As a master storyteller, Dan creates indelible characters and relationships, which have afforded actors the opportunity to play some of their most unforgettable roles. From Kevin Bacon’s haunting portrayal of Henry Young in Murder in the First to Kevin Costner’s darkly heroic lawman in Wyatt Earp, from Aiden Quinn’s conflicted spy in The Assignment to Denzel Washington’s towering portrayal of Rubin Carter in The Hurricane. Gordon’s characters are marked by their struggle to maintain their humanity in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Dan Gordon graduated from UCLA as a film and television major and later served as a Sergeant in the Israeli Army. His film credits include: Tank, Gulag, Passenger 57, Wyatt Earp, Murder in the First, The Assignment, The Hurricane, Celestine Prophecy, and Expecting Mary as well as the upcoming Mafia Cop. He is, in addition, the author of five novels. He has been a member of the Directors Guild of America since 1985.
With SECRETARIAT, Wallace brought those skills to bear on a spectacular story for all ages. Wallace immediately had a personal vision for the film, one that honed in on themes he found irresistible and makes the action heart-pounding and immediate. Inspired by William Nack’s book, Secretariat: The Making of a Champion, he turned the tale of the ultimate long-shot horse — and a woman who refused to give up — into a powerful depiction of the American zeitgeist at a time when the country was in search of hope. “Penny and her horse captured a part of my heart, and you’ve got to bring your heart to a story to tell it right. That’s my only compass,” says Wallace.
Telling the story right was no easy task. Refusing to use mechanical horses or digital trickery, Wallace instead utilized real jockeys, dozens of unpredictable animals and re-teamed with Academy Award®-winning cinematographer Dean Semler, who used unprecedented and innovative camera techniques to put the audience right on the track with a soaring Secretariat. Faced with a 45-day schedule and a budget under $40 million, Wallace came in early and with resources to spare.
SECRETARIAT was the culmination of lessons learned throughout Wallace’s career, which has been unconventional in Hollywood, to say the least. Born in Jackson, Tennessee, he grew up in a vanishing world of country stores and potbelly stoves, where he once constructed a writing desk for himself out of pig-feed sacks. He went on to attend Duke University, where he studied Russian, religion, and literature, which he says made him acutely aware of how the past can be shockingly relevant to the present and would later influence the vibrant, dynamic way in which he would bring to life epic stories from history. After Duke, he put himself through a graduate year of seminary in a typically unusual way, by teaching martial arts (he is a black belt in Karate.)
Wallace continued down an ever-shifting path, managing an animal show at Nashville’s Opryland, signing a contract as a songwriter and writing articles for Architectural Digest (while living in a tiny, garage apartment). But it was when he moved to California in 1980 that he found what he was looking for, unexpectedly, when he read his first screenplay. Along with screenplays, he began writing novels – and today he is the author of seven books, including four original novels and three novel versions of the screenplays of his films. From the moment he read his first screenplay, he knew this was the form that would change his life.
Wallace was taken under the wing of leading television producer Stephen J. Cannell and spent several years writing for television series in the late 80s and early 90s. He struck out into features with BRAVEHEART, which was inspired by a trip to Scotland to better get to know his roots as a Scottish American. It was there he learned about the true legend of medieval Scottish patriot William Wallace — and instantly saw the sweeping cinematic potential in his story of betrayal and sacrifice.
BRAVEHEART became Wallace’s first produced screenplay when it drew the interest of director and star Mel Gibson, and ended up as the film success story of 1995, sweeping the Academy Awards® for Best Picture and Best Director and garnering Oscar® and Golden Globe nominations as well as the Writers Guild Award for Best Screenplay for Wallace.
The success of BRAVEHEART sparked Wallace’s desire to direct. Making his directorial debut with his own screenplay for THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, he drew an extraordinary cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, John Malkovich, Gabriel Byrne, Jeremy Irons and Gerard Depardieu.
Shortly after, he wrote the screenplay for the Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster, PEARL HARBOR, directed by Michael Bay and starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale.
