by Michael D. Sellers
It’s with a great deal of pleasure and relief that I’m able to announce that effective February 18, Susan Johnson has rejoined the MovieBank and Quantum team and is now fully in charge of the prep and development for Way of the Dolphin. Susan produced Eye of the Dolphin with me and she is an essential element in the creative team as we go forward with Way of the Dolphin. Her first job will be to huddle with writer Wendell Morris (3 time Emmy winner and co-writer with me on EOD), who just became available to work on Way of the Dolphin with the end of the Writer’s Guild strike last week.
For those who are new or may not know about Susan — she was Nancy Meyers’ assistant on films like What Women Want before striking out on her own in 2005 with Mean Creek, an indie film that has gone on to be considered a classic after winning the Independent Spirit Award for Best Picture under $1m (I believe the actual title of the award is the John Cassavetes Humanitas Independent Spirit Award). That film was picked up by Paramount Classics for domestic, and Focus Features for foreign.
I came across Susan’s work when I saw Mean Creek back about the time we were developing Eye of the Dolphin. What really impressed me (and the rest of the film world) about Mean Creek was the degree to which this film really gets inside the skin of realworld teens. It is in the vein of something like “Thirteen” — only in a rural setting and with a life or death twist. I called her and she read Eye of the Dolphin; we had a meeting and were off and running on what became a pretty grand adventure.
Since producing Eye of the Dolphin, Susan has gone off and produced “Weiners“, which is comiung out under the Sony Pictures Classics label this spring. She has been extremely busy with her work at the studios and I was afraid we might not be able to get her back for Way of the Dolphin — but some things broke in our favor and now she’s here.
Aside from a very keen and savvy creative mind, Susan brings a whole set of complementary skills to our producing partnership. I came up as a hands-on film-maker and someone well versed in the world of foreign sales and distribution. Susan, on the other hand, came up more inside the “system” of Hollywood and has an extraordinary rollodex that includes cooperative contacts who respect her at every agency in Los Angeles. She’s repped by Endeavor herself, so that means that they in particular will be there to be helpful with our project.
A final note on what this means to me personally. For those who have been following in the blog, you know that WeEarth, which rolls out before the Way of the Dolphin movie, has grown into an enormously important enterprise and one that deserves some very strong attention from me. As things stand now, the next 10 weeks are extremely critical for WeEarth, as we go from the beta launch on February 22nd to the the full launch on April 15th. Having a savvy hand and creative talent like Susan fully on board means that WOD the movie will be able to move forward in parallel to the WeEarth rollout, and will allow me to better allocate my own resources. It’s just a good deal all around.
I’ve got a big smile on my face! 😉