Dror Soref

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Dror Soref
Drorstill.png
Photo for the promotion of the film Not Forgotten
Born Dror Soref
Israel
Occupation Writer, Director, and Producer
Years active 1983-present

Dror Soref (Hebrew: דרור סורף) is a filmmaker who made his directorial debut with the I Love Rocky Road music video for a then unknown "Weird Al" Yankovic in 1983, shortly after attending USC Film School. Soref later directed the Best Short Film nominated Platinum Blonde, which drew the attention of Paramount Studios President. Consequently, Soref was retained under contract to develop projects at Paramount Studios for him to write and direct. With the help of Paramount, The Seventh Coin became Soref’s debut as a feature film writer/director. Starring Peter O’Toole, The Seventh Coin won two festival awards in 1993, including Best Picture. Throughout the following decade Soref directed or executive produced over a hundred commercials and music videos.[1] In 2003, Soref returned to feature films, co-producing Basic for Columbia Pictures, starring John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. In 2009 Soref wrote, directed and produced the critically acclaimed thriller Not Forgotten starring Simon Baker, Paz Vega and Chloë Grace Moretz.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Dror Soref was born and raised in Israel and is of Spanish ancestry. He attended the University of Haifa, earning degrees in economics, sociology and anthropology. During his first year at the university, Soref founded a repertory theater, bringing to the stage original material with politically satirical content. His studies were interrupted when as a lieutenant in the elite Golani Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, Soref was called for service during several military conflicts, including the Yom Kippur War. The unit under Soref's command was cited for excellence by the IDF Chief-of-Staff.

While a student, Soref wrote frequently on Israeli-Palestinian relations, and during his second year at university, with fellow IDF retired officers and others, he founded a new national political party which played a key role in the future coalition government of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the early nineties. At the age of 23, while a third-year student, Soref was nominated by his party to run for the Knesset. One of Soref's articles, Envisioning the Israeli-Palestinian Peace, incorporates the same principles as the first peace treaty between the parties, known as the Oslo Accords (1993), but written more than a decade earlier. A number of books have been written about the movement in which Soref did participate during these years. University, State and Society in Israel by Professor Shlomo Swirski, outlines the political consciousness and insight of a movement mainly formed by Latin American and Arab students and some Israelis.[3] In Y. Rubin's semi-autobiographical book, The Hypochondriac, the author portrays Soref as the embodiment of the mythical persona of the 'ideal' Israeli youth.

Soref's introduction to filmmaking came during his last year at the University of Haifa, when he was invited to attend a film workshop conducted by Benjamin Koretsky, Roman Polanski's cinematography teacher back in the Lodz Film School in Poland. To pursue film studies, Soref emigrated to the United States, first attending San Francisco Art Institute, and then the Cinema School of the University of Southern California (USC).

Career[edit]

In the mid-eighties, following USC, Soref was hired to direct "I Love Rocky Road," a music video for an unknown rock parodist at the time, "Weird Al" Yankovic.[4] The video helped establish Yankovic as an upcoming star, and is included in several of his greatest hits albums such as ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic: The Ultimate Video Collection and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic: The Videos. Success in music video field lead Soref to directing Platinum Blonde, an inspirational short film starring Karen Black and a fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Berkley. As the creative force behind Platinum Blonde, Soref was profiled in the Los Angeles Times, Premiere Magazine, and The Hollywood Reporter. Platinum Blonde was nominated for the Gold Hugo Award for Best Short Film at the Chicago International Film Festival and drew the attention of Paramount Studio’s President. Consequently, Soref was retained under contract to develop projects at Paramount Studios for him to write and direct.[2][5]

With the help of Paramount, The Seventh Coin became Soref's debut as a feature film writer/director.[6] Starring Peter O'Toole, the film won two festival awards including Best First Time Director at the Philadelphia Film Festival and the Silver Awards at Worldfest Houston.[7] Despite the film’s cash budget being less than $900,000, The Daily Variety described it as "handsomely produced, medium budget indie". The film went on to garner $3.2 million in worldwide box office. In 1997 Soref dabbled in episodic television, directing a number of episodes of Power Rangers, the hit children’s TV series.

While at Paramount, Soref founded Orbit Productions, serving as one of its commercial directors. Soref executive-produced or directed over one hundred TV commercials or music videos, leading Orbit to become one of the fastest growing commercial production companies at that time with clients including such brands as Ford, Coca-Cola, Toyota, McDonald’s, and Fujifilm. Some of Orbit's spots have been featured on the Super Bowl and Academy Awards telecasts. Soref later parlayed a successful career in television and commercials into feature films, signing a multiple-picture deal with Mike Medavoy's Phoenix Pictures with one of them for Soref to direct.[8] The first motion picture under this deal was Basic starring John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, released by Columbia Pictures.

In early 2009, Soref completed Not Forgotten, a film he directed, co-wrote and produced, starring Simon Baker, Paz Vega, Claire Forlani, and Chloë Grace Moretz in her first major film role.[9] The film was selected for a Special Screening at the Slamdance Film Festival, where all its screenings were sold out before being picked up for distribution by Anchor Bay Films.[10][11] Both The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety gave the film rave reviews. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the fall of 2009 and on streaming Netflix in early 2010.

