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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Director’s Video Log of Bond film SPECTRE


Director, Sam Mendes says, “The reasons I’m doing the second Bond movie are the reasons I would do any movie, really, which is all to do with the story.  And in this movie, ‘Spectre,’ what you have is a movie entirely driven by Bond.  He is on a mission from the very beginning.”

Additionally, “It’s about whether or not to pursue the life he’s always pursued, whether he matters and is he going to continue or not.  And you’re going to have to come to see the movie to find out whether he does.”unnamedSPECTRE – Director Sam Mendes’ Video Log feat exclusive behind-the-scenes footage

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Actor Arjun Mathur gets the Royal Treatment



287 Actor Arjun Mathur @ Truefitt & Hill 1 Actor Arjun Mathur @ Truefitt & Hill

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Arjun Mathur who will be seen in the movie ‘Coffee Bloom’ visited the Truefitt & Hill salon to experience its legacy. The actor who prefers the scruffy look opted for a beard trim and a Royal Facial treatment to rejuvenate his skin. He consulted the experts at Truefitt & Hill who gave him their expert opinion on grooming.

About Truefitt & Hill:

Truefitt & Hill is a two century old barbershop that is favoured by the Royal Family, aristocracy, the elite, world leaders, corporate and celluloid royalty has recently won the “Debutant Salon of the Year” award. The award was presented at the 4th Indian Salon & Wellness Awards 2015 last week in Delhi.

Distinguished gentlemen who seek a decadent shave and haircut experience have been flocking to the Palladium store for superior haircuts, shaves and apothecary products ever since its successful launch last year.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

FOCUS releasing across cinemas in India on March 13th, 2015.


FOCUS

“It’s about distraction.  It’s about focus.  The brain is slow and it can’t multitask.

Tap him here, take from there.”

Poster

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Will Smith stars as Nicky, a seasoned master of misdirection who becomes romantically involved with novice con artist Jess (Margot Robbie).  As he’s teaching her the tricks of the trade, she gets too close for comfort and he abruptly breaks it off.  Three years later, the former flame—now an accomplished femme fatale—shows up in Buenos Aires in the middle of the high stakes racecar circuit.  In the midst of Nicky’s latest, very dangerous scheme, she throws his plans for a loop…and the consummate con man off his game.

“Focus” is written and directed by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”). Denise Di Novi (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) is the producer, with Charlie Gogolak and Stan Wlodkowski serving as executive producers.

The cast is headed by Oscar nominee Will Smith (“The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Ali,”), Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Rodrigo Santoro (the “300” films) and Gerald McRaney (TV’s “House of Cards”).

The behind-the-scenes team includes director of photography Xavier Grobet (“Enough Said”), production designer Elizabeth Mickle (“Drive”), editor Jan Kovac (HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), and from “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” costume designer Dayna Pink and composer Nick Urata. Apollo Robbins, nicknamed The Gentleman Thief, served as a consultant, conceiving and choreographing original sleight-of-hand maneuvers.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, a Di Novi Pictures Production, A Zaftig Films Production, “Focus.” The film will be released in cinemas in India on March 6, 2015 and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.

“It’s about distraction.  It’s about focus.  The brain is slow and it can’t multitask. 

Tap him here, take from there.”

Will Smith stars as Nicky, a seasoned master of misdirection who becomes romantically involved with novice con artist Jess (Margot Robbie).  As he’s teaching her the tricks of the trade, she gets too close for comfort and he abruptly breaks it off.  Three years later, the former flame—now an accomplished femme fatale—shows up in Buenos Aires in the middle of the high stakes racecar circuit.  In the midst of Nicky’s latest, very dangerous scheme, she throws his plans for a loop…and the consummate con man off his game.

“Focus” was written and directed by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”). Denise Di Novi (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) is the producer, with Charlie Gogolak and Stan Wlodkowski serving as executive producers.

The cast is headed by Oscar nominee Will Smith (“The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Ali,”), Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Rodrigo Santoro (the “300” films) and Gerald McRaney (TV’s “House of Cards”).

The behind-the-scenes team includes director of photography Xavier Grobet (“Enough Said”), production designer Elizabeth Mickle (“Drive”), editor Jan Kovac (HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), and from “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” costume designer Dayna Pink and composer Nick Urata. Apollo Robbins, nicknamed The Gentleman Thief, served as a consultant, conceiving and choreographing original sleight-of-hand maneuvers.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, a Di Novi Pictures Production, A Zaftig Films Production, “Focus.” The film is being released in theatres and IMAX® and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.

focus-movie.net

 

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

Never drop the con. Die with the lie.

—Nicky

Nicky Spurgeon is all charm and ease, a cool, smooth operator with a million-dollar smile and perfectly understated style. Just don’t turn your back on him…don’t let him steal your focus for a second.

Enter Jess Barrett, a gorgeous young woman with flirty blonde locks and a wiggle in her short skirt, looking to get in the con game. She’s got all the right equipment, but she’s green. She just needs a guiding hand to show her all the right moves.

Will Smith and Margot Robbie star in “Focus,” a slick heist film with a sophisticated vibe in which the stakes start out high and get exponentially higher. Nicky’s masterful cons take them from snowy New York to sunny New Orleans to one of South America’s most exquisite cities, Buenos Aires. Toss in the year’s ultimate football match and the exceedingly competitive world of car racing and all together it’s a formula for high-octane action, adventure and romance.

“I loved ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.,’” Smith states, “so when I heard that John and Glenn were working on another screenplay, I was excited to get in anywhere that I fit in. And when I read the screenplay, I thought it was a brilliant combination of comedy, drama, psychology and intrigue. It demanded a wide spectrum of behavior. As an actor, I was inspired by the challenge of it.”

Writing and directing partners Glenn Ficarra and John Requa conceived of the story by first asking themselves, “In a world where trust is currency, and love requires trust, how can two people ever fall in love?”

“That relationship was my way in,” Ficarra says. “Two people who work together falling in love. Traditionally that means letting your guard down, but for these characters, that’s the complete antithesis of who they are.”

Requa adds, “A con artist uses his particular skill set to manipulate others, to gain their confidence and ultimately their trust, while his very nature is to not trust. We thought it would be interesting to explore whether two people, two such con artists, could overcome these competing concepts that sort of naturally cancel each other out.”

Denise Di Novi, the film’s producer, had worked with Requa and Ficarra previously on “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” “I knew how talented they were,” she says, “but when I read the first draft of ‘Focus,’ I was just blown away by how clever, how emotional, how glamorous and smart the script was, and how well all the elements came together, like a Chinese puzzle.”

“The script immediately caught my attention,” Robbie recalls. “It was funny and dramatic with touching emotional scenes but also a really engaging and intricate plot. There was just so much going on, both on the surface and beneath. I thought it was brilliant that this pair of thieves might fall in love in a world where there’s no room for it, where trust is just a tool to manipulate people, to steal from them.”

Ficarra notes that working out the details of such a complex story, where the relationships are also critical to the execution, required a difficult balancing act, “because the nature of a con movie is to withhold so much from the audience for the purposes of the plot, but a romantic movie requires exposure of the characters’ motivations. It becomes particularly complicated. You can’t compromise the plot for the emotional content, but you need the emotional content to drive the story.”

Requa found that once they had their cast, they were able to ease any real concerns they might have had about how things would play out off the page. “Will and Margot and the rest of our actors brought so much to their roles. They really helped us navigate the tricky spots.”

I’ve been in this game for a really long time, I had what I needed.

And then the girl walked in.

—Nicky

A jack-of-all-trades by trade, Nicky was raised in the world of deception. He’s left his family behind, but nevertheless continues on in the family business, from neatly picking pockets to expertly running the long con, and everything in between.

“Nicky is one of the smartest, most dysfunctional people you’ll ever meet,” says Will Smith of his character. “He understands human nature and human behavior—there are very few people with that level of depth and comprehension. But he got his heart broken when he was little, and he has not yet learned to use his powers for good.”

