AUSXIP Spartacus News


        5 November 2011

Spartacus: Vengeance Production Biographies

Starz has released the official bios of the production crew and they are a talented bunch:


ROB TAPERT (Executive Producer)

Rob Tapert is currently the executive producer of the STARZ Original series “Spartacus: Vengeance,” as well as the preceding series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and the prequel “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.”

Tapert is the longstanding producing partner of acclaimed director Sam Raimi. Tapert and Raimi have been working together since they met at Michigan State University, where they formed the Society for Creative Filmmaking. After producing the horror cult classic Evil Dead, Tapert continued to collaborate with Raimi on Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, Darkman and Army of Darkness.

Tapert went on to serve as executive producer on the action features Hard Target and Timecop, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. He also executive produced the TV series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Xena: Warrior Princess,” both of which were the long-running worldwide sensations. Following success in television, he returned to features to executive produce Raimi’s suspense thriller The Gift (starring Cate Blanchett and Keanu Reeves) and the action western The Quick and the Dead (starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman).
In 2002, Tapert and Raimi formed Ghost House Pictures with Mandate Pictures. Ghost House was conceived to produce feature films that would deliver great scares and offer horror fans a thrill-ride experience. Tapert has since produced a string of number-one box-office hits that started with The Grudge (which grossed $187 million worldwide), Boogeyman, The Messengers and 30 Days of Night. In 2009, Tapert produced Raimi’s first directorial effort under Ghost House, the critically acclaimed Drag Me to Hell.

Tapert recently executive produced the TV series “The Legend of the Seeker” for Disney-ABC Domestic television and ABC Studios.

(Executive Producer, Writer, Creator)

Steven S. DeKnight is currently the executive producer, writer and creator of the STARZ Original series “Spartacus: Vengeance,” as well as the preceding series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and the prequel “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.”

DeKnight received an undergraduate degree in Theater Arts from UCSC and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from UCLA. He went on to write, produce and direct for MTV’s “Undressed,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Smallville,” “Viva Laughlin” and “Dollhouse.”

JOSHUA DONEN (Executive Producer)

Joshua Donen is the executive producer of the STARZ Original series “Spartacus: Vengeance,” as well as the preceding series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and the prequel “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.”
Donen partnered with Sam Raimi to form Stars Road Entertainment, a production company based at Sony Pictures. Under the label, they have produced Armored (a heist movie directed by Nimród Antal) and Priest (a comic-book adaptation directed by Scott Stewart). They are currently in production on Oz: The Great and Powerful, which Sam Raimi is directing.
Prior to forming Stars Road, Donen was co-head of CAA’s motion-picture department, where he worked with David Fincher, Mark Romanek, John Dahl, Tom Tykwer, Andrew Niccol, and Red Wagon producers Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick.

Before joining CAA in 1998, Donen produced Raimi's The Quick and the Dead, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman; The Great White Hype, directed by Reginald Hudlin; and executive produced Steven Soderbergh’s The Underneath.

Donen started as a talent agent at the William Morris Agency but left to work as a production executive at ABC Motion Pictures and later Universal Pictures, where he was an executive vice president. He returned to WMA in 1996 to head the motion-picture directors department, where he remained until joining CAA.

SAM RAIMI (Executive Producer)

Known for his imaginative filmmaking style and offbeat sense of humor, Sam Raimi first achieved fame as the writer and director of the cult classic The Evil Dead, which was an immediate sensation following its debut at the 1982 Cannes International Film Festival. The success of The Evil Dead spawned the equally impressive Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. Raimi completed and reinvented the trilogy with Army of Darkness, a sword-and-sorcery fantasy. The Evil Dead films have become an institution among horror enthusiasts, some of whom created a Broadway musical and comic books inspired by Ash, the series’ iconic hero.
Raimi is currently directing OZ: The Great and the Powerful for Disney, starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Academy Award® winner Rachel Weisz and Academy Award® nominee Michelle Williams. The film is slated for a summer 2013 release.

