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ALPHA DOG

About The Production
In summer 2000—before the release of his films The Notebook and John Q— filmmaker Nick Cassavetes found himself putting pen to paper to outline a story about some of the types of teens who populated his daughter Gina's high school. He pondered what would happen if a group of kids took a prank way too far, and made a series of decisions and missteps that would ensnare them in a situation from which they could not be extricated.

While researching the family life of some of these San Fernando, California, Valley kids, Cassavetes found their home dynamics to be surprising and particularly compelling. These stories would quickly find their way into a screenplay. "I expected to find a bunch of spoiled, disaffected rich kids raised by parents with a great sense of ennui, and that's not what I found at all,” he explains. "What I ended up finding, which frankly I'm guilty of in my own life, was that it's a complicated world now where both parents have jobs and get caught up in their own lives. The by-product of that is you find yourself ‘checking in' with your children to find out if they're okay, where they are going to be and if they need any money…instead of putting in the time and hanging out with them.”

Cassavetes continues, "That was the thing that impressed me the most and was the common thread among almost all of these people. Most of them were people I wouldn't find great fault with. The problems were born out of letting all these children get together and make decisions without any kind of parental guidance or interference, and they could create the ‘perfect storm' of circumstances and coincidences that would allow something to happen that never should have.”

After many discussions with colleagues and extensive research about the types who inhabit this world, Cassavetes would create the screenplay for Alpha Dog. He found one of the keys to unlocking the script lay in the way these alpha-teens spoke. "These are not really good kids that just lose their way for one weekend. I wanted to use language that I think the kids use, which is very offensive and almost an assault. But for me, that would give the film a type of genuineness. I didn't want to back away from them being unsympathetic. Children can be ugly. They haven't had their time to get their routines and their personalities in order. They have many rough edges, and I didn't want to lose that.”

Veteran producer Sidney Kimmel, head of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, found the project to be a great package for his company, which was built on a diverse offering of intriguing, offbeat stories helmed by talented filmmakers. He offers, "Nick comes from the best of Hollywood talent, and has made his own name with his actor-driven films and his acting work. He's able to easily shift gears—moving from the romance of The Notebook to the gritty realism of Alpha Dog. I was extremely enthusiastic to get behind this picture. It's an unflinching look at what can happen when a series of bad turns leads to even worse consequences. It's a kind of cautionary tale about contemporary culture, but it doesn't preach.”

With financing secured and preproduction under way, Cassavetes began the search for actors who could bring life to his characters.

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