Los Angeles, CA, October 15, 2010 --(PR.com
)-- Corruption. Racism. Greed. Revenge. The worst traits of humanity converge under horrifying circumstances, when nine strangers find themselves trapped high above Manhattan with someone who has a bomb, in the feature-length suspense film "Elevator."
Now underway in Los Angeles, California, under the banner of Big Shot Pictures, LLC, "Elevator" boasts an all-star, international cast that includes John Getz (“The Social Network,” “Blood Simple,”), multi-award-winning actress Shirley Knight (“Sweet Bird of Youth,” “As Good As It Gets,” “Desperate Housewives,”), Joey Slotnick (“The Office,” “Alias,” “Boston Public”), Devin Ratray (“Law and Order,” “Home Alone,” “Dennis the Menace”), Waleed Zuaiter (“Sex and the City 2,” “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” "House of Saddam”), Christopher Backus (“Huge,” “The O.C.,” “Will & Grace”), Anita Briem (“The Tudors,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth”), Tehmina Sunny (“Undercovers,” “Children of Men”), Michael Mercurio (“Days of Our Lives,” “Brainstorm”) and twins Amanda and Rachel Pace (“Private Practice,” “The Bold and the Beautiful”).
Written and produced by award-winning screenwriter/producer Marc Rosenberg, “Elevator” offers a new twist on terrorism and raises compelling questions about who the real criminals are, in a world where the powerful few can so easily manipulate the financial system at the expense of the majority.
John Getz plays Henry Barton, a wealthy Wall Street executive linked to a bad deal that cost many of his firm’s clients their life savings. But whether he is personally responsible for the resulting financial mess is argued among those who are trapped with him, while they wait desperately to be rescued.
“It is too easy to blame the Wall Street guys for all our problems,” Rosenberg said. “Of course, there were crooks who stole people’s money, but that doesn’t really excuse the thousands of investors who accepted the risk of investing in the stock market, hoping they could get rich quick. There are two sides to the story, and the fact that we are so quick to blame the wealthy, is an interesting phenomenon.”
Tony Award, Emmy Award and Golden Globe-winner Shirley Knight plays a widow whose late husband was a client of Barton’s firm, and whose son, a soldier, was killed in Iraq.
“I have always felt that anything that smashes the Wall Street people who caused the financial mess and gives them a slap in the face, would be a good idea,” Knight said.
Joey Slotnick plays a not-so-funny Jewish comedian who has been hired to entertain at the party. Palestinian American actor Waleed Zuaiter, who grew up in Jordan and Kuwait, plays Mohammed, a security guard. From their first encounter, it is obvious that the Muslim and the Jew do not get along. Their animosity exacerbates an already-tense situation.
“When I read the script, it felt very real,” Slotnick said. “It is very funny and very scary at times. My character starts out as a bundle of nerves, but he deals with the situation as best he can.”
For Zuaiter, who is often cast in Middle Eastern or Muslim roles, “Elevator” provides a refreshing break from stereotype.
“My character is not what you would expect,” he said. “For a lot of the film, he is very quiet and mysterious. You really don’t know what to expect from this guy.”
Devin Ratray is Martin, a mutual funds manager who works for Barton. Iceland native Anita Briem plays a pregnant woman whose boyfriend has left her for a beautiful TV reporter, played by British actress Tehmina Sunny. Christopher Backus is the ex-boyfriend.
"My character is trapped in different ways," Backus said. "He is torn between two women he loves, but there is also the bomb in the elevator that threatens everyone. I found that dynamic to be fascinating."
"I was intrigued with being part of a love triangle, while also being trapped in an elevator," Briem added. "Here you have a situation where all of the characters are pushed to the limit and you get to see what each person is really made of."
Indeed, rarely has such a motion picture with so little action been so intense. Set in the claustrophobic confines of a high-rise elevator, camera angles and character movement are restricted. Only a few films have ever been shot in a single, small space, perhaps most notably Alfred Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat” and Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men.” But with a tightly written screenplay and a superb cast, director Stig Svendsen is confident that audiences will find “Elevator” simultaneously entertaining, nerve-rattling and thought-provoking.
“The limited space creates a pressure-cooker atmosphere,” Svendsen said. “The characters are interesting and diverse, but the camera has to tell a story as well. The progression of shots, becoming more emotional as the story evolves, is critical. We also plan to use the surface of the elevator to capture reflected images and create a mysterious subtext.”
Svendsen, a multi-award-winning Norwegian director, is shooting in the United States for the first time. His previous films include “The Radio Pirates” and two short films, “Loose Ends” and “Never Never Land.” Co-producing is Tor Arne Øvrebø, also from Norway.
The production designer for “Elevator” is Richard Toyon (“Hung,” “United States of Tara"). The director of photography is the award-winning European cinematographer Alain Betrancourt. The costume designer is Jane Johnston (“Touchback,” “Mission Impossible 2,” “Stealth” and “Macbeth,” for which she received Best Costume Design from the Australian Film Institute).
Writer/producer Marc Rosenberg, who is based in Los Angeles, grew up in Houston, Texas, and attended the University of Texas at Austin. He spent a year on a kibbutz in Israel before moving to Sydney, Australia, where he attended the Australian Film and TV School. He was nominated for an Australian Film Institute (AFI) Best Picture award for his film “Dingo” in 1991, which featured Jazz legend Miles Davis. Rosenberg received the prestigious Awgie Award from the Australian Writers’ Guild, for “Dingo,” as well as the New South Wales State Literary Award. He also received an Awgie for Best Feature Film Adaptation in 2007 for “December Boys,” which starred Daniel Radcliffe. “Elevator” is his seventh movie, and his first to be shot in the U.S.
"I am not trying to make a message film, but the elevator really is a metaphor for many things," Rosenberg said. "It could be about war, the economy, the environment. Whether we like each other or not, everyone is in it together, so we better figure out how to get along."
“Elevator” is expected to be released in 2011.