Tom Selznick, the most talented pianist of his generation, stopped performing in public because of his stage fright. Years after a catastrophic performance, he reappears in public in a long awaited concert in Chicago. In a packed theater, in front of the expectant audience, Tom finds a message written on the score: “Play one wrong note and you die”. Without leaving the piano, Tom must discover the anonymous sniper’s motives and look for help without anyone realizing…
ABOUT THE FILM
GRAND PIANO is, above all, a cinematic challenge. Anyone who remembers the climax of The Man Who Knew Too Much, by Alfred Hitchcock, will be able to gauge the problems involved in maintaining a tension comparable to that of its climax… over the course of an hour and a half.
Damien Chazelle wrote it on spec, that is, without anyone asking him, without developing it as a commission, but with the hope that a producer would buy it in order to make the film. Most of those scripts end up as they began: in nothing. But in this case, the script generated enough interest for various production companies to enter the bidding, and it was the Spanish company Nostromo Pictures who ended up getting it. A few weeks later, an agreement was signed with Elijah Wood and John Cusack to star in it.
The filming of GRAND PIANO took place over 44 days in Barcelona, Chicago and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Several different cities for a feature film that mainly takes place inside a theater. The explanation is basically logistical: the film has almost 500 shots with visual effects. If we had filmed in a real theater, with all the extras sitting in their seats over all that time, the budget would have increased exponentially. So it was decided to build a part of the theater as a set and the rest was developed digitally. 90% of the audience in the theater is digital, as well as all the part of the theater that isn’t the actual stage.
The stage, the first six rows of seats and two boxes were built on a sound stage in Barcelona, creating an immense set. Images of the audience in the theater were filmed in the Canaries and then a process of digital multiplication created the illusion of a theater packed with 4,000 people.
Apart from the film’s narrative challenge, the fact that it takes place over the course of a concert for piano and orchestra involved an equal challenge when it came to composing the sound track. The music was composed before shooting, as the musicians on screen had to play the notes that the spectator hears. This meant having a real orchestra throughout the shoot. There was an exhaustive casting to form that orchestra and it was carried out among all kinds of professional musicians, who had to have diverse characteristics: apart from playing the instruments they were assigned, they had to have the appearance required for a film set in Chicago but shot in Barcelona.
Elijah Wood really plays on screen the piano pieces that his character tackles. The actor took piano lessons as a child, but he had a coach throughout the pre-production and during the shoot, as some parts were almost impossible to perform, even for professional musicians. In fact, the script actually describes one of the fundamental pieces in the film (La Cinquette) as “the impossible piece”, as it contains fragments that are technically impossible in reality. Elijah Wood wasn’t the only actor to have a coach to give his character credibility: Don McManus, who plays the orchestra conductor William Reisinger, also had a personal adviser.
As it is a film in which everything has to be perfectly synchronized (dialogue and action within the frame of pre-composed music), you could say that GRAND PIANO was edited even before it was shot. Animatics were done of all the narratively complex sequences in order to pre-visualize them and ensure that they would work before they were filmed. In this way, instead of storyboards, the direction team already had previously structured, pre-edited sequences before beginning shooting on the definitive sequences.
All the exteriors were shot in Chicago. A small unit traveled from Spain and the rest of the crew was made up of American technicians. Likewise, a large number of the supporting actors are American or British, some of whom are particularly charismatic and have been part of recent cinema history: Dee Wallace (Elliott’s legendary mother in E.T.), for example, plays the radio presenter who interviews Elijah Wood at the start of the film, while Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves’ companion in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, plays Wood’s assistant.
RENDERING “GRAND PIANO” Having been raised by wolves like Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Brian De Palma and the Master of Masters Sir Alfred Hitchcock, when I first heard of GRAND PIANO’s premise, the feral infant film-geek in me sprang out of my heart in a split second, leaving a smile on my face wider than Australia. Why? Judge for yourselves:
“A story about a retired pianist suffering from stage fright who comes back to the stage after a 5 years hiatus?” That’s a character!
“Just when he’s about to play the first bar, he realizes somebody has written a footnote on his score that reads: “PLAY ONE WRONG NOTE AND YOU DIE”.
You’ve gotta be kidding me. That’s crazy!! Well, it gets crazier: “The bad guy manages to blackmail the protagonist by using an earphone to give him instructions while he’s playing before an auditorium filled with 4,000 people, forcing him to take part in… a heist?”. What? I had to read that one.
I did. And the script blew my mind.
Damien Chazelle, a film director himself, seems to have sculpted the ultimate “dream come true” for any filmmaker who has ever dared ask his agent for a real cinematic challenge. And I’m not overacting here: like Tom’s mentor, Damien is the author of a “nearly impossible- to-execute piece”. With so many elements to put together in perfect synch, so many marks to hit… GRAND PIANO’s “score” IS the metalinguistic fractal sister of “La Cinquette” itself!!
