The Producer Behind “Shaya” Prepares for the Release of Two Upcoming Features

Amir Noorani (left) and Mike Gut (right) at the 2013 CAAM Film Festival
        Amir Noorani (left) and Mike Gut (right) at the 2013 CAAM Film Festival

Using his background in finance along with his creative talents as a filmmaker himself, producer Mike Gut knows how to make a winner. As a producer with Oracle Film Group, Gut recently produced the upcoming films Timber the Treasure Dog and Cowboys vs Dinosaurs, which are set for release this year.

Timber the Treasure Dog, which is being distributed by Archstone Distribution, the company responsible for distributing mega-hits such as Machete, The Rum Diary and For the Love of Money, follows a young boy and his talking pup as they embark on a hunt for grandpa’s hidden treasure in an effort to save the family home from foreclosure.

Out of all of the films Gut has produced Timber the Treasure Dog was a game-changer in this talented producer’s career. He says, “Timber the Treasure Dog was my favorite so far. The reason being is that it was the hardest film I’ve made to date, which ultimately made it that much more rewarding to pull off.”

When it came to the challenges, Gut says that they shot the film under strict time constraints with all of the actual filming taking place in a time span of less than three weeks, additionally the film’s cast included three dogs and two kids as lead actors, performers who are known throughout the industry for having unpredictable behavior on set.

“The old Hollywood adage that states– “never work with kids or dogs,” was on my mind the entire time, however I think we got lucky and had an amazing cast all around,” explains Gut.

Gut also played a huge role in another of this year’s highly anticipated flics, Cowboys vs Dinosaurs. Shot in Montana, the perfect location for a story set in the wild west, the film stars Eric Roberts, Vernon Wells, Sarah Malakul Lane and Rib Hillis. A high-energy action packed sci-fi film, Cowboys vs Dinosaurs revolves around a group of prehistoric dinosaurs that come to life after a catastrophic mining accident and the band of cowboys and girls who will stop at nothing in order to send them back to where they came from.

As the Executive Producer and Producer of Cowboys vs Dinosaurs and Timber the Treasure Dog, Mike Gut has devoted the last year and a half to helping perfect these films to a place worthy of Hollywood critics and international audiences. But this isn’t Gut’s first rodeo; if anyone knows how to make an award-winning film it’s him.

Shaya, one of the first films he produced, along with Eric Bergemann, was an instant success on the international film festival circuit.

Directed by Amir Noorani, Shaya is loosely based on the perplexing experience of an Afghani refugee family Noorani helped move to the United States several years ago. While the story in the film includes a cast of characters with different circumstances and ethnicities compared to those in the event Noorani previously witnessed, Shaya raises similar questions concerning morality and the migratory experience many face when moving to a new land.

The film follows a tribal Pakistani refugee family who move to Los Angeles in hopes of escaping the trauma of war-torn Pakistan; however, they instead discover that moving to a new country brings an entirely new set of challenges, making them long for their former home.

Gut says, “We wanted to bring light to an authentic true story that was gripping to all of us who were involved in making the film, as well as deliver a transformational experience to the audience.”

A testament to Mike Gut’s skill as a producer, and the entire team behind Shaya, the film was chosen as an Official Selection at the Figari Film Festival in Italy, the LA International Short Film Festival, the Hawaii International Film Festival, the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival, the Sedona International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the Champs-Elysees Film Festival and the Bel-Air Film Festival. Shaya was also a finalist at the Academy Qualifying USA Film Festival in Texas, and took home the Platinum Remi Award (1st Place) at the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival, as well as Second Place at the Athens International Film & Video Festival, among other awards.

For Gut, the magic of producing lays in the fact that he is able to have a hand in every phase a film goes through on its way to the screen.

He admits, “Nothing makes me happier than when I’m on set. When I used to make films as a hobby on the weekends, I remember thinking– If I could get paid to do this, it would just be icing on the cake. It’s really rewarding to read a good script and eventually see that script come to life.”

It is also interesting to note that in addition to producing, Mike Gut has appeared in several of the films he’s produced including Shaya and Timber the Treasure Dog, as well as worked as the director of the film Unfair and Imbalanced, which he produced as well.

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