John Sayles

Director, Screenwriter, Actor
After making his start as an actor and published author, John Sayles first entered filmmaking as a prolific screenwriter for low-budget producer Roger Corman, writing the scripts for "Piranha" (1978), "The Lady in Red" ... Read more »
Born: 09/27/1950 in Schenectady, New York, USA

Filmography

Writer (40)

Go For Sisters 2013 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Amigo 2011 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Fade to Black 2008 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Spiderwick Chronicles 2008 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Honeydripper 2007 (Movie)

(from short story) (Source Material)

Honeydripper 2007 (Movie)

(adaptation) (Screenplay)

Silver City 2004 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Casa de Los Babys 2003 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Sunshine State 2002 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Limbo 1999 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Men With Guns 1998 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Lone Star 1996 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Piranha 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

From Story

The Secret of Roan Inish 1995 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Men of War 1994 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Passion Fish 1992 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

City of Hope 1991 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Breaking In 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Shannon's Deal 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Screenplay

Eight Men Out 1988 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Matewan 1987 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Wild Thing 1987 (Movie)

(From Story)

Wild Thing 1987 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Clan of the Cave Bear 1986 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Enormous Changes at the Last Minute 1985 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Brother From Another Planet 1984 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Baby It's You 1983 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Lianna 1983 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Challenge 1981 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Howling 1981 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Return of the Secaucus Seven 1980 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Alligator 1979 (Movie)

(From Story)

Alligator 1979 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Battle Beyond the Stars 1979 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Battle Beyond the Stars 1979 (Movie)

(From Story)

Piranha 1978 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Piranha 1978 (Movie)

(From Story)

The Lady in Red 1978 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

A Perfect Match (TV Show)

Screenplay

Shannon's Deal (TV Show)

Writer
Actor (36)

Let Fury Have The Hour 2012 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Normals 2012 (Movie)

Dr. Marx (Actor)

Casting By 2011 (Movie)

Interviewee (Actor)

Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel 2011 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Great Directors 2010 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

In the Electric Mist 2009 (Movie)

Michael Goldman (Actor)

The Toe Tactic 2009 (Movie)

Mr. Cramden (Actor)

Obscene 2008 (Movie)

(Actor)

Honeydripper 2007 (Movie)

Zeke (Actor)

Tell Them Who You Are 2005 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

American Storytellers 2003 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Girlfight 2000 (Movie)

Science Teacher (Actor)

Big Guns Talk: The Story of the Western 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Gridlock'd 1997 (Movie)

Cop No 1 (Actor)

Baseball 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

My Life's in Turnaround 1994 (Movie)

Marginal Producer (Actor)

Matinee 1993 (Movie)

Bob (Actor)

Malcolm X 1992 (Movie)

FBI Agent (Actor)

Naked Hollywood 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Straight Talk 1992 (Movie)

Guy Girardi (Actor)

City of Hope 1991 (Movie)

Carl (Actor)

Little Vegas 1990 (Movie)

(Actor)

Eight Men Out 1988 (Movie)

Ring Lardner (Actor)

Untamagiru 1988 (Movie)

Military High Commissioner (Actor)

Matewan 1987 (Movie)

Hardshell (Actor)

Hard Choices 1986 (Movie)

Don (Actor)

Something Wild 1986 (Movie)

Motorcycle Cop (Actor)

The Brother From Another Planet 1984 (Movie)

Man in Black (Actor)

Lianna 1983 (Movie)

Jerry (Actor)

The Howling 1981 (Movie)

Morgue Attendant (Actor)

The Return of the Secaucus Seven 1980 (Movie)

Howie (Actor)

Edge of Outside (TV Show)

Actor

Unnatural Causes (TV Show)

Actor
Director (18)

Go For Sisters 2013 (Movie)

(Director)

Amigo 2011 (Movie)

(Director)

Honeydripper 2007 (Movie)

(Director)

Silver City 2004 (Movie)

(Director)

Casa de Los Babys 2003 (Movie)

(Director)

Sunshine State 2002 (Movie)

(Director)

Limbo 1999 (Movie)

(Director)

Men With Guns 1998 (Movie)

(Director)

Lone Star 1996 (Movie)