According to Ficarra, “When we first thought about casting Nicky, we thought it would be great if Will Smith—who we all know is an affable, charming guy—would be interested in playing this man who can draw anybody in, but underneath it’s all an act. Behind the facade he shows to the world lies cool calculation. We really wanted to see Will take Nicky on.”

Requa says, “Will is a great actor, and also a great improviser, both in the traditional sense but especially when it comes to finding small, subtle improvisations within the context of the written dialogue that aid the other actors in a scene. He’s very giving of himself, and he shapes his performance to provide the others what they need for their performance as well. In essence, he already understands how a confidence artist operates.”

Smith conveys with a smile, “Glenn and John, as a directing team, are like loving parents who used to own a casino and a strip club. They always want to make sure that their children are in good spirits, are working hard to keep the family business alive, and want their children to be just intoxicated enough to do the best work of their lives.”

Though Nicky is clearly one of the best in his business, Requa notes, “He never developed the qualities the rest of us have—empathy, sympathy, love. He’s sublimated his emotions and his feelings for others in order to make his living, and he’s made a really good living.”

Di Novi adds, “I think Nicky is a fascinating character. He’s brilliant, he’s sharp and observant…all aspects of one’s character that could lead to success in almost any field. But because of the hard knocks he had as a kid, he’s a con man, albeit a very successful one.”

Nicky is a master at discerning the weakness of any mark. That is, until he stumbles across a weakness of his own: Jess. Having first made her acquaintance briefly in New York, he takes her on as part of his crew in New Orleans, where the alcohol flows, the crowds swell, and an abundance of cash, watches, jewels, electronics, and much more become easy pickings for those schooled in exploiting the peccadilloes of others. Eager to please, Jess is a quick learner and executes her assignments like an old pro.

Margot Robbie says she relished the part. “Jess is a dream. She has such an arc in the film, starting out as one sort of girl—inexperienced, sort of a diamond-in-the-rough—and ending up in a completely different place, and that was so much fun to play.”

Di Novi says Robbie and Smith played well off each other from the start. “I’ve made a lot of films that depend on chemistry between the two leads, and it’s always a nail biter until you get those first few days under your belt. Will is so dynamic, and when Margot walked into the room, they sparked to each other, the banter was immediate. She was fearless, confident, and not at all intimidated, and, Will being Will, he loved that.”

“I think Will and I had the right sort of energy for the characters from the start,” Robbie allows. “We got along right away, and that made it easy to goof around and improvise. It was a very fast friendship.”

The actress credits Smith’s generous nature for their instant rapport. “Will’s the best. He’s hilarious, he has such a positive presence and he’s so accommodating and lovely. I actually forgot that he has such a high profile and huge fan base—until we got to Argentina and suddenly there were thousands of people outside the trailer on our first day of shooting there!”

“Margot is fantastic,” Smith reciprocates. “She is the perfect little Energizer Bunny. I’ve always prided myself on having the most energy on any set; I like to keep the workplace fun and upbeat. In my 20-plus years in this business, Margot was the first person that made me tap out with entertaining the crew and keeping the workplace spirits ablaze.”

Requa calls Robbie “a force of nature,” adding, “we were instantly taken by her. She’s intelligent and driven, which was perfect for her character, and when she came into the room, she just lit everything up. It was effortless from that point forward.”

Nicky and Jess meet when he thinks he’s picked up a beautiful woman in a bar, and she has actually picked the worst possible mark for a scam she’s running. Jess quickly admires Nicky’s level of skill and is eager to learn from him. Though he agrees to mentor her, he comes to envy her emotional availability, a quality that scares him, too. While his profession takes him to places teeming with people, he’s grown accustomed to keeping himself at a distance, personally; his only friends are his partners-in-crime, and vice versa.

The well-oiled machine that Nicky runs is comprised of a motley crew of characters, each with their own talent, making a much better living than they probably would by going straight. Perhaps the least expected is Farhad, aptly described by Adrian Martinez, the actor who plays him, as “a bull in a china shop. He may not look like it, but he’s the computer guy, the smarty,” Martinez smiles, noting that he especially liked the undertones he was able to explore as Farhad, a vital member of Nicky’s team.

Ficarra was impressed by the actor’s creativity in the role. “I thought we’d written a really fun character, but Adrian put together a really full character. He took Farhad to the next level and fleshed him out in some really intriguing, unexpected ways.”

“To me, the movie is about the conversation we’re having, but also about the conversation we’re not having,” Martinez offers. “Whenever something’s going on, there’s something else going on. Think about all the times in your life you’re thinking about something while doing something else. Where is your focus, and where should it be? That is what these guys do. They just have the ability to earn millions doing it.”

Farhad is probably the person closest to Nicky; it’s clear they’ve been together a long time, and Smith, Martinez says, made it easy to pull that off. “He is so magnanimous. He let me come in, do my thing, be the clown or the butt of the joke. He just allowed the light to shine on me in those moments. He was like that with everyone.”

Having parted ways in New Orleans, Nicky spots Jess again in Buenos Aires, throwing him for a real loop as he realizes that, not only has he never really gotten over her, but that she has clearly moved on…and up. Not to mention that she is now romantically involved with the very man that Nicky is getting into business with: millionaire Spanish racecar team owner Rafael Garríga.

The filmmakers brought in Rodrigo Santoro, with whom they’d worked before, to take on the role of the racing tycoon. “Rodrigo found such interesting ways to play him,” Requa states. “As opposed to just portraying him as a macho, powerful Latin villain, he infused him with an air of petulance, a quality that I think really deepened him.”

“Garríga was a really fun character,” Santoro relates. “He’s a very wealthy European gentleman who owns a racing team, and it’s truly his passion. He’s in love with that whole world, but he’s also a businessman who wants to make sure he will win not only the race but the championship. That is why he has hired Nicky—to help him accomplish this goal, even if he has to do something not quite legal. For him it’s just part of a strategy to win, and he needs the adrenaline rush that comes with winning.”

While researching the role, Santoro rode in a two-seater IndyCar at over 200 miles per hour, an unforgettable experience that opened his eyes to the allure of the sport. “It’s a fascinating world,” he says. “It’s a sport of nano-seconds, and people spend millions of dollars to get the slightest edge—half a second, a quarter of a second…”

With so much money riding on success and failure not an option, Garríga not only hires a con man to help him gain an edge, but naturally takes every precaution to keep an eye on him. Owens, Garríga’s head of security, is assigned the unenviable task of outmaneuvering the seasoned player.

Gerald McRaney, who plays the distrustful Owens, says, “His job is to be suspicious, and the first time he meets Nicky, he tells his boss not to have anything to do with the kid, he’s no good. Of course, Garríga doesn’t listen, there’s too much on the line.”

“Gerald McRaney has been on our radar for a long time,” Ficarra says. “We’ve been hoping the right opportunity would come along to work with him, and with Owens, it was a great fit.”

The veteran actor was instantly attracted to “Focus.” “The thing that appealed to me about the script more than anything else is the way the language was crafted,” he recalls. “It’s witty, intelligent and elegant, with crisp, clean dialogue and a great tempo. It’s a movie with fast cars and guns, but it doesn’t depend on the fast cars and gunplay to be entertaining.”

To round out the cast, Ficarra and Requa enlisted BD Wong as Liyuan, a businessman with a penchant for making bets; Brennan Brown as Horst, Nicky’s right-hand man; and Robert Taylor as McEwen, Garríga’s—and therefore, Nicky’s—mark on the racing circuit.

And no story set in the racing milieu would be complete without the sight—and sounds—of cars speeding around the track, so former IndyCar driver Bryan Herta of Bryan Herta Autosport, and up-and-coming star Carlos Muñoz, who finished second in his first IndyCar go-round at the Indianapolis 500, each took the wheel.

But perhaps the key figure the filmmakers employed to assure the sense of realism on screen was “The Gentleman Thief” who trained the cast in mastering the art of the steal…

There’s a science to getting people to trust you.

