As a filmmaker, Daniel Barnz confronts unusual and frequently challenging subject matter in a way that is both emotional and captivating for audiences. With his keen visual eye and artistic edge, Barnz elicits memorable performances; he counts himself extremely blessed to be collaborating with some of the finest actors working in film today.
Currently, Barnz is set to release Won’t Back Down this fall for Twentieth Century Fox. The film, a drama that he wrote alongside Brin Hill, stars Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Holly Hunter, and follows the story of two determined mothers as they set out to transform their children’s failing inner city school. As the son of two teachers and the son-in-law of the woman who founded the first alternative public middle school in New York City, Won’t Back Down holds a particularly special place in Barnz’s heart.
Barnz’s feature directorial debut, the award-winning Phoebe in Wonderland, starring Felicity Huffman, Patricia Clarkson and Elle Fanning, premiered in competition at Sundance 2008, and was released nationally in 2009. Barnz then went on to adapt and direct Beastly, which was released in 2011 and starred Alex Pettyfer in his breakout role.
Inspired by his Kafka-esque experiences developing in Hollywood, Barnz wrote and made his directorial debut with the popular festival-circuit short film The Cutting Room, which tells the story of a trailer park inhabited by characters that have been cut out of books, plays, movies and TV shows. In 2007, Barnz was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and in 2008 one of Variety’s Top Ten Directors to Watch.
In his early career, Barnz spent many seasons at the Williamstown Theatre Festival before moving to Los Angeles to direct for Tim Robbins’s theater company, The Actors’ Gang. Shortly thereafter, Barnz entered the MFA program at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television. After graduating, Barnz got his start in the industry writing screenplays, including Sugarland for Jodie Foster, Under and Alone for Mel Gibson and Rogue for Leonardo DiCaprio.
Barnz was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, and received his BA from Yale University.
As the geeky guy who cried at Rudy, I'm a sucker for David and Goliath stories. I love movies about people who feel powerless, see a need for change in their world -- and go out and fight for it. That was half the reason I was drawn to co-write...