This was followed by Wallace’s second film as director, WE WERE SOLDIERS. Once again, Wallace spearheaded the project, after discovering the book We Were Soldiers Once , , . and Young, in an airport bookshop. Moved by its starkly honest account of a singular battle in the Vietnam War, Wallace purchased the rights himself with money he had earned from BRAVEHEART. He then re-teamed with Mel Gibson to star in a film that would be widely acclaimed for its humanity and authenticity. Wallace was so committed to understanding the motivation of his characters that he even trained with career soldiers at the notoriously grueling U.S. Army Ranger School.
SECRETARIAT would take Wallace into a completely different world, but one also full of inspired determination and people triumphing against the odds. Authenticity remained key as Wallace hand-picked the cast and literally went off to the races, immersing himself in the history and know-how of horse racing so that he could put it on screen in a way audiences had never experienced before. He shot on location in Kentucky and Louisiana, with as many as 36 horses on the set at once.
The sense of pulsating life at the core of SECRETARIAT made it more than just a sports adventure tale for Wallace. “I love to take a great story and look for the poetics of it, look for what gives it the power of myth,” he sums up. “There’s a connection there with all of my films.”
Wallace also recently took a comic turn in front of the camera, playing himself on HBO’s hit comedy series ENTOURAGE, in an episode in which Vince, after a night of debauchery, blows his big meeting with the director.
In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Wallace is the founder of Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity and the father of two sons. In 1999, he formed his own company, Wallace Entertainment, which is focused on creating entertainment for worldwide audiences based on the classic values of love, courage and honor.
Stephen and his brother Alex helped Sherwood Baptist establish Sherwood Pictures in 2003. In all Sherwood movies, Stephen is co-writer and producer. He also works with Provident Films developing marketing and Bible study resources for churches in conjunction with Sherwood movies. Facing the Giants played in more than 1,000 theaters after its September 2006 release--and grossed more than $10 million in box office receipts. The Giants DVD was later released in 14 languages, in 56 countries, and on every continent. More than 6,500 churches have used the movie for ministry and community outreach. On Feb. 22, 2007, the Georgia State House of Representatives and Senate read a resolution honoring Sherwood Pictures and Sherwood Church for the success and positive impact of Facing the Giants.
Peluso works with writers and independent producers at various stages of production from concept and script, through production and completion, to produce and distribute quality entertainment that inspires, uplifts, challenges and captivates. Recent films he has worked on include Courageous, Soul Surfer, The Grace Card, To Save A Life, Faith Like Potatoes, Gifted Hands and Fireproof.
Previously, Peluso was the president of The Safe Side Company, a children’s entertainment company founded by John Walsh (Host of America’s Most Wanted) and Julie Clark (founder of The Baby Einstein Company), developing two films that have become the standard in stranger and internet safety training for schools and law enforcement across the country. He also served 15 years at EMI Christian Music Group/EMI Music most recently as the president of EMI CMG Distribution.
Peluso holds an Associate Degree in Computer Science from Montgomery College. He lives in Leipers Fork, TN with his wife and four children.
Motive also recently helped the book “Michael Vey” hit #1 on the NY Times Bestseller list. Motive’s strategies are based on a unique system of highly effective marketing “formulas” that connect with consumers at a deeper, cause-based level. Motive’s work has been called “a textbook study in both high-profile and below-the-radar marketing” by Ad Age, which named Lauer a Top 50 Marketer of the year.
Prior to founding Motive, Lauer launched the award-winning YOU! Magazine, published worldwide in six languages (3,800,000 copies distributed); Youth Beat, a syndicated youth page with 1,000,000 circulation; Catholic Singles (100,000 circulation); the World Youth Day Music Festival (100,000 attendees in Denver, 1993); and four books aimed at teens. He has worked with numerous celebrities and sports stars, hosted radio and TV shows, and appeared on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, and in over 50 newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall St. Journal. He also spent two years launching Internet start-ups as Senior Vice President of sales and marketing at both Universal Internet and webBASIS, where he pioneered initiatives with Hewlett Packard, Cisco, and Oracle.