(Director)

The Secret of Roan Inish 1995 (Movie)

(Director)

Passion Fish 1992 (Movie)

(Director)

City of Hope 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

Eight Men Out 1988 (Movie)

(Director)

Matewan 1987 (Movie)

(Director)

The Brother From Another Planet 1984 (Movie)

(Director)

Baby It's You 1983 (Movie)

(Director)

Lianna 1983 (Movie)

(Director)

The Return of the Secaucus Seven 1980 (Movie)

(Director)
Editor (15)

Go For Sisters 2013 (Movie)

(Editor)

Amigo 2011 (Movie)

(Editor)

Honeydripper 2007 (Movie)

(Editor)

Silver City 2004 (Movie)

(Editor)

Casa de Los Babys 2003 (Movie)

(Editor)

Sunshine State 2002 (Movie)

(Editor)

Limbo 1999 (Movie)

(Editor)

Men With Guns 1998 (Movie)

(Editor)

Lone Star 1996 (Movie)

(Editor)

The Secret of Roan Inish 1995 (Movie)

(Editor)

Passion Fish 1992 (Movie)

(Editor)

City of Hope 1991 (Movie)

(Editor)

The Brother From Another Planet 1984 (Movie)

(Editor)

Lianna 1983 (Movie)

(Editor)

The Return of the Secaucus Seven 1980 (Movie)

(Editor)
Producer (5)

My Mexican Shivah 2008 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Honeydripper 2007 (Movie)

(Producer)

Silver City 2004 (Movie)

(Producer)

Girlfight 2000 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Santitos 2000 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)
Music (5)

Limbo 1999 (Movie)

("Loving You is Hell Enough for Me") (Song)

The Newton Boys 1998 (Movie)

("Guide Us to Thy Side") (Song)

City of Hope 1991 (Movie)

("Calle Loca") (Song)

Eight Men Out 1988 (Movie)

("I Be Blue") (Song)

The Brother From Another Planet 1984 (Movie)

("Homeboy" "Promised Land") (Song)
Engineering, Electrical, & Grips (1)

The Best of Autopsy: A Sex Crimes Special 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Gaffer
Other (3)

Election Day 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Advisor

True Love 1989 (Movie)

assistance (Assistant)

Biography

After making his start as an actor and published author, John Sayles first entered filmmaking as a prolific screenwriter for low-budget producer Roger Corman, writing the scripts for "Piranha" (1978), "The Lady in Red" (1979) and "Battle Beyond the Stars" (1980). But when he decided to direct his own work, Sayles avoided writing clichéd genre movies to instead explore social and political themes through richly drawn characters set against the backdrop of a unique time and place. His first, "The Return of the Secaucus Seven" (1980), was made for a scant $60,000, which established Sayles as a rugged, self-reliant director willing to avoid the studio system in order to make films that stood apart. Though he did use studio money to direct "Baby It's You" (1982) and the lush "Eight Men Out" (1988), Sayles was a beacon of hope and inspiration for aspiring filmmakers, and perhaps even the father of the independent movement of the early 1990s. By the time being an independent filmmaker was the hip new thing, Sayles already had an exemplary body of work that demonstrated the artistic freedom he sought to achieve by making a living as a script doctor-for-hire and using the money to finance his personal projects, which culminated in the exquisite crime thriller "Lone Star" (1996), which established Sayles as the one of the few independent filmmakers worthy of the name.

Relationships

Maggie Renzi Producer

Companion
Produced several Sayles' films, "Lone Star" (1996), "Sunshine State" (2002) and "Silver City" (2004)

Donald Sayles

Father

Mary Sayles

Mother

EDUCATION

Mount Pleasant High School

Schenectady , New York
Won letters in baseball, track, basketball and football

Williams College

Williamstown , Massachusetts 1972
Also studied film and creative writing

Milestones

2007

Helmed (also wrote) the musical drama, "Honeydripper"

2004

Co-directed with John Lee Hancock "The Alamo" starring Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton

2004

Wrote (also directed) the political satire "Silver City"; co-starred Chris Cooper, Daryl Hannah and Richard Dreyfuss

