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  • May25
    Oren Uziel Discusses Directorial Debut ‘Shimmer Lake,’ ‘God Particle’ Joining ‘Cloverfield’

    There’s death. Men on the run. Multiple betrayals. Then, a heist.

    So unfolds “Shimmer Lake,” the feature directorial debut from Oren Uziel, a stylish thriller that ups the ante by telling its story backwards. Available on Netflix beginning June 9, the film begins on the last day of the tale, then proceeds to go back and show what happened each day before, until the day of the robbery. And if it sounds like a gimmick, don’t be fooled: Uziel’s smart script only works when told in reverse, revealing secrets and confidences at just the right times. “The problem with a lot of these movies that don’t work is it’s just a gimmick,” Uziel concurs. “Here, there’s no movie if it’s not told this way.” The film is also bolstered by fantastic performances from a cast that includes Benjamin Walker as a small-town lawman and Wyatt Russell as the ringleader of the heist.

    If the name of the script rings a bell, it might be because it’s been a hot property in Hollywood for several years. Uziel was a lawyer who quit his day job in 2008 to write a novel, thinking that would be his way into screenwriting. Because chick lit was all the rage, publishers were trying to make “lad lit” happen — something that put Uziel at odds with his agent. “She wanted something sexier,” he recalls. “I finally said to myself, ‘If you want to be a screenwriter, just write a screenplay!’”

    Uziel learned the trade simply by watching movies and reading scripts, and “Shimmer Lake” was the first screenplay he ever wrote. “I had no idea what to do with it,” he admits. “So I put it in the mail to the Austin Film Festival screenwriting competition. And I started getting calls: ‘You’re a semifinalist, you’re a finalist!’” Uziel went on to win the fest’s Latitude Productions award.

    The script was quickly optioned by Fox Atomic. “Then, they immediately went out of business,” Uziel recalls with a laugh. “It was my first introduction to Hollywood.”

    Over the years, the script was optioned by various producers and set up at different studios and different directors expressing interest. In the meantime, Uziel was establishing himself as a screenwriter based on the strength of a script he couldn’t get made. He was brought on to work on “22 Jump Street” and a draft of “Zombieland 2,” and learning his way around a set. “Originally, I didn’t know anything about filmmaking and had no experience,” he says. “So I said, let’s baby step it, let’s learn how to be a screenwriter and learn how movies are made. I had told the last person who optioned it, ‘If you can get this movie made, I’m sure it’s going to be great. But if at the end of the first option period you haven’t made it, please give it back to me because I suspect I might be ready to direct it then.’ And he did.”

    Though it took until 2015 to roll the cameras, Uziel says things came together with surprisingly few hiccups once he was set to direct. Netflix had bought the streaming rights prior to shooting, and later purchased worldwide rights. While that means the film won’t be seen in theaters, Uziel knows the streaming platform can help it find a wide audience. “I know how I watch movies and how my friends watch. The movie’s going to be seen on Netflix,” he says. “You lose some things like a theatrical release, but it’s a give and take.”

    Uziel had originally spoken to Liev Schreiber about playing lawman Zeke Sikes, but when the actor went on to do his passion project “Chuck,” he met with Walker. “He’s was the first to sign on and he’s so good,” Uziel notes. “And casting him made everything go 10 years younger.”

    Rainn Wilson was cast against type as Zeke’s screw-up brother, who gets in over his head on the heist. “I just have so much faith in comic actors, I think they can do anything,” says Uziel. “So when you ask them to play tragic, they’re really good at it.” And Uziel was familiar with Russell, who appeared in “22 Jump Street.” He notes, “I wanted that guy to be someone you could feel for and wasn’t the stereotypical heavy.”

    Two fresh faces rounded out the cast: Stephanie Sigman plays Russell’s love interest, and Uziel had caught her in the Mexican thriller “Miss Bala.” And for the role of Chris, one of the robbers who suffered brain damage in a previous accident, Uziel cast unknown Mark Rendall. “One of the editors I was talking to has a clip of Mark on his reel and I said, ‘Who’s that guy?’” Uziel reveals. “And we tracked him down from that one scene.”

    The film was shot in 23 days and Uziel credits his cast with making his first time a smooth experience. “I love actors,” he enthuses. “I can’t do that, it’s insane. I respect how vulnerable they are and what a craft it is. Everybody understood what they were doing and the characters and the process. It was so indie they knew we didn’t have warm-up takes, we didn’t have time for take 12. They got it and they got it fast.”

    Asked if he ever got confused writing or shooting the film because of the nature of the timeline, Uziel quickly responds: “Always.” He adds that writing the script was a particularly delicate process. “Because it was my first screenplay, it’s the only reason I would be dumb enough to try and write something like that. The first bunch of drafts were a disaster. It’s a hard balance to make sure the audience isn’t ahead of you, but also confused. And to develop characters and set up payoffs in reverse is hard.”

    But in the end, Uziel has made an airtight film. “Hopefully it rewards rewatching, as opposed to demands rewatching,” he says.

    Up next, Uziel has a film due in October that already has the business buzzing: his script for the sci-fi film “God Particle” was produced by J.J. Abrams and has recently been revealed to be set in Abrams’ “Cloverfield” universe. The film is currently listed as “Cloverfield Movie” on IMDb.

