HIGH CRIMES stars Ashley Judd, Morgan
Freeman, Jim Caviezel, Amanda Peet, and Adam Scott. Carl Franklin directs. Arnon
Milchan, Janet Yang and Jesse B'Franklin are the producers, with a screenplay by
Yuri Zeltser & Cary Bickley, based on the novel by Joseph Finder. Lisa
Henson and Kevin Reidy are the executive producers. Naomi Despres is the
The production team includes director
of photography Theo Van de Sande, ASC, production designer Paul Peters, costume
designer Sharen Davis, editor Carole Kravetz-Aykanian and composer Graeme Revell.
Writer Joseph Finder, an expert on the
CIA and international politics, has for nearly a decade been hailed for his mix
of non-stop thrills and political intrigue in his novels The Moscow Club,
Extraordinary Powers, The Zero Hour and, most recently, High
When the novel High Crimes was
submitted to producer Janet Yang and her former partner in Manifest Films, Lisa
Henson, Yang thought the novel had the ingredients that would make a terrific
motion picture. Like Finder's other novels, High Crimes' rapid-fire pace was
inherently cinematic. Equally important, it had a strong female protagonist who
is placed in an extraordinary situation. "The novel had this wonderful
premise about a female criminal defense lawyer who ends up having to defend her
husband," Yang explains. "Claire makes tough, almost impossible
choices throughout the story. We thought that was something both men and
certainly women could relate to."
Adapting Finder's dense plotting and
complex structure into a workable screenplay proved challenging. Yang turned to
the screenwriting (and husband-and-wife) team of Yuri Zeltser & Cary Bickley,
whom Yang says had the discipline and creative spark to mold the story into a
With the Zeltser & Bickley
screenplay in hand, Yang began the search for a director who could bring more
than high-powered action scenes and "conventional" genre elements to
the project. "I wanted a filmmaker who had gotten consistently great
performances from his actors," says Yang, "so that HIGH CRIMES would
be more than just a thriller."
A chance meeting with Jesse B'Franklin,
producing partner and, more recently the wife of director Carl Franklin, proved
fortuitous. Yang passed the script to B'Franklin, who saw great potential in the
script, particularly with its central character. "I thought Claire was a
fascinating character," B'Franklin relates. "She's a successful
professional woman who was living the good life, but suddenly found herself in a
situation she never could have imagined."
B'Franklin immediately gave the script
to Franklin, who shared her enthusiasm for the project. "The story's 'David
and Goliath' aspects really appealed to me," says Franklin, whose "One
False Move" and "Devil in a Blue Dress" also pitted a lone
character against seemingly unbeatable obstacles.
Yang knew that Franklin, all of whose
films offered finely-observed character studies, would bring something special
to HIGH CRIMES. "Carl has an unerring sense of authenticity, a kind of
seamless sense of reality," Yang explains. "Every moment in his films
is real. You sense that he's capturing a slice of life in all its dimensions and
Once Franklin came aboard HIGH CRIMES,
he set about adding some character-base
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