Minnesota, United States
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Bill Pohlad's first stab at the directing game was a short-lived one. Following his filmmaking debut in 1990 (the little seen movie Old Explorers), the Minnesota native took a two-decade-long hiatus from writing and helming features to focus his energies on his production company, River Road Entertainment. Although the first chapter of the company's tenure was spent developing small commercial and documentary projects, 2005 saw the beginnings of Pohlad's influence in the realm of prestige pictures. Starting with Oscar nominee Brokeback Mountain, Pohlad went on to produce a string of high profile films, most recently the esteemed Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave. Although Pohlad put off a second directorial attempt until Love & Mercy, which debuted at 2014's Toronto International Film Festival, nary a year went by after his success with Brokeback that didn't see a noteworthy picture with the Pohlad name behind it.Pohlad was born in 1956 to Eloise and Carl Pohlad, a World War II veteran who would go on to become a successful financier, banking investor, and business owner. Among the many assets that launched the senior Pohlad to a billion dollar fortune were the Twin City Rapid Transit and the Minnesota Twins MLB team, which he acquired in 1984. The ways in which Bill followed in his father's footsteps were plenty: like Carl, Bill attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Following graduation, he joined his older brothers James and Robert at the family business, Marquette Bancshares.But the greatest thing to be inherited from the Pohlad patriarch was Bill's sense of entrepreneurship. In 1987, Bill founded the River Road Entertainment production company, which built up its footing developing a variety of smaller projects throughout the 1990s, including Pohlad's own directorial debut. The film, Old Explorers, starred José Ferrer and James Whitmore as two elderly men celebrating their golden years by embarking on imaginary adventures together. Airing only on television and proving a financial disaster for River Road, the endeavor provoked Pohlad from sticking solely to production for many years.It was not until 2005 that Pohlad found substantial success, gracing the big screen with Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. Pohlad then worked steadily as a producer for a variety of feature films and documentaries, notably Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion (2006), Sean Penn's Into the Wild (2007), Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life (2011), and Steve McQueen's Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave (2013). Pohlad put an end to a directing hiatus exceeding two decades when he helmed Love and Mercy (2014), a Brian Wilson biopic that stars Paul Dano and John Cusack as young and old incarnations of the notoriously eccentric Beach Boys front man. The film debuted to positive reception at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, even earning the favor of Wilson himself, who commended in particular Cusack's performance.