About The Production
When it comes to romantic relationships, time is of the essence
When it comes to romantic relationships, time is of the essence.
Romance and heartbreak are built on chance encounters, accidental
discoveries, moments of revelation. Miss one of these and fate
unspools in an entirely different way.
Or does it?
That's the question writer/director Peter Howitt poses in "Sliding
Doors," an emotionally suspenseful romantic comedy about
love's possible outcomes. Along the way, Howitt also makes shrewd,
humorous observations about the complex state of relations between
men and women, observing the nuances of modern courtship including
infidelity, uncertainty, fear of commitment and the true love
that can emerge in spite of it all.
It all began when Peter Howitt, then a successful British television
actor, was walking along London's Charing Cross Road and was nearly
struck by a passing car. Still catching his breath, Howitt realized
that his entire life might have been changed in that split second.
The incredible fragility of fate got him thinking. "The cogs
started to whir in my head and I rang my mate and told him I had
a great idea for a film," recalls Howitt.
Bringing the film to the screen, however, involved its own chain
or fateful twists. In addition to his acting career, Howitt had
previously written comedy sketches and directed two short films,
one of which won a silver medal at the Chicago Film Festival.
With these films in his hand, he approached producer Philippa
Braithwaite, who had recently produced the successful, lowbudget
British movie "Staggered." They talked about his idea
for a fantastical romantic comedy over supper, and Braithwaite
had no doubt that it was well worth pursuing. That was sign enough
to Howitt. He recalls: "I had decided that it would be a
simple modern love story with an unusual premise. In some ways
it was an eccentric idea, but it had a beginning, a twist and
a surprise ending. Although at that stage I had no idea if it
would ever get made, at the same time I had a blind faith that
it was meant to be."
Later, with a finished script in hand, Howitt began to put together
a cast, including Scottish actor John Hannah with whom Howitt
had previously acted. But early financing fell through. Meanwhile
John Hannah, hot on the heels of the international success of
his first feature film, "Four Weddings and a Funeral,"
was in America meeting a series of Hollywood producers. Among
these was a visit to the offices of Sydney Pollack's Mirage Enterprises
at Paramount Pictures at which Hannah mentioned "Sliding
Doors" as a script he hoped some day to do. Lindsay Doran,
then president of Mirage, introduced John and the script to her
colleagues Sydney Pollack and Bill Horberg.
"John mentioned a movie that he really wanted to do next
but the financing had recently fallen through. At the time I was
in discussion with Guy East at Intermedia about some possible
coventures, and "Sliding Doors" seemed to be perfect,"
recalls Sydney Pollack. "I called Guy and said: 'We've come
across a really lovely, funny script; take a look at it.' I also
explained that, although Peter was pretty much an unknown quantity
as far as directing was concerned, I had liked his short films.
Within seven days the money was in place."
On the very day that Sydney Pollack and Bill Horberg signed onto
the project, Philippa Braithwaite hauled an astonished Peter Howitt
out of the pub, where he was bemoaning the fate of his film. The
film had the green light, she told him. "The timing was perfect.
I now fel
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