Animal Kingdom Production Bios

Production Bios

John Wells
Executive Producer

John Wells is one of the most prolific writers, directors and producers in television, film and for the stage.  Over the past two decades, Wells has been a creative force behind some of primetime's biggest hit series, including ER, The West Wing, and Third Watch.  He currently serves as executive producer on the new TNT drama series Animal Kingdom, which is currently in production on its second season, starring Ellen Barkin, and on Showtime's Emmy®- nominated Shameless, which just completed its seventh season and was recently renewed for an eighth season.  He previously served as Executive Producer on the critically acclaimed Southland for TNT, the Emmy® and Golden Globe® winning Mildred Pierce for HBO, and the Emmy® and Golden-Globe® winning China Beach.

Shows produced by John Wells have received over 300 Emmy nominations with 64 Emmy wins, and 6 Peabody Awards. During its fifteen year run, ER earned 124 Emmy nominations, the most in television history.   A seven-time Writers Guild Award nominee, in 2007, Wells received the WGA's prestigious Paddy Chayefsky Television Laurel Award, given to writers who have advanced the literature of television and made outstanding contributions to the profession of television writers. In 2005, Wells was awarded the David Susskind Achievement Award in Television from the Producers Guild of America.

Wells also served as President of the Writers Guild of America, West from 2009-2011 and previously served as its President from 1999-2001 and was vital to the success of the 2001 MBA contract negotiations.

Most recently, Wells directed and produced the comedic drama Burnt starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, and Daniel Bruhl, and produced The Beach Boys biopic Love & Mercy, starring Paul Dano.  Previously, he helmed the acclaimed August: Osage County, based on Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.  The film featured an all-star ensemble cast led by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, and was nominated for two Academy Awards®.  Wells also wrote and directed The Company Men, starring Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper, which was his feature directorial debut.  Previous feature production credits include: Carroll Ballard's acclaimed drama Duma; Peter Kominsky's White Oleander; Neil Jordan's The Good Thief; Andrzej Bartkowiak's Doom; and Michael Mayer's A Home at the End of the World. Additionally, Wells executive produced Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven and I'm Not There, Mark Romanek's One Hour Photo, Todd Graff's Camp, Fenton Bailey's Party Monster, Robert Altman's The Company, John Waters' A Dirty Shame, Mary Harron's The Notorious Bettie Page, Phyllis Nagy's Mrs. Harris, Tom Kalin's Savage Grace, Douglas McGrath's Infamous and Jordan Scott's Cracks.

Born in Alexandria, Virginia, and raised in Denver, Colorado, Wells graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a bachelor of fine arts and later earned a master’s degree in film and television at the University of Southern California, where he also serves on the school's Television Executive Advisory Council.


Jonathan Lisco
Executive Producer

Jonathan Lisco did not take the direct flight to Hollywood.

Before working in "the biz," he was an ad copywriter, the VP of a telecom company based in China and a lawyer in New York City. He has also, among other things, taught English as a second language, delivered industrial supplies and worked as a waiter and valet parking attendant…all of which was grist for the mill for what he always wanted to be: a writer and storyteller. 

After writing a play in New York and selling a movie pitch to Robert De Niro's Tribeca Films, Lisco began his television career writing for the Emmy®-winning series NYPD Blue. He went on to write and produce numerous episodes of The District and Jack & Bobby. He also created, wrote and executive-produced the New Orleans police drama K-Ville.

From 2010-2013, Lisco executive-produced the last three seasons of TNT's Peabody Award-winning series Southland, with John Wells and Chris Chulack. Prior to Animal Kingdom, Lisco was the showrunner and executive producer of the critically acclaimed television drama Halt and Catch Fire.

An Illinois native, Lisco lives with his wife and three children in Los Angeles.


Etan Frankel
Executive Producer

Etan Frankel has written for the John Wells-produced Shameless on Showtime for seven seasons. Previously, Frankel wrote for two seasons on Friday Night Lights, as well as one season on Gossip Girl. He has twice been nominated for Writers Guild Awards.

Frankel's plays have been produced at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and Summer Play Festival in New York and have been developed at the Huntington Theatre Company, New York Stage and Film, Cape Cod Theatre Project and Pittsburgh's City Theatre, among others. He is the recipient of The Weissberger Award from the Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Dasha Epstein Playwriting Award. He has also been honored with two Lincoln Center's Lecomte du Nouy Awards.

