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Half Nelson
Director: Ryan Fleck (Dir)
Release Date:   25 Aug 2006
Premiere Information:   Sundance Film Festival screening: 22 Jan 2006; New Directors/New Films screening: 22 Mar 2006; New York opening: 11 Aug 2006
Production Date:   late Jun--early Jul 2005 in Brooklyn, New York
Duration (in mins):   104 or 106-107
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Cast: In order of appearance Ryan Gosling (Dan Dunne)  
    Jeff Lima (Roodly)  
    Shareeka Epps (Drey)  
    Nathan Corbett (Terrance)  
    Tyra Kwao-Vovo (Stacy)  
    Rosemary Ledee (Gina)  
    Tristan Wilds (Jamal)  
    Bryce Silver (Bernard)  
    Kaela C. Pabon (Lena)  
    Erika Rivera (Erika)  
    Stephanie Bast (Vanessa)  
    Eleanor Hutchins (Simone)  
    Sebastian Sozzi (Javier)  
    Tina Holmes (Rachel)  
    Karen Chilton (Karen)  
    Kitty (Dave, the cat)  
    Starla Benford (Principal Henderson)  
    Anthony Mackie (Frank)  
    Denis O'Hare (Jimbo)  
    Monique Gabriela Curnen (Isabel)  
    Deidre Goodwin (Tina)  
    Collins Pennie (Mike)  
    Thaddeus Daniels (Referee)  
    Susan Kerner (Motel slow dancer)  
    Ray Anthony Thomas (Earle)  
    Stanton Davis Jr. (Trumpet player)  
    Ron Cephas Jones (Mr. Dickson)  
    Christopher Williamson (Charles)  
    Leslie Eva Glaser (Rose)  
    Sharon Washington (Suzanne)  
    Deborah Rush (Jo Dunne)  
    Jay Sanders (Russ Dunne)  
    Nicole Vicius (Cindy)  
    David Easton (Jeff Dunne)  
    Adepero Oduye (Crack smoker)  
    Katie Nehra (Woman with camera)  
    Steve Kursh (Man on bed)  
    Matt Kerr (Mr. Light)  

Summary: White Brooklyn schoolteacher Dan Dunne regularly shows up to class hung over from his nighttime crack cocaine habit, but nevertheless is an impassioned educator. Dan tries to inspire his mostly African-American students by teaching history through the prism of dialectics, arguing that opposing forces create change. Dan also coaches the girls’ basketball team. Distressed after seeing his former girl friend, Rachel, at a game one night, he smokes crack in the supposedly empty girls’ locker room, but is discovered by one of his students, thirteen-year-old Drey. Drey is naturally reserved and betrays only a silent disappointment at seeing her teacher high and crouching in a toilet stall. Nevertheless, she stays with Dan, who is anxious, and later allows him to drive her home. Drey’s home is an empty apartment: her father is estranged, her mother works double shifts, and her older brother, Mike, is in prison. Drey is noticeably absent from class the next day, but returns on another day on which Dan explains the concept of turning points achieved during moments of opposition. To demonstrate, Dan arm-wrestles—and beats—a student. Despite Dan’s obvious enthusiasm, the principal reprimands him for refusing to stick to the mandated curriculum. Later, Dan learns that his crack pipe was found in the bathroom, but its owner cannot be identified. After school, meanwhile, Drey forms a wary but close bond with Mike’s friend and former employer, Frank, a drug dealer who helps support her family. Drey is unaware that Dan buys his drugs from Frank’s confederate, Harvey. Dan continues to guide his class through the period of the civil rights movement and intermittently attempts to stop taking drugs. During one such upswing he meets with Rachel, who is now a recovering addict and has a new life. Upset after learning that Rachel is engaged, Dan overreacts to a foul at a school basketball game and insults the referee, who kicks him off the court. When Drey checks on him afterward, he asks her if she knows Frank, who attended the game with his girl friend, Tina, and was obviously cheering for Drey. However, Drey pretends not to know Frank and Dan does the same. Hung over the next day, Dan lectures aimlessly to the now-bored students and eats lunch alone. He gives Drey a ride home again, but she claims to have lost her key so he will take her back to his apartment. Now becoming genuine friends, Drey and Dan relax into an easy banter, and when she learns he has a date that night, she shares her favorite silly knock-knock joke for him to use. In the evening, Dan’s date with his fellow teacher, Isabel, seems to go well and she