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Dan Harris

Dan Harris

Harris was raised in the small town of Kingston, PA. He loved movies as a child, but never took seriously the idea of working in film because it seemed so impossible. After high school, he enrolled at Columbia University, with aspirations of becoming an artist, photographer or a writer. But upon landing a job as production assistant on the 1998 Woody Allen film, "Celebrity," he discovered his true calling as a film director. By his sophomore year in college, he interned with Paramount producer Scott Rudin, which shored up his interest in storytelling. It was while living in Los Angeles during the summer internship that he met director Bryan Singer. This inauspicious meeting would pay big dividends later. Determined to make his own films, Harris put together $4,000 to make a short film. After that, he managed to raise $50,000 to make another short film, "The Urban Chaos Theory" (2000), which won a prize at the No Dance Film Festival.After graduating with a film degree, Harris moved permanently to L.A., where he made yet another short film - this one for under $1,000 - called "The Killing of Candace Klein" (2002), which was later accepted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. At the same time, he continued writing scripts, including "Imaginary Heroes," the story of a dysfunctional family told from the dual points of view of mother and son. The script opened two doors: a commitment from actress Sigourney Weaver to star in the film, and the interest of Singer, who was looking for writers for the followup to his 2000 surprise hit, "X-Men" (2000). By then, Harris had already met his writing partner Michael Dougherty, at a party in New York City. The two hit it off immediately, staying in contact once each had moved to L.A. They landed the career-making job of writing "X-2: X-Men United" (2003) and worked long hours everyday on the Vancouver set, often rewriting scenes while the actors and crews waited. They relished the opportunity to stay so closely involved throughout production, and Singer praised them for their devotion to the material. Another joint screenplay, "Urban Legends: Bloody Mary," was released in 2005. Harris then directed "Imaginary Heroes" (2004), which had secured independent financing, and actors Jeff Daniels and Emile Hirsch. The film garnered critical acclaim for both actors and director.Both Harris and Dougherty had already begun conceptualizing the third X-Men film, when director Singer dropped out of the project to focus on the long-gestating Superman feature for Warner Bros. The three went on a trip to Hawaii and found themselves sharing story ideas to such an extent, that an outline was all but complete upon their return. With Singer's supervision, Harris and Dougherty knocked out "Superman Returns" (2006), a screenplay that finally received the studio greenlight - something that countless A-list screenwriters had failed to accomplish in recent years. Although the massively budgeted return of the Man of Steel - which starred newcomer Brandon Routh as Superman, Kevin Spacey as the villainous Lex Luthor and Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane - performed well initially, both critical and fan response to Harris and company's treatment of the beloved superhero was decidedly mixed. Ultimately, the final verdict on "Superman Returns" was that it was a moderate disappointment. Suddenly, the lofty plans of Harris, Dougherty and Singer - a remake of the '70s sci-fi cult classic "Logan's Run" (1976) among them - were put on indefinite hold. In the meantime, Harris kept busy with script work on the Jean-Claude Van Damme direct-to-DVD action-thriller "Until Death" (2007) and as an executive-producer on Dougherty's directorial debut, the Halloween horror fable "Trick 'r Treat" (2007). By Matthew Reynolds
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