An actor, a producer and a finance director walk into a bar. It's no joke — it marked the start of Before the Door Pictures, a new venture for Carnegie Mellon alums and longtime pals Zachary Quinto (A'99), Neal Dodson (A'00) and Corey Moosa (A'00).
Their first major motion picture, 'Margin Call,' began shooting this week. The corporate thriller centers on the beginning of the financial crisis, covering a single 24-hour period. Its star-studded cast includes Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany and Stanley Tucci.
"I couldn't be more excited to be producing this very smart and magnificent film," said Moosa.
A one-of-a-kind production company, Before the Door draws its name from one of the first acting exercises required of the trio in Carnegie Mellon University's drama program.
"We had all these props and there was a door set up in the classroom. On the other side of the door was an obstacle that you didn't want to face but you had to," Moosa explained.
"We wanted a name that would tie us all together," Dodson chimed in. "Obviously, we all had Pittsburgh and CMU in common, and here we are together again, starting a new thing."
Among the first short films they produced is Bordeaux, using nearly 15,000 digital still photos and no video footage. Bordeaux was screened with dozens of other "Happy New Year" shorts in France in 2008, as an introduction to the city's New Year's Eve countdown.
And building on a lifelong passion of Moosa's, they have been wrapping up some comic book projects including "Mr. Murder is Dead" written by Victor Quinaz (A'00), who is a New York-based writer and friend from their Carnegie Mellon days, and "Lucid" authored by another alum Michael McMillian (A'02). Both are due out in 2010.
"We're excited to give these guys a chance that they otherwise would not have had," said Dodson. "And while our big projects take longer, we can use projects like these to show what we can do."
Right now, they're drawing on Quinto's fan base as their core audience. They hope to broaden this audience with each new release, as people become more aware of their abilities as a team.
Quinto built a successful acting career in Los Angeles, most notably playing Sylar on the hit TV show, Heroes, and young Spock in the recent blockbuster film Star Trek. (Watch Training Spock.) Moosa conquered the trendy New York City theater scene and oversaw hundreds of productions as director of finance for the HERE Arts Center.
Meanwhile, Dodson went straight from school to performing on Broadway, followed by appearances on television and regional theater — then transitioning to producing out of a genuine drive to create.
"Zach jokes about it, but really, he's the face of the company, I'm the brains and Corey's the heart," Dodson said.
The company expects 'Margin Call' to hit theaters sometime in 2011.