Joe Carnahan Biography

Joe Carnahan photo

Born: May 09, 1969


Date of Birth: May 9, 1969

Joe Carnahan grew up in Detroit, Michigan. As a child, he was bitten by the movie bug and stayed up late at night to watch his favorite films on television, including Raiders of The Lost Ark, Jaws, Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory and Duel, watching them hundreds of times over the years. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at San Francisco State University, where he wrote and directed several short films. He developed one of the shorts into a full-length screenplay called Narc, but at that time, wasn't able to find any studios interested in backing the film.

Carnahan went on to land a job as a freelance producer for ESPN and FOX SPORTS. His work won him the 1996 PROMAX Producer of the Year award, and a short while later, he began work on what would become his first feature length film. Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane (1998) was made on a budget of $7,300. Carnahan cut costs by playing one of the lead roles, writing and directing the film himself, and editing it after hours at the TV studio, where he had access to the equipment he needed. The film was shown at the Sundance Festival, and Caranahan landed a Hollywood agent. He got the funds to transfer the film to 35MM, and Lions Gate Films bought the rights to distribute it. Bob Levy, an executive at NBC-TV, was also interested in the film, and wanted to develop the story as an hour-long action comedy.

Meanwhile, the script Carnahan had written earlier, Narc, had fallen into actor Ray Liotta’s hands. He was with the same agency as Carnahan, and set up a meeting to tell him he was interested in producing and starring in the film. Narc (2003) was well received by critics and audiences alike, and won Carnahan the "Special Prize of the Police" at the Cognac Festival du Film Policier in France, as well as being nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival. In 2007 he won both the Critics Award and the Special Jury Prize for Smokin' Aces (2006). His most recent film is The A-Team (2010), starring Liam Neeson. Carnahan teamed up again with Liam Neeson for the 2012 film The Grey about a group of men left stranded in Alaska after a plane crash.

Carnahan lives in Sacramento, California with his wife and their two children.

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