Honoring Dallas Sonnier with the Stodghill Award
Benefiting Dallas Film’s Mercury One High School Film Labs
Host Committee Chairs: Dr. Carr Vineyard and Mrs. Meghan Vineyard
@ FOUR CORNERS BREWERY
Dallas Sonnier was a Texas kid long before he returned to his hometown of Dallas to establish the entertainment studio CINESTATE. A born cinephile with a natural mind for business, he started attending classes at the University of Southern California while still a student at
Highland Park High School. Later as an undergrad, Dallas helped establish and became the first student to graduate from a joint venture between the film and business schools that allowed students to major in the Business of Cinema, a program that focuses on the production and representation areas of the entertainment industry. The program continues today as the Business of Cinematic Arts, and Sonnier continues to serve as a BCA Alumni board member.
Upon graduating from USC, Dallas started immediately with United Talent Agency, one of the top entertainment agencies in the business, then and now. With grit and determination, he soaked up every bit of education as an assistant before moving on to represent actors, writers, and directors at The Schiff Company. From there, he co-founded Caliber Media with longtime friend Jack Heller and together they established a reputation for unexpected and singular movies, including the ultra-violent Western BONE TOMAHAWK, which marks the directorial debut of screenwriter S. Craig Zahler, a longtime client of Sonnier’s. BONE TOMAHAWK premiered as the closing night movie at Fantastic Fest in Austin and Sonnier entered into the Age of Zahler, an auteur whose name is now synonymous with the gritty, lawless action movies Sonnier’s collaboration allows him the freedom to create.
At Caliber, Sonnier and Heller built a strong foundation in the entertainment landscape with a series of action movies starring WWE legend Stone Cold Steve Austin and action stars that include Steven Seagal, Michael Jai White, and Dolph Lundgren. All the while, Sonnier was
producing indie horror movies, including DARK WAS THE NIGHT, BAD MILO, SOME KIND OF HATE, and CONDEMNED. While the interest in these projects was surely foreshadowing Sonnier’s later acquisition of legendary horror company FANGORIA, he was also busy at Caliber
packaging feature and television projects, including Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon) and The Path (Hulu).
Returning to his home state of Texas in 2015 after more than a decade of working in Hollywood, Sonnier announced in 2016 the creation of his Dallas-based company CINESTATE. In less than three years’ time, CINESTATE has acquired FANGORIA and grown into a full-fledged
entertainment studio thriving in the heart of the country. Under the CINESTATE label, Sonnier has produced four feature-length movies: BONE TOMAHAWK (2015), BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 (2017), THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK (2019), and DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE (2019). Sonnier has also produced four movies under the FANGORIA Presents label: PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH (2018), SATANIC PANIC (2019), VFW (2020), and CASTLE FREAK (2020). With two creative labels, a podcast network, a half dozen published novels, a print-only collectible magazine with a robust circulation, and more than half a dozen features under its belt, CINESTATE has established itself as a critical voice in genre entertainment.
Dallas Sonnier is a veteran of the entertainment industry with an independent approach to financing and a production model that has generated some of the most unique independent movies in recent memory. He is a committed architect of change in the Dallas movie scene with the paramount goal of fiercely protecting the singular visionary work of filmmakers, and with his wife Shannon, is proud to raise his daughter and two sons in the best city in the world.