“Stolen” director Anders Anderson along with producer and cinematographer Andy Steinman gave indieWIRE their insights to making their mystery/thriller. The two met on the set of an unrelated project and found they shared similar ideas. Together, they formed a company and set out to pursue their filmmaking dreams. The film opens this week in Los Angeles following last week’s theatrical roll out in New York. It is also available nationwide via V.O.D. by IFC Films.
In Anderson’s “Stolen,” work has become an obsession for Detective Tom Adkins (Jon Hamm) since the disappearance of his ten-year-old son, Tommy Jr. When an early morning phone call leads him to the mangled remains of a young boy who was brutally murdered 50 years ago, Adkins takes on the case in hopes of finding absolution. His investigation leads him to a man who lived in 1958 named Matthew Wakefield (Josh Lucas) and his innocent son, John. The striking similarities in the cases pushes Adkins’ obsession over the top. Barely holding onto his sanity and bound by redemption, Adkins unravels the unspeakable truth behind what happened to his son. [Synopsis courtesy of IFC]
Director: Anders Anderson
Writer: Glenn Taranto
Producer/Cinematographer: Andy Steinman
Cast: Josh Lucas, Jon Hamm
Anders Anderson introduces himself and his work…
From Cincinnati, OH. I spent most of my time after high school on the coasts for school in everything but filmmaking. It was when I was getting my PH.D. in Chinese Medicine in San Diego that I decided to move to LA and give it a shot in the film industry. I first went to acting school and it was there that they encouraged us to make our own short films. I started a small production company with a few friends and everything grew from there. Eventually I met Andy on a short film we were making and he and I found we had similar tastes in film and similar goals in wanting to produce. So, we started A2 Entertainment and here we are with our first feature.
Andy Steinman introductions…
Originally from San Diego and after managing a video store in high school began attending film school at the University of California at Santa Barbara and then later I received a Masters at the American Film Institute in Cinematography. Loved movies my whole life and always dreamt of being on set and seeing how a filmmaker could invoke such an emotional response through film. After Anders and I met and worked together on a short, we knew it was time for both of us to come together and make our first feature.
What prompted the idea for “Stolen” and how it evolved…
We knew that in order to break into the industry we needed to make a feature that was unique in its structure and strong in its characters. After reading the script for “Stolen,” we knew it had the elements we needed and so we began to pull our resources together in order to get our first feature off the ground. Once we were fortunate enough to get Josh Lucas involved we were able to raise just enough money to make the film. We had only 6 weeks to prep before we shot. We spent a lot of time with our writer Glenn Taranto so we could all take the story to the next level.
Our approach to filmmaking always begins with the genre. What is it and what are its conventions? How can we bring something different to it? We then edited together some visuals and music as a platform to launch our ideas and see if people could jive with it. It helps us focus our vision for the film and also gets us away from the script and into a creative space where things begin to become more visceral. This helps us notify what the motifs will be and make sure that our language is consistent to the viewer when they experience the film. It also makes it easier for us when we’re on set and things aren’t working out the way we planned, we can rely on the pre-viz work and get it back to the basic, simple language that we’ve already created, and begin again from there.
And the biggest challenges…
Time. This production had to get up very quickly — about 6-8 weeks. And we’re talking working on the script, casting over 42 speaking roles, scouting numerous locations, getting the production team up and running, storyboarding – you name it. Once you begin on that note, everything else gets that much more difficult and very few mistakes can be made. Since this was our first feature and we were also producing, directing and shooting it, we were under extraordinary amounts of pressure to not let things fall apart, which they seemed to always want to do. It’s pretty typical in any film you do, but certainly our greatest challenge we faced was to utilize the little amount of time we had to be as creative as possible and bring our own ideas to the genre. In the end, we’re extremely happy with what everyone was able to accomplish.
How they feel audiences will take to “Stolen” and their influences for the film…
We were so lucky to have such an amazing and strong cast and through their performances, we feel audiences will be transported into the characters’ minds. By seeing all of those characters interacting in some way, even though many of them are separated physically by time, we believe people will take away the universal intrigue and thrill of watching the mystery unfold. It’s not just a tale of “whodunnit”, but also a story of a father’s redemption.
“The Natural,” “Road To Perdition” and “Narc” were the basis of our early conversations on how we wanted to approach the film. All of these films are vastly different, but they are still stories about fathers and their sons. For Josh’s character in 1958, the story watches the unfolding of a horrible event. We drew a lot of inspiration from time period films and the language they used. “The Natural” showed a lot of honesty vs. dishonesty while “Road To Perdition” gave us a lot of inspiration as far as music, tonal qualities and what a father would do for his son. For the 2008 time period, we looked at movies like “Narc” and “Heat.” We knew we wanted a look that was less contrasty, cooler in tones and sonically using more “modern” or “metallicy” instruments. We felt that if we were able to successfully combine those two types of films through our transitions then we would be able to make a film that could stand strong on its own.
On their upcoming projects…
Currently we are working on two TV series as well as two features. We’re really excited about the potential of these projects because each one is different from the other and unique in their genre. A lot of this process is new to us, so right now it’s an exciting time to have our first feature coming out in theaters at the same time compiling our new material for future projects.