John August

John August

Born appropriately on Aug. 4, 1970 in Boulder, CO, August earned his bachelor's degree from Drake University in Des Moines, IA, and went on to earn his master's in film from The Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California. After chipping away at the fringes of show business, August made his film debut with "Go" (1999), Doug Liman's energetic follow-up to "Swingers" (1997). An honest, optimistic, but unglamorous look at sex and drugs as seen through a group of interconnected teenagers held together by a series of coincidences, it was often compared to Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" (1994) because of its rapid fire, off-topic dialogue and frenetic pacing. "Go" was nearly universally praised by critics and turned a healthy profit at the box office as compared to its independent budget. Having established himself as a professional screenwriter, August shared credit with Joss Whedon and Ben Eglund on the animated "Titan A.E." (2000), which received a mixed critical reaction on its way to becoming a box office flop.August soon entered summer blockbuster territory when he wrote the script for the big-screen reboot of the popular 1970s TV series, "Charlie's Angels" (2000), directed by McG and starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. Though somewhat dismissed by critics as a popcorn flick, "Charlie's Angels" was a fairly large international hit. Turning to the small screen, he created and executive produced the one-hour drama "D.C." (The WB, 2000), which focused on five ambitious 20-somethings living together in a Georgetown townhouse and navigating the high-stakes world of Washington, D.C. politics. Despite a promising premise and built-in demographic, the series failed to catch on and was canceled after only four episodes aired. Back in the feature world, August was one of at least seven writers on Steven Spielberg's blockbuster sequel, "Jurassic Park III" (2001), and went on to become one of Hollywood's top behind-the-scenes script doctors, penning uncredited drafts of "Scooby-Doo" (2002) and "Minority Report" (2002).For his next credited feature, August wrote the sequel "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" (2003), another box office hit that failed to impress critics as much as the original. That same year, he began a long and fruitful collaboration with director Tim Burton on "Big Fish" (2003), a low-key, but whimsical fantasy about a young man (Billy Crudup) trying to understand his father (Albert Finney) by reconstructing his life through a collection of stories. Adapted from Daniel Wallace's novel, which August acquired the rights to before "Go" was even released, "Big Fish" was well-received by critics and performed moderately at the box office. A decade later, August adapted the same material for a Broadway musical that was set to stage in 2013. Meanwhile, he adapted "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005) for Burton, which starred Johnny Depp as the almost-mythical chocolatier Willy Wonka, who changes the life of poverty-ridden Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore). From there, he penned the script for Burton's stop-motion animated feature, "Corpse Bride" (2005), which featured the voice talents of Depp, Helen Bonham Carter, Emily Watson and Tracey Ullman.Turning to directing for the first time, August made his debut in the director's chair with the indie-financed psychological thriller, "The Nines" (2007), which starred Ryan Reynolds as a troubled actor trapped in a world of his own imagination. Despite a cast that included Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy and Elle Fanning, "The Nines" barely found an audience in a limited theatrical run. In between assignments, the openly gay August married his partner in California during the brief time same-sex marriage was legal in 2008. He next served as the executive producer on "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" (2010), which starred Jake Gyllenhaal and was based on the popular video game, before returning to work with Burton on "Dark Shadows" (2012), a loopy horror comedy based on the campy 1960s television series, and "Frankenweenie" (2012), a stop-motion animated feature based on Burton's famed 1984 black-and-white short film. While "Dark Shadows" was dismissed by critics, "Franenweenie" received a warm reception, though both performed well at the box office. Outside of making films, August dispensed screenwriting advice on his website, johnaugust.com, starting in 2003, and in 2012 started a popular podcast with fellow screenwriter, Craig Mazin.By Shawn Dwyer