The reviews are starting to come in on “Thin Ice,” the Wisconsin-set comic crime caper that originally screened at Sundance under the name “The Convincer” and was then re-edited and re-scored without the participation of its director Jill Sprecher. And so far, it’s only Time Out New York’s Joshua Rothkpof who has duly noted in his review, “It’s uncertain whether director Jill Sprecher wants to call the film her own anymore.”
Indeed, when does a film not become the work of its director? And should critics and the film’s distributor ATO Pictures really be calling the movie a Jill Sprecher film when she has stated, “I am stunned. The fact that my name must remain on the finished work, due to the contract I signed, is only a part of the reason. I was ultimately never able to hear the distributor’s notes, and thus could not address them.”
According to an article by Colin Covert in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which I’m proud to say was inspired by my own scoop in Indiewire in late July, ATO and production company Werc Werk Works “took the reins” on the film, “shutting her out and replacing the project’s Emmy-winning composer, Alex Wurman, and Oscar-winning editor, Stephen Mirrione,” despite the fact that the film received some positive reviews out of Park City. Covert wrote, “The film, completely re-cut and titled ‘Thin Ice,’ debuted at B-list festivals this fall, to uniformly negative responses.”
It should also be noted that the single positive pull quote on ATO’s poster: “A Crime Tale with Twists Worthy of Hitchcock,” which is credited to David D’Arcy in Screen Daily did not actually appear in D’Arcy’s Screen review from Sundance. (D’Arcy was contacted individually to confirm a new quote based on the new cut.)
For legal reasons, Sprecher is still not allowed to talk to the press about her experience, but she did express being “heartbroken and devastated” in the Star Tribune. She learned about the film’s title change by reading about it on the Internet, and told the Tribine that she would have taken her name off the film if her contract had allowed it.