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Lawrence Guterman

Lawrence Guterman

Larry Guterman made his feature film directorial effort with the 2001 summer blockbuster comedy, Cats & Dogs, released by Warner Bros. This unique blend of live action, computer animation and animatronic puppetry, creating a convergence of technology never before seen on the screen won both critics and audiences alike. The film grossed over $200 million worldwide. Utilizing more than 27 dogs and 33 cats, in addition to the live action characters and voice talent (Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins, Tobey Maguire, Sean Hayes, Alec Baldwin, Michael Clarke Duncan and Susan Sarandon), the film focused on a supposed age old rivalry between cats and dogs to rule the world.

In addition, Guterman and his producing partner Holly Rawlinson have several projects in development at their producing shingle Orange Grove Entertainment, including Backbone Entertainment's hot property Death Jr. which they will co-produce as a feature with the management company Circle of Confusion. The film is a potential directing vehicle for Guterman.

Known to Hollywood filmmakers as one of the most talented and inventive directors in the business, Guterman graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Physics. While at Harvard, he served as editor and illustrator for the humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon, and during his summers, he studied animation at the highly regarded Sheridan College of Art in Toronto. Later, Guterman relocated to Los Angeles and worked in computer graphics, as a script reader at Joel Silver's company and in production development for Melinda Jason at Columbia. In 1995, he graduated from the Master's program in filmmaking from the University of Southern California School of Cinema where he paid his tuition by teaching undergraduate physics.

While at USC, Guterman sold 2 scripts one to Paramount and one to TriStar, and he caught the attention of Robert Zemeckis and HBO by co-writing a script for an episode of Tales From The Crypt, which so impressed Zemeckis that he planned to direct it himself. From the money he acquired from selling these feature scripts, Guterman financed his 1995 Master's thesis Headless!, a 35-minute, 35mm black comedy (about a former academic investigating a fad for collecting shrunken heads), starring Eddie Albert, which quickly made the agent circuit after winning rave reviews at USC's First Look Festival and being awarded the grand jury prize at the Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival. (Other directors who have received this honor include Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, David Lynch, Jonathan Demme and the Coen brothers).

With Headless!, Guterman won an introduction to Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who hired him to direct the DreamWorks/Microsoft Corporation's first live action CD-Rom, a game based on the Goosebumps series, which starred Jeff Goldblum and Isabella Rossellini. The Goosebumps CD-Rom received rave reviews and led to his involvement in the production of Antz. Guterman spent 2 years working on Antz in Palo Alto at Pacific Data Imaging (PDI) (where he had previously interned). He is credited with directing several memorable sequences from the movie, including The March to Battle with the Termites and the Patton Speech.

After completing production on Antz, Guterman became involved with the project, Curious George, at Imagine, which he was attached to direct. He worked closely with Ron Howard in developing the project during 1998 and 1999, but the film never went into production due to executive changes at the company.

In March of 1999, Guterman first read the script for Cats & Dogs and worked with the writers in developing the project for about a year. Early on, he directed an impressive test scene involving live action and special effects, which helped push Warner Bros. to green light the project. Cats & Dogs was a reinvention of the spy thriller. It was Babe meets The Matrix, Men In Black With Your Pet. Guterman was fascinated with the concept of reinventing the techno-thriller genre from the point of view of canines and felines and with creating never-before-seen images of domesticated animals battling it out for superiority right under our noses (doing kung fu, flying remote control attack planes, etc.) with the suburban household as the ultimate battlefield. The film was a unique convergence of technologies including live action, puppetry and animation. The puppeteers involved in Cats & Dogs were from the Henson Creature Shop and visual effects were done by Mill Film, Ltd. in London, Tippet Studios in Berkeley and Rhythm & Hues in Los Angeles.

Raised in Montreal and Toronto, Guterman first became interested in visual storytelling and making films as a child, and he made his first short film when he was in the 8th grade. Later, as a senior at Harvard, he made a 15-minute film as a project for a documentary film course and became hooked on directing as a career. Some films that have been very influential to him include Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future Dr. Strangelove and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Combining exhilarating escapist entertainment with heart and a good dose of satiric wit was what Guterman set out to capture in Son of the Mask. Marrying live action with computer-generated images gave him the boundless possibilities to achieve it.


Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Lawrence Guterman Facts

OccupationDirector

Selected Filmography

Not available.