Fortunately, no one had a sniper aiming at us to make this movie, but let’s face it: bringing GRAND PIANO to life has not been a walk in the park. And I say this because to make the film as smooth, exciting and frantic as it reads on paper, the producers, the director and the actor had to form a perfect triangle to obtain the consistency of the eventual miracle. The first step was to admit we had a lot of work ahead. The second was to break down the “big fat challenge” into manageable pieces. In order to achieve that noble goal, from then on I was putting the cards on the table with unheard of transparency.
THE PRODUCERS I started this memo defining Damien’s script as “crazy”. Although I used that adjective as a solid compliment, I’m aware that “too risky”, “unviable” or simply “suicidal” are the most common connotations associated with that word in this business.
To be honest, I’m the first guy who would’ve frowned if any other producer in the world had knocked on my door offering me a script like this. I don’t care how much they claim they “love” or “trust” you as a director: too often, producers only realize how much the film differs from what they once envisioned when they enter the editing room. Needless to say, we can’t afford this tragic lack of awareness about the film we’re making if we want to make a coherent and consistent flick.
The good news here is that the guys who hired me to helm this Colossus are the same masterminds behind that notorious flick that took place entirely in… a coffin. You heard right.
BURIED’s script could objectively be considered “way crazier” than GRAND PIANO’s… in all the negative connotations of the word. But the triangle made up by Rodrigo Cortés (director), Ryan Reynolds (actor) and Adrián Guerra (producer) proved the most reactionary side of the industry wrong. There was a way to film that incredible script without spoiling any of its undeniable virtues, and those guys figured it out.
Now, here we are. When you have evidence, there is no room or need for blind faith anymore. Trust is the tangible enabler, and BURIED made me feel I was with the right guys. On the other hand, if I’m writing these words now it’s because, fortunately, that feeling is mutual.
What can I say? I do believe we knew how to tackle this terrific script, keeping all its magic intact until it hits the silver screen. It’s time for me to spill the beans!
ASSIMILATING THE SCRIPT After reading GRAND PIANO, the first movie that came to mind was Alfred Hitchcock’s THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, mainly because of its amazing final set piece in the auditorium. The music, the precise dissection of space and time, James Stewart doing this, Doris Day watching that, the gunman checking the score, waiting for the right moment to shoot the ambassador… pure cinema.
Suddenly, I realized from the 20th page on that GRAND PIANO is actually a HUGE set piece that grows and grows in tension, shock and awe like a snowball going downhill towards a school bus filled with handicapped kids. Made up of chunks of real-time interlaced with almost imperceptible ellipses, GRAND PIANO is definitely closer to ROPE than to “DIE HARD in an auditorium”. In fact, Tom’s point of view is rarely abandoned: we are “forced” to stay with him, so we know as much as he does about “what’s going on”. No less, no more.
In my opinion, that adds an incredible amount of tension to any movie that claims to be a “thriller”. In fact, I consider GRAND PIANO a meta-thriller: the idea of the audience in the auditorium (in the movie) enjoying an extraordinary piano concert, totally unaware of what’s really going on, while the audience (in real life) in the cinema is suffering, sweating and struggling side by side with Tom, is what makes this project a truly unique cinematic experience.
For instance: how far can you go playing with “the two audiences” and the uncanny bond that the movie itself allows us to establish between them?
I could make a never ending list with every single element that called my attention as a spectator and as a filmmaker: Clem’s almost Lovecraftian off-screen presence during most of the movie and his final revelation; Emma singing from the balcony with Tom trying to solve the puzzle and leaving the stage in the middle; Clem’s display of power in the shape of bullet holes in the curtains and corpses backstage… you name it.
But at the core of the story and the spectacle, I’m personally fascinated with the idea of portraying the concert itself as a detached portion of time and space in the universe, an opportunity presented by destiny for our peculiar protagonist to “grow” professionally, psychologically and spiritually.
SETTING THE STYLE We’re portraying an extraordinary piano concert that takes place in an auditorium filled by the cream of Chicago society, so this movie should instantly establish that distinguished, elegant, sophisticated flavor. My goal was to use every contrivance to make us feel we don’t belong to that world. In order to achieve that, I’m aware that the more “highbrow-ish” we present the auditorium, the more intimidating Tom’s “date with destiny” will be for him… and for the audience.
Personally, I miss that old feeling of size in Hollywood movies. It’s not the budget or the production values… it’s the feeling.
I love George Cukor’s A STAR IS BORN, Elia Kazan’s EAST OF EDEN, Nicholas Ray’s GIANT, Roman Polanski’s CHINATOWN. That kind of “size”. That elegance.
For some reason, movies in the last 15 years became hyper-cut, super-gritty, de-saturated and highly contrasted, with most scenes shot with hand-held cameras and with sound design and music telling you what your eyes can’t handle.
