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Categories: Interviews

The Elevator is a recent independent feature film by Riccardo Neri and Massimo Coglitore, which The Spread covered in February.

The plot starts with Jack Tramell, driving home after the filming of his last show “Three Minutes”. When he gets in the elevator of his building, Jack sees a woman with black hair who, while the elevator travels up, stopped it with a smartphone. When Jack tries to explain where to push, the alarm, he gets electrocuted and kidnapped. The woman later reveals herself as Kathryne (Caroline Goodall) and seeks
answers from Jack for the kidnapping of her son whose organs were removed and put for sale.

RICCARDO NERI started his film carrier in 1989. He covered all the positions in the production departments becoming over the years line producer, executive producer and producer. In 1996 he worked on his first international film Portrait of a Lady directed by Jane Campion, as location manager.  He continued his career in Italian and international productions and worked on Kundun (1997) by Martin Scorsese, The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean (1998) by Giuseppe Tornatore, Harem Soiree (1999) by Ferzan Ozpetek, Gangs of New York (2002) directed by Martin Scorsese and The Bourne Supremacy (2004) directed by Paul Greengrass.  He Executive Produced The Listening (2006) by Giacomo Martelli, Mary (2006) by Abel Ferrara, L’imbroglio nel lenzuolo (2009) by Alfonso Arau and Third person (2012) by Paul Haggis.

In 2005 Riccardo he created Lupin Film, an independent production company through which he produces Italian projects for an international audience. Over the years, the company produced the Italian feature film Nero Bifamiliare (2007) by first time director Federico Zampaglione of the group Tiromancino and social documentaries including HOT – Human Organ Traffic (2009), A Mao e a Luva (2010) both selected to participate in the Rome Film Festival.  Neri’s most recent production is the feature film The Elevator by Massimo Coglitore currently in distribution.

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Born in 1970, MASSIMO COGLITORE made his debut as a director with several genre short films. In 1998, he directed “UOMO DI CARTA” shot in 35mm. Later on in 2002 he wrote, produced and directed another short film shot in 35mm entitled “DEADLINE”, which was screened in 150 national and international festivals and won over 60 awards. During his career, Coglitore has also directed several documentaries, videoclips and TV commercials.

In 2007 Coglitore directed his first TV movie “NOI DUE”. In 2013 Coglitore directed “THE ELEVATOR” his first feature film shot entirely in English with an international cast (Caroline Goodall, James Parks, Burt Young). The movie was produced by Riccardo Neri through his company Lupin Film with whom Coglitore is currently developing his next feature film “THE STRAIGHT PATH”.

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND “THE ELEVATOR”? WHY DID YOU THINK IT WAS IMPORTANT TO MAKE IT?

The film is inspired by a true story. I have produced a documentary about Human Organ Trafficking titled H.O.T. , available on Netflix, and I have personally met a Brazilian man whose son has been kidnapped and killed in San Paulo by a criminal gang to sell a fresh organ to a rich western man. I thought it was a good opportunity to use this story to make a fictional feature film. It is important to tell stories like this. Of course the Brazilian man never had his revenge in an elevator, but he found out the guilty people in Brazil.

HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK WITH THE MEMBERS OF THE CAST JAMES PARKS AND CAROLINE GOODALL? 

James Parks, who plays the role of Jack, is an old friend of mine. I had the pleasure to work with him in 2004 on another film. I think he is a great talent, and that he deserves the chance to play a role where he could express a lot his performing. He is a great man as well, and I am sure he fits perfectly the part.

Regarding Caroline Goodall, who plays the role of the woman, it is a funny story. While developing the film Massimo and me we were trying different kind of actress, different body language, different age. As a first time directing with an independent Italian production, it wasn’t easy to have access at big names nor at international talents. We were stuck on a couple of names but we were not happy. At that time, the cinematographer was supposed to be Nicola Pecorini. One day I was on the phone with him and he asked me if I was OK with the cast, so I told him we were a bit in trouble with the female role. He said “why don’t you try with my wife? She read the script and she loved it!!” I couldn’t believe that Caroline was happy to this film, after Steven Spielberg, Von Trier, Haggis, Levinson, I never thought she could accept such role, but she did, and it was the best gift Nicola could do to the movie.

Burt Young who plays the role of George, is another old friend. We have worked together three times and he loves Italy. I was looking for a well-known name to complete the cast, so I rang him and he came very excited to play the role and help the production.

THE FILM ITSELF WAS A LARGE SURPRISE, MOSTLY DUE TO THE SMALL NUMBER OF ACTORS AND LOCATIONS. DID YOU HAVE ANY PREVIOUS THOUGHTS BEFORE TAKING ON THIS FILM? 

Well I was looking for something “low budget” for Massimo’s debut on features. I always thought that a low budget film is not the film that has no money, but is a film that is written to cost little. “The Elevator” is this kind of film. We have worked hard on the script with Mauro Graiani and Riccardo Irrera, in order to have a valid script keeping the cost low.

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WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR PRODUCTION?  

As an independent producer the hardest part is always the fund rising. Always. Looking for equity and meeting dozen of people not brave enough to invest in something like this film. It took me time, but at the end we got the film.

WHAT ARE YOU MOSTLY PROUD OF?

On the 3rd shooting day, one major partner quit. I had a crew, in the studio shooting and I didn’t know how to pay them. It is a long story how I did, but I am proud we have completed the film. I also have to thank several people, like the production designer Tonino Zera and Nicoletta Ercole Costume designer who did it for free, Cinecittà Studios for having accepted to be paid with a very long term, the construction company and the camera rental for their support.

WHAT ARE YOUR DISTRIBUTION PLANS? 

We are trying to be distributed in Italy, but it is not easy, because Italy’s audience is comedy-friendly. But we will. For the world sales, Archstone Distribution who has just started in Berlin to sell the film has acquired the film. Hopefully it’ll be broadcasted shortly.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE RIGHT STEPS FOR INDEPENDENT FILMMAKERS TO TAKE IN ORDER TO HAVE A QUALITY FEATURE FILM? 

I think independents have the best chances to achieve the best film because they are free to express their ideas, their taste and their creativity. It is not simple, I know, but it is the only way to keep doing what we love: CINEMA. Steps are always choosing a great script, work on the story telling, always as much as possible.

Marija Makeska is a writer, poet, filmmaker and a visual artist living in Detroit, USA. She enjoys spending her time with people from different cultures while working on various projects with pagan, or gothic themes.

Posted on Jun 6, 2014

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