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Rusty Gorman ( right ) with actress Danielle Panabaker

Rusty Gorman's Career

Author : OZ

First published in the official Haley Joel Osment Message Board on 3rd September 2005 .

This article was rewritten on 19th November 2005 for this tribute site by the author , incorporating new information about Rusty Gorman after he was contacted by Mr Gorman himself, following the publication of this article here.

Be sure to read the ORIGINAL ARTICLE

It was late June 2005 when we first heard Home of the Giants mentioned on the official Haley Joel Osment website forums. Fair posted a news report from a Terre-Haute, Indiana paper saying that Haley was attached to the project but the story by Indiana writer/director Rusty Gorman could be filmed in North Carolina. Two days later Fair turned up another story from the Greensboro North Carolina News&Record stating that the production, with Haley, was coming to the Greensboro home base of independent filmmaker Sympics International. I’m as anxious as anyone to see him on screen again and I really wanted it to be true. But days and weeks passed with no official announcement from KA and nothing in the trade press and I began to have doubts. Could Sympics principal L Charles Grimes be talking up the project before he had actual signatures on contracts? Stranger things have happened. All became clear in mid July. Haley travelled all the way to the Giffoni Film Festival in Italy where he announced his new film in person, followed shortly thereafter by stories in the trades.

I clearly remember the year of Secondhand Lions when we spent many months finding and posting news about the production and the filmmakers. That was the first medium budget feature for writer/director Tim McCanlies but we came to know him quite well through some lengthy interviews he gave. Now we can start all over again with Home of the Giants.

So, what do we know about HOTG director Rusty Gorman? Not much if we rely on IMDB which only lists his credit as “director: marine unit” on the independent 2001 pic Madison. That was a based-on-a-true-story hydroplane-racing movie financed by a consortium of Chicago investors. Written by William (Bill) and Scott Bindley, it was directed by Bill with the boat racing sequences directed and largely shot by Rusty Gorman. It was also Jake Lloyds first acting job after Star Wars Ep.1 and had Haley co-star Jim Caviezel in the lead. Madison went to the January 2001 Sundance Film Festival, then sat on the shelf for over four years. For reasons that can only be guessed at, its backers could not secure a distribution deal. And poor Jake Lloyd’s acting career seemed to sink along with the movie. The film eventually got a limited theatrical opening in April 2005, and was released on DVD on September 13 2005.

Haley could sympathise with the troubles surrounding Madison. He's been through it himself.

IMDB often does not have the whole story. Some convoluted web-crawling turned up more information and then Rusty himself came to the rescue with a concise but informative resume of his achievements.

Bill Bindley and Rusty Gorman were in the class of 1984 at Northwestern University film school in Chicago/Evanston. Just after receiving their undergraduate degrees, they collaborated on their own sports themed short film. Technically, they were no longer students but the professor turned a tolerantly blind eye to their use of film school equipment while the two friends crashed on the dorm room floor of Bill’s freshman brother Scott. The finished film, entitled Sportsman’s Field ran 24 minutes and took high honors at the Chicago Access Film Festival, Houston International Film Festival, and the Canadian International Film Festival. A promising start for two young film makers.

Bill and Rusty pursued separate careers, though their paths crossed on projects such as Miracle Beach (1992) where they are both credited as associate producers. Rusty also accumulated production experience on such feature films as The Abyss, Think Big, and Zombie High.

He directed several other short films, including Piha, a 10-minute experimental film for the New Zealand Board of Tourism and the critically acclaimed Tree of Battles, a 20-minute narrative produced by the University of Southern California. He also directed many industrial and promotional films through Stone Soup Productions, Inc. for a wide variety of clients. One of his innovative ideas was adapting a basic promotional video for individual dentistry practices. His father Jack was a dentist widely respected in the profession. I wonder if Rusty took an interest in Haley’s teeth once they get together on set?

RUSTY: What lovely teeth you have. False?
HALEY: No, it’s perfectly true. They are lovely teeth.

Rusty showed his versatility by directing Last Drop of Sunlight, a rock video for artist Frank Scura, and Caves of Fear, a CD-ROM interactive game film for Atari and Warner Brothers.

In 1993 and 1994 he co-produced three short comic films with actor/director Chris Elliott for the David Letterman Show. A certain Jon Felson was assistant director. Felson and Gorman would team up later as screenwriters.

Making commercials is one of the most exacting training grounds for a film professional. The client has high expectations, the production must come in on time and on budget and the film maker has to tell a story in as little as thirty seconds. Rusty was quite a success at directing commercials for such clients as Introspect, Z. Cavaricci, Zodiac Footwear, Maneuvers, The Chicago Wolves, and The American Health Network. Nine of the spots have aired nationally including Teva Sports Sandal's "Free Your Feet" which won a prestigious Telly award.

But something was missing.

This is how Jon Felson tells it on www.writersbootcamp.com .

“After film school, I began directing television commercials. Six years into productions, I found myself filming a sport sandal commercial in the Grand Canyon. I turned to Rusty Gorman, my producing partner (eventual writing partner), and asked, “We’re not makin’ movies, are we?” He shot back, “Nope, we’re selling shoes.” That was it! We went back to LA and wrote King Bee. We spent the next couple of years learning to write. (I took Writers Boot Camp in here) You have to write a lot of bad scripts before you learn how to write a good one. We wrote Food of the Gods with input from Jonathan Mostow. (Director: Terminator III, U-571). We learned a lot from him. This represented another big turning point.”

