Norwegian director Stig Svendsen uses US lift to shoot Elevator
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
23/08/2011 - In 2008, when Norwegian director Stig Svendsen (pictured) took his first feature, the children's film The Radio Pirates to an Italian festival, he met US writer-producer Marc Rosenberg (December Boys), and they discussed making a film together that was to be shot almost entirely in one restricted location.
”We discussed different ideas and characters, and in February last year I received the first act by mail. Six months later we were filming - 13 days in Los Angeles, with second-unit takes in New York – and now Elevator is ready, scheduled for a Norwegian launch in January,” Svendsen explained.
”I always wanted to film in the US, with American actors, and a suspense-thriller that was well dosed with black humour seemed the perfect vehicle. The challenge here was obviously to set an interesting story full of excitement and surprises in a confined space, and at the same avoid repeating yourself.”
Scripted and produced by Rosenberg, for Quite Nice Pictures, Svendsen’s second feature finds nine sophisticated Wall Street party-goers stuck in a lift; there is no escape and no promise of rescue, and one of them is carrying a ticking bomb, which cannot be defused.
The ensemble cast of Christopher Backus, Anita Briem, John Getz, Shirley Knight, Amanda and Rachel Pace, Devin Ratray, Tehmina Sunny, Joey Slotnick and Waleed Zuaiter “create a pressure cooker drama like Hitchcock’s Psycho or Polanski’s The Tenant,” says Svendsen.
Staged as a US-Norwegian co-production, Elevator is co-produced by Norway’s Tor Arne Øvrebø and Kjetil Omberg (Tappeluft Pictures), with the music score by Herman Christoffersen and Bjørnar Johnsen. Post-production took place at the Hocus Focus facility in Oslo.
“Finishing a film in 14 months gives a lot of energy,” concluded Svendsen, who is currently preparing a political thriller based on the 1962 Kings Bay accident in Spitzbergen, in which 21 miners were killed. US distributor Empress Films will handle the international sales for Elevator.