Carroll Ballard


Director

About

Also Known As
Carroll James Ballard
Birth Place
Los Angeles, California, USA
Born
October 14, 1937

Biography

Meticulous American director of several lush, visually striking films since the late 1970s who made a memorable feature debut with "The Black Stallion" (1979), an exquisitely crafted tale of the far-flung adventures of a boy and a horse. Executive produced by Ballard's UCLA film school chum Francis Ford Coppola, the film was hailed both for its extraordinary attention to visual and behav...

Biography

Meticulous American director of several lush, visually striking films since the late 1970s who made a memorable feature debut with "The Black Stallion" (1979), an exquisitely crafted tale of the far-flung adventures of a boy and a horse. Executive produced by Ballard's UCLA film school chum Francis Ford Coppola, the film was hailed both for its extraordinary attention to visual and behavioristic detail and as a beautifully realized adaptation of Walter Farley's classic 1941 children's novel. Four years passed until Ballard's next film, "Never Cry Wolf" (1983), an unusual and haunting nature tale featuring Charles Martin Smith, in a rare starring role, as a biologist investigating whether wolves are responsible for the gradual disappearance of the caribou herds. Two years of demanding production in the wilds of the Yukon and Alaska paid off to create a poetic work that easily transcended the standard qualities of a Disney nature picture (which it was, after all).

Ballard's subsequent output has been disappointingly sparse. Six years elapsed before "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture" (1986), an ambitious film version of the Christmas 1983 Seattle production staged by Maurice Sendak and Kent Stowell. Ballard utilized Sendak's dreamy sets to bring out some of the psychosexual underpinnings of the ballet. Less successful was the sometimes frantic editing which some reviewers found too reminiscent of music videos. "Wind" (1992) was a ho-hum yacht racing yarn that boasted outstanding cinematography by John Toll. Ballard's affinity for the beauties and rigors of nature and weather were undiminished but the material and characters were unworthy.

Doubtlessly making "Wind" called upon elements of the filmmaker's childhood spent at Lake Tahoe where his father was a boat builder. Ballard himself spent a year after high school building a catamaran. He next enlisted in the Army where he served as a cameraman while stationed in the American South. During that period, Ballard saw three films that revolutionized his notions about film: Teinosuke Kinugasa's "Gate of Hell" (1953-Japan), Stanley Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" (1957-US), and Carl Dreyer's "Ordet" (1955-Denmark). Inspired, he enrolled in the UCLA film school in the early 1960s. There Ballard began making acclaimed short narratives and documentaries that usually starred animals. He was nominated for a Oscar as the producer of the documentary, "Harvest" (1967).

Life Events

1952

Moved to Marin County, California at age 15 (date approximate)

1967

Produced a documentary entitled "Harvest" for the US Information Agency; nominated for an Academy Award

1977

Worked as second unit camera operator on "Star Wars"

1979

Feature film directing debut, "The Black Stallion", produced by Coppola

1983

Directed "Never Cry Wolf" starring Charles Martin Smith as a government researcher, sent to research the "menace" of wolves in the north

1986

Directed the feature production of "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture"

1992

Directed Matthew Modine and Jennifer Grey in "Wind"

1996

Directed "Fly Away Home" starring Anna Paquin as a young girl who attempts to lead a flock of orphaned Canada Geese south by air

2005

Directed "Duna" a film about an orphaned cheetah that becomes the best friend and pet of a young boy living in South Africa

Videos

Movie Clip

Black Stallion, The (1979) - Off The Coast Of North Africa, 1946 Director Carroll Ballard’s opening, dialogue free, evoking the initial premise of the novel by Walter Farley, introducing star Kelly Reno as young American Alec, and Cass-Olé, the Texas-bred Arabian trained for the film by Glen, J.R. and Corky Randall, in The Black Stallion, 1979.
Black Stallion, The (1979) - He'll Die Without Me Nearly 30 minutes since the last spoken line, Alec (Kelly Reno) is surprised when fishermen appear at the Mediterranean island where he and the stallion he now calls “Black” have been stranded for weeks, in director Carroll Ballard’s The Black Stallion, 1979.
Black Stallion, The (1979) - Beach Shipwrecked Alec (Kelly Reno) making friends with the horse (Cass-Ole), cinematographer Caleb Deschanel on location in Sardinia, in The Black Stallion, 1979, directed by Carroll Ballard.
Black Stallion, The (1979) - Shipwreck Most of director Carroll Ballard's frantic shipwreck scene, Alec (Kelly Reno) awakened, father (Hoyt Axton) attempting rescue, crazy Arab guy (Doghmi Larbi) interfering and horse (Cass-Ole) escaping, in The Black Stallion, 1979.
Never Cry Wolf (1983) - Territorial Dispute Researcher Tyler (Charles Martin Smith) catches on to his neighbor's methods and amuses himself with Gilbert & Sullivan in director Carroll Ballard's Never Cry Wolf, 1983.
Never Cry Wolf (1983) - 23 Mice Tyler (Charles Martin Smith) comes up with a theory about how the wolves survive, requiring an outlandish experiment in director Carroll Ballard's Never Cry Wolf, 1983.
Never Cry Wolf (1983) - Get a Grip In narration he co-wrote, Charles Martin Smith (as Tyler) surveys his situation after being dropped on Alaskan ice for his wolf-research mission in Carroll Ballard's Never Cry Wolf, 1983.

Trailer

Bibliography