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COLD CREEK MANOR

About The Production
"Cold Creek Manor” was born when screenwriter and executive producer Richard Jefferies was writing "Tron 2.0” for Walt Disney Pictures. Over dinner with the studio's top creative executives one night, Jefferies mentioned an idea that he had been toying with for several years. It was a thriller about a family that moves from the city to the country, where they buy a great old fixer-upper house. But their dream turns into a nightmare when the home's former owner shows up and a mystery unravels. The executives bought the pitch the next day and asked Jefferies to write the movie immediately. Anchoring Jefferies' script was the disconcerting idea of not knowing who used to live in your home before you did, or what happened there. 

Meanwhile, director Mike Figgis had recently decided to return to mainstream filmmaking when the script came to his attention. After completing the drama "One Night Stand” for New Line, which boasted such big names as Wesley Snipes and Robert Downey Jr., Figgis chose to "challenge the language of filmmaking” by concentrating on using digital technology to create experimental and innovative projects. Digital cameras allowed him the freedