Family & Companions
Not content with living life as Mr. Julianne Moore, writer-director Bart Freundlich carved himself a substantial niche as an independent filmmaker. Starting with his first feature, "The Myth of the Fingerprints" (1997), an ambiguous comedy-drama about four children returning to their dysfunctional home for Thanksgiving dinner, Freundlich amassed a resume of disillusioned, but affecting films that have in no way, according to the director, reflected anything in his own life. In contrast, Freundlich's life was fruitful, particularly in regards to his relationship with Moore, with whom he became romantic after he cast her in "Fingerprints." Though he has remained for the most part in the indie world, Freundlich had the desire to make studio movies. Despite his desire to branch out into mainstream filmmaking, Freundlich was happy to continue doing what he has done best: making dimensional character-driven dramas in the indie world.
Freundlich was born and raised in New York City where his father was a publisher and his mother was a marketing consultant for restaurants. He spent 12 years at a Quaker school in the city, before he moved on to attend Northwestern University. After a year, he transferred to New York University where he majored in cinema studies - a course chosen by default rather than a burning desire to be a filmmaker. He just figured the film program, coupled with his liking of movies, was the best path for him to take. During his stint at NYU, he interned at John Lyons Casting Company, which gave him access to a top-level cast for his student short, "A Dog Race in Alaska" (1993). After graduating, Freundlich began working on the script for "Fingerprints," though it took him a couple of years to complete. During that time, he opened doors at the Royalton Hotel, videotaped conferences for $200 a day, and made a short mockumentary about personal trainers called "Hired Hands" (1994). He later managed to sell "Dog Race" for enough money to quit his day job and become a full time filmmaker.
Once Freundlich had his script for "Fingerprints" ready (the title came from a Paul Simon song and remained unexplained in the final product), he began shopping it to actors, namely his soon-to-be love interest, Julianne Moore. Their first meeting, however, was inauspicious - Moore was late, frazzled and "feeling particularly crabby," according to the actress in a 1997 interview in Entertainment Weekly. Freundlich came away feeling like he had been on a bad date, which was why it came as a surprise later when Moore agreed to do the film. With the other actors, Noah Wyle in particular, the courting process was much easier. Freundlich eventually shot the film over 32 days at an old house in Maine for roughly $1.5 million with the actors working for scale and dressing themselves in unoccupied bedrooms of the house. Freundlich managed to get his film in the can and land the girl to boot - he and Moore became romantically involved on set and later had their first child, Caleb, in late 1997. Meanwhile, "Fingerprints" made its debut at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival where it was picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics, but failed to earn any awards.
While in the middle of shooting "Fingerprints," Freundlich began writing his next project, "World Traveler" (2001), a quirky and introspective road film about a successful man, Cal (Billy Crudup), who suddenly leaves his job, home and family to go on a road of personal discovery. Plagued by guilt, he nonetheless is driven to pursue something intangible and barely visible on the horizon, and along the way, reinvents himself with each new encounter until he finds that his future lies in reconciling his past. The script took Freundlich a year to write, while the film took two years to get made. Once again, Moore starred in the lead female role, playing Dulcie, an emotionally fragile woman searching for her lost son. "World Traveler" toured the festival circuit in 2001, making stops at Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as earning theatrical distribution through ThinkFilm, but failed to crack six figures in a handful of theaters.
Freundlich went over to the Dark Side for his next feature, directing his first studio film, "Catch the Kid" (2003), for 20th Century Fox. A remake of the Danish film "Klatretosen" (2002), "Kid" followed an adventurous 12-year-old (Kristen Stewart) in her quest to pull off a risky heist in order to pay for an operation on her dad's spine, following his mountain climbing accident. Freundlich's work was blasted by most critics, if only for the film's driving idea that crime d s indeed pay. A price was exacted at the box office as well - "Catch That Kid" raked in a poor $16 million, despite having a wide release in close to 3,000 theaters.
Meanwhile, Freundlich returned to the more comfortable world of independent filmmaking with "Trust the Man" (2006), a romantic comedy-drama in the vein of Woody Allen. The more mainstream indie explored the lives of a successful actress (Moore) and her Mr. Mom husband (David Duchovny), whose marriage is suffering from a virtually nonexistent sex life. They share their pain with best friends Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and Tobey (Billy Crudup), a couple with their own unmanageable strife. "Trust the Man" underwhelmed audiences and critics alike, in part due to Freundlich's meandering and underdeveloped script.
Director (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Made writing and directing debut with the short, "A Dog Race in Alaska"
Directed first full length documentary, "Hired Hands"
Directed future wife Julianne Moore in the feature, "The Myth of Fingerprints"
Helmed "World Traveler," starring Billy Crudup and wife, Julianne Moore
Directed "Catch That Kid," an American remake of the Danish film "Klatretosen"
Directed wife Julianne Moore in the romantic comedy "Trust the Man"