A group of strangers on their way to a company party-an investment banker, an Iranian American security guard, a comedian, a reporter, a widow, a child-suddenly find themselves trapped in an elevator high above Manhattan. And one of them has a bomb that could go off at any time.
Thus begins "Elevator," a feature-length suspense film now in production in Los Angeles, under the auspices of Big Shot Pictures, LLC, in association with Norwegian distributor Euforia, AS.
The ensemble cast includes John Getz ("The Social Network," "Blood Simple," "A Line in the Sand"), 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," "The Men Who Stare at Goats," "Law and Order: Criminal Intent"), 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" gives terrorism a new meaning 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 many.
Getz plays Henry Barton, a 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, Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Shirley Knight plays a widow whose late husband was a client of Barton's firm. Joey Slotnick plays a not-so-funny comedian who has been hired to entertain at the office party. Devin Ratray is an investment banker who works with Barton. And Waleed Zuaiter plays Mohammed, a security guard in the office building that bears Barton's name.
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 shorts, "Loose Ends" and "Never Never Land."
The production designer for "Elevator" is Richard Toyon ("Hung," "United States of Tara," etc.). The director of photography is the award-winning Alain Betrancourt ("Some Nudity Required," "Clay"). 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.)
Producer 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.
"If our film has any message, it's about the resilience and adaptability of humans in any situation," he said. "Our main goal is to create a story that is entertaining, but also one that uses reality as its basis."