I miss the exuberance, the pace and, here comes the key word, the patience to establish the geography before jumping into the frantic dynamism of the actions themselves, without using post-production gimmicks.
In order to capture that sense of simultaneity between the personal and the paraphernalia, we’ve used anamorphic lenses to provide a 2:35/40 ratio, so we can have an extreme close-up of Tom’s profile in the right corner of the shot and, with a fast focus pull, we see that army of ants, watching every single move Tom makes.
Crane shots flying over the audience’s heads, linking Emma’s smile on a balcony with Tom’s sweaty fingers pressing with hate on the keys of that damn piano. Dolly tracks to link, without cuts, Tom’s escapes from the stage to the dressing room, steady cams to join the exterior and the interior… whatever it takes to feel that this is all happening at the same time, erasing from the spectators’ mind the awareness of watching a movie… and making them feel instead they are having the most exclusive point of view in an extraordinarily awkward, intense and unexpectedly dangerous piano concert.
ABOUT THE CAST
ELIJAH WOOD (Tom Selznick)
Widely regarded as one of the most gifted actors of his generation, Elijah Wood continues to challenge himself with roles spanning the spectrum of style and genre.
Elijah has recently been seen in Franck Khalfoun's re-make of the thriller Maniac. Wood stars as Frank Zito, a serial killer who works in an antique shop that sells mannequins, and preys on women after years of abuse from his mad mother. The film premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
Additionally, he returned for a 3rd season of the hit FX comedy "Wilfred" on June 20th, 2013. The show is a U.S. remake of the Australia hit sitcom which was adapted by "Family Guy" vet David Zuckerman and revolves around a guy (Wood), a girl, and a mixed-breed dog named Wilfred, which Zuckerman describes as part Labrador retriever and part Russell Crowe on a bender.
Announced in early October 2012, Wood, alongside Daniel Noah and Josh C. Waller recently formed their own production company, The Woodshed, an independent horror film company with several current projects in development including Cooties, Curse the Darkness, Henley, Harrow and It Was Cruel.
Wood will next star in The Late Bloomer, a comedy about a man who discovers right before he is about to turn 30, owing to a medical condition - he never properly went through puberty. The indie production is based on E! News Chief Correspondent, Ken Baker's real-life memoir Man Mad: A Menior of My Body. Randall Einhorn (Wilfred director) will direct from a script by Paul Kaplan and Mark Torgove. The project is currently in pre-production.
He is also set to produce and star in horror movie Cooties. Cooties follows a virus that strikes a school and turns them into savages, with an unlikely hero helping the teachers fight back. Filming will begin later this year. Saw writer and executive producer Leigh Whannell has written the script for the film with Ace Norton directing.
In November of 2012 Wood worked on the set of thriller Open Windows opposite Sasha Grey and Neil Maskell. The film is directed by Nacho Vigalondo. In the movie, Wood plays a man who is obsessed with an actress (Grey). When she gets abducted, he goes on a mission to find her. Everything in the movie will be seen through a laptop. "So much of what my character is experiencing is happening on a computer screen," said Wood, adding that it took him a while to get used to running around with a computer rig.
Additionally in the summer of 2012, Wood worked on Pawn Shop Chronicles, an action/comedy film written by Adam Miarovich and directed by Wayne Kramer. The story begins with a missing wedding ring which leads to a wild-goose chase involving meth addicts, skinheads and an Elvis impersonator.
Wood has also voiced the character of "Beck" in “Tron: Uprising”, the animated science fiction series part of the Tron Series which airs on Disney XD. The series is directed by Charlie Bean.
Wood made an indelible mark in the trilogy of films based on J.R.R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings in the lead role of the hobbit, 'Frodo Baggins.' Directed by Peter Jackson, the films The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King were all critically lauded as well as being box office record setters. In addition, Return of the King won the Academy Award for Best Picture as well as 11 Academy Awards in all, tying Titanic for the record.
Additional credits include The Hobbit, Celeste and Jesse Forever, Treasure Island, Happy Feet 2, The Romantics, 9, Oxford Murders, Paris Je'Taime, Day Zero, Happy Feet, Bobby, Everything is Illuminated, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Hooligans, Sin City, Ice Storm, Ash Wednesday and Black and White.
Wood is an active member and supporter of The Art of Elysium, a non-profit organization founded in 1997 that encourages working actors, artists and musicians to voluntarily dedicate their time and talent to children who are battling serious medical conditions.
Wood currently resides in LA.
JOHN CUSACK (Clem)
With an impressive body of work spanning the course of two decades, John Cusack has evolved into one of Hollywood’s most accomplished and respected actors of his generation, garnering both critical acclaim as well as prestigious accolades for his dramatic and comedic roles. In April 2012, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce presented Cusack with the 2,469th Hollywood Walk of Fame star, honoring his long, groundbreaking career in film.