A Simple Plan, Raimi’s critically acclaimed suspense thriller, received an Academy Award® nomination for best supporting actor for star Billy Bob Thornton. The director’s additional credits include the supernatural thriller The Gift, starring Cate Blanchett, Hilary Swank and Keanu Reeves; Darkman, starring Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand; and The Quick and the Dead, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone, Russell Crowe and Gene Hackman.

Raimi also directed the Spider-Man trilogy. The internationally beloved franchise broke box-office records and garnered five Academy Award® nominations. The three Spider-Man films star Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco.

Along with longtime producing partner Rob Tapert, Raimi formed Ghost House Pictures in 2002. Ghost House is dedicated to the financing, development and distribution of high-concept genre films. Ghost House’s impressive roster of releases includes The Grudge, 30 Days of Night, The Messengers, Boogeyman and Drag Me to Hell.

Tapert and Raimi were executive producers on the landmark syndicated series “Xena: Warrior Princess,” which starred Lucy Lawless in the title role and ran for six seasons. Raimi and Tapert also executive produced the enormously popular “Hercules: Legendary Journeys” and are currently executive producing the second season of “Spartacus: Vengeance.”
Raimi also served as executive producer for John Woo’s Hard Target and co-wrote (with Joel and Ethan Coen) The Hudsucker Proxy, starring Tim Robbins, Paul Newman and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Raimi’s interest in filmmaking began as a youngster in Michigan, where he directed his own Super-8 films. Later, he left Michigan State University to form Renaissance Pictures with Tapert and longtime friend and actor Bruce Campbell.

CHLOE SMITH (Producer)

Chloe has worked in the New Zealand screen production industry for over 25 years and counts Jane Campion’s The Piano and Chris Graham’s Sione’s Wedding as her two favorite feature participations. Apart from a brief foray into costume management on The Last Samurai, the past 15 years have resulted in a long and successful working relationship with Executive Producer Rob Tapert and the delivery of 400 hours of on screen production that began with “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” “Xena: Warrior Princess,” 30 Days of Night, “Legend of the Seeker” and currently a 3rd production year of “Spartacus” and the season titled “Spartacus: Vengeance.”

IAIN AITKEN (Production Designer)

Iain Aitken began his career in theater working as head of design for Theatre Corporate in Auckland. During his tenure, Aitken simultaneously developed ties with Mercury Theatre and the National Opera of New Zealand. Through these experiences, Aitken finessed his style and cultivated his passion for setting the scene. He ventured from New Zealand in 1985 traveling through Melbourne, New York and Toronto to work as a freelance designer in theater and opera. He has since transferred his talents to the film industry.

He has been acknowledged in his success as production designer for features such as Sylvia, He Died with a Felafel in His Hand and, most recently, Separation City.

Aitken’s relationship with Pacific Renaissance as production designer began in 2009 for “Spartacus: Blood & Sand.” His remarkable recreation of the 78 BC world continues in the prequel, “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” and into the latest chapter, “Spartacus: Vengeance.”

BARBARA DARRAGH (Costume Designer)

Barbara Darragh has a distinguished career in costume design for feature films and major television projects. She has won awards in her New Zealand homeland for River Queen, directed by Vincent Ward; The End of the Golden Weather, directed by Ian Mune; and the historical dramatic television miniseries “Greenstone.”

Darragh was the original designer for the five original “Hercules” telemovies and the first series of “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” as well as for “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” executive produced by Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi.

She designed the costumes for such feature films as Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners, which starred Michael J. Fox, Bridge to Terabithia, The Man Who Lost His Head, Eye of the Storm and The Last Tattoo. She worked as assistant costume designer on Beyond Borders and Scooby Doo.

Darragh has created a costume-rental company and is building a collection of original costumes as a record of New Zealand’s costume history.


Joseph LoDuca completed his formal training in jazz and classical music, at the University of Michigan and in New York City. During this time, he plunged into jazz culture and submerged himself in music from around the world. LoDuca found himself choosing composition over performance, as composing allowed him to run freely among the disciplines.