The last 12 years have seen Mr. Downes produce more than a dozen feature films (four of which are distributed by Sony Pictures) through Downes Brothers Entertainment with his latest projects both based on novels by New York Times best-selling author Karen Kingsbury. “Like Dandelion Dust” starring Academy-Award® winner Mira Sovino released by Twentieth Century Fox after winning more than 30 international film festival awards and “A Thousand Tomorrows” currently in development.
In 1999, Mr. Downes founded ChristianCinema.com, now the largest selection of faith-affirming and family-approved movies on the Internet. As CEO, he led the company into one of 2010’s Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies. As a company they have consulted on hundreds of faith based movies, formed distribution alliances in the CBA and are known as the group with the pulse on faith-based movies and consumers.
In the 1990's he was a missionary in over 20 countries using the arts to communicate God's heart. Bobby Downes holds both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from California Polytechnic State University. He lives in the Dallas area with his wife and two children.
In 2010, Chris co-founded Blue Collar Releasing where his leadership guided the private funding, marketing, and theatrical release of the award winning independent feature film, Like Dandelion Dust, staring Academy-Award® winner Mira Sorvino.
In 2007, Chris partnered with Downes Brother Entertainment. As its Head of Business Affairs, he continues to lead development, production, and all legal matters for their independently produced projects including Like Dandelion Dust, To The Wall, A Thousand Tomorrows, and When The Last Leaf Falls.
Before entering the business of film, Chris served as Executive Vice President for Property Adjustments, Ltd. (PAL), the leading consumer Public Adjusting Firm in the United States. From 1995 until 2007, Chris positively impacted thousands of Southern California property owners following the Northridge earthquake. During his tenure with PAL,Chris managed all operational activities of the Claims Litigation Department, including trial preparations, discovery actions, and all court ordered activities. Chris' guidance, oversight, and critical knowledge assisted the courts in resolving more than $4 Billion in settlements at the courthouse steps, preventing jury trials that would have taken in excess of 20 years to resolve on a case by case basis.
Mr. Morrow holds a BA degree in Business Management from The University of Texas at Austin, graduating in 1992, and has earned his Public Adjustors License with the California Department of Insurance. Mr. Morrow currently serves as President of the Homeowners Association for his Lake Sherwood, CA Community and enjoys spending time with his wife of 17 years, Melanie, and his 8 year old son, Hudson.
As past president of the National Sport Psychology Academy he is known as a leading authority in the science of Peak Performance. He has coached performers from the PGA (over 100 players), NBA (two NBA MVP’s, David Robinson and Tim Duncan), NFL, MLB, Olympics, and collegiate national championship ranks. His business clients have included The PGA of America, Exxon Mobil, Sprint, HP/Compaq, USAA, Heinz, American Express, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Texas Instruments, Bayer, Interstate Battery, StorageTek, Pitney Bowes, US Filter, State Farm Insurance, Robert Half International, Key Bank, and many others.
He recently released his first performance novel, Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia (see endorsements below) that was featured in the USA Today Life Section in the fall of 2009. This book was made into a movie summer of 2010 with Robert Duvall as lead actor (sevendaysinutopia.com) and was released in theaters across the country Sept. of 2011. He served as Executive Producer on this project and President and Chairman of the Board of Utopia Films the Production Company.
Dr. Cook's consulting firm bridges the gap between the sports and business arenas. He is the former Director of Applied Sport and Performance Psychology at the University of Kansas (1984 – 1996) where his peers elected him President of the National Sport Psychology Academy in 1992. During his twelve year tenure at K.U. he counseled over 1500 athletes and coaches. He also directed the Mindset Academy at the Westin La Cantera Resort, a nationally recognized mental training academy for aspiring competitive golfers from 2001 - 2006. David’s articles have been featured in Golf Magazine, Golf Illustrated, and Golf Tips. In 1988 David represented the United States at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece.
David received his undergraduate degree from Baylor University in 1980. He completed his Ph.D. in Applied Sport and Performance Psychology from the University of Virginia in 1984. He is married to Karen and has two daughters. They live in the Hill Country of Texas.