—Nicky

To showcase for the audience the finest details of Nicky and his team’s thievery, every move, however subtle, would have to come off perfectly—and be caught on film.

“It’s hard to photograph pickpocketing,” Requa contends. “The skills that pickpockets have developed over centuries have been specifically designed so that you don’t see what they’re doing.”

In order to capture the acts on camera, Ficarra reveals they employed specific angles or slowed down the movements, and that “quite a few times, we opened up the space in the scene so you can see what’s happening, where ordinarily you wouldn’t; they would be completely hidden.”

When it came time to prep the actors, the filmmakers brought in world-renowned expert Apollo Robbins, known as The Gentleman Thief, to conceive and choreograph original sleight-of-hand maneuvers and to teach Smith, Robbie and the other cast members the tricks of the confidence trade.

“As we were researching this world,” Requa remembers, “his name kept coming up as an extraordinary magician and con-artist.”

“In addition to teaching us how certain tricks are accomplished, Apollo really gave us all insight into what it is to live in a world where you don’t trust people,” Ficarra adds.

“I’ve spent my life studying deception and human behavior in a rather untraditional way…by stealing from people,” Robbins acknowledges. “Rather than diverting their eyes, you must occupy their minds. Their attention is controlled by their dreams, desires and fears. People often see what they want to believe rather than what is really there. So, if you can control their focus, you control their reality.”

Robbins helped to prepare Smith for his role as Nicky over the course of several days. “I spent about four or five days with Will in Las Vegas,” Robbins says. “He first wanted to step inside the mind of a con man and see how they see the world. How they think, process and influence. I took this opportunity to bring in some people to sit down and meet with him, people whose experiences parallel the world Will’s character is in, so he could ask them questions directly.”

“It was interesting working with Apollo,” Smith attests. “Apollo is more of a psychologist than anything. Most of our time together was spent discussing people, the brain, and the human ability to pay attention. I was surprised at how little focus we actually put on stealing in the creation of this master-thief character.”

Robbins and his wife, Ava Do, co-founded Whizmob Inc, a company that utilizes the expertise of former con-artists, thieves and hackers to study human behavior. They have collaborated with neuroscientists and researchers to study the blind spots in the human brain. “Since we can’t truly focus on more than one thing at a time, our brain creates shortcuts to be more efficient,” he says. “Unfortunately, these shortcuts sometimes automate our decision process while giving us the illusion we are multitasking. It’s like toddlers playing soccer; the kids eagerly chase after the soccer ball until a new one comes rolling by, then another, then another… They get so caught up chasing each new ball they never stop to ask who is putting the balls on the field. Will’s character exploits this type of vulnerability.”

He taught the actors the various skills they would need to pull off each trick, including the lift, which is stealing something out of a pocket, and a touch, which can be used in a lift. In order to describe each individual’s role in the scheme, he likens the crew to a sports team.

“As in sports, there are different positions in laying out a con—the steer, the stick, the shade, the wire. There are some who have mastered all those positions and can play ‘single-o,’ they’re called Cannons. That’s Nicky,” he explains. “Sometimes Cannons meet on the road to form a sort of MVP dream team, called “whiz mobs.” As in the movie, whiz mobs will generally meet in a town a couple weeks before a large sporting event. They will combine their talents, such as pick pocketing, card hustling and hacking, to nail unwitting tourists before they even know the game has begun.”

Robbins’ quickest study on set was arguably Margot Robbie, who had also come across his name as she prepared to play Jess. “I remember thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could just sit down with him for a meeting, or talk to him somehow?’ And it turned out they’d brought him on board to choreograph everything.”

“We had about 20 hours to work together,” Robbins says, “and Margot not only had the aptitude but real tenacity. She was like a bulldog, wanting to get everything right, asking how she could take things further. She did phenomenally well handling the difficult mechanics of it, making it look natural…and sometimes she had to do it in a tight dress and high heels, on cobblestone!”

“Margot was so good that we actually had to slow her down,” Ficarra laughs. “We were constantly looking at the playback on set, asking each other, ‘Did she do it? Did we get it?’”

“I think audiences are going to see things they’ve never seen on screen before, thanks to Apollo,” Di Novi states. “We were so lucky he was willing to share his top-secret techniques with us.”

I know you’re doing something big… I want in.

—Jess

“Focus” takes place in three distinctly different, world-famous cities: New York, New Orleans and Buenos Aires. Happily, the filmmakers were able to shoot in each locale, beginning in the Bayou State.

“We shot our first movie in New Orleans,” Requa remarks, “but it was standing in for other cities. We were determined that the next time we were going to shoot New Orleans for New Orleans because it’s a really beautiful place. The culture, the architecture, it’s just amazing. We wanted to show it off.”

“The landscape of the movie is a large part of the story,” Di Novi says, “and New Orleans is beautiful, romantic, and extremely welcoming of eccentrics, which made for a really diverse canvas for us.”

The sequences in New Orleans were specifically designed to highlight the filmmakers’ favorite parts of the area, especially the French Quarter, and production designer Beth Mickle was thrilled to have a lot with which to work. “The city has so much flavor, so much heart and texture,” she says. “It’s as authentic as it gets. It’s a pleasure to not have to mask the architecture but to actually embrace it.”

To showcase a scene that takes place on Bourbon Street, Mickle and her team “loaded up on neon signs, Mardi Gras beads and colorful flags.”

One of Mickle’s biggest undertakings was to replicate the setting of a championship football game taking place in town, the very reason Nicky and his crew are there. “We had to stage a fake game that Nicky and Jess attend, and all of the hoopla that goes with it.”

While they were able to shoot at an actual pro stadium, they needed to create their own league and teams, including signage, merchandise, and so forth—everything a fan would see around town and at the arena. Pre-existing advertisements around the field were altered via CGI in post-production.

Thus the American Football Franchise of America (AFFA) was born, along with its two top competing teams, the Rhinos and the Threshers. They battle it out as Nicky and Jess look on from a VIP skybox built on the production’s nearby soundstage—formerly NASA’s assembly plant for the Challenger—to better accommodate filming.

One of Mickle’s biggest challenges was, unexpectedly, the team logos. “I showed John and Glenn grand illustrations for huge stage builds and they were happy with everything. Then I showed them football logos and it was weeks and weeks of going back to the drawing board.”

Mickle says the best advice she received in that regard was from football consultant and former pro player Pat O’Hare. “He said to start with the helmet when designing the logos, because once you know it looks good on a helmet, it will translate onto T-shirts, banners, and onto the field.”

Costume designer Dayna Pink then took the approved logos and incorporated them into the wardrobe needed for the extras as well as the uniforms she designed for the players.

O’Hara, who spent most of his life on a grid, says, “They did a tremendous job setting the field. It looked like a real championship game, and it was great for the players because they saw the realistic environment and turned it up a notch.”

As part of his contribution as consultant, O’Hara brought in the men who would make up the two teams on the field. “Every one of the players I hired has professional league experience and has played at the highest levels. This was a chance for them to put the pads back on and show what they can do. They understand game choreography, which was key to making it look real.”

The plays needed to be caught on camera were specific to the story, so O’Hara gave the directors options for four plays that happen within the 30-yard line, plenty of workable space to accomplish the necessary sequences.

Though the racecar circuit sequence takes place in Buenos Aires, a portion of those scenes were shot at the NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, 20 minutes from downtown New Orleans. This was done because, according to Mickle, “The very famous Autodromo Buenos Aires is not in the greatest shape. It was in its prime in the 1950s or so, but they haven’t held races there since 2009.”

The IndyCars featured in the film are Bryan Herta Autosport, Andretti Auto Sport, and the Midas car of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, of which David Letterman is part owner.

Fortunately, there was much the production would be able to accomplish in Buenos Aires, a locale Requa and Ficarra have been eyeing for years.

“We hadn’t been there, we had just heard great things about it, and when we went down to scout we realized it may be the most photogenic city in the world,” Requa states. “It’s really a remarkable place and we felt lucky to be there.”