Cusack first gained the attention of audiences by starring in a number of 1980s film classics such as The Sure Thing, Say Anything, and Sixteen Candles. Following these roles, Cusack successfully shed his teen-heartthrob image by demonstrating his ability to expand his film repertoire by starring in a wide range of dramas, thrillers and comedies including The Grifters, Eight Men Out, Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity, and Grosse Pointe Blank.
Cusack also appears in the recent films Adult World and The Numbers Station, and will appear in the upcoming film No Somos Animales, and alongside Robert De Niro in the crime thriller Motel.
Cusack recently starred opposite Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey as ‘Hillary Van Wetter’, an inmate on death row in The Paperboy. Earlier in 2012, Cusack was seen in the independent thriller The Raven, portraying the infamous author Edgar Allan Poe. The film, directed by James McTiegue and produced by Marc D. Evans, tells fictionalized account of the last days of Poe's life, in which the poet is in pursuit of a serial killer whose murders mirror those in the writer's stories.
Cusack recently starred in Hot Tub Time Machine, an R-rated comedy centered on a group of adult men, portrayed by Cusack, Rob Cordry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke, who take a trip back to the ski lodge where they partied as youths and are transported back in time to 1987 by the hot tub, a bubbly time machine. Cusack produced the film through his New Crime Productions banner. The film was released by MGM in March of 2010.
He also starred in Roland Emmerich’s apocalyptic thriller, 2012. Released in November 2009 by Sony Pictures, the international blockbuster went on to gross more than $766 million worldwide. In this science fiction film, Cusack and co-stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Amanda Peet and Oliver Platt face natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons and glaciers as a result of the world and Mayan calendar ending in the year 2012.
In spring of 2008, Cusack starred, wrote and produced the political satire, War Inc. The film also starred Joan Cusack, Marisa Tomei, Hilary Duff and Sir Ben Kingsley, and was produced under his New Crime Productions banner. The film was shot in Sofia, Bulgaria, and was directed by Joshua Seftel. Cusack wrote the screenplay with Jeremy Pikser and Mark Leyner. In the film, Cusack plays the role of a hit man hired to kill the CEO of a major corporation. Set in the future in the desert town of Turagistan, Cusack finds himself torn between obligation and love. His voice was also featured in MGM’s animated feature Igor in 2008.
In 2007, Cusack starred in Grace Is Gone, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and was recognized with the “Audience Award.” In the film, Cusack plays ‘Stanley Phillips’, a young father who takes his two daughters on an impulsive road trip upon learning that his wife, Grace, has been killed in service in Iraq. The film was written and directed by James C. Strouse, produced under Cusack’s New Crime Productions banner and distributed by The Weinstein Company. That same year, Cusack starred opposite Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt and Joan Cusack as a writer who, crushed by the death of his fiancé, adopts a six year old boy who is convinced he is from Mars in the romantic comedy Martian Child. The film was directed by Menno Meyjes and written by Seth Bass and Jonathan Tolins.
Cusack also starred in the box office hit 1408 for Dimension Films. In this film, Cusack plays the role of ‘Mike Enslin’, a supernatural phenomena specialist who sets out to prove that a haunted New York hotel is just an urban legend. As research for his novel, Enslin stays in the notorious room 1408 only to discover the hard way that these myths and coincidences are in fact anything but. The film was directed by Mikael Håfström, and the story was adapted by Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, from the Stephen King novel of the same title.
In 2005, Cusack starred opposite Billy Bob Thornton in the dark comedy, The Ice Harvest, based on a Scott Phillips novel and directed by Harold Ramis for Focus Features. The previous year in Runaway Jury he starred opposite Hollywood legends Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman. The film was based on John Grisham’s bestselling novel of the same title and was directed by Gary Fleder. In 2003, Cusack joined Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina and Ray Liotta in the thriller Identity, directed by James Mangold for Columbia Pictures.
In the controversial film Max, directed by Menno Meyjes and released by Lions Gate in December 2002, Cusack portrayed ‘Max Rothman’, an elegant, sophisticated former cavalry officer who returns to his native Munich to set up an art gallery, when he meets another aspiring artist, a young Adolf Hitler (played by Noah Taylor). The film, which Cusack also produced, garnered strong reactions at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival and has been debated extensively throughout the country because of its controversial subject matter.
In 2001, Cusack was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for his role in the feature version of Nick Hornby's English novel, High Fidelity, for Touchstone Pictures. In addition to starring in the film, Cusack also co-produced and co-wrote the script with Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis. The film also stars Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Joan Cusack.
