Home | Sources Directory | News Releases | Calendar | Articles | RSS Sources Select News RSS Feed | Contact |  

John Sayles

John Sayles

John Sayles, March 2008
Born John Thomas Sayles
September 28, 1950 (1950-09-28) (age 59)
Schenectady, New York, U.S.
Occupation Director/Screenwriter
Years active 1978'present

John Thomas Sayles (born September 28, 1950) is an American independent film director and screenwriter.


[edit] Early life

Sayles was born in Schenectady, New York, the son of Mary (née Rausch), a teacher, and Donald John Sayles, a school administrator.[1] He was raised Catholic and took to labeling himself "a Catholic atheist".[citation needed] Both of Sayles's parents were of half-Irish descent.[2]

He attended Williams College, where a small incident provided an inkling as to his future career. In 1972, while participating in the school's semiannual trivia contest, Sayles's team was tied with another after eight hours, forcing the game's first sudden death overtime. Sayles was able to cite a particular line of dialogue from the 1960 film The Time Machine to clinch the championship.[citation needed]

[edit] Career

Like Martin Scorsese and James Cameron, among others, Sayles began his film career working with Roger Corman. Sayles went on to fund his first film, Return of the Secaucus 7, with $30,000 he had in the bank from writing scripts for Corman.[citation needed] He set the film in a large house so that he did not have to travel to or get permits for different locations, set it over a three-day weekend to limit costume changes, and wrote about people his age so that he could have his friends act in it.

In 1983, after the films Baby It's You (starring Rosanna Arquette) and Lianna (a sympathetic story in which a married woman becomes discontented with her marriage and falls in love with another woman), Sayles received a MacArthur Fellowship. Sayles used the money to partially fund the fantasy The Brother from Another Planet,[3] a film about a black, three-toed slave who escapes from another planet and finds himself at home among the people of Harlem in New York City, largely because he is incapable of speaking.

In 1989, he created and wrote the pilot episode for the short-lived television show Shannon's Deal about a down-and-out Philadelphia lawyer played by Jamey Sheridan. Sayles received a 1990 Edgar Award for his teleplay for the pilot. The show ran for only 16 episodes before being cancelled in 1991.

Sayles has funded most of his films by writing genre scripts such as Piranha, Alligator, The Howling and The Challenge.[citation needed] Having collaborated with Joe Dante on Piranha and The Howling, Sayles acted in Dante's movie Matinee. In deciding whether to take a job, Sayles reports that he mostly is interested in whether there is the germ of an idea for a movie which he would want to watch.[citation needed] Sayles gets the rest of his funding by working as a script doctor; he did rewrites for Apollo 13, The Fugitive, and Mimic.

One such genre script, for an unproduced film called Night Skies, inspired the project that would eventually become the highly successful and moneymaking film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.[citation needed] That film's director, Steven Spielberg, later commissioned Sayles to write the script for Jurassic Park IV.

He has written and directed his own films, including Lone Star, Passion Fish, Eight Men Out, The Secret of Roan Inish, and Matewan. His films tend to be politically aware;[original research?] social concerns are a theme running through most of his work. He serves on the advisory board for the Austin Film Society.[citation needed]

In November 1997, the National Film Preservation Board of the United States announced that Return of the Secaucus 7 would be one of the 25 films selected that year for preservation in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.

Sayles works with a regular repertory of actors, most notably Chris Cooper, David Strathairn, and Gordon Clapp, each of whom has appeared in at least four of his films.