Ficarra agrees. “We needed romantic, but not overdone. Argentina seemed to have the variety, the lineage, the architecture…everything. It’s a great, untapped resource for filming since not a lot of people shoot there.”

Among the many sites they were able to film in was the Circulo Militar, overlooking Plaza San Martin, which is where they held their Grand Prix party, and where Nicky first spots Jess after he let her go three years earlier.

“A lot of things led us to the Circulo Militar,” Mickle notes. “The availability was a big thing, and that they were so enthusiastic to have us, of course, but the accessibility and the fact that it’s just stunning were the biggest factors.”

Mickle’s team also had to marry the location with the Park Hyatt Hotel, formerly the Palacio Duhau mansion, which served as Nicky’s hotel. “The architecture seemed to match really well, but Glenn and John did have one dictate: make it modern,” she says. “They are among the most visual directors I’ve ever worked with. They really understand architectural style, and they wanted me to find a way to bring it into this century, to reflect Buenos Aires in the way it merges the old and new so beautifully. I knew we’d have our work cut out for us, but that was part of the fun.”

Some of Mickle’s most enjoyable creative choices involved ways to incorporate color into each setting, but most notably Buenos Aires. “The colors needed to evoke a playful, magical environment,” she says. The designer loved working with the local crew who assisted her in incorporating local customs, including yarn bombing, an urban art form similar to graffiti, but with yarn rather than paint.

“People come out in the middle of the night and cover the tree trunks and branches with colorful yarns, and knit sweaters to put around the trees. Or they’ll yarn bomb your bike, a parking meter, anything. It’s so wild. So, we found a local yarn bomber and brought her to La Boca to do a bunch of trees for us.”

La Boca, with its brightly painted rainbow of corrugated metal homes lining the streets, served as a striking backdrop for the action, along with the San Telmo flea market and the Faena. “The Faena was an old brick factory that has been turned into an elegant hotel, and its interior décor borders on the flamboyant,” Mickle suggests. The production took advantage of the scenery, including the unicorn wall hangings and the gold crown-shaped fountain emerging from the swimming pool, turning the hotel into rival race team owner McEwen’s turf.

To evoke the proper tone and reflect Nicky’s arc at each stage of the story, Mickle employed a changing color palette as well. “The progression of the visuals in the movie had to reflect Nicky’s progression as a character. We start with New York; it’s very cold and he’s isolated, so we used a lot of stone, glass and metal to give a sense of detachment.”

She continues, “In New Orleans, where Jess starts to become part of his world and the city has so much life inherent to it, the palette comes to life, too, with greenery, orange tones in the skybox, purples and lush pinks. The colors are warming up just as Nicky is starting to open up. Then, once we get to Buenos Aires, where he is most vulnerable, at his most exposed, the colors really pop. The architecture becomes really fun and the visuals start to indicate this romantic and mysterious world.”

Ficarra allows that “Beth had a huge undertaking. She had to replicate an open wheel racing league, a championship football game, New Orleans, Buenos Aires and New York. She has exquisite taste, and she understood the tone of escapism and glamour with realism that we were going for. It’s as if she could read our minds. We feel so lucky to have found her, and we’re not going to let anyone else use her,” he laughs.

Costume designer Dayna Pink, who has worked with the directors before, also embraced the opportunity to reflect the changes in mood and intention through the use of color as well as fashion. “Part of the reason I love my job is that I learn something new on every movie,” she says. “The most interesting aspect of my research for ‘Focus’ was the psychology of color. We spoke with an expert on color and talked about what you would wear if you wanted someone to trust you, and what you would wear if you wanted to scam someone. If you want somebody to trust you, wear blue. Blue is reliable; it’s the water, it’s the sky, and those never change. And Will looks amazing in blue.”

Requa recounts that in early meetings with the actor, Smith said, “‘Just tell me what you want me to wear and I’ll wear it,’ because that’s how Will is. But we told him just to meet with Dayna, she’s one of the greatest costume designers working right now, especially for men, and explore the character, go on a journey, try things out. Now, Will is no clothes horse, but Dayna turned him into one. Her love of costume is infectious. I think that they even went off to fashion week events together after we wrapped.”

Pink says, “Taking a character who loves clothes and knows how to dress, and figuring out with the actor how to express that, is my favorite thing to do. And to have the opportunity to do that with Will was pretty cool.”

Margot Robbie’s character, Jess, also undergoes quite a transformation in the movie, which is very easily conveyed in her wardrobe. “In the first part of the film, Jess is a girl,” Pink relates. “She’s funky, young, cute and sassy. Layers and leather.”

By the time she gets to Buenos Aires, however, she’s all grown up, inside and out. “All of a sudden she’s a woman in sophisticated silhouettes, long and lean and statuesque,” Pink smiles.

“At the beginning of the movie, we wanted Jess to be a sort of ragamuffin street girl with dirty blonde hair, not really knowing how to dress or present herself,” Requa elaborates. “Then she becomes a completely gorgeous, glacial seductress. Dayna really delivered.”

The directors also credit hair designer Anne Morgan for making Jess’s before and after styles so distinctive. “She goes from dirty blonde to Swedish blonde, and Anne found some hair designs that were just brilliant,” Requa says.

“They were definitely winks at Grace Kelly or Kim Novak, the classic femme fatale image we were trying to court,” Ficarra adds.

In addition to selecting the wardrobe, Pink had to ensure that certain items would work with the action in a scene. “Occasionally a pocket had to be made a little more shallow so an actor could more easily grab something out of it,” she reveals. “It was fun to have the clothes be a functional part of making the whole scene work in such an unusual way.”

At the end of the day, this is a game of focus.

—Nicky

Attentive to the way the songs and the score will enhance what’s on screen, Ficarra and Requa once again turned to composer Nick Urata, who co-scored “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” to create an appropriately evocative listening experience.

“This was an exciting scoring opportunity,” Urata states. “John and Glenn are very musical. Music plays a big role in the script writing and editing process, so they always have a unique palette of musical ideas that play well against the story.”

Urata fully embraced the film’s locations as part of his creative process. “The story is set in two of the richest musical environments on Earth: New Orleans and Buenos Aires. We spent a lot of time in each city and did our best to immerse ourselves in the sounds and musical histories. I found myself overwhelmed by the spirituality of these two rich cultures and did my best to harness this in the score.”

Having had such a memorable experience making the movie, the filmmakers hope that audiences will enjoy every element of “Focus.” As Ficarra maintains, “There’s football, fast cars, sex, romance, comedy, drama, big stars and two really big cons…something for everyone.”

“And it’s got a couple of walloping surprises that I think will blindside everyone who sees it,” Requa hints. “Sometimes it even surprises me—and I wrote it.”

#         #         #

ABOUT THE CAST

WILL SMITH (Nicky) is a two-time Academy Award nominee who has enjoyed unprecedented success in a career encompassing films, television, and multi-platinum records.  For his memorable portrayal of Muhammad Ali in Michael Mann’s “Ali,” he received his first Academy Award nomination, which was followed by his second nomination for the true-life drama “The Pursuit of Happyness.”

Smith is currently preparing for his role as Deadshot in David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad,” based on the DC Comics’ team of super villains, and will soon be seen in Peter Landesman’s “Concussion” as forensic neuropathologist Dr. Bennett Omalu, who made the first discovery of football-related brain trauma in a pro player and brought awareness to the public.  “Concussion” also stars Alec Baldwin, Luke Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Arliss Howard, Paul Reiser, with David Morse and Albert Brooks, and is produced by Ridley Scott, Giannina Facio, David Wolthoff, Larry Shuman and Elizabeth Cantillon.