Since the time that friend first suggested he would be good at scoring films, LoDuca has been awarded a number of Primetime Emmys®, 11 nominations, numerous ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) Awards, and was named horror film composer of the year for Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness.

He recently completed the score to Patagonia, which included song collaborations with Duffy, Bryn Terfel and Angelo Badalamenti. He is currently scoring the television series “Leverage” for TNT and “Spartacus: Vengeance” for STARZ.

(Executive Visual Effects Supervisor)

Charlie McClellan is an Auckland-based visual-effects supervisor with 16 years’ experience in the industry. Recent credits include the STARZ television series “Spartacus: Vengeance” in the United States and the film feature 30 Days of Night.

In 2010, McClellan won the Qantas Film and Television Award in New Zealand for best visual effects on the film Under the Mountain.
His television credits include the ABC syndicated series “Legend of the Seeker.”

He served as visual-effects producer at Weta Digital for the R&D and preproduction of the VFX for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Other film credits include features The Frighteners, Contact (unaccredited), Whale Rider and Perfect Creature.

Prior to immigrating to New Zealand in 1995, McClellan was a postproduction executive at Miramax Films in New York, where he worked with the filmmakers of Clerks, Heavenly Creatures, Farewell My Concubine, The Snapper, The Innocent, Wide-Eyed and Legless and Hour of the Pig.

McClellan is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Radio, TV and Motion Pictures.

(Director of Photography – Episodes 201, 202, 203, 205, 207, 209)

Since heading directly from high school and into the role of loader, Aaron Morton has immersed himself in the camera department. Through numerous short films and commercials during his first few years in the industry, Morton eventually landed a job as second-unit clapper loader on “Xena: Warrior Princess.” Committed to the show’s six-season production, Morton quickly gained experience and advanced to director of photography for second unit by the last season.

His first feature film, Nemesis Game, won Morton the prized cinematography award at the New Zealand film awards. His second feature film, Sione’s Wedding, holds domestic box office records. He has also shot large action sequences for films such as 30 Days of Night and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, along with various successful local films in his native New Zealand.

In the last few years Morton has returned to television drama, collaborating once again with Pacific Renaissance as director of photography for Legend of the Seeker and the very successful STARZ Original series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” and “Spartacus: Vengeance.”

(Stunt Performer and Coordinator)
Stuart Thorp’s career as a professional stunt performer and coordinator spans nearly 20 years, commencing in the early 90s with Rob Tapert productions “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Xena: Warrior Princess.” Presently, his feature-film credits boast The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as the Narnia franchise. Thorp has had the opportunity to work internationally with directors like James Cameron, Oliver Stone and Paul Greengrass.

Recently, Thorp was nominated for a Taurus World Stunt Award for Avatar, where he served as stunt coordinator and second-unit director.
He has since returned home to New Zealand, where he continues to create genre-defining action with his work on “Spartacus: Vengeance.”

(Makeup, Hair and Prosthetics Designer)

Born and bred in England, Jane O’Kane began her training in 1986, completing a full-time course in hairdressing and beauty therapy. While training, her career began at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where she worked until 1989 to broaden her skills in makeup and special effects.
A move to Manchester in 1992 saw Jane working for the Royal Exchange Theatre for the next three years. During these early stages of her career, she was fortunate enough to train and work alongside some of England’s finest wigmakers. This enhanced her repertoire and broadened her skill set in all three areas of makeup, hair and special effects.

Over the last 16 years, she has worked extensively in the international film and television industry and is credited on such productions as The Frighteners, Whale Rider, The Warrior’s Way and Aeon Flux, to name a few.

While working with numerous production companies, in 1995 Jane began working in television with Pacific Renaissance on “Hercules: The Legendary Journey.” She has since continued working with Pacific Renaissance in New Zealand for numerous productions including “Jack of All Trades,” “Cleopatra 2525,” “Xena: Warrior Princess,” 30 Days of Night and most recently worked as the makeup, hair and prosthetics designer for “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” and “Spartacus: Vengeance.”