In early 2003, Sayles signed the Not In Our Name "Statement of Conscience" (along with individuals such as Noam Chomsky, Steve Earle, Brian Eno, Jesse Jackson, Viggo Mortensen, Bonnie Raitt, Oliver Stone, Marisa Tomei and Susan Sarandon) which opposed the invasion of Iraq.[citation needed]

In February 2009, Sayles was reported to be writing an upcoming HBO series based on the early life of Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The drama, tentatively titled Scar Tissue, centers on the rocker's early years living in West Hollywood with his father. At that time, Kiedis's father, known as Spider, sold drugs (according to legend, his clients included The Who and Led Zeppelin) and mingled with rock stars on the Sunset Strip, all while aspiring to get into showbiz.[4]

In February 2010, Sayles begins shooting his 17th feature film, the historical war drama, Amigo (aka Baryo), in the Philippines. The film is a fictional account of events during the Philippine-American War, with a cast that includes Joel Torre, Chris Cooper and Garret Dillahunt.[5][6]

His novel "A Moment in the Sun" (formerly called Some Time in the Sun), set during the same period as AMIGO, in the Philippines, Cuba, and the US, will be released in 2011 by Dave Egger's publishing house, McSweeney's.[7][8]

[edit] Filmography

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Music videos

[edit] Awards/nominations

[edit] Films

Awards for Honeydripper:

  • Outstanding Independent or Foreign Film (Win) ' 2008 NAACP Image Awards
  • Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Theatrical or Television) (Nominated) ' John Sayles ' 2008 NAACP Image Awards
  • Top 10 Independent Films of 2007 - National Board of Review
  • Best Screenplay (Win) ' John Sayles - 2007 San Sebasti�¡n International Film Festival (Tied with Gracia Querejeta and David Planell for Siete mesas de billar francés (2007)

Award for SILVER CITY:

  • Golden Seashell Award for Best Film (Nominated) - John Sayles - 2004 San Sebasti�¡n International Film Festival


  • Golden Orange Award (Win) - John Sayles - 2003 Florida Film Critics Circle Awards
  • Special Mention For Excellence In Filmmaking (Win) - 2002 National Board of Review

Awards for LIMBO:

  • Best Director Golden Space Needle Award (Win) - John Sayles -1999 Seattle International Film Festival
  • Outstanding Indies (Win) - 1999 National Board of Review


  • Best Foreign Independent Film (Nominated) - 1998 British Independent Film Awards
  • Best Foreign Film (Nominated) - 1999 Golden Globes
  • Peace Award (Nominated) - 1999 Political Film Society
  • FIPRESCI Prize (Win) - John Sayles - 1997 San Sebasti�¡n International Film Festival
  • OCIC Award (Win) - John Sayles - 1997 San Sebasti�¡n International Film Festival
  • Solidarity Award (Win) - John Sayles - 1997 San Sebasti�¡n International Film Festival
  • Golden Seashell Award for Best Film (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1997 San Sebasti�¡n International Film Festival

Awards for LONE STAR:

  • Best Original Screenplay (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1997 Academy Awards
  • Best Original Screenplay (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1997 BAFTA Awards
  • Best Screenplay, Motion Picture (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1997 Golden Globes
  • Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1997 Writers Guild of America
  • Best Picture (Nominated) - 1997 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards
  • Best Motion Picture Original Screenplay (Win) - John Sayles - 1997 Golden Satellite Awards
  • Best Motion Picture - Drama (Nominated) - Maggie Renzi & R. Paul Miller - 1997 Golden Satellite Awards
  • Best Screenplay (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1997 Independent Spirit Awards
  • Best Film (Win) - Lone Star - 1996 Lone Star Film & Television Awards
  • Best Director (Win) - John Sayles - 1996 Lone Star Film & Television Awards
  • Best Screenplay (Win) - John Sayles - 1996 Lone Star Film & Television Awards
  • Special Achievement Award for Outstanding Feature Film (Win) - 1996 NCLR Bravo Awards
  • Best Director (Win) - John Sayles - 1997 Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards


  • Best Genre Video Release (Nominated) - 1996 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films
  • International Critics Award (Win) - John Sayles - 1996 Gérardmer Film Festival
  • Best Director (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1996 Independent Spirit Awards
  • Best Screenplay (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1996 Independent Spirit Awards

Awards for PASSION FISH:

  • Best Original Screenplay (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1993 Academy Awards
  • Golden Spur Award (Win) - John Sayles - 1993 Flanders International Film Festival
  • Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1993 Writers Guild of America

Awards for CITY OF HOPE:

  • Critics Award (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1991 Deauville Film Festival
  • Special Award, Democracy Award (Win) - 1992 Political Film Society
  • Tokyo Grand Prix Award (Win) - John Sayles - 1991 Tokyo International Film Festival

Awards for MATEWAN:

  • Critics Award (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1987 Deauville Film Festival
  • Best Director (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1988 Independent Spirit Awards
  • Best Screenplay (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1988 Independent Spirit Award
  • Human Rights Award (Win) - 1988 Political Film Society


  • Best Screenplay Caixa de Catalunya Award (Win) - John Sayles - 1984 Catalonian International Film Festival, Sitges, Spain
  • Grand Jury Prize - Dramatic (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1985 USA Film Festival (later became the Sundance Film Festival)


  • Best Independent Film (Win) - 1981 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards
  • Best Screenplay (Win) - John Sayles - 1980 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
  • National Film Registry - 1997 Library of Congress, National Film Preservation Board
  • Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1981 Writers Guild of America
  • Best Screenplay (Nominated) - John Sayles - 1980 New York Film Critics Circle
  • Second Place - 1981 US Film Festival (later became the Sundance Film Festival)

[edit] Other recognition

Sayles'first published story, "I-80 Nebraska," won an O. Henry Award; his novel, Union Dues, was nominated for a National Book Award as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award.

In 1985, Sayles received the John D. MacArthur Award, given to 20 Americans in diverse fields each year for their innovative work. He has also been the recipient of the Eugene V. Debs Award, The John Steinbeck Award and the John Cassavetes Award. He was honored with the Ian McLellan Hunter Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Writer's Guild of America (1999).

[edit] See also

[edit] Further reading

  • Diane Carson and Heidi Kenaga, eds., Sayles Talk: New Perspectives on Independent Filmmaker John Sayles, Wayne State University Press, 2006
  • John Sayles, Thinking in Pictures: The Making of the Movie Matewan, Da Capo Press, 2003

[edit] References

  1. ^ John Sayles Biography (1950-) from filmreference.com
  2. ^ John Sayles Interview
  3. ^ Richard Corliss (October 1, 1984). "Blues for Black Actors". Time. http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,954425,00.html. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  4. ^ Sayles red hot for HBO's 'Scar' from Variety magazine
  5. ^ Joel Torre believes 'Baryo' may stir controversy from www.mb.com.ph
  6. ^ John Sayles Amigo: Making the movie from johnsaylesbaryo.blogspot.com
  7. ^ "BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN SAYLES". Sayle's official website. http://www.johnsayles.com/body-bio.html. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  8. ^ Novel News (April 15, 2010) from johnsaylesbaryo.blogspot.com

[edit] External links

Related Articles & Resources

Sources Subject Index - Experts, Sources, Spokespersons

Sources Select Resources Articles

This article is based on one or more articles in Wikipedia, with modifications and additional content by SOURCES editors. This article is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). The remainder of the content of this website, except where otherwise indicated, is copyright SOURCES and may not be reproduced without written permission. (For information use the Contact form.)

SOURCES.COM is an online portal and directory for journalists, news media, researchers and anyone seeking experts, spokespersons, and reliable information resources. Use SOURCES.COM to find experts, media contacts, news releases, background information, scientists, officials, speakers, newsmakers, spokespeople, talk show guests, story ideas, research studies, databases, universities, associations and NGOs, businesses, government spokespeople. Indexing and search applications by Ulli Diemer and Chris DeFreitas.

For information about being included in SOURCES as a expert or spokesperson see the FAQ or use the online membership form. Check here for information about becoming an affiliate. For partnerships, content and applications, and domain name opportunities contact us.

Sources home page