Smith was previously seen starring in “Men in Black 3,” directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. “Men in Black 3” grossed over $624 million worldwide. Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment’s big screen musical “Annie,” starring Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie, Jamie Foxx as Benjamin Stacks and Cameron Diaz as Ms. Hannigan, was released this past December. Overbrook also recently produced “After Earth,” in which Smith co-stars with Jaden Smith and is directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

His extraordinary list of blockbusters includes “I Am Legend” and “Hancock.” He also thrilled audiences in huge hits such as “I, Robot,” “Independence Day,” “Men in Black” and “Men in Black II.”  He does not limit his work to acting and, along with partner James Lassiter of Overbrook Entertainment, he produced, among others, “Hitch,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “The Secret Life of Bees,” “Seven Pounds,” “Lakeview Terrace” and “The Human Contract,” which marked the feature directorial debut of Jada Pinkett Smith. Overbrook’s most recent success was “The Karate Kid,” which was released June 11, 2010 and grossed over $343 million worldwide.

Smith won four esteemed titles at the 11th World Music Awards in Monte Carlo and an NAACP Image Award for Best Actor for his performance in “Seven Pounds” in 2009. Smith has also earned several Kids’ Choice Awards for movies such as “Independence Day,” “Wild Wild West,” “Shark Tale,” “Hitch,” and “Hancock.” Smith received the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989, for “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” and has also won three additional Grammys for “Summertime,”  “Men In Black” and “Getting Jiggy Wit It.”

Smith has made it a mission to help others through his humanitarian efforts. Smith has focused his efforts to make a difference through the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, which Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith founded in 1996.

Among his many accomplishments, Smith was honored by the Museum of the Moving Image in 2006 and received the Simon Wiesenthal Humanitarian Award in 2009. He was given the prestigious Simon Wiesenthal award based on his commitment to education, cultural diversity, and social responsibility.

Smith serves as an ambassador for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Foundation, the African response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.  In 2008, Smith became a National Board Member for Malaria No More, a foundation with a simple goal: to end malaria deaths everywhere.  Smith has also long been active in the Make-A-Wish campaign, granting wishes and supporting the foundation’s mission to better the lives of children with life-threatening conditions for over 20 years.

MARGOT ROBBIE (Jess) captivated audiences in Australia with her gripping on-screen presence, and is quickly emerging as a breakout star. She is currently preparing to star as Harley Quinn opposite Will Smith and Jared Leto in David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad,” based on the DC Comics’ team of super villains.

Robbie is known for her breakout role in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in which she stars as the female lead opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. Based on the memoir of the same name by Jordan Belfort, the film tells the story of a New York penny stockbroker, played by DiCaprio, who served 20 months in prison for refusing to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, the corporate banking world, and mob infiltration. Starring as DiCaprio’s wife in the film, Robbie is joined by an all-star cast of actors, including Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Rob Reiner, Jean Dujardin, Jon Favreau and Kyle Chandler. Robbie also recently starred in Richard Curtis’ “About Time,” opposite Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson.

Robbie recently wrapped production on David Yates’ “Tarzan,” starring opposite Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, and Christoph Waltz. Robbie plays the role of Jane Porter, the beloved wife of Tarzan. The film is set to release July 1, 2016.

Robbie can next be seen in the upcoming independent film “Z for Zachariah,” opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine, as well as Saul Dibb’s World War II drama “Suite Française,” alongside Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ruth Wilson and Kristin Scott Thomas. Additionally, Robbie will soon begin production on the “Untitled Tina Fey Project,” based on journalist Kim Barker’s wartime memoir Taliban Shuffle. The film has Robbie re-teaming with Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. Fey and Lorne Michaels will produce the political black comedy.

Robbie made her U.S. debut in the critically acclaimed ABC series “Pan Am” in 2011. The period drama depicted the lives of the pilots and flight attendants who once made Pan Am the most glamorous way to fly. Robbie starred as Laura, a runaway bride who fled a life of domestic boredom to take to the skies. The series was created by Jack Orman (“ER,” “Men of a Certain Age”), and also starred Christina Ricci.

In Australia, Robbie is most recognized for her role as Donna Freedman on the television soap opera “Neighbours,” which chronicled the lives of the residents of Ramsay Street in the fictional Australian suburb of Erinsborough. Her role garnered her two Logie Award nominations for Most Popular New Female Talent and Most Popular Actress.

Born in Australia, Robbie grew up on the Gold Coast and eventually moved to Melbourne when she began acting professionally at the age of 17. She currently resides in London.

RODRIGO SANTORO (Garríga) was already an award-winning actor in Brazil when he gained fame in the United States and around the globe. In 2014 he starred as Xerxes in “300: Rise of an Empire,” reprising his role from the 2007 worldwide hit “300,” directed by Zack Snyder. For his performance in “300,” he became the first Brazilian actor to receive an MTV Movie Award nomination.

Santoro’s first American film was 2003’s “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” followed later that year by the hit romantic comedy “Love Actually.” In 2004, he won the Cannes Film Festival’s Chopard Trophy for Male Revelation. Since then, he has starred in a variety of films, including David Mamet’s “Redbelt”; Pablo Trapero’s “Lion’s Den”; both parts of Steven Soderbergh’s “Che”; “I Love You Phillip Morris,” for directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa; Kirk Jones’ “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”; and “The Last Stand.” Santoro starred in the title role in “Heleno,” about the famed Brazilian soccer player, and also produced the film, which premiered to great acclaim at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.

Additionally, he voiced a lead role in the animated feature “Rio” and its sequel, “Rio 2.” He also appeared this year in “Rio, I Love You,” a series of short films set in the Brazilian city. Among his upcoming films are Gavin O’Connor’s “Jane Got a Gun”; “Pelé”; “The 33”; Steven Bernstein’s “Dominion”; and, in his feature directorial debut, Jonathan Nolan’s “Westworld.”

On television, Santoro had a regular role on the third season of ABC’s hit show “Lost.” He also co-starred with Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen in Philip Kaufman’s HBO movie “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” and with Helen Mirren in Robert Allan Ackerman’s “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone,” for Showtime.

 

GERALD McRANEY (Owens) has defied the odds in Hollywood.  He was recently seen in “The Best of Me,” starring opposite James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, which is based on the best-selling Nicholas Sparks novel.  The film was adapted and directed by Michael Hoffman and Mac (as he goes by) is the hub of the film.

At an age when most actors are struggling to find interesting roles, McRaney continuously works in high quality projects.  Most recently, he portrayed wealthy businessman Raymond Tusk (Donald Trump meets Warren Buffett) on seasons one and two of the award-winning Netflix drama “House of Cards.”  He has a recurring role as Barlow Connally on A&E’s contemporary Western drama “Longmire,” and will continue to appear on the series as it moves to Netflix. Over the last two years, he has simultaneously performed arcs on F/X’s “Justified,” TNT’s “Southland” and CBS’s “Mike & Molly,” as well as USA Network’s “Fairly Legal.” He will soon be seen in the upcoming TNT series “Agent X,” starring opposite Sharon Stone.

For many years McRaney has been a staple on television in a diverse array of series regular roles, from “Simon and Simon,” “Major Dad,” “The Promised Land,” “Deadwood,” “Jericho,” to the more recent JJ Abrams NBC series “Undercovers.”

A few years ago he made his Broadway debut in the New York premiere of Horton Foote’s play “Dividing the Estate.”  McRaney currently chairs the Horton Foote Award Committee of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, which annually recognizes outstanding screenwriting.  He also appeared on stage in the 2003 critically acclaimed off-Broadway hit play “The Exonerated.”

He is an avid angler, hunter and lover of all things outdoors. A Mississippi native, he has also defied the odds in Hollywood coupling, being happily married to actress Delta Burke for the past 25 years.  They reside in Los Angeles.

         ADRIAN MARTINEZ (Farhad) is an actor, writer and producer with over 70 film and TV credits. He recently appeared in David O. Russell’s “American Hustle,” and in Marc Webb’s “Spider-Man 2.”

Martinez is set to appear opposite Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in “Sisters,” in winter 2015. Martinez can be seen opposite Ben Stiller in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and as Will Ferrell’s sidekick in “Casa de mi Padre.”

