A story about a guy who is trying to protect his girl at all costs, against time itself.
US based Australian director and producer Paul Currie’s first encounter with the bewitching riddle of 2:22 came in the form of a bold, visionary script written by Todd Stein.
“Todd Stein had this wonderful karmic view of life”, recalls Currie. “When he first conceived of the story Todd had some medical issues, which put him into a really interesting frame of mind to write such a story. As soon as I read his script I thought: ‘This is something that’s in my DNA as a director’. Todd’s script was dark, but I felt that inside the thriller was an idea, a conceit around time and love through time, that was expansive.”
In 2.22 New York City air traffic controller Dylan Branson (Michiel Huisman) is the embodiment of a guy at the top of his game, until one day at 2:22pm, a blinding flash of light paralyzes him for a few crucial seconds as two passenger planes barely avoid a mid-air collision. Suspended from his job, Dylan begins to notice the increasingly ominous repetition of sounds and events in his life that happen at exactly the same time every day. An underlying pattern builds, mysteriously drawing him into Grand Central Station every day 2:22pm. As he’s drawn into a complex relationship with a beautiful woman who works in an art gallery, Sarah (Teresa Palmer), disturbingly complicated by her ex-boyfriend Jonas (Sam Reid), Dylan must break the power of the past, and take control of time itself.
The Enigma of 2.22
Every day, on the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal, Dylan Branson sees a businessman at the ticket counter reading a newspaper, a couple kissing, six school children, and a pregnant woman standing under the famous clock. It’s not always the same businessman, but it’s always the same pattern.
Earlier in the day – other patterns play out and haunt Dylan – a plane flies overhead, glass shatters, a car screeches. It becomes clear to Dylan, and to Dylan alone, that these supposed random series of events, in this busy, noisy city, are not so random.
This is the enigma of 2:22.
For director Paul Currie, “the film is a mysterious love story, a romantic thriller about a guy who has a particular gift that could be considered part genius or insanity. A gift that involves a dangerous secret that has to be unravelled in order to stop a devastating karmic pattern from continually repeating itself.”
“2:22 is about the fear of love. It’s also about the past that can secreretly haunt us all. It’s a story about a guy who is trying to protect his girl at all costs, against time itself. Time is both Dylan’s ally, and his enemy.”
Paul Currie is a founding shareholder of Lightstream Pictures. His directorial work spans commercials, TV series, feature films and the staging of massive live events. Currie directed and produced One Perfect Day, for which he was awarded Best Debut Director from the Screen Directors Association of Australia. He also produced the Australian action feature film Under The Gun, and co-authored the best selling book, A Hero’s Journey (forwarded by Bryce Courtney, author of The Power Of One).
He directed the ABC TV series Twenty-Something and Executive Produced the cop thriller Rampart and Max Rose.
Currie produced the $40M fantasy adventure film The Moon And The Sun, and co-produced the documentary Great Barrier Reef With David Attenborough. Paul Currie again recently collaborated with Bill Mechanic, producing the Mel Gibson directed award winning Hacksaw Ridge
From Page To Screen
The script was well thought of in Hollywood. It had previously been set up at a major studio and was likely going to go move to another major studio, but Currie was determined to give it a different type of life.
“I said to Todd: ‘We don’t have the money that a studio may be able to offer you up front, but I deeply connect to the themes and ideas of this movie and I will dedicate myself to getting this movie made, no matter what it takes.” That was how the journey began.”
Todd Stein is an award-winning screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He broke into the film industry after winning the prestigious Monterey Screenwriting Award in 2003. Since then, he has written scripts for Universal, Dreamworks, New Line Cinema, among others. He presently has three projects in the pipeline along with 2:22 that include sci-fi thriller Tipping Point, to be directed by Ric Roman Waugh (Felon, Snitch) for Relativity Media; and the adaptation of the best-selling YA novel Unwind by author Neal Shusterman, to be directed by Roger Avary (Rules Of Attraction) for Constantin Films.
Currie continues “From the moment I first read the script, I realized that 2:22 was one of those rare commercial projects that appealed on many levels. I pitched Todd my take on how I saw the film from a director’s perspective, which in a nutshell, was to make an intelligent high-concept romantic thriller; a film that is highly cinematic, visceral and mysterious, offering viewers a compelling and thrilling ride from the first frame to the last.”
“Co-writer, Nathan Parker also came in at an important moment in our development to help us refine the characters and some of the nuances of the plot. Nathan is a very talented writer with a proven track record writing fantastic independent films like “Moon”. Nathan was instrumental in helping with the ultimate structure of the story and working the air traffic control sequences into the screenplay. From a director’s and writers perspective, I’ve felt blessed to be working with two such passionate and talented craftspeople.”
