Neal is an Independent Spirit Awards nominee for best first feature for producing J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call, which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film was named to dozens of top ten film lists for 2011 and received some of the strongest reviews of the year, including the New Yorker’s David Denby who called it “The best Wall Street movie ever made.” It was also nominated for Best First Screenplay and has won the Robert Altman Award for Best Ensemble Cast at the Indie Spirits. The film was named Best First Film by the New York Film Critics Circle and also Best Debut Director by the National Board of Review, among many other award nominations. Margin Call stars Academy Award-winner Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Academy Award-nominee Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, and Academy Award-nominee Stanley Tucci. It had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, its international premiere at the Berlinale, and also opened the New Directors/New Films festival at the Museum of Modern Art. It was produced for under $3.4 million and shot in only 17 days in New York City. It was released domestically by Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate in the fall of 2011. It was also released in dozens of foreign territories and has grossed over $16 million so far around the world.
Neal is currently in pre-production on Chandor’s follow-up feature film, All is Lost. He is in post-production on both Victor Quinaz’s comedy feature The TWV Project and Blair Erickson’s horror feature The Banshee Chapter starring Ted Levine and Katia Winter. He’s developing many other feature film projects, including Imperial Palace with veteran independent film producer, Christine Vachon.
Neal and his Before The Door Pictures partners (Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto and Corey Moosa) have a publishing deal with Archaia comics, through which they have published two acclaimed graphic novels: Mr. Murder Is Dead by Victor Quinaz and Lucid by Michael McMillian. Lucid was recently optioned to a major movie studio to develop as a feature film.
In television, Neal is currently co-executive producing the pilot Hot Southern Mess for TNT with showrunner Shaun Cassidy and actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley. He also wrote Nashville, a drama pilot for The CW and CBS Television. Neal created the CW series with actor Matt Bomer, alongside country artist Brad Paisley. Before The Door has several additional television projects in the works.
Before The Door has also produced a dozen short films, many with the NYC-based comedy collective, Periods Films. These have been seen at film festivals and released through various online platforms like Funny Or Die and YouTube. Additionally, they have several digital/interactive properties in development and are in post-production on Sian Heder’s short film Dog Eat Dog which also stars Quinto.
Prior to co-founding Before The Door, as a producer, Neal first worked on director Victor Quinaz’s Cantonese-language short film Chinese Dream, which has played hundreds of film festivals all over the world and was on the short-list for the Academy Awards. He produced the film festival-winning short Shade starring Patrick Dempsey, directed by Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and produced another festival short called Numero Dos with Brad Paisley.
Neal was vice-president of a Warner Brothers-based production company for three years. He executive produced a Warner Premiere feature film called Another Cinderella Story, starring Selena Gomez and Emmy Award-winner Jane Lynch. Neal was involved in developing many projects while there, including Paramount’s Footloose remake, dozens of films at Warner Brothers, television pilots for FX and Showtime, and features at several other studios.
In addition to acting work in regional theatres, on television and soap operas, and in independent film, in 2001 Neal appeared on Broadway in the Tom Stoppard play The Invention Of Love, which won two Tony Awards. The son of two high school teachers, Neal grew up in York, Pennsylvania. He earned a BFA in 2000 from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, and is a reformed actor.
He is married to television/film actress, Ashley Williams, and they make their home in Los Angeles.