Chris Gorak

10 Directors to Watch

AGE: 36
BIRTHPLACE: Worcester, Mass.
PIC INSPIRATION: “Star Wars.” “I was just blown by the creativity.”
AgentS: Tobin Babst and Jason Burns (UTA)

First-time filmmaker, indie budget, disaster movie. Sounds like the recipe for, well, disaster. But “Right at Your Door” writer-director Gorak is not your typical novice helmer. Since the early ’90s, he’s worked as an art director and production designer for the likes of Steven Spielberg (“Minority Report”), the Coen brothers (“The Man Who Wasn’t There”), David Fincher (“Fight Club”) and Terry Gilliam (“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”).

“Right at Your Door” describes a terrorist attack in Los Angeles. As millions of commuters take to the freeways one morning, dirty bombs go off in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles Intl. Airport and downtown. Brad (Rory Cochrane), a musician, searches frantically for his wife, Lexi (Mary McCormack), who was on her way to work during the attack. When they reunite, they are forced to deal with the fact that Lexi has been contaminated and might die. Using a combination of crafty low-budget techniques like radio broadcasts, along with CGI effects, Gorak creates an atmosphere of palpable, plausible chaos.

“Everyone wants to put films in a genre,” says Gorak, who holds a master’s degree in architecture from Tulane. “Yes, it’s a disaster film, but it’s not like any disaster you’ve seen before. It’s very much about these characters, and what it’s like to live in a world that’s been through 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.”

Gorak came with the idea for the script after promptings from producers Jonah Smith and Palmer West, whom he met while production designing “The Clearing.” After reading the first draft, Smith and West agreed to finance and produce through their production company, A Thousand Words (“Waking Life,” “Requiem for a Dream,” the upcoming “A Scanner Darkly”).

“As a director, Chris knows exactly what he wants,” Smith says. “Great filmmakers have a vision of the film in their heads, but they also have to break that vision down into pieces and carry it out all the way through. On ‘Right at Your Door,’ Chris did that completely.”

Gorak hopes to shoot his second film, also with A Thousand Words, later this year.

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