In addition to playing sidekick to Zach Galifianakis in “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” Martinez appeared in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” opposite Oscar winner Sandra Bullock, and in “Piranha 3DD,” opposite a piranha. He has been seen in a variety of character portrayals, including Jim Sheridan’s “In America”; “Pieces of April”; HBO’s “Don’t Let Me Drown”; “The Interpreter”; “Taxi”; and “Mail Order Wife,” a mocumentary. Martinez also appeared in and co-produced “Mona,” which has aired several times on PBS’ indie night.

Martinez’s TV work includes HBO’S “Flight of the Conchords,” Jon Stewart’s “Three Strikes,” for Comedy Central, and over 40 TV guest spots, including “A Gifted Man,” Sex and the City,” “The Sopranos,” all “Law & Order” series, “Conan O’Brien” and Barry Levinson’s “The Jury.”

Martinez is a member of the LAByrinth Theater Company, for which he has done several off-Broadway performances, in such productions as “Our Lady of 121st Street,” at the Union Square Theatre, and “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” at the Public Theatre, both directed by Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman and written by Tony Award nominee Stephen Adly Guirgis.

His notable commercial work includes the immensely successful “Cheesehead guy” from the State Farm campaign, opposite NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, as well as many other national spots.

Martinez’s screenplay, “Manny,” was selected for the NALIP writers’ lab and producer’s lab, where he acted in and directed a professional cast and crew. “Manny” also made it to the second round for the Sundance writers’ lab.

He is presently collaborating with director Hugo Perez on an exciting new script, in which he will star.

ROBERT TAYLOR (McEwen) is one of Australia’s busiest actors, with an illustrious career spanning over international film and television.

Graduating from the prestigious West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Taylor has since appeared as the lead opposite French star Nadia Fares in the international feature “Storm Warning,” directed by Jamie Blanks (“Urban Legend”) in the USA. He also was featured in “Rogue,” from director Greg McLean (“Wolf Creek”), was the lead in “Coffin Rock” (UK) and, in 2013, filmed a supporting role in Rupert Glasson’s “What Lola Wants,” opposite Sophie Lowe, and wrapped a key role opposite Hugo Weaving in the feature film “Healing,” directed by Craig Monahan.

Prior to this, he appeared as Kiron in the NBC telemovie “Hercules” in 2005, and worked with acclaimed American director Peter Bogdanovich inThe Mystery of Natalie Wood” on the ABC Network in the U.S. Taylor starred in the ongoing role of Vincent in the BBC seriesBallykissangel,” and had a lead role opposite Guy Pearce and Rachael Griffiths in the feature filmThe Hard Word.”

Taylor’s work on international blockbusters includes starring as Skip Taylor, alongside Chris O’Donnell, in “Vertical Limit,” directed by Martin Campbell, and Agent Jones, alongside Hugo Weaving, in “The Matrix,” directed by the Wachowskis.

In a career spanning over 20 years, he has also starred in many productions in Australia and the USA, such as “Killing Time” (TV1); “Mr & Mrs Murder” (TEN Network); “Twentysomething (ABC TV)”; “Satisfaction”; “Underbelly – Tell Them Lucifer Was There” (Screentime); “Ned Kelly”; “After the Rain”; “First Daughter”; “Tales of the South Seas”; “Muggers”; “Twisted Tales”; “The Feds”; “Stingers”; “Phage”; and “Nash’s Vision” (USA).

Most recently, Taylor appeared in the title role of Walt Longmire in A&E’s record-breaking drama series “Longmire,” across all three series. He appeared in the Australian film “Turkey Shoot,” directed by Jon Hewitt, opposite Dominic Purcell, and will be seen in 2015 in “The Menkhoff Method,” directed by David Parker. Taylor recently wrapped filming on Grant Scicluna’s feature “Downriver,” also in Australia.

BD WONG (Liyuan) was born and raised in San Francisco, California, and is the only actor ever to have received all five major New York Theater awards for a single role. For his performance in “M. Butterfly,” his Broadway debut, he received the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Theater World Award, the Clarence Derwent Award and the Tony Award.

Wong appeared in the NBC series “Awake,” where he played Dr. Lee, Detective Britten’s psychiatrist in the “red” reality. For 11 seasons audiences watched him on the top-rated series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” as Dr. George Huang, a forensic psychiatrist and expert on the criminal mind.

Wong gained notice as a cast regular on HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Oz,” playing the resilient prison priest, Father Ray, for the show’s five-season run. His other television credits include a starring role in ABC’s “All-American Girl” and HBO’s telefilm “And the Band Played On,” as well as guest-starring roles on “Welcome to New York,” “Chicago Hope,” “The X-Files,” “Bless This House” and “Shannon’s Deal,” and the Hallmark miniseries “Marco Polo.”

Wong has also appeared in more than 20 films, including HBO’s “The Normal Heart,” “Jurassic Park,” “The Freshman,” “Father of the Bride” 1 and 2, “Seven Years in Tibet,” “Executive Decision,” “The Salton Sea” and “Stay.” Wong can also be heard as the voice of Shang in the animated films “Mulan” and “Mulan II.” He will next be seen in “Jurassic World.”

Wong’s additional New York theater credits include “The Tempest,” “A Language of Their Own,” “As Thousands Cheer,” the Broadway musical revival of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures,” for which he received a Drama League nomination for distinguished performance. He produced and directed “The Yellow Wood,” for NYMF, and Cindy Cheung’s “Speak Up Connie,” for the All For One festival. He recently appeared in “The Orphan of Zhao” at La Jolla Playhouse and A.C.T. He is currently developing the new musical, “Heading East,” by Leon Ko and Robert Lee.

Wong published his first book, Following Foo: the electronic adventures of The Chestnut Man (Harper Entertainment), which chronicles his son Jackson’s struggle for life after he was born 11 weeks premature.

He has received community service recognition from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Asian AIDS Project, GLAAD, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Association of Asian-Pacific American Artists, East/West Players, Second Generation, Organization of Chinese Americans and APICHA. He is a board member of the Actors’ Fund of America, Symphony Space and Rosie’s Kids.

ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS

Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Written and Directed By) met at Pratt Institute, where they were both studying film.  They have been working together ever since, both as screenwriters and directors.  Their most recent feature film was the hit comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

Denise Di Novi (Producer) made her producing debut on the cult hit comedy “Heathers,” for which she won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.  She then began a long association with groundbreaking filmmaker Tim Burton, during which time she produced such diverse hits as “Edward Scissorhands,” “Batman Returns,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Ed Wood” and “James and the Giant Peach.”  In 1993, she set up her own production company, Di Novi Pictures, at Columbia Pictures.

Di Novi most recently produced the drama “You’re Not You,” starring Hilary Swank and Emmy Rossum, and executive produced “If I Stay,” starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley. The latter, directed by R.J. Cutler, was based on the best-selling novel by Gayle Forman.

Di Novi also produced Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone, written by Dan Fogelman. She is currently executive producing writer/director Fogelman’s “Danny Collins,” starring Al Pacino.

She has collaborated with author Nicholas Sparks on five films, including this past fall’s “The Best of Me,” as well as “The Lucky One,” “Message in a Bottle,” “A Walk to Remember” and “Nights in Rodanthe,” all based on his novels.  Her other films include “What a Girl Wants,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” “Ramona and Beezus,” “Life as We Know It” and “Monte Carlo.”

Her early credits include the 1994 remake of “Little Women,” as well as “Practical Magic,” which took first place at the box office in its opening weekend.

Di Novi has also ventured into television production. She served as an executive producer on the longform projects “Eloise at Christmastime,” “Eloise at the Plaza” and “The `70s,” as well as the critically acclaimed series “The District.”

Under her production deal at Warner Bros. Pictures she has a number of projects in development, including “Unforgettable,” a female-driven thriller to be directed by Amma Asante, and “The First Phone Call from Heaven,” an adaptation of the Mitch Albom novel.

CHARLIE GOGOLAK (Executive Producer) produced the television series “Back in the Game” and “Kyle XY,” and served as executive producer on the feature film “Full of It.” He is currently in development as producer on the feature comedy “Wild About Harry.”