In 1999, Cusack starred in the dark comedy Being John Malkovich for USA Films. Cusack’s performance earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination in the category of Best Actor. That year, Cusack also co-starred in Cradle Will Rock, an ensemble drama written and directed by Tim Robbins, portraying Nelson Rockefeller opposite an ensemble cast that included Emily Watson, Cary Elwes, Angus McFadden, Susan Sarandon, Hank Azaria, John Turturro, Ruben Blades and Vanessa Redgrave. He also starred with Billy Bob Thornton, Angelina Jolie and Cate Blanchett in Mike Newell’s comedy Pushing Tin. In the same year, he starred in HBO’s The Jack Bull, a traditional Western written by his father Dick Cusack. John served as executive producer on this film along with Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis under his New Crime Productions banner.
In December 1998, Cusack appeared in the World War II combat epic, The Thin Red Line, based on the James Jones novel about the Battle of Guadalcanal. Directed by Terrence Malick for 20th Century Fox, the ensemble cast included George Clooney, Woody Harrelson, Nick Nolte, Gary Oldman, Sean Penn, Bill Pullman and John Travolta.
In 1997, Cusack starred opposite Joan Cusack, Dan Aykroyd and Minnie Driver in Buena Vista Pictures, Grosse Pointe Blank. Cusack received rave reviews for the comedy that he also produced and co-wrote about a hit man who goes through a spiritual crisis during his high school reunion. This was the first project New Crime developed and produced under their banner.
Also in 1997, Cusack starred with Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich and Steve Buscemi in Buena Vista's blockbuster, Con Air, from director Simon West. Later that year he starred with Kevin Spacey in the Warner Bros. feature, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, directed by Clint Eastwood. Based on John Berendt's nonfiction bestseller of the same name, Cusack portrayed John Kelso, the movie version of the author/narrator. Additionally, Cusack lent his voice to FOX's full-length animated feature, Anastasia, opposite the voices of Meg Ryan as Anastasia, Christopher Lloyd as Rasputin and Kelsey Grammer as Vladimir.
In 1995, Cusack starred opposite Al Pacino in Castle Rock's political thriller, City Hall, directed by Harold Becker for Columbia Pictures. In 1994, he re-teamed with Woody Allen, who cast him in the 1991 film Shadows and Fog, to portray playwright ‘David Shayne’ in the acclaimed Bullets Over Broadway for Miramax. The ensemble cast included Chazz Palminteri, Jennifer Tilly, Dianne Wiest and Tracey Ullman. Some of his other feature film credits include The Road to Wellville, True Colors, Broadcast News, Stand by Me, and Better Off Dead. Cusack also starred in several romantic comedies, including Miramax’s Serendipity, directed by Peter Chelsom and co-starring Kate Beckinsale; as well as starring with Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Billy Crystal in America’s Sweethearts for Sony Pictures.
Cusack divides his time between Los Angeles and Chicago.
KERRY BISHÉ (Emma Selznick)
Kerry Bishé is a theatre, film and television actor. She can be seen in the Award Winning film Argo, directed by Ben Affleck. Recently she also appeared in The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, written and directed by Ed Burns. She also appears in Ed Burns' Newlyweds and Nice Guy Johnny. Kerry starred in the critically acclaimed film Red State, directed by Kevin Smith. Kerry has next been seen in Max Rose opposite Jerry Lewis, which premiered at Cannes 2013. Kerry made her Broadway debut as ‘Clara’ in the Roundabout Theatre's production of Pygmalion opposite Jefferson Mays and Claire Danes. Prior to that, Bishé performed the title role in Minetta Lane's production of the one woman play, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, directed by Alan Rickman.
Bishe's film and TV credits include ‘Lucy’ in the ABC series “Scrubs”; Meskada, opposite Nick Stahl, Rachel Nichols and Kellan Lutz; Iceland, directed by Will Gluck; Sex and the City: The Movie, Turkey Bowl, The Understudy, The Lucky Ones, Night Life, and Virtuality.
Kerry is a graduate of Northwestern University.
TAMSIN EGERTON (Ashley)
Born and raised in Hampshire, Tamsin is an English actress with a wealth of experience in both TV and film.
Tamsin’s career started in television with roles in “Silent Witness” and “Trial and Retribution”. In 2011, Tamsin played Guinevere in the US Starz and GK-TV adaptation of the Arthurian legend “Camelot”, also starring Joseph Fiennes, Jamie Campbell Bower and Eva Green.
Tamsin soon moved into film and in 2007 she starred in the smash hit UK comedy St. Trinian’s. St. Trinian’s is a school for "young ladies" with an anarchic doctrine of free expression. The motley crew of ungovernable girls use their wit and ingenuity to save the school from bankruptcy. Tamsin played Chelsea Parker alongside Rupert Everett, Juno Temple and Gemma Arterton. Tamsin reprised her role in 2009 in St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold. In 2011, Tamsin played Georgie in British Comedy Chalet Girl opposite Bill Nighy, Felicity Jones and Ed Westwick. Her other film credits include Driving Lessons, Keeping Mum and 18.104.22.168.