spends the night, but he is cold toward her the next morning. Following a student dance in the gym one night, Dan intervenes when he discovers that Frank is taking Drey home. Dan goes too far in their tug of war over Drey and grabs her arm, so she leaves with Frank. Deflated by his own failings, the next day Dan lectures to his class about human imperfection, but is interrupted by a nosebleed. In despair, Dan abandons the class and takes refuge on a couch in the faculty lounge. That afternoon, Drey achieves her own conflicted success when she intimidates a boy into returning her stolen bicycle, while a quietly threatening Frank watches. Frank is elated by her achievement, but during a class field trip later, Drey privately conveys to Dan her fear that she may end up like her brother. This prompts Dan to confront Frank, who insists that Drey is like family to him. Frank then observes that Dan appears to believe that “what is white is right,” and the possible truth of this accusation throws Dan off-guard. Defeated again, Dan accepts Frank’s offer of a drink, and around 2:30 in the morning, turns up high on drugs at Isabel’s apartment. Dan is out of control and forces himself on Isabel, who punches him and hides in another room until he leaves. The next day, his lower lip covered with an American flag bandage, Dan is sullen and rebuffs Drey’s attempt to check on him at lunch. Some time later, Dan has dinner with his family and, rather than finding comfort there, realizes that both of his former activist parents are now alcoholic has-beens, and his father is a borderline bigot. Drey, meanwhile, is out with Frank, who has finally lured her into delivering drugs. When the subject of Dan comes up, she declares that Dan is her teacher and friend, but Frank observes that addicts have no friends. Frank knowingly sends Drey on a delivery late that night to a motel room, where she is stunned to find herself selling drugs to Dan, who is having a drug-fueled orgy with prostitutes. They make the exchange wordlessly, after which Frank drives Drey home. Drey’s mother finds her asleep on the couch, and although Drey has a heavy heart, she will not tell her mother what troubles her. The next day, a substitute teacher appears in class in place of Dan. Although Frank is waiting for Drey after school, she turns down his offer of a ride and instead goes to the motel, where she finds Dan alone and sees him home. At his apartment, Dan cleans up and shaves off his beard. Later, he attempts to tell a silly knock-knock joke that his brother told at dinner, but botches it and he and Drey share a laugh. 

Production Company: Silverwood Films  
  Original Media  
  Hunting Lane Films  
  Journeyman Pictures  
Production Text: A Film by Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden
Distribution Company: THINKFilm  
Director: Ryan Fleck (Dir)
  Mariela Comitini (1st asst dir)
  Nick Bell (2d asst dir)
  Amyjoy Clark (2d 2d asst dir)
Producer: Jamie Patricof (Prod)
  Alex Orlovsky (Prod)
  Lynette Howell (Prod)
  Anna Boden (Prod)
  Rosanne Korenberg (Prod)
  Paul Mezey (Exec prod)
  Doug Dey (Exec prod)
  Scott London (Exec prod)
  Charlie Corwin (Exec prod)
  Clara Markowicz (Exec prod)
  Jeremy Kipp Walker (Co-prod)
  Hunter Gray (Assoc prod)
Writer: Anna Boden (Wrt)
  Ryan Fleck (Wrt)
Photography: Andrij Parekh (Cine)
  Toshiro Yamaguchi (1st asst cam)
  Daniel Feighery (Addl 1st asst cam)
  Wesley Hodges (2d asst cam)
  Jared Graf (Addl cam asst)
  Katie Dainson (Cam loader)
  Adam Bell (Still photog)
  Gabrielle Russomagno (Still photog)
  Smokey Nelson (Gaffer)
  John Frisbie (Best boy elec)
  Matt Walker (Key grip)
  Aaron Randall (Best boy grip)
  Carter Bissel (Addl grip/Elec)
  DeWitt Davis (Addl grip/Elec)
  Chris Knable (Grip/Elec intern)
  Mike Mervilde Jr. (Swing)
  Michael Nostrand (Videographer)
  Molly Condit (Videographer)
Art Direction: Elizabeth Mickle (Prod des)
  Inbal Weinberg (Art dir)
Film Editor: Anna Boden (Ed)
  Chad Beck (Assoc ed)
  Cindy Lee (Asst ed)
  Original Media (Editing facilities)
  George Bunce (IQ editorial)
  Noelle Penraat, Inc. (Negative matching)
Set Decoration: Mike Romano (Leadman)
  Dan-Ah Kim (On-set dresser)
  Jeremy L. Balon (Prop master)
  Julie Gollins (Specialty prop maker)
  Justin Bischoff (Art intern)
