In the fall of 2014, director Jonathan Heap (nominated for an Academy Award for 12:01pm) and actor David Lipper (Sons Of Liberty, Full House), and award winning screenwriter Philip Morton decided to make a film together that would explore the question “what would happen if you found a box that gave you the thing you wanted most?” The quest was to make a horror movie that was more of a psychological thriller, coupled with complex characters who fight through intense obstacles. The three decided to co-produce the film. Mentored by Morton, the script was written by Heap and Lipper and was ready to shoot in less than a year. Lipper and Heap wanted to find a way to shoot this film chronologically, so performances could build naturally, while still being affordable. But who could make that work? They called their friend, Academy Award winning cinematographer David Stump, and author of the book “Digital Cinematography: Fundamentals, Tools, Techniques, and Workflows” (a widely used reference guide for today’s cinematographers). Stump immediately connected with the vision and said he could shoot the whole film with mostly practical lighting. This was the 3rd key element in making this unique horror experience.
Stump wanted to use this opportunity to showcase the latest in digital technology and the advantages in new lighting techniques coupled with latest and best cameras. Bertone Visuals, excited to be a part of the latest innovations by Stump, donated an entire camera package to the shoot, including the Sony F-55, F-65, FS7, and drones. These cameras captured the film in cinema 4K DCI and Leica Summilux lenses, to deliver the highest possible quality picture. Stump, being a leader in the advances of digital technology and visual effects, wanted to show that lower budget films could still make effects work, by engineering and designing them to be captured directly in the camera, rather than be outsourced to a 3-d computer.
The final piece of the puzzle was to bring on producer, Julia Verdin (2 Jacks, The Merchant of Venice). Julia brought on production designer Bradd Fillmann, who shared the writers’ H.P. Lovecraft influence and designed the perfect box, which serves as the key prop in the film.
The next task was assembling the best cast possible to tell this story. Lipper called up actress Dina Meyer, who he’d worked with in Federal Protection and is a well known name in the horror world after starring in Saw 1,2,3,and 4, along with her 80 film credits. But the film still needed that anchor for the father character. We searched for an actor we respected as well as someone who could pull off the evilness this character assumes. Casting director Scott David helped us find the perfect choice in Lance Henrikson (Terminator, Aliens), who has starred in almost 250 films over his storied career. The cast is rounded out by Bree Williamson (Sins of The Preacher, Haven), Austin Highsmith (Gangster Squad, Dolphin Tale), Jake Thomas (Artificial Intelligence, The Cell), and Robert Russler, who sprang to fame with Nightmare On Elm Street all those years ago, only to find himself back in the genre today.
Julia Verdin, author of the recently published book “Success in Film: A Guide to Funding, Filming and Finishing Independent Films” speaks regularly on industry panels, including BAFTA LA, American Film Market Seminars, Women in Film, WGA and many others. David Stump has also been invited to speak at the leading festivals and technology conferences about the emergence of 4K and HDR (High, Dynamic Range), and has been using our film, The Unwilling, to showcase this. We therefore feel we would have an exciting panel for a Q&A following our screening at the top film festivals. Stump would be a particularly strong draw for cinematographers and other filmmakers who see him as a leading figure in this digital technology film world.
Academy Award Nominated director JONATHAN HEAP has worked in Hollywood as a film director and producer for the past 25 years. He received an Oscar Nomination for his short film 12:01 PM when he was 28 and was a producer of the full length feature (12:01) that it inspired. From there he developed scripts at RKO and Warner Bros until he directed his first feature Benefit of the Doubt for Miramax in 1993. Benefit of the Doubt starred Donald Sutherland and Amy Irving and set him on a path that embraced suspense and action. From there he went on to direct three features, the next one for NUmage with Eric Roberts and then two HBO premieres with Rob Lowe, Tom Skerritt and Stephen Baldwin. Concurrently Jonathan produced and directed an adventure reality show for syndication called Destination X and pursued his other love, the comedic adventure. He has shot and produced numerous satiric shorts, several of which have gone on to Funny or Die fame. Jonathan recently finished Plan B, one of several shorts he directed and produced with a grant from the Albert R. Broccoli Foundation. Plan B is a comedic romp about a control freak starring John Michael Higgins. Jonathan founded the nonprofit company Primary Purpose Productions with his partner Lowell Cauffiel to produce these shorts and create issue oriented and educational films to help those with substance abuse and recovery. www.JonathanHeap.com
David Stump ASC is a working Director of Photography, Visual Effects Director of Photography, Visual Effects Supervisor, and Stereographer, earning an Emmy Award, an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement and an International Cinematographers Guild Award. He is currently chairman of the Camera Subcommittee of the ASC Technical Committee, and a member of the AMPAS Science & Technology Council, where he co-chairs the Next Generation Cinema Technology Work Group, and participates in the AMPAS ACES project. Under his guidance, the combined efforts of the Producer’s Guild of America and the American Society of Cinematographers produced both the ASC / PGA Camera Assessment Series, and the ASC / PGA Image Control Assessment Series, side by side comparisons of virtually all of the high end digital cinema cameras against film. He recently authored the Focal Press book; “Digital Cinematography – Fundamentals, Techniques and Workflow”s.
Is an Executive Producer of The Unwilling, a post production consultant and a cinematographer who also owns and operates the Digital Intermediate and digital camera rental house company Bertone Visuals with offices in Burbank and El Segundo in California.
He is a graduate from U.C. Hastings College of the Law where he earned an LLM in US legal studies specializing in entertainment law and IP. His education also includes a J.D. from the University of Turin, Italy and a film school degree earned with distinction in cinematography. Since he moved to the US from Italy 10 years ago he and his company have worked for studios such as Dreamworks Pictures, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures. He has also shot episodic TV shows, indie features, commercials and holographic projects for Samsung.
