"Freedom Writers" Movie Production Notes

ABOUT FREEDOM WRITERS  | THE PRODUCTION | THE CAST | THE FILMMAKERS

RICHARD LAGRAVENESE (Writer-Director)
STACEY SHER (Producer)
MICHAEL SHAMBERG (Producer)
JIM DENAULT (Director of Photography)
LAURENCE BENNETT’s (Production Design)
CINDY EVANS (Costume Designer)

RICHARD Photo by: Jaimie Trueblood
Director Richard
LaGravenese (pictured) on the set of “Freedom Writers.” Paramount Pictures Presents In Association with MTV Films, a Jersey Films/Double Feature Films Production, “Freedom Writers.” Directed by Richard LaGravenese from a screenplay from Richard LaGravenese, based on the book “The Freedom Writers Diary” by the Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell, the film is produced by Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, and Stacey Sher. Executive producers are Hilary Swank, Tracey Durning, Nan Morales, and Dan Levine. The film is rated PG-13 for violent content, some thematic material, and language. © 2006 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

LAGRAVENESE (Writer-Director) was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He is a theatre graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Experimental Theatre Wing.
He began his screenwriting career with his original screenplay “The Fisher King,” directed by Terry Gilliam. The film went on to earn five Academy Award® nominations, including Best Screenplay, winning Best Supporting Actress for Mercedes Ruehl.

His subsequent screenwriting credits include: “The Ref,” directed by Ted Demme, “A Little Prioncess,” directed by Alfonso Cuaron, “Unstrung Heroes,” directed by Diane Keaton, “The Bridges of Madison County,” directed by Clint Eastwood, “The Mirror has Two Faces,”directed by Barbra Streisand, The Horse Whisperer,” directed by Robert Redford, and Jonathon Demme’s “Beloved.”.

LaGravenese made his directorial debut with his original screenplay for the critically acclaimed “Living Out Loud,” starring Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito and Queen Latifah. His documentary, “A Decade Under the Influence,” co-directed by his partner, the late Ted Demme, explored the breakthrough films and filmmakers of the 1970s, and earned an Emmy nomination for best documentary.

LaGravenese participated in the film project, “Paris Je t’Aime,” in which twenty different filmmakers from around the world created twenty individual short films about Paris, integrated into one full-length feature. LaGravenese’ segment stars Fanny Ardent and Bob Hoskins.

He is currently filming “P.S. I Love You,” a love story based on the best selling novel by Cecelia Ahearn, starring Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler,Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr., and JeffreyD Morgan.
LaGravenese lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.

STACEY SHER (Producer) is a partner in Double Feature Films with Michael Shamberg. Sher and Shamberg recently produced the Paramount Pictures release “World Trade Center,” directed by Oliver Stone, based on the true story of John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, the last two men rescued from Ground Zero, their families, and the rescuers who found them. Their third movie in production this year is “Reno, 911” based on the hit Comedy Central series which they produce. It will be distributed by Paramount and 20th Century Fox.

Sher has produced such Academy Award® nominated films as “Erin Brockovich” and “Pulp Fiction.” In 2005, she and Shamberg produced the feature “Be Cool,” the sequel to “Get Shorty,” starring John Travolta and Uma Thurman. They also produced “The Skeleton Key,” starring Kate Hudson and Peter Sarsgaard.

Along with Shamberg, she has also produced such hits as “Get Shorty,” “Reality Bites,” “Out of Sight,” “Man on the Moon,” “Living Out Loud,” “Gattaca,” “How High,” “Matilda,” “Feeling Minnesota,” and “The Caveman’s Valentine.” In 2003, they produced the critically acclaimed feature, “Camp” for writer/director Todd Graff, and “Garden State,” starring Natalie Portman, Zach Braff, and Peter Sarsgaard, and the hit comedy “Along Came Polly,” starring Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston.

For her achievements, Sher won the Women In Film Independent Vision Award in 2000 and the Mary Pickford Award at the USC Cinema School for Distinguished Alumni in 2002. Sher received an MFA from the Peter Stark Graduate Program at the USC School of Film and Television. She began her career in the industry as director of development at Hill/Obst Productions in 1985 and was promoted to vice president of production in 1987. After serving as associate producer on “Heartbreak Hotel” and “The Fisher King,” Sher became senior vice president at Lynda Obst Productions in 1991. She joined Jersey Films in 1992 and was promoted to president in 1993.

MICHAEL SHAMBERG (Producer) is a partner in Double Feature Films with Stacey Sher.
Shamberg has produced such Academy Award® nominated films as “Erin Brockovich,” “Pulp Fiction,” and “The Big Chill.”

Shamberg has also produced such films as the acclaimed “Out of Sight,” “Reality Bites,” “Eight Seconds,” “Get Shorty,” “Sunset Park,” “Fierce Creatures,” “Matilda,” “Feeling Minnesota,” “Gattaca,” “Living Out Loud,” “Man on the Moon,” “The Caveman's Valentine,” “How High," and the Oscar-winning, “A Fish Called Wanda.”

During his twenty-one-year career behind the camera JIM DENAULT (Director of Photography) has made a name for himself in the independent film world. He received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Cinematography in 1996 for “Nadja,” and an Emmy nomination in 2005 for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series category for the series “Carnivále.” He also photographed such groundbreaking films as “Boys Don’t Cry,”, “The Believer,” and “Maria Full of Grace.” Denault’s recent work includes Deborah Kampmeier’s “Houndog,”, Mark Heller’s “Dark Room,” and Chapters thirteen through sixteen of R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet.”

LAURENCE BENNETT’s (Production Design) credits include “Fire in the Sky,” Stephen King’s “Thinner,” and the Best Picture Oscar winner “Crash,” which earned him a 2006 Excellence in Production Design Award nomination from the Art Directors Guild. He has designed numerous television series and pilots, including “Once and Again,” “Mr. Sterling’s, Miracles,” “EZ Streets,” “Thief,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” He worked with French director Eric Valette on “One Missed Call,” to be released in 2007. And he is now beginning work with writer-director Paul Haggis (“Crash”) on “In the Valley of Elah,” starring Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. Educated at Occidental College, Los Angeles and Waseda University, Tokyo, Bennett lived in Dublin, Ireland for ten years before returning to Los Angeles to work in film. In Dublin he had a design practice, worked in fringe theater, showed his paintings, and taught at the National College of Art. He and his wife Nina live in Clackamas County, Oregon in a 102-year-old farmhouse; they share the former homestead property with their dog, cats, chickens, orchards and gardens.

CINDY EVANS (Costume Designer) has served as on the films “North County” with Charlize Theron, “Lords of Dogtown” for Director Catherine Hardwicke, “Memento” for Christopher Nolan, “How High,” “Laurel Canyon,” “Thirteen,” “Along Came Ppolly,” and “The Forgotten.”

ABOUT FREEDOM WRITERS  | THE PRODUCTION | THE CAST | THE FILMMAKERS

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2006 Film Entertainment Magazine / EMOL.org. All rights reserved.

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The Freedom Writers Diary : How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them (Paperback)
by Freedom Writers, Zlata Filipovic