also composed the long-running themes and multiple episodes for the PBS programs Nova and Frontline, and the Emmy Award winning theme for Yankee Magazine.

Daring, a graduate of Amherst College, splits his time between Marblehead (MA) and Los Angeles. He began his career as a singer-songwriter, and still produces several albums a year for his record label, Daring Records.

MAYES C. RUBEO (Costume Designer) was born in Mexico City, and studied Fashion and Costume Design at Los Angeles Trade Tech. She continued her studies at UCLA and at the Instituto Statale d'Arte di Spoleto in Italy. She worked as an assistant to many of the established costumes designers including Shay Cunliffe, Ellen Mirojnick and Erica Phillips. She first worked with Sayles as an assistant costume designer on LONE STAR and then as Costume Designer for MEN WITH GUNS. Other credits include FIDEL, THE WARDEN OF RED ROCK, THE ARRIVAL and DESERT HEAT.

Author : Sony Pictures Classics