Tamsin plays one of the leads in Michael Winterbottom’s film The Look of Love opposite the lead Steve Coogan who plays Paul Raymond (the infamous pornographer turned property millionaire), Anna Friel and Imogen Poots. Paul Raymond, the 'King of Soho', so dubbed by the press due to his huge club and property empire which, along with his porn business, amassed him a fortune of billions. Raymond’s personal life was as colourful as his revue shows. Tamsin plays ‘Fiona Richmond’, Paul’s girlfriend, a glamour model who became the famous pin-up star of his magazines and shows. The film was shown at Sundance Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival and opened in UK cinemas on 26th April and worldwide TBC.
This summer, Tamsin is the voice of Lara in Kandor Graphics animated film Justin and the Knights of Valour. Produced by, and featuring Antonio Banderas, Justin and the Knights of Valour is a heart-warming tale about friendship, honour & courage, which sees a young boy become a man as he embarks on a quest to become a knight. The film is due for release in August 2013 and other cast members include Rupert Everett and Julie Walters. It has just been announced that Tamsin will take on the role of Delilah, a mysterious woman described as a "deadly international operator" in FOX’s drama pilot, “The List”. “The List” - in contention for a series pick-up at Fox - is from LOST writer Paul Zbyszewski, with Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer on board to direct and produce the pilot. Tamsin will star alongside Michael Peña. Furthermore, Tamsin just began filming for Love, Rosie alongside Sam Claflin and Lily Collins. The film produced by Constantin is scripted by Juliette Towhidi based on the novel Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern.
Tamsin has another international film due for release this year. She will play the lead ‘Laura Fennel’ opposite Josh Hartnett who plays Jay Fennel in Singularity. The film is an epic, sweeping and riveting tale of an impossible love set across two time periods and continents.
ALLEN LEECH (Wayne)
Following his training in the Drama and Theatre Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, Allen Leech has gone on to become an award winning actor best known for his work in television and as ‘Tom Branson’ in the BAFTA, EMMY and Golden Globe winning and internationally renowned ITV series “Downton Abbey” which also airs on Masterpiece in the US. Thus far in his career, he has been nominated for 4 television awards, including at this year’s Irish Film and Television Academy awards in the category of ‘Supporting Actor’ for “Downton Abbey”, and has won acclaim for his roles in television, film and theatre.
For film, Allen has recently been seen in In Fear, a tense psychological horror in which he stars with Alice Englert and Iain de Caestecker. From the producers of Hot Fuzz and Attack the Block,this 3 hander, directed by Jeremy Lovering, premiered as a part of the ‘Park City at Midnight’ section of the Sundance Film Festival. Screen International’s Mark Adams’ cited the film as a ‘chilling and gripping feature debut’ and singledAllen out as playing his role ‘with relish’. Kenji Lloyd of Hey U Guys said that In Fear ‘is sure to be one of the best horror movies of the year’ and praised Allen’s ‘brilliant performance.’
Allen was most recently seen in Nick Love’s crime feature The Sweeneybased on the cult 1970s television show. The film was released in the US in March and was acknowledged at the Cannes Film Festival as a ‘Key Player’ for last year and opened in the top spot in the UK box office. Allen plays ‘Simon Ellis’ alongside a stellar cast including Ray Winstone, Ben Drew and Hayley Atwell. His other film credits include the award-winning From Time to Time alongside Dame Maggie Smith, Dominic West and Timothy Spall, the suspense thriller Rewind and he played the lead role in Man About Dog which was nominated for 10 awards at the Irish Film and Television Awards.
Allen is currently filming the fourth series of “Downton Abbey” from Oscar-winning scriptwriter Julian Fellowes. The series has been universally recognized with award wins at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, TCAs, Screen Actors Guild awards amongst others and has also become the first international television series to receive the largest number of nominations in the history of thePrimetime Emmy Awards, with twenty-seven in total.
Leech himself has been celebrated for his roles in television, acknowledged by his nomination for ‘Best Actor in a Television Drama’ at the Irish Film and Television Awards for “Love Is the Drug” as well as ‘Best Supporting Actor’ (IFTA) for his role in “Legend” and was also nominated as ‘Best New Talent’ for his breakthrough role in David Gleeson’s “Cowboys and Angels”. Allen also featured in 2 further critically acclaimed and multi award-winning drama series. He appeared as ‘Marcus Agrippa’ in “Rome” for BBC2 and HBO and as ‘Francis Dereham’ in “The Tudors”. His further television credits include Channel 4’s well received “Black Mirror” alongside Rupert Everett and Tom Cullen.