STAN WLODKOWSKI (Executive Producer) recently served as executive producer for “Now You See Me,” which grossed more than $350 million at the worldwide box office. His additonal executive producer credits include “Monte Carlo,” starring Selena Gomez, and “Eat Pray Love,” starring Julia Roberts.

Wlodkowski’s co-producer credits include the Academy Award winner “American Beauty.” Among his producer credits are the films “One Hour Photo,” starring Robin Williams, and the acclaimed comedy “Slums of Beverly Hills.”

XAVIER GROBET (Director of Photography) is a Mexican-born cinematographer whose career is as diverse as it is impressive. His credits span the gamut of genres, working between the United States and Mexico.

He is currently lensing the second season of HBO’s “Looking,” a comedy-drama about a group of friends living in San Francisco; the series is slated for an early 2015 premiere. His latest projects include the CW’s pilot for “Jane the Virgin” and Netflix’s new series “Marco Polo,” to be released December 12.

Grobet’s other recent credits include HBO’s “Enlightened,” created by and starring Laura Dern; “Enough Said,” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini; the ensemble piece “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” for director Kirk Jones; and “The Back-up Plan,” starring Jennifer Lopez.

Grobet also lensed I Love You Phillip Morris for directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor; Marc Lawrence’s “Music & Lyrics,” starring Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant; the Jack Black vehicle “Nacho Libre,” for writer/director Jared Hess; and “Mother and Child,” written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, with stars Naomi Watts, Annette Bening and Kerry Washington.

Grobet moved to Los Angeles after the success of “Sexo, pudor y lágrimas” (“Sex, Shame & Tears”) in 1999. The film went on to become the third highest grossing Mexican film that year. After relocating, Grobet shot several increasingly powerful projects, such as “The Woodsman,” which garnered three Independent Spirit Award nominations and praise from critics nationwide. He followed this with Rodrigo Garcia’s “Nine Lives,” and “Monster House,” for producers Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg.

The big break in Grobet’s career came when he learned about a planned movie based on the true story of exiled Cuban novelist and poet Reinaldo Arenas. Having read Arenas’ memoirs and fallen in love with the story, Grobet approached the brilliant, eccentric artist and director, Julian Schnabel. The resulting 2000 release of “Before Night Falls” featured Johnny Depp and Sean Penn. The film went on to collect numerous awards and nominations, including an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for Javier Bardem, and a Best Cinematography nomination at the 2001 Independent Spirit Awards.

Grobet grew up surrounded by artists, where his architect father and photographer mother influenced him deeply, endowing him with a love of film and cameras. Born and raised in Mexico City, Grobet spent a year in the United Kingdom as a child and began shooting on a Super 8.

After graduating from university with a degree in cinematography, Grobet joined the union and began working as a clapper loader on both American and Mexican productions. It was a time of great transition in the Mexican film industry, as the old guard focused on protecting their jobs against the new generation. Grobet was one of the first to break through, aided in part by his command of English.

Excelling at lower-tier camera work on features including “License to Kill,” “Revenge” and “Total Recall,” Grobet officially graduated to cinematographer withLa Mujer de Benjamin” (“Benjamin’s Woman”). Written and directed by his former film school colleague Carlos Carrera, the feature won more than 20 awards worldwide and was nominated for Best Cinematography at the Mexican Academy of Motion Pictures.

In 1997 he made his first film outside Mexico, “Love Always,” shot in San Diego by first-time feature director Jude Pauline Eberhard. Later in the year he worked on another award-winning Mexican film, “Santitos,” taking the prize for Best Latin American film at the Sundance Film Festival.

JAN KOVAC (Editor) was born in the Czech Republic and graduated from Prague’s Charles University with a degree in Film Journalism.  Realizing he had more of an interest in working in film than writing about it, Kovac moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at UCLA to study editing.

Kovac honed his editing skills by working on the syndicated and international versions of HBO’s hit series “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” among others.  By re-editing these successful series, Kovac learned how to interpret and honor different directing and writing styles that enriched his visual story-telling skills.

“Focus” is his first feature film.

BETH MICKLE (Production Designer) first garnered international acclaim for her work in “Half Nelson,” directed by Ryan Fleck.  The movie went on to win the Best Film prize at the Gotham Awards, and earned a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for Ryan Gosling. Mickle was also honored by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the Production Designers to Watch for her work on “Half Nelson.”

More recently, she teamed with auteur director Nicolas Winding Refn on “Drive,” where she received the Art Directors Guild nomination for Excellence in Production Design for her work on the film.  The two worked together again on last year’s “Only God Forgives,” starring Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. She then reteamed with the “Drive” producers on the action film “2 Guns,” directed by Baltasar Kormakur and starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.

After designing several films which starred Ryan Gosling, she collaborated with the actor in on his directorial debut, “Lost River.” The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. She most recently designed the upcoming drama “The Family Fang,” for director/star Jason Bateman.

Other honors for Mickle include being nominated for a BAFTA award for production design in 2010, for her work in “An Englishman in New York,” starring John Hurt.  Last year, Mickle was recognized by Glamour as one of the Under 35 women in film to watch, as well as landing on Below-the-Line Impact Report for Variety in 2013.

DAYNA PINK (Costume Designer) previously designed the costumes for Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Julianne Moore. She has worked with Carell three times, most recently on “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” and the romantic drama “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.”

Pink recently completed worked on Will Smith’s upcoming film, “Concussion,” directed by Peter Landesman, a look at how American football players suffer from major head injuries.

She also recently designed costumes Jon Turtletaub’s feature comedy “Last Vegas,” starring Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline. Her previous credits include Scott Hicks’ drama “The Lucky One,” starring Zac Efron; “Hot Tub Time Machine,” directed by Steve Pink; and “Fame,” directed by Kevin Tancharoen.

Pink previously served as a fashion consultant on the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy “Brüno,” and was the costume designer for the film “Crank: High Voltage.” Her other motion picture costume designer credits include “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny,” starring Jack Black; “Live!” starring Eva Mendes; and “Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic.”

In addition to film costume design, Pink is a personal celebrity stylist with clients as diverse as Jack Black and Marilyn Manson. She has also worked on music videos for bands such as U2 and Queens of the Stone Age.

NICK URATA (Composer) is the front man of the internationally acclaimed band DeVotchKa and, as a composer, has scored such films as “Little Miss Sunshine,” the Sundance hit that garnered four Academy Award nominations. He also co-scored the hit romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling.

His other scores include “Fling,” “I Love You Phillip Morris,” “The Joneses,” “Waiting for Forever,” “Father of Invention,” and Dustin Lance Black’s directorial debut, “Virginia,” starring Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris. His latest work includes the score for “Little Miss Sunshine” directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s “Ruby Sparks”; “Arthur Newman,” starring Colin Firth and Emily blunt for director Dante Ariola; “What Maisie Knew,” starring Juliane Moore; Stephen Gyllenhaal’s comedy “Grassroots”; “A.C.O.D.,” starring Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Jessica Alba and Catherine O’Hara; and “Premature,” for director Dan Beers. Most recently, Urata scored the documentary “Alfred and Jakobine,” from director Jonathan Howells, and critically acclaimed documentary director Jessica Yu’s film “Misconception.”

Coming out next from Urata is Thomas McCarthy’s comedy “The Cobbler,” starring Adam Sandler and Dustin Hoffman, which premiered at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival. His work can currently be heard in “Paddington,” based on the classic British book series, starring Nicole Kidman and voiced by Ben Whishaw.

Urata left his native New York to play music in Chicago, then moved to Denver where he formed DeVotchKa. Their music, in particular the song “Till the End of Time,” left its impression on the indie hit “Little Miss Sunshine,” and Urata has enjoyed an impressive stay in film ever since.

APOLLO ROBBINS (Apollo / Con Artist Adviser / Pickpocket Design) is a performer, speaker, consultant and one of the world’s leading experts on pickpockets, confidence crimes and deception. A pioneer in the application of deception to operational environments, Robbins uses pick-pocketing and sleight-of-hand to demonstrate perception management, diversion techniques and self-deception.