2003

Helmed the feature "Casa de los babys" about six American women who travel to South America to adopt babies

2002

Wrote and directed "Sunshine State"

2000

Served as executive producer on the Sundance prize winner "Girlfight"; directed by Karyn Kusama

1999

Third collaboration with Wexler, "Limbo"; also seventh role for David Strathairn

1998

Wrote and directed "Men With Guns", a pet project of his put temporarily on hold prior to filming "Lone Star"

1996

Earned second Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for big commercial breakthrough, "Lone Star"

1994

Reteamed with Wexler for "The Secret of Roan Inish"; Sayles' first foreign location

1992

Received first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, "Passion Fish"

1991

Reteamed with Richardson and received almost universally good reviews for "City of Hope"

1990

Created TV series "Shannon's Deal"; also scripted episodes and wrote lyrics; prominent jazz musicians Wynton Marsalis (who wrote the theme), Dave Grusin, Chick Corea and Lee Ritenour contributed to the score

1988

Wrote and directed "Eight Men Out" about baseball's "Black Sox" scandal; also played sportswriter Ring Lardner; first collaboration with director of photography Robert Richardson

1987

First collaboration with cinematographer Haskell Wexler, "Matewan"

1986

TV acting debut, in "Unnatural Causes"; also scripted

1984

Played one of the Men in Black (with frequent Sayles repertory actor David Strathairn) sent to hunt down "The Brother from Another Planet" (Joe Morton); also wrote and directed

1983

Worked within studio system (at Paramount) to ease the financial burden of making "Baby, It's You"

1982

Wrote and directed lesbian coming-of-age tale, "Lianna"

1980

TV debut as screenwriter on "A Perfect Match" (CBS)

1978

Directed (also wrote, edited and acted) first film, "Return of the Secaucus Seven" (released in 1980)

1978

First screenwriting assignment, Joe Dante's "Piranha" (for Roger Corman); also played small unbilled role

1975

Publication of first novel, Pride of the Bimbos

Acted and directed with Eastern Slope Playhouse, North Conway, NH

Bonus Trivia

.

In 1983, Sayles received a 'genius grant' from the MacArthur Foundation receiving $30,000 tax-free over a five-year period.

.

Sayles has directed three Bruce Springsteen videos, "Born in the USA," "I'm On Fire" and "Glory Days"

.

"When you're making something with a lot of story lines, a lot of actors, and all these technical problems, and its very ambitious for the budget, you're juggling a lot of things. Anytime you've worked with an actor before, you can eliminate a question mark. That's just that much emotional energy and time that you don't have to spend working something out with an actor. You know, I've worked with Chris Cooper a couple of times and I know he can take care of himself. Poor Chris! So many of his scenes in 'Lone Star' involve asking for information. He's so consistent and such a deep actor; we could come to him with only two hours left in the day and say, 'Okay. now we're going to do your angle,' and he wouldn't feel panicked. He would have bben doing good stuff with the other actors all day, but he still had what he needed left." - John Sayles in Filmmaker, 1996

.

"If I had $200 million I'd probably find something more useful to put it into than movies, but if they told me I had to make a movie with the money, then I would probably make about 20 movies with it." - Sayles to Daily News, March 4, 1998

.

"There are movies which are just 'movie movies,' where the references in the movies are to other movies, where the behavior is a kind of movie behavior, and that's fine because that's the universe you're being asked to enter. Then there are movies on the other side of the continuum which are a little bit more like what goes on in life and is recognizable human behavior, and the references are to things that happen in real life, not to things which happen in movies."Ours are way over on that side. Even if there's a fantasy element, they still have their feet planted firmly on the ground of what happens in the world." - John Sayles, quoted in The Boston Globe, March 8, 1998

.

"One of the problems with my movies is that it's often hard to say what they're about in less than two sentences. I think that makes them more interesting, but much harder to sell." - Sayles in American Cinematographer, March 1998

.

Sayles is often referred to as the father of modern indie cinema

.

"I feel like so often you see women in films presented in this language of film that we've seen forever. They're inaccurate potraits, but we're so used to seeing them that we accept them. And John's movie is not like that" - Gyllenhaal on loving John Sayles work to Interview magazine, November 2002

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