Allen has also had a thriving career in theatre with his most recent role in a sold out run of Mike Leigh’s ‘Ecstasy’ at the Hampstead Theatre, London which later transferred to the Duchess Theatre in the West End. The play was first produced on the Old Hampstead Stage in 1979 and this revised production has received acclaim across the board, whatsonstage.com calling it a “notable work of art”. The actors have been praised as a “superlative cast [that] take complete authoritative possession of its world” (The Guardian). Allen played ‘Mick’, one of the four lead roles. Allen's first professional stage role was at the Gate in Notting Hill in their production of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. He appeared as ‘Willi’ in ‘The Queen and Peacock’, at the Garter Lane Arts Centre and followed that with turns in Tom Murphy's ‘The Morning After Optimism’and then Hugh Leonard's ‘DA’ at the Abbey.
ALEX WINTER (Assistant)
Winter began his career as a child actor, spending several years on Broadway with co- starring roles in productions of 'The King & I', 'Peter Pan', and the American premiere of Simon Gray's 'Close of Play' at the Manhattan Theater Club. After completing NYU film school, he went on to have starring roles in several feature films, including Orion's huge hit Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and its sequel Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, the Warner Brothers smash The Lost Boys and Percy Adlon's Rosalie Goes Shopping.
With Tom Stern, Winter co-created many influential comedy projects which he wrote, directed and starred in. Among them are the hit MTV series, “The Idiot Box”, and the Twentieth Century Fox release Freaked, which has been acclaimed by many critics including The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly, who heralded Freaked on their "Top Ten greatest comedies of the Nineties". The film also stars Randy Quaid, Keanu Reeves, Brooke Shields, Bobcat Goldthwait as a human sock puppet and Mr. T as the Bearded Lady. Long a cult favorite, Freaked was recently re-released in a special edition DVD by Anchor Bay.
In 2000, Winter wrote and directed Fever, released by LionsGate Films. Fever is a psychological thriller starring Henry Thomas, Teri Hatcher, Bill Duke and The Departed’s David O' Hara. The film has been invited to film festivals worldwide, including Official Selection in the Director's Fortnight at Cannes. In The New York Times, A.O. Scott praised the film as "Pure Hitchcockian panic. An arresting example of what a talented filmmaker can do with the sparest of means".
In 2007, Winter produced and directed Cartoon Network's live-action movie event, Ben 10: Race Against Time. The television premiere grabbed the highest ratings in Cartoon Network history, and the DVD was the network's biggest seller. Next, Winter produced and directed the sequel, Ben 10: Alien Swarm. The Cartoon Network original movie premiered in November 2009 and was another ratings smash, with over 16 million viewers in its premiere weekend and garnering an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Visual Effects.
Recent work as an actor include a Guest-Star role on the Fox TV Series, “Bones”, and Vocal roles on the Adult Swim series “Robot Chicken” and “Saul of the Mole Men”.
Just completed is Downloaded, a feature documentary about the Digital revolution, that Winter Produced and Directed for VH1 Rock Docs. Interview subjects include Napster co-founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, as well as numerous musicians and industry executives of the era. Already acclaimed at Film festivals worldwide, Downloaded will be released theatrically, digitally streaming and on VH1 in 2013.
Alongside his feature and acting projects, Winter maintains a successful career directing TV shows and commercials, both in America and the UK.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
EUGENIO MIRA (Director)
At the age of 7, Eugenio Mira was already saying that he was a film director, not that he wanted to be one when he grew up. Thanks to his persistence, and after studying film in Madrid, he made his first short film, Fade (2000), which had a great repercussion in festivals. In 2002 he directed the segment “Rancor” in the collective short film Diminutos del calvario.
His first feature film, The Birthday (2004), shot in English and starring Corey Feldman, instantly became a cult film after competing in the Sitges and Fantasporto festivals. Mira is also a musician and composer, and after a period dedicated to composing soundtracks for feature films by other directors, he made his second feature film, Agnosia (2010), an ambitious production by Roxbury Pictures and Telecinco Cinema that had an international release.
Apart from his work as director, screenwriter and composer, Mira has also worked occasionally at a variety of other jobs, from second unit director on the super-production The Impossible (2011), by J. Bayona, to actor, playing a young Robert De Niro, in Red Lights (2011), by Rodrigo Cortés.
ADRIÁN GUERRA (Producer)
Adrián Guerra co-founded production and distribution company Versus Entertainment in 2005. He has distributed more than 100 films and coproduced the award winning short «For(r)est in the des(s)ert», directed by Luis Alejandro Berdejo, with whom he was selected in the program Atelier of Cannes Film Festival for his project «The Quagmire».
In 2010, Guerra produced BURIED, directed by Rodrigo Cortés, starring Ryan Reynolds and released worldwide to considerable success. During the same year, he produced GUEST, the latest feature film by the much acclaimed José Luis Guerin, which has enjoyed a unanimously favorable critical reception and extensive run at the most important international festivals.