    Though he wrote “God Particle” prior to the release of “10 Cloverfield Lane,” Uziel has no qualms about his script being part of this shared universe. “They are smart and savvy and know that the brand of J.J. and the brand of ‘Cloverfield’ are enormous,” he says. “It’s a smart way of being able to make original movies, but have them be a recognizable IP. I understand it and endorse that.”

    As for what he can reveal about the film, which stars David Oyelowo and Daniel Bruhl, Uziel pauses before saying, “It’s going to be very fun, I think.”

  • May25
    Official Trailer for Netflix’s ‘Shimmer Lake’ Film with Benjamin Walker

    “Once you open that door there’s no going back!” Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for a new film titled Shimmer Lake, the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Oren Uziel. This small-town crime mystery is told in reverse, going backwards day-by-day, telling the story of the local sheriff’s attempt to solve a bank robbery and find the criminals. Benjamin Walker (from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) stars as the sheriff, with an eclectic cast of indie actors including Rainn Wilson, Stephanie Sigman, Rob Corddry, Wyatt Russell, Ron Livingston, Adam Pally, and John Michael Higgins. This seems like it’s riding the coattails of all the buzz about small-town crime TV shows and films, but I’m still curious to check it out.

    An inventive crime thriller told backwards — reversing day by day through a week — following a local sheriff’s (Benjamin Walker) quest to unlock the mystery of three small town criminals and a bank heist gone wrong. Shimmer Lake is written and directed by filmmaker Oren Uziel, making his directorial debut with this film without any other directing work before. Uziel is a screenwriter who worked on “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”, 22 Jump Street, and Freaks of Nature before jumping into directing. He’s also working on the screenplays for the new Cloverfield movie and the Mortal Kombat reboot. Netflix will release Uziel’s Shimmer Lake streaming exclusively starting on June 9th this summer. Anyone interested in seeing this?

  • May25
    Dark Comedy Thriller ‘Shimmer Lake’ Comes to Netflix June 9

    SHIMMER LAKE is a darkly comic crime thriller coming to Netflix. It follows a local sheriff hunting three bank robbery suspects, one of whom is his brother.

    It features a fantastic cast that includes Benjamin Walker, Rainn Wilson, Stephanie Sigman, Wyatt Russell, Rob Corddry, Adam Pally, Ron Livingston & John Michael Higgins

    The film is written and directed by Oren Uziel, produced by Adam Saunders (Footprint Features) and Britton Rizzio.

    Check out the trailer below then watch it on Netflix June 9th.

  • May25
    Netflix’s ‘Shimmer Lake’ Unfolds in Reverse (Trailer)

    Unfolding in reverse time, this darkly comic crime thriller follows a local sheriff hunting three bank robbery suspects, one of whom is his brother.

    Starring Rainn Wilson, best known as Dwight Schrute from “The Office” or to horror fans as “that dude who is turned into a fish” in Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses, Netflix has released the trailer for Shimmer Lake, set for streaming on June 9th.

    The full cast is awesome, starring Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies) and Ron Livingston (Officie Space, The Conjuring) as two private investigators, not to mention the up-and-coming Wyatt Russell, which has been starring in all sorts of gems from 22 Jumps Street and “Black Mirror”, as well as genre films We Are What We Are and At the Devil’s Door. Adam Pally, who is awesome on “Making History”, also stars with Stephanie Sigman and John Michael Higgins in Oren Uziel‘s directorial debut.

  • May25
    ‘Shimmer Lake’ Trailer Reveals Twisty Netflix Original Crime Thriller Told in Reverse

    Netflix has unveiled the first trailer for the upcoming original crime drama film Shimmer Lake. Written and directed by Oren Uziel, the scribe behind the upcoming Cloverfield movie formerly known as God Particle and co-writer of 22 Jump Street, the film is a darkly comic crime thriller told in reverse—the opening scene is the end of the story, and each successive scene keeps going backwards, revealing new twists and turns in reverse. While that may sound a bit like Memento, this film has its own hook and is bolstered by a cast of comedic actors turning in fine dramatic work.

    Benjamin Walker plays a local sheriff hunting down three bank robbery suspects, two of which are played by Rainn Wilson and Wyatt Russell. This trailer basically showcases the darkly comic tone and complex narrative, giving a nice overview of the feel of this dark yet engaging thriller.

    Check out the trailer below, and look for my interview with Uziel about the film on Collider next week. The film also stars Stephanie Sigman, Rob Corddry, Adam Pally, Ron Livingston, and John Michael Higgins. Shimmer Lake premieres exclusively on Netflix on June 9th.

  • May24
    Shimmer Lake Official Trailer – Netflix

    Netflix has released an official trailer for its up coming dark comedy thriller feature film, Shimmer Lake. The film tells a story of a local sheriff hunting for three bank robber suspects one of whom is his brother. The movie is written by Oren Uziel(22 Jump Street, Freaks of Nature, Mortal Kombat:Rebirth) who is making his directorial debut. The cast includes Wyatt Russell(22 Jump Street), Rainn Wilson(The Office, Juno), Benjamin Walker(In The Heart of the Sea, Flags of Our Father), Adam Pally(Happy Endings, Dirty Grandpa, Iron Man 3), John Michael Higgins(Bad Teacher, The Ugly Truth), Ron Livingston(The Conjuring, Office Space), Stephanie Sigman(War on Everyone, Spectre) and Rob Corddry(Hot Tub Time Machine). Shimmer Lake is set to debut June 9th on Netflix. Check out the trailer below.