  Jared Bougarner (Art intern)
  Dan DeLorenzo (Art intern)
  Joey DePaolo (Art intern)
  Nick Faviano (Art intern)
  Alonso Homs (Art intern)
  Luke Pendley (Art intern)
Costumes: Erin Benach (Cost des)
  Natalia Parsons (Cost des asst)
  Andrea Roa (Ward supv)
  Molly Bauml (Ward intern)
  Jennifer Le Roux (Ward intern)
Music: Doug Bernheim (Mus supv)
  Rich Kleiman (Mus supv)
  Broken Social Scene (Mus)
Sound: Judy Karp (Sd mixer)
  Jaime Reyes (Boom op)
  Tom Efinger (Supv sd ed/Re-rec mixer)
  Nicholas J. Schenck (Asst sd ed)
  Craig Spencer (Eff ed)
  John Moros (Dial ed)
  Leslie Bloom (Foley artist)
  Abigail Savage (Foley recordist)
  David Crabb (Foley ed)
  Dig It Audio, Inc. (Audio post facility)
  Paul Sacco (Dolby sd consultant)
Make Up: Leo Won (Key makeup)
  David Kalahiki (Addl makeup)
  Xandra Mercedez (Addl makeup)
  Loretta Alston (Key hairstylist)
  Sabrina Alston (Addl hair)
  Marilyn Cush (Addl hair)
Production Misc: Eyde Belasco (Casting)
  Sean Powers (Extras casting)
  Rita Powers (Extras casting)
  Ronny Merdinger (Prod supv)
  Tony Osso (Scr supv)
  John Henry (Asst prod coord)
  Marcy McKenzie (Loc mgr)
  Mark DePace (Asst loc mgr)
  Shawn Hamilton (Prod accountant)
  Ilana Lifshitz (Payroll accountant)
  Joe Wehmeyer (Key set prod asst)
  E. J. Bradley (Set prod asst)
  Justin Rigby (Set prod asst)
  Ronald Arceneaux (Addl set prod asst)
  Lara Sfire (Office prod asst)
  Amparo Garcia (Set intern)
  Morgan Roberts (Set intern)
  Sofie Sandberg (Set intern)
  Ashley Sawyer (Set intern)
  David Sheffield (Set intern)
  Kareem Taylor (Set intern)
  Sam Yoo (Loc intern)
  Gina P. Gordon (Clearance supv)
  Victoria Carter (Office intern)
  Steven Gorel (Office intern)
  Melissa Lucier (Office intern)
  Jillian Paul (Office intern)
  Rachel Williams (Office intern)
  Adam Salky (Asst to Hunting Lane Films)
  Craig DiFolco (Asst to Hunting Lane Films)
  Nissa Cannon (Asst to Silverwood Films)
  Alyson Perlongo (Asst to Original Media)
  Stacy Frankel (Asst to Original Media)
  Joe Facey (Catering)
  Tiffany Nottage (Catering asst)
  Leo Driver (Parking coord)
  Leonard Bullock (Parking prod asst)
  Riddick Claudia (Parking prod asst)
  Scott Greene (Parking prod asst)
  James Hundley (Parking prod asst)
  Anthony Martinez (Parking prod asst)
  Michael Sapia (Parking prod asst)
  Howard Shipman (Parking prod asst)
  Eisner & Frank (Legal counsel)
  Darin Frank ([Attorney])
  Axium International (Payroll services)
  D. R Reiff & Associates (Insurance)
  Jeff Huston (Scanning and film rec)
  Ricardo Guzman (Scanning and film rec)
  DuArt (Dailies lab)
  EFILM (Laser film rec)
Color Personnel: Postworks, NY (Digital intermediate facility)
  Matthew Reedy (Digital intermediate prod)
  Scot Olive (Digital intermediate colorist)
  Corey Stewart (Digital intermediate eng)
  Bert Hilaire (Digital intermediate eng)
  Tim Bond (Dailies colorist)
  Chris Regan (Color timer)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: “Stars & Sons,” “Capture the Flag” and “Shampoo Suicide,” written and performed by Broken Social Scene, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Arts & Crafts Records, from the album You Forgot It in People ; “Evacuation,” written by Joseph White and Stephen Versecky, performed by The Somnambulants, under license from Clairaudience Collective Publishing; “Haciendo Algo,” written by Soandres del Río Ferrer and Alexy Cantero Perez, performed by Hermanos de Causa, courtesy of Hermanos de Causa; “Set Me Free,” written by Homer Greencastle, published by Source in Sync Music, courtesy of 5 Alarm Music; “The Corner,” written by Brian Carenard and Mark Ronson, performed by Saigon, courtesy of Allido Records, under license from Inouye Music, Nogias/Sony ATV Music Publishing; “The Merc and the Mot,” written and performed by The Lodge, licensed courtesy of The Lodge; “Blues for Uncle Gibb,” “Mossbreaker,” “ Passport Radio,” “Guilty Cubicles,” “Feel Good Lost,” “Last Place” and “Da Da Dada,” written and performed by Broken Social Scene, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Arts & Crafts Records, from the album Feel Good Lost ; “Na Ni Na” and “Vivito y Coleando,” composed by Luís Céspedes, arranged by Guillermo Céspedes, published by Red Linnet Music, administered by Bug