In 2011, Guerra teamed up again with director Cortés to produce RED LIGHTS, starring Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver and Robert De Niro. This supernatural thriller was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and released worldwide in 2012.
He has recently produced, along with Rodrigo Cortés, the paranormal horror film EMERGO, written by Cortés and directed by Carles Torrens, which has also been released worldwide in 2012.
RODRIGO CORTÉS (Producer)
Rodrigo Cortés’s passion for directing awoke at a very early age; by the time he was 16 years old, he had already shot his first short film in super-8, «El descomedido y espantoso caso del victimario de Salamanca», soon to be followed by «Siete escenas de la vida de un insecto». At the start of 1998, he shot a videoclip of the song «Sick of you», by the group Onion, for «Open your eyes» by Alejandro Amenábar. In July 1998, he shot «Yul», a short film which went on to scoop more than twenty international prizes, and in 2001, «15 días», the cult mock-doc which became the Spanish short film with most prizes to its name in the history of the local industry at the time.
While «15 días» was doing the rounds on the professional circuit, Cortés was busy on a number of different creations which received numerous awards from different online festivals such as Notodofilmfest.
CONCURSANTE, his first feature film, charts the rollercoaster ride of an everyday man who sees how his destiny takes a brutal turn for the worse when he wins the biggest prize in the history of television. It premiered to great success at the Malaga Film Festival in March 2007, where it obtained several prizes, including that of International Critics Best Film.
BURIED, Cortés much awaited second feature, bowed internationally at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 to great success. With enormous queues six hours long and tickets being sold on for up to 150 dollars, standing ovations at each screening, and unanimous praise from the critics, BURIED became one of the big surprises of the festival. Only eleven hours after the standing ovation at the premiere, and following a tough fight between different studios unseen at Sundance in recent years, Lionsgate acquired North American distribution rights, making BURIED the biggest seller at the festival in the last three years. In Spain, the film premiered to considerable success and won three Goyas (amongst which Best Editing for Cortés himself) after receiving 10 nominations, as well as a number of other national and international awards.
RED LIGHTS, his last film to date, also had its world premiere at the Sundance Festival, where they had to arrange additional screenings to those already programmed because of the demand for tickets. Sold throughout the world and released in the U.S. through Millennium Pictures, the film has a dream cast, led by Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro and Elizabeth Olsen.
UNAX MENDÍA (Director of Photography)
Since his debut in feature films as director of photography in En la ciudad sin límites (2002), Unax Mendía has been involved in numerous Spanish and international productions such as Absolon (2003), The Birthday (2004), Torrente 3 (2005), The Hidden (2005), Backwoods (2006) and Agnosia (2010). His work in No Rest for the Wicked (2011) was nominated for Best Photography in the Spanish Academy’s Goya awards. His latest work to date is the international fantasy coproduction Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box (2013), by Jonathan Newman.
VÍCTOR REYES (Composer)
Born in Salamanca, Víctor Reyes had an eclectic musical education that included piano studies, composition and electronic music. Reyes has a dynamic career in creating music for the cinema. After working on numerous Spanish productions, he received international recognition for the soundtrack of Buried, by Rodrigo Cortés, a score for which he was nominated in the IFMCA Awards as Best Composer of the Year 2011. He was also nominated for the Spanish Film Academy’s Goya Awards for the soundtracks of En la ciudad sin límites, Concursante and the abovementioned Buried. His most recent works, in international productions, are the feature films Emergo (Apartment 143) and Red Lights.
ABOUT NOSTROMO PICTURES
Nostromo Pictures is the new name of the production arm of Versus Entertainment.
After its beginnings in production with the award winning short film «For(r)est in the des(s)ert», by Luis Alejandro Berdejo, and GUEST, the latest film by widely acclaimed director, José Luis Guerin, selected at the Venice, San Sebastian and Toronto Festivals, Versus produced the feature film BURIED in 2010.
Directed by Rodrigo Cortés and starring Ryan Reynolds, BURIED received its international premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival where it obtained enormous success, grossing more than 20 million dollars worldwide and scooping numerous awards.
EMERGO was the first production of the Nostromo Pictures brand. Written by Rodrigo Cortés and directed by Carles Torrens, EMERGO premiered in 2011 at the Sitges Film Festival and was released worldwide in 2012.
RED LIGHTS, written and directed by Rodrigo Cortés and starring Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver and Robert De Niro, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and sold worldwide. After RED LIGHTS’ worldwide release in 2012, GRAND PIANO is Nostromo’s latest production.
Directed by Eugenio Mira
Written by Damien Chazelle
Produced by Adrián Guerra, Rodrigo Cortés
Executive Producers Núria Valls, Lisa Wilson, Myles Nestel
Mikel Lejarza, Mercedes Gamero
Associate Producers Axel Kuschevatzky, César Vargas, Gabriel Arias Salgado