Nathan Parker was born in London in 1974. His first produced screenplay, Moon, directed by Duncan Jones, received its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. Nathan won Best Screenplay for Moon from the Sitges Film Festival, a 2010 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, and a Best First-Feature Length Screenplay from the Writers Guild of Great Britain.
His other credits include Blitz directed by Elliott Lester, and Equals.
Towards the end of 2013, Steve Hutensky, who’d acted as a consultant on the film when Currie was trying to set it up through a US based financier, came on board as a partner producer. Like Currie, Hutensky felt the pull of 2:22 and its mysterious, unique universe.
The financing structure that worked eventually came from a combination of government subsidies in Australia, equity from Screen Australia and Screen New South Wales, presales secured by international sales agent Good Universe, UK based financer Ingenious, as well as lead private equity investors 2929 Productions and Flywheel Entertainment.
Filming would take place in Australia, with some location filming in New York. Hutensky says: “For us, it had always been about not necessarily letting the tax structure or the financing drive where we shot the film, but figuring out where we could make the highest quality film within our budget range. It all just came into place naturally in Australia – Paul being an Australian director and producer , actress Teresa Palmer being Australian, having access to amazing crews, realizing we could convincingly double Sydney for New York – the creative pieces gelled so that it made sense to shoot in Sydney.”
Jodi Matterson soon came on board as an Australian based producer. Hutensky says: “In terms of an Australian producing partner, Jodi was the first name on my list. Luckily she loved the script.”
Matterson recalls: “When Steve and Paul sent me the script, I loved the idea of doing a thriller that had romance at its core, and that’s what I think really set 2:22 apart from other films in the genre. Having these characters whose bond and love is so strong that it transcends time – I thought it was a really interesting concept to build a film around.”
The producers knew the challenges they would face making a genre film outside of the Hollywood system. Hutensky says: “We were going to make, for a modest independent budget, a movie that would aim to compete with $30 to $35 million studio movies. It’s very ambitious to do that, and to do that within the time table and budget we needed to work .”
Matterson agrees. “It was always going to be a film where we wanted to get more up on screen than we had the resources for. We were making a film that competes with genre movies in America with twice our budget. The task was: “How do we do this in the most clever, out of the box way? ”
Key to the success of this bold undertaking would be the Australian based crew.
Engaging people like Barbara Gibbs, Line Producer, was crucial. Jodi Matterson explains: “Making any film in Australia, for me the first call is always Barbara Gibbs, one of the best, if not the best, line producers in the country.”
“With Barbara came the rest of the amazing, world-class crew that we managed to pull into the production. We were incredibly lucky.”
Producer Steve Hutensky credits the exceptional Australian crew, the exceptional cast, and believes that core to the cohesion and passion of the team as a whole was the script, which Paul Currie had so carefully shepherded. Hutensky says: “I think that’s what drew the crew, the actors, the financiers. The script resonated with people in a deep way.”
Director Paul Currie feels that his promise of persistence to Todd Stein, more than five years earlier, was realized to the best of everyone’s ability and resources. “We have all done our best to create a film that, we hope is fresh and original. Everyone has pushed it to the ‘nth’ degree from pre-production right through to the very end of a long and exhausting post production process.”
Many of the Australian based crew of 2:22 had worked on THE MOON AND THE SUN, which had primarily filmed in Australia, and on which Paul Currie was a producer with Bill Mechanic and Steve Hutensky an executive producer.
Common key crew members included Production Designer Michelle McGahey, Costume Designer Lizzy Gardiner, and Hair and Makeup Lead Shane Thomas, and Director of Photography David Eggby.
Lead cast and key crew are universal in their adulation of the entire Australian team. David Eggby says of the camera and lighting department: “I can’t fault them. Australia has got some great technicians, all very experienced, very well equipped. It’s a very talented, a very good team.”
Michiel Huisman feels that: “We had an amazing crew. I don’t know if that’s an Australian thing or if it was unique to our movie, but it felt like a great collaboration between all the departments. It was addictive, I was happy every morning when they picked me up at 5:30am!”
Teresa Palmer says of working in her home country: “It feels more like a collaborative process – I think because typically I’m doing a smaller budget movie in Australia. There’s a certain camaraderie that you find with Australian crews, a partnership in that we’re all working together to create this thing that we all love. I saw how happy the crew of 2:22 were coming to work, how they went above and beyond for the film.”
Actor Sam Reid says: “The crew did such an incredible job with the production design, the costume design, the hair and makeup, the visual effects – some of the best talent in Australia put this world, this very specific New York high art world together, in such a stylized and beautiful way.”
For Paul Currie: “We can do reasonably priced quality genre films in Australia that can work well in the international market. We’ve got the people and the expertise to do them, and to do them for a budget that makes Australian teams competitive in a global market, and that’s very exciting.”