Music; “Is and of the,” written and performed by KC Accidental, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Noise Factory Records, from the album Anthems for the Could’ve Bin Pills ; “Save the Last Breath,” written and performed by KC Accidental, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Noise Factory Records, from the album Captured Anthems for an Empty Bathtub ; “A New England,” performed by Billy Bragg, courtesy of Elektra Entertainment Group, by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing; “Lover’s Spit” and “Lover’s Spit (Instrumental Mix),” written and performed by Broken Social Scene, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Arts & Crafts Records, from the album Bee Hives ; “Black Hearts,” written and performed by Remy Balon, courtesy of TC 1 Productions; “Chad’s Favorite Song,” written by William Staler/Defiance, Ohio, performed by Remy Balon, courtesy of TC 1 Productions; “BK Bounce,” written by Mark Ronson, Josie Sejour and Samuel M. Henderson, performed by Samsun & Sejour, courtesy of Allido Records, under license from Inouye Music, Uncle Butch, Gisele J. Music; “Someone’s Theme,” written and performed by Broken Social Scene, published by Arts & Crafts Music, licensed courtesy of Arts & Crafts Records; “Wanted,” written by Mark Ronson, C. Smith, S. Ronson, performed by Rhymefest, featuring Samantha Ronson, courtesy of Allido Records, under license from Inouye Music, Solomon Inc., 77 Music; “Sometimes,” written by Alex Gale, Thomas Gross, Dave Guy, Loren Hammonds, Aaron Jones, Dave Kupferstein, Taylor Rivelli, performed and produced by DuJeous, courtesy of Wax Po Records, under license from Apex Technical Drool, Music for the Elderly, Diesel Big Mouth Music, The Cinematic Advances, Sleazy-Rhet Music, Insane Wizard Scripts, Chiron in the Stars; “Soho Dancer,” written and performed by Stanton Davis, published by Delta Six Music, Inc.; “Udonomehomey,” written by Samuel Gilbert and Darius Leon, performed by Samuel Gilbert, courtesy of Allido Records, under license from Strange Music; “It’s Alright to Cry,” written by Carol Hall, performed by Rosey Grier, published by MS Foundation for Women, Inc., c/o Free to Be Foundation Inc., licensed courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.; “Can’t You See,” written by Tom Caldwell, performed by The Marshall Tucker Band, courtesy of Marshall Tucker Entertainment d/b/a, Ramblin’ Records, under exclusive license to Shout Factory LLC, under license from Spirit One Music/Spirit Music Group; “Just Begun,” written by Max Lawrence, performed by King Honey, featuring Baby Blak, published by Earquill Music, licensed courtesy of Sound-Ink Records, Inc.
Composer: Remy Balon
  Broken Social Scene
  Tom Caldwell
  Alexy Cantero Perez
  Brian Carenard
  Guillermo Céspedes
  Luís Céspedes
  Stanton Davis
  Defiance, Ohio
  Soandres del Río Ferrer
  Alex Gale
  Samuel Gilbert
  Homer Greencastle
  Thomas Gross
  Dave Guy
  Carol Hall
  Loren Hammonds
  Samuel M. Henderson
  Aaron Jones
  KC Accidental
  Dave Kupferstein
  Max Lawrence
  Darius Leon
  Taylor Rivelli
  Mark Ronson
  S. Ronson
  Josie Sejour
  C. Smith
  William Staler
  The Lodge
  Stephen Versecky
  Joseph White
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Half Nelson LLC 0/0/2006 dd/mm/yyyy  

Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Digital
  col: Deluxe Laboratories
  Lenses/Prints: Kodak

Genre: Drama
Subjects (Major): Cocaine
  Drug addicts
  Drug dealers
Subjects (Minor): Attempted rape
  Brothers and sisters
  Civil rights
  Mothers and daughters
  New York City--Brooklyn
  School superintendents and principals
  Working women

Note: The opening titles feature the distribution and production company names and the film’s title; all other credits run after the film. In the end credits, the names of Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie first appear before the film's title is repeated, followed by the names of several other actors. In the cast of characters, which appears later in the end credits, the names are listed in order of appearance. End titles note that the film was “produced with the support of Verisimilitude, Sundance Institute, developed with the assistance of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program.”
