From Monmouth Junction to Hollywood
South Brunswick High School graduate Greg Dohanic, who went from producing short films with his friends to acting on "CSI: Miami," is looking to turn his original screenplay into a feature film titled "A Cowboy's Blood."
As far back as the late 1980's when he was the quarterback for the South Brunswick High School football team, Monmouth Junction native Greg Dohanic loved to bring the crowd to its feet.
It was the love of performing that inspired Dohanic to follow a path that led from Major Road to the streets of Hollywood. The 1988 SBHS graduate has gone on to land the recurring role of "Foster" on the CBS show “CSI: Miami,” in addition to guest starring roles on “The Guardian” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
Now Dohanic is preparing for his big screen debut, in an independent film he wrote, produced and directed called "A Cowboy's Blood."
"I've always been interested in filmmaking. In the 80’s I used to make movies with my home video equipment all the time," Dohanic said. "I had movie premieres at my house – I was a dreamer going for it."
Acting was Dohanic's second love behind playing sports as he grew up in South Brunswick, a township that has undergone major growth and demographic changes since he left to pursue his dream.
"South Brunswick was very different back in the 70’s and 80’s. I grew up on Major Road and you felt like you were country folk back then on 6 acres," Dohanic said. "We had a horse, chickens and dogs and good land to roam. We would play football or baseball in the front yard and if the ball went into the road, you seldom had to look for oncoming traffic.
"Football was my biggest passion as a kid. I played through the Pop Warner league all the way through high school, but outside of that acting was my second passion."
It was a trip to the movies at a young age that gave Dohanic the acting bug, as Hollywood's ultimate underdog inspired him to want to generate the same emotions he was feeling as he watched Rocky Balboa slug it out with Clubber Lang.
"I was 12 years old in 1982. Rocky III with Sylvester Stallone had come out that year and when I went to see it, I was taken by how the audience in the movie theater was standing and cheering out loud during the climatic fight sequence," Dohanic said. "I remember thinking during the end credits, I want to do that to people. I want to make them cheer, laugh, cry and argue possibly.”
In a 1987 article in the Central Post where his exploits as quarterback for SBHS saw him named Viking of the Week, Dohanic spoke of his love for moviemaking and his hopes to pursue acting after high school. But it was a teacher at SBHS who helped lead Dohanic down the path to performing.
"In high school I didn’t get involved in the drama club, but I did taking acting classes with Mr. Harry Shultz," Dohanic said. "Harry was a tremendous influence on me as a young actor. I think I took two years of acting classes with him, as well as some lit and film classes. He allowed me to be myself, which I think might have been a class clown, and taught me how to find things deeper within myself. He was an open and compassionate role model and I still think about him often to this day."
Dohanic went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Performance from the University of Central Florida, and then headed to New York City to continue his training in the arts. He soon moved to Los Angeles, Ca., where he landed minor parts on TV shows, before landing the role on CSI: Miami.
But it was his time living in New York that inspired Dohanic to create "A Cowboy's Blood," a short film adaptation of his original screenplay. The film tells the tale of of a lone drifter during the Great Depression searching for clues to his past, before becoming entangled in a racial conflict in a Southern town where he becomes the target of a vengeful sheriff.
"The overall inspiration was in 1998 while I was living in Brooklyn (thinking) I’m a no-name actor from New Jersey and nobody in this business is going to give me anything so I better do it myself,” Dohanic said. "At that time, I just wanted to create a character that not only people would like, but that also I could play convincingly and break into the industry with.
“A character that would define who I was and what 'Greg Dohanic' the product could bring to the business. It had to highlight my strengths."
Dohanic said his screenplay was inspired by movies such as “The Grapes of Wrath,” “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” and “Jeremiah Johnson.”
"The Western genre was obviously a huge influence on the concept, but not your traditional western," he said. "I wanted something different, something never seen before, something that would take the classic elements of the American cinematic cowboy that audiences have grown to love and put that character in a world outside of the historical norm. My first draft began in the 1960’s and I quickly worked backwards until landing in the land of 1931, the heart of the Great Depression."
"The short film screening is primarily targeting potential backers (investors or producers) needed to fund the planned feature production," he said. "We plan to produce this under the S.A.G. Ultra Low Budget contract that stipulates the film’s budget to be limited to $250,000 or less. We believe we can shoot this at a budget of $200,000."
Beyond his hopes for "A Cowboy's Blood," Dohanic currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife Amy and their two children.
"A Cowboy's Blood is an original and daring concept that I believe wholeheartedly has the potential to make people talk," he said. "With (producing partner) Tom Archdeacon and I partnering on this project, I am confident we can make the gritty and memorable film it deserves to be."
Like Dohanic, the duo's production company, Cool Bull Productions, LLC, can also trace its origin right back to South Brunswick.
"Cool Bull Productions, the logo for my company, was the result of a commercial art class I took at South Brunswick High School in my senior year," Dohanic said. "We had to create a product and a logo and I did ‘Cool Bull Beer.’ I said one day I'm going to make films and call my company Cool Bull Productions. Pretty cool, huh? Not bad for a kid from Major Road in Monmouth Junction."
Anyone who would like more information on the planned production or to host a similar screening of "A Cowboy's Blood," can contact Dohanic at 818-642-4876 or via e-mail email@example.com.