King Bee was based on a short story by novelist T.C.Boyle. Back in May 2000, industry buzz had it set for production but it did not go ahead. Similarly, the remake of H.G.Wells’s Food of the Gods has not happened just yet.

Rusty also wrote Kentucky Blues for HBO, with the prospect of co-producing it with his old friend Bill Bindley.

The Felson/Gorman team next pop up in June 2004 with news that Columbia Pictures has bought their pitch for a ghost story called Ghost Story. It concerns the 11-year-old son of a newly inaugurated President who sees ghosts in the White House. It sounds fascinating, like West Wing meets Sixth Sense meets First Kid but we won’t really know until it’s made which isn’t on the horizon at present.

Then January 2005 brought word that Cinergi Pictures Entertainment had bought their story entitled No Quarter Given. Sounds like a man who is mean to panhandlers but it is really about the US Olympic Rugby Team of 1924 and their Gold Medal victory over the highly fancied French team. Did everyone know that the USA is currently the Olympic Rugby football champion? It’s true. Although 1924 was the last year that Rugby was an Olympic sport….

There’s no more word about No Quarter Given either. But this is no reason for a screenwriter to feel depressed. Of all the screenplays sold, only a fraction are produced and it is quite possible to scratch a living as a screenwriter without ever getting a credit for a produced script. Tim McCanlies had great affection for his Secondhand Lions screenplay because he sold the option a couple of times for substantial money before finally getting the chance to direct it himself.

Rusty Gorman is in a similar position. He is a seasoned and sold writer, now in his early forties with extensive experience in directing, producing and cinematography. During his busy career he even found time to earn a Masters degree in Film Production at the University of Southern California. Now he is finally getting the chance to direct an actual feature with a real budget and a full sized crew. Best of all, it’s his own story. Maybe we will find out how long the story has been cooking. Perhaps for quite a while as Rusty is a native of basketball-mad Indiana and his first student short with Bill Bindley had a sports theme. I hope that Rusty will talk about this over the next year or so.

If Haley chose this independent project after several years of “looking at scripts” there must be something about the story that captured his attention. I can even imagine that his character is a bit like him, a basketball loving high schooler that never grew quite tall enough to make it in high school competition but keeps in contact with the game, and his heroes by becoming a school sports reporter.

Now that shooting has wrapped in late 2005, I hope Haley had a lot of fun working on the production and enjoyed a fruitful relationship with his director. I look forward to seeing him in the completed film.

Rusty Gorman is represented by Todd Hoffman at Broder-Webb-Chervin-Silbermann Agency, Magnet Management, and Mitch Smelkinson at Stone, Meyer & Genow, LLP.

Be sure to read the ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Mr Rusty Gorman's email to OZ on 19th November 2005
Nice article, well written. Thanks. Here's an old bio if you have interest in a few more details:

Rusty Gorman has directed commercials for such clients as Introspect, Z. Cavaricci, Zodiac Footwear, Maneuvers, The Chicago Wolves, and The American Health Network. Nine of the spots have aired nationally including Teva Sports Sandal's "Free Your Feet" which won a prestigious Telly award. He also directed Last Drop of Sunlight, a rock video for artist Frank Scura, and Caves of Fear, a CD-ROM interactive game film for Atari and Warner Brothers.

Before entering the commercial field, Gorman directed several short films, including the critically acclaimed Tree of Battles, a 20-minute narrative produced by the University of Southern California. He co-directed Sportsman's Field, a 24-minute short subject that took high honors at the Chicago Access Film Festival, Houston International Film Festival, and the Canadian International Film Festival. Other short film credits include Piha, a 10-minute experimental film for the New Zealand Board of Tourism, and extensive industrial and promotional films through Stone Soup Productions, Inc. for a wide variety of clients.

Gorman's background includes production experience on commercials, rock videos, and feature films including The Abyss, Miracle Beach, Think Big, and Zombie High. He also co-produced three short films starring Chris Elliot through Stone Soup Productions for the David Letterman Show. He directed second unit for the independent feature, Madison, starring Jim Caviezle, Bruce Dern, and Jake Lloyd. The film premiered at the Sundance film festival and will be released by MGM in April of 2005.

In addition to his production endeavors, Gorman has written a number of feature scripts, including Food of the Gods based on the novel by H. G. Wells for Universal Pictures, Hal Lieberman producing; Dark Side of the Moon for Columbia Pictures, Doug Wick producing; King Bee, based on the short story by T.C. Boyle, Sam Kit of 40 Acres and a Mule producing; The Contender, based on the novel by Robert Lipsyte, Peter McAlevey of Thunderbird Films producing, and Kentucky Blues, for HBO, which he wrote and is co-producing with William Bindley. He is currently writing First Ghost with partner Jon Felson for Columbia Pictures, Leonard Goldberg of Mandy Films producing; and No Quarter Given for Andrew Vajna’s C2 Pictures.
Gorman is attached to direct his original script, Home of the Giants for Sympics International.

Gorman earned a Master's degree in Film Production at the University of Southern California. He received his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University. He is represented by Todd Hoffman at Broder-Webb-Chervin-Silbermann Agency, Magnet Management, and Mitch Smelkinson at Stone, Meyer & Genow, LLP.

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