Frankel is a graduate of Duke University and The Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program.


Christopher Chulack
Executive Producer/Director

Christopher Chulack is an award winning director and executive producer. He received multiple Emmy nominations and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Dramatic Series for his work on the medical drama ER. He also received multiple nominations and won two consecutive Directors Guild of America Awards for his direction of the powerful episodes "Hell and High Water" and "Fear of Flying". His work on ER garnered him a DGA Diversity Award for the promotion of a diverse workforce in the television industry.

Chulack also executive produced and directed the drama Third Watch and served as an executive producer and director of the critically acclaimed drama series Southland. He directed the pilot and multiple episodes of the contemporary western hit Longmire, and most recently served as an executive producer and director for the fifth and sixth seasons of the Showtime series Shameless.


Liz Watts
Executive Producer

Liz Watts is an independent producer and founding partner of Porchlight Films based in Sydney, Australia. Her most recent work includes producing the feature film Mary Magdalene, currently in production with SeeSaw UK, directed by Garth Davis (Lion) and starring Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim. Liz is also producing a 6-part comedy series for ABC Television, Kiki and Kitty, currently in production starring and created by Nakkiah Lui.

Watts is executive producer on The Kettering Incident (2015), an eight-part TV series for Foxtel and BBC Worldwide starring Elizabeth Debicki, and the soon to be released feature film Jasper Jones, directed by Rachel Perkins and adapted by Shaun Grant from the Craig Silvey novel starring Toni Colette.

Watts' feature credits as producer include the feature film Animal Kingdom (directed by David Michôd and nominated for an Academy Award® and Golden Globe in 2011); The Home Song Stories; Little Fish; the Cannes and Sundance selected Jewboy; and Walking On Water.

Watts also produced German Australian co-production Lore, directed by Cate Shortland, and Dead Europe, directed by Tony Krawitz and starring Emile Sherman & Iain Canning, both of which premiered at Festival Special Presentation Toronto International Film in 2012.

Watts' feature The Rover, reteaming with writer/director David Michôd, premiered as an Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. The film, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, sold in more than 35 territories worldwide.

In addition to the U.S. television adaptation of Animal Kingdom for TNT, Watts also executive produced The Hunter, starring Willem Defoe; Lou, starring John Hurt; and Prime Mover.

Watts's other credits include two seasons of Laid, starring Marieke Hardy and Kirsty Fisher; Martha's New Coat, starring Rachel Ward; Delivery Day, starring Jane Manning; and the documentaries Buried Country; The Pitch and Island Style.

Watts's industry work includes serving on the board for the Sydney Film Festival for five years (2005 - 2009) and as vice president of the board of MetroScreen for six years (2005-2011). She is currently on the board of the SAFC (South Australian Film Corporation). Watts was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2011 to explore and focus on innovative new methods of distribution and exhibition, as well as its effects on production and content creation as relevant to the Australian industry and its future. She has served with various industry awards and juries, including the Berlin Film Festival 2016 Generation Jury and the Sydney Film Festival 2015 International Competition Jury.


David Michôd
Executive Producer

David Michôd is an Australian film director and screenwriter best known for directing the critically acclaimed 2010 film Animal Kingdom and the 2014 film The Rover. He is currently working on War Machine, starring Brad Pitt, for Netflix.

The Rover, which Michôd wrote and directed, stars Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. It premiered out of competition in the Midnight Screenings section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. A24 released in the US.

In January 2010, Michôd's debut feature film Animal Kingdom was awarded the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. The film won 10 Australian Film Institute awards from a record 18 nominations and was named Best First Film by the New York Film Critics Circle. It has also earned Oscar® and Golden Globe® nominations for supporting actress Jacki Weaver, as well as winning Best Supporting Actress awards from the Los Angeles and San Francisco film critics associations and the National Board of Review.

Michôd was also co-writer (with director Spencer Susser) of the feature film Hesher, starring Joseph Gordon Levitt and Natalie Portman, which screened in Sundance 2010's U.S. competition.

The documentary Solo, which Michôd co-directed with Jen Peedom, chronicles Andrew McAuley's ill-fated attempt to kayak from Australia to New Zealand. It received best documentary awards from the Australian Film Institute in 2009 and the Film Critics Circle of Australia and Australian Directors Guild in 2010.

He is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and Victorian College of the Arts School of Film & Television. He was the editor of Australia's Inside Film magazine between 2003 and 2006.