In June 2011, Soref served as one of the producers of Twist: An American Musical based on the Charles Dickens’ classic. The play was written by William F. Brown (The Wiz), and was choreographed and directed by Emmy award-winning Debbie Allen. It was staged at The Pasadena Playhouse to rave reviews.

In 2012 Soref directed the experimental short film Morning, exploring the parallels between the love of Man and God, and that of man and woman. Despite its controversial theme, and the fact that it was not presented for viewing, the film was invited to a number of festivals. So far, Soref only accepted the invitation of two festivals, including the Seattle Erotic Art Festival whose program director proclaimed "without a doubt Morning was the most talked-about film of the Festival".

In January 2014, Soref founded a multiplatform studio titled Nova Filmhouse, Inc. According to the company’s website the studio offers content across all platforms "from smartphone to multiplex". Former New Line Cinema president of production, Sara Risher, serves as Nova’s President of Motion Pictures, Television president- Gil Junger (Producer/ Writer/ Director); and Digital Media president- Evette Vargas (content creator, writer/producer/ director). Chairman of the Board is Charles J. Weber, formally the President/ CEO of Lucasfilm Ltd. Soref is the CEO of the company.[12]

Controversies[edit]

In 2012, Soref was named as one of 13 defendants in a lawsuit alleging securities violations surrounding the 2009 movie Not Forgotten, in which he served as the director, co-writer and one of the producers.[13] Soref was not involved in, nor compensated for, fund raising for the movie.[14] According to the lawyer who was retained to represent Not Forgotten, LLC, an entity that was created to finance the Picture: "It was made very clear to me early on in the relationship that [Soref] wore many ‘hats’... raising money for the Picture was not one of those hats." "It was evident from day one that [Soref] formed a relationship with a third party to handle financing, an activity that was outside of his expertise." The suit was settled and approved by the court on February 25, 2014, involving no admission of wrongdoing or liability. In a statement on March 12, 2014, Soref noted: "From the time I set out to make Not Forgotten in 1999 until it was filmed in 2008, my intentions were that of any artist: to make the best film possible. I served as co-writer, director and one of the film's producers, and I'm extremely proud of how it turned out. The film was critically acclaimed, receiving a spectacular review in The Hollywood Reporter and favorable reviews in Daily Variety and other publications. The Society of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror nominated Not Forgotten for a Saturn Award. Regrettably, when the film was offered for distribution in November 2008, the nation was on the precipice of the Great Recession, and this impacted sales and distribution, thereby harming the success of the film." [15]

Filmography[edit]

Dror Soref has Directed two independent feature films working with actors including Peter O'Toole, Simon Baker, and Paz Vega.

Year Film/TV/Stage Credited as
Director Producer Writer
1986 Hollywood Zap! Yes
1988 Platinum Blonde (Short) Yes Yes
1993 The Seventh Coin Yes Yes
1997 Power Rangers (Various Episodes) Yes No No
2003 Basic[16] Yes
2009 Not Forgotten Yes Yes Yes
2011 Twist: An American Musical No Yes No
2012 Morning Yes Yes No

In addition, Soref has directed or executive produced over 100 music videos and commercials mostly through his production company Orbit Entertainment Group.

Year Song Band Notes
1983 "I Love Rocky Road" "Weird Al" Yankovic First Music Video

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Award-Winning Writer-Director Dror Soref Joins Big Screen Entertainment Group Board of Directors". Business Wire. 4 April 2005. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Filmmakers". Anchor Bay Entertainment. 5 April 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  3. ^ Swirski, Shlomo (March 1982). "University, State and Society in Israel: A Study of the Social and Political Consciousness of Israeli Students". Jerusalem, Mifras: Ch. 4. [1] University of Texas Libraries /All Locations 
  4. ^ Popson, Tom (12 July 1985). "...And With a Busy, Slightly Bent Weird Al". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  5. ^ Voland, John (1 Jan 1988). "A Film Maker's Lesson in Art of Persuasion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  6. ^ "Phoenix Pictures Takes to Orbit With a Five-Picture Deal". Business Wire. 18 January 2000. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  7. ^ "Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  8. ^ Brodesser, Claude (19 January 2000). "Phoenix orbits TV ads". The Daily Variety. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  9. ^ "Not Forgotten". Mann Theaters. 6 May 2009. Archived from the original on 20 August 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  10. ^ "Not Forgotten by B-side". Slam Dance. 21 February 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  11. ^ "Anchor Bay picks up US, UK and Australia to Not Forgotten". Screen Daily. 31 January 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  12. ^ http://novafilmhouse.com/
  13. ^ "State of California Sues Movie Producers Over Alleged Ponzi Scheme". The Hollywood Reporter. 20 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "lawsuit filing" (PDF). The Hollywood Reporter. 
  15. ^ http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2014/03/12/617901/10071699/en/Filmmaker-Dror-Soref-Responds-to-Settlement-Involving-Movie-Not-Forgotten.html
  16. ^ McCarthy, Todd (22 March 2003). "Basic". The Daily Variety. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 

External links[edit]