       Numerous individuals and companies, including Apt. 5 Cosmetics, the Meow Mix Company and The New York Times , are mentioned as having provided props, artworks and other items to the production. Within the film, classroom scenes in which students present oral reports about the civil rights era include actual newsreel footage of people and historical events, including the 1971 riots at New York's Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, NY, Free Speech Movement leader Mario Savio, politician and gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, and the 1973 American-sponsored coup in Chile.
       The title, Half Nelson , was taken from a wrestling move, which, as the presskit describes, is “an immobilizing hold that is difficult, if not impossible, to escape.” Half Nelson was based on Gowanus, Brooklyn , a short film made by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden after they graduated from New York University Film School. According to a 30 Jan 2006 HR article, the screenplay for the short was developed at the Sundance Screenwriters and Filmmakers Lab. Gowanus, Brooklyn was then produced, according to the presskit, over a weekend, at a cost of $800 in order to interest potential backers to invest in a feature-length version. The short film later won the Special Jury Award in Short Filmmaking at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Shareeka Epps made her film debut in Gowanus, Brooklyn , and was recast in the same role for the feature.
       The feature film, Half Nelson , was shot on location in Gowanus and other locales in Brooklyn, New York in late Jun and early Jul 2005. The presskit notes that some scenes in Half Nelson were inspired by the music of Broken Social Scene, the popular Canadian collective of artists from other bands. The band, which also provides the score for the film, was founded in 2002 and included seventeen members at the time of production. A 30 Jul 2006 article in NYT reported that Gosling, who was the filmmakers' only choice for the role of "Dan Dunne," prepared for it by observing public schoolteacher David Easton in his classroom. Easton’s physical resemblance to Gosling inspired the filmmakers to cast him as Dunne’s brother in the film. According to the 30 Jan 2006 HR article, after representatives of ThinkFilm saw Half Nelson at Sundance, they purchased the distribution rights for under $1 million. According to the article, a first and lower offer was made by Miramax, but the filmmakers turned it down. In addition to being shown at the Sundance and New York New Directions/New Films festivals, Half Nelson was also screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival prior to its New York and Los Angeles premieres.
       In addition to being selected as one of AFI's Movies of the Year, Half Nelson received the following awards and nominations: Gosling received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor; the film received the Special Prize of the Jury and Youth Jury Award at the 2006 Locarno Film Festival; it was co-winner of the Audience Awards for Best Actor (Gosling) and Best Actress (Epps) at the 2006 Seattle International Film Festival; and received the Revelations Prize and Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Deauville Festival of American Cinema. The New York Independent Film Project Gotham Awards named Half Nelson as Best Feature, and gave director Fleck the Breakthrough Director Award, and Epps the Breakthrough Actor Award. For Film Independent’s 2007 Spirit Awards, Gosling received the Best Male and Epps the Best Female Lead awards and was nominated in the categories of Best Feature, Best Director and Best First Screenplay. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   1 Jul 2005.   
Daily Variety   19 Jan 2006.   
Daily Variety   26 Jan 2006   p. 10.
Daily Variety   30 Jan 2006   p. 5, 21.
Daily Variety   30 Nov 2006.   p. 2, 36.
Esquire   Aug 2006   pp. 29-30.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Jan 2006.   
Hollywood Reporter   30 Jan 2006   p. 3, 27.
Los Angeles Times   27 Jan 2006   Section E, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times   25 Aug 2006.   
LA Weekly   25 Aug 2006   p. 96, 98.
New York   14 Aug 2006.   
New York Times   30 Jul 2006   Section 2, p. 17.
New York Times   11 Aug 2006.   
Screen International   13 Jan 2006.   
Variety   27 Mar 2006.   
Variety   11 Sep 2006.   
Village Voice   1 Feb 2006.   
Village Voice   22 Mar 2006.   
Village Voice   9-15 Aug 2006   p. 68.
Wall Street Journal   11 Aug 2006.   

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