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SLEEPWALKING

About The Production
After screenwriter Zac Stanford completed the first draft of his original screenplay Sleepwalking, he put it in a drawer and forgot about it. That was about six years ago. At the time, Stanford didn't know anyone in the movie industry and despaired of ever getting the script produced. "I wrote it for the pure pleasure of writing it because I just love writing and for some reason I wanted to tell the story,” he says. "But when you finish writing, you realize you have no chance in hell of getting this made. You're just crushed by the uphill task ahead of you.”

But when another of Stanford's scripts generated interest in Hollywood, he met William Maher, who would go on to make his directorial debut with Sleepwalking. Maher had been working in visual effects for a number of years, with credits on such blockbusters as X-Men, Lethal Weapon 4 and Mars Attacks, and was stretching his creative wings by trying to develop projects of his own. When he met Stanford, the two formed a friendship and realized they shared similar tastes in films and stories. "One day, Zac produced this script that he'd kept hidden in a drawer for years and he said, ‘Take a read of that,'” Maher recalls. "That was the genesis for me.”

Maher still remembers the powerful impact Sleepwalking had on him when he read it for the first time. "It was one of the most honest pieces of writing I'd ever come across,” he says. "It was brutally honest. It hurt in all the right places. It was funny in all the right places. It had a blend of characters that fired off each other brilliantly. It was like gold. You just read it and you go, ‘This is really pure.' And that's a very rare thing. From the moment Zac handed it to me I knew I wouldn't let this thing go until it was made.”

Stanford based the script in part on memories from his own past. "I know about these characters from growing up in a more rural area,” he explains. The experience of fatherhood was also a major impetus for the story, though not in any autobiographical sense: "I wrote this when my daughter was a toddler and it probably is an expression of a feeling that I felt very poignantly at that time, which is, why don't we take care of our kids? How is it that people actually don't take care of their kids? Nick Stahl's character, James, is the person least able to take care of a child, and the person least able to be responsible, and yet he does it.”

The filmmakers knew from the start that getting Sleepwalking made would be difficult, in part because the material is far from typical Hollywood fare. Enter Academy Award® winning actress and producer Charlize Theron, who played the pivotal role in getting Sleepwalking to the screen. "My initial reaction to the script was that it was powerful, unusual and original,” the actress says. "I was moved to tears when I read it. It spoke loudly to something I haven't really seen in film—the idea that we can own our own lives. That we don't have to live in the darkness or the shadow, or be haunted in any way by our legacy or by our family. Just because we have the same blood flowing in our veins, we don't have to make the same mistakes.”

With Theron on board, the difficulties the filmmakers had encountered getting the project off the ground began to dissolve. While moving into the new production offices of her company, Denver and Delilah Films, Theron had a chance meeting with one of her neighbors, WJS Productions president and co-founder A.J. Dix. She urged Dix to read the script, and shortly thereafter found WJS Productions to be a willing partner in the project. "I already knew that Charlize was a woman of great taste,” says Dix. "We read the script right away and loved it. It was unusual, and it hit all the right heartstrings for me. We knew it was something we wanted to be a part of.”

The combination of Theron's ca

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