Known as “The Gentleman Thief,” Robbins first made national news as the man who pick-pocketed the Secret Service while entertaining former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. He has picked the pockets of more than 250,000 men and women. Forbes has called him “an artful manipulator of awareness,” and Wired Magazine has written that “he could steal the wallet of a man who knew he was going to have his pocket picked.”

In 2006, Robbins and his partner Ava Do co-founded Red Handed Media, which quickly became a go-to expert for the science community, law enforcement and government agencies studying human behavior.  Drawing from his 20-plus years of experience as an entertainer and trainer, Robbins and Red Handed Media use transmedia and live event production to develop immersive training modules with a focus on experiential learning.

Robbins has been featured in the New Yorker and in numerous publications, such as New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.  He produced and co-hosted the National Geographic program “Brain Games,” which was nominated for an Emmy as an Outstanding Informational Series.  His popular appearance on “The Today Show” is a YouTube favorite at more than seven million views.  The TED editors described Robbins’s talk at TED Global 2013 as a revelation in the flaws of human perception.

 
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इमरान हाश्मी सिखंगे तमिल भाषा।


सभी जानते है की क्रिकेटर अजहरुद्दीन पर बन रही बायोपिक फिल्म में अभिनेता इमरान हाश्मी मुख्य किरदार निभा रहे है। इस फिल्म में कुछ भाग ऐसे है जहा इमरान को तमिल भाषा में डायलॉग्स बोलने है।  इमरान तमिल से इतने वाकिफ नहीं है और इस भाषा को जानने के लिए तथा उसे सिखने के लिए किसी प्रोफेशनल उसका प्रशिक्षण लेंगे भाषा का प्रशिक्षण मार्च के मध्य से शुरू करेंगे। इमरान कमसे कम एक महीना तमिल भाषा सीखेंगे इमरान को पूराध्यान उनके शब्दों के उच्चारण और लहजे देना होगा जिससे वे तमिल भाषा की शैली में बोल पाएंगे।
 
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Ranbir, Arjun wish Badmashiyaan Team Good Luck!


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The younger stars in Bollywood are known to hang out often, play football and even party together. They even wish other on their releases and congratulate on their performances. Ranbir Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor are the same – chilled out and cool. They even play together for the All Stars Football Club, an initiative launched by producer Bunty Walia’s GS Worldwide Entertainment. So when the Badmashiyaan cast comprising of Sidhant Gupta, Suzanna Mukherjee, Sharib Hashmi, Gunjan Malhotra and Karan Mehra landed up at their match opposite the Mumbai Police, to invite ASFC team and their coach (and captain) Bunty Walia to a screening of their film next week both Ranbir and Arjun not just wished the young actors but even signing on their film’s posters. Badmashiyaan releases on March 6.

It meant a lot to the Badmashiyaan team being given so much encouragement by experienced actors like Ranbir Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor. Gunjan has acted with Ranbir in an ad and with Arjun in Tevar, so both the stars greeted her very warmly and chatted with her for a few minutes. Their captain Abhishek Bachchan was unable to attend as he was away shooting for All The Best in Nashik. The ASFC team beat Mumbai Police by 4-1 goals.

 
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The Singer Shekhar Wins Big!


 
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Shekhar Ravjiani’s rendition of ‘Zehnaseeb’ won him accolades galore through the year but recently, at an awards function, he came away with an award for his singing too. One half of the popular music composer duo, Vishal Shekhar, the talented musician is far better known for the chartbursting music he creates with his partner and no one really knew what a marvelous singer he himself is… but good things don’t remain closeted for too long!

The entire industry is applauding his skills today but looks like it is Karan Johar who is most proud, the filmmaker and his production house has been propagating Shekhar’s vocal talent for a while now, with movies like I HATE LUV STORIES, EK MAIN AUR EK TU,STUDENT OF THE YEAR and of course, HASEE TOH PHASEE, which has the award winning number. Johar tweeted saying, it’s all Shekhar’s voice that has brought out the emotions in the song, making it a well deserved win!

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Dozakh In Search Of Heaven Releasing on 20th march 2015.


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Set in a small town near Varanasi, this film is all about an orthodox Islamic Cleric and his relationship with his twelve year old son ‘Janu’. The film starts with a clash between the offering of the routine morning prayers of the Muslim cleric and his neighboring Hindu priest. The Muslim cleric is vexed with the Hindu priest but is more bothered about his son who is a good friend of his rival- the Hindu Priest and pays regular visit to the temple. He has scolded and punished Janu several times and elucidated him that he may be cursed to hell if he continues this. The cleric loses his temper when he comes to know that his son has participated in the annual Hindu mythological play Ramleela and played the role of the Hindu God- Hanuman. He gets upset, punishes his son and explains him the difference between the two religions. At the end of the story petrified with an incident, Janu absconds from his home. His father seeks him everywhere and during his painful search for his lost son, realizes that he is first a father to his son before being a cleric. Now he is anxious to meet him but will he be able to find him ever ??

The film is made under the guidance of Producer-Director Zaigham Imam and Aditya Om as creative Director, “Dozakh- in search of heaven” has gathered praises in many film festivals at Australia, Canada and India. Cinematographer Mailesan Rangaswamy, Editor Prakash Jha, Music given by Aman Pant and the main characters played by Lalit Mohan Tiwari, Nazim Khan, Pawan Tiwari, Garric Chaudhury, Ruby Saini, Irfaan Rizvi, Jugendra Singh and Khushboo Seth, “Dozakh – In Search of Heaven”  is slated to release in the theatres of India on 20th march.

Dozakh-FILM PAGE

Film Title                            Dozakh in Search of Heaven (U)

Laungage                            Hindi

Duration                             1 Hour 32 Mins

Director                              Zaigham Imam

Producer                            Zaigham Imam

Creative producer            Aditya Om

Cinematographer             Mailesan Rangaswamy

Editor                                   Prakash Jha

Music                                    Aman Pant

Cast                     Lalit Mohan Tiwari, Nazim Khan, Pawan Tiwari, Garric Chaudhury,

Ruby Saini, Irfaan rizvi, Jugendra Singh, Khushboo Seth

 

Festival/Award                 

  1. Indian international film festival of Queensland, Australia 2014 (Special Jury Award)
  2. 19th Kolkata film festival is the first film festival, 2013 (Official selection)
  3. 2nd Delhi international film festival,2013 (Official selection)
  4. 12th Third eye Asian film festival, Mumbai,  2014(Official selection)
  5. 6th Bangalore international film festival, 2013 (Competition section)
  6. 2nd Kolhapur international film festival, 2013(Official selection)
  7. 6th Hidden gems film festival, 2014 AB Canada (Official selection)
  8. Nominated for Gollapudi srinivas national award 2013, Chennai
  9.    9th Habitat film festival, India Habitat centre 2014, New Delhi (Official Selection)
  10. 3rdLadakh International film festival, 2014 (Indian Selection)
  11. Nominated for 22ndArvindan Puraskaram, Kerla chalchithra board, Trivandrum, 2013
  12. 15thKala Ghoda Art Festival 2015, Mumbai  (Official Selection)

Reviews              

A beauty whose potent theme will leaven audience spell bound”-DECCAN HERALD

This film reinforces the influence that cinema can have on the thought process of the society”-DNA

Explores religious ideologies through a father-son relationship”-THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

Painting the emotional and social landscape in subtle shades of grey”-THE HINDU

Director’s Biography

Born 1982 in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Zaigham Imam is a well known Hindi novelist and has written two novels- DOZAKH and MAIN MUHABBAT. His novel DOZAKH was critically acclaimed and received several awards. Zaigham, has also spent  8 years as a media professional and worked for popular Hindi news papers and news channels like AAJ TAK . After his stint with media, he started writing fiction and also directing for the leading Hindi general entertainment channels. DOZAKH- In search of Heaven is his debut film.

 
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