He also taught digital cinematography classes at U.C.L.A. Extension and Color Timing at Columbia College Hollywood. He consults about digital cameras, 4K workflows, color management and Digital Intermediate processes for PGA producers, DGA directors and ASC directors of photography. He has extensively participated in the making of the feature The Unwilling from principle photography through to the end of post-production.
Indeed, Bertone Visuals provided the production all of the Sony 4K digital cinema cameras it used during productions including the Leica Summilux-C lenses, zooms, gimbal stabilization systems, dolly, drone for aerial cinematography, advanced DIT carts for data and color management and 4K P3DCI color timing, compositing and VFXs services all the way to the theatrical DCP master.
Currently, while the movie is submitted to film festivals, Mr. Bertone is working on an HDR (High Dynamic Range) color timing pass to have The Unwilling ready for a second level of distribution after its theatrical release. Therefore, our feature will have “new look” to be enjoyed at home on all the HDR on line TV Apps (Amazon Video, Netflix, Vudu, etc…) or on 4K DVD with the recently introduced UHD 4K 10bit Blu Ray players.
Music by composer Stephen Melillo has been played and recorded by some of the World’s finest ensembles and conductors. More than 1115 works span from the IBM Thinkpad® Demo to the Concerto for Violin & Orchestra. Currently 155 commissions for Ensembles of the 3rd Millennium™ comprise the body of recorded work called STORMWORKS.
ASCAP continues each year since 1992 to recognize Stephen’s work with Special Awards in Concert Music. In 2005, his Documentary in Music, KAKEHASHI: THAT WE MIGHT LIVE was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music. In 2006, The World Historic recording, STORMWORKS Chapter 5:8, Writings on the Wall, was balloted in 4 categories in the 49th Grammy Awards. In 2008, the “visually scored,” DVD version of THAT WE MIGHT LIVE was balloted in the 50th Grammy Awards for Best Long Form Documentary. The same work won 2 Telly Film Awards for History/Biography and Music Concert. It also won an AVA Award that same year.
You will find Stephen’s scoring work in 14 feature films (another in progress) and 28 network television programs, and in the 1991 Academy Award-nominated movie 12:01PM starring Kurtwood Smith.
Producer PHILIP MORTON is an award nominated Hollywood screenwriter as well as a television & radio producer and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. A professional writer for 25 years, Morton started his career at Saturday Night Live and has written on numerous Hollywood studio assignments writing for Paramount, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, New Line Cinema and DreamWorks Animation.
He has written for talent from Schwarzenegger to Eddie Murphy. The writer of Fire Down Below starring Steven Seagal, he wrote the movies 12:01 PM starring Martin Landau which won the Brussels Film Festival Audience Award for best picture and an Honorary Edgar Award for best mystery writing, Man-eater starring Gary Busey and the ABC sketch comedy TV show On the Air. He has written on studio features from Fantastic Four to Jack Frost (starring Micheal Keaton) and has been hired on studio projects as far ranging as science fiction, action-adventure and suspense films to family pictures and has taught writing at UCLA.
His current projects are the TV mini-series ‘One Question for God’ and the Warner Brothers Feature ‘Amortals’.
David Lipper starred in his first TV series (Time Of Your Life/CTV) as a teenager as the key villain in the Canadian show, which ran for 150 episodes. He managed to still graduate on-time with a BFA in Musical Theater from Emerson College in Boston in 1991. Immediately following, David landed in Los Angeles, where he was testing for his first sitcom pilot (Step By Step) within weeks. David quickly signed with famed youth centered talent agent, Bonnie Liedtke and went on to shoot several pilots over the next few years, becoming the series star of Reality Check (opposite Hilary swank and Giovan Ribisi) by famed sitcom creators, Bright/Kaufman.Crane (Friends). By 1995, Warner Bothers had placed David on Full House as DJ’s boyfriend Viper. It was at this point Lipper also started to break away from strictly comedies, and played the lead antagonist Jace in She Fought Alone, opposite Tiffany Thiessen. There would be many more such villains over the next 15 years, including the title role (Ed Amos) in Lifetime’s The Black Widower, opposite Kelly McGillis, and Non-Stop, opposite Lacey Chabert (Lifetime, 2013). There have also been a string of Rom Coms along the way, including the romantic lead in See Jane Date, opposite Charisma Carpenter, Denise Richard’s husband in I Do But I Don’t, and another comedic turn in Love By Design, with Jane Seymour. Over the last few years, Lipper decided to play against the genre once again, and played the Nazi Kurt in the critically acclaimed Exodus To Shanghai and a leading heroic role in the horror film, Lost After Dark (Robert Patrick). Lipper enjoyed the horror experience so much he has continued on with the leading role of David in The Unwilling. David also has two new exciting recurring TV roles to announce. Stay tuned for an update!
Producer JULIA VERDIN (Merchant of Venice, 2 Jacks, Stander) has established herself as one of Hollywood’s leading independent producers with over 30 critically acclaimed feature films produced to date. She has served as a Director on the Board of BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) for six years and on the Board of Seven Arts Pictures PLC, a public film production and foreign sales company, for three years. She is currently on the Board of LA Femme Film Festival. She founded and has been running Rough Diamond Productions, one of the major independent film production companies in Los Angeles, since 1995. She has produced over 30 independent films through her shop and has the network of production talent, distributors and foreign sales agents required to complete the project.
Producing, directing and writing features films is a thrilling challenge and that is why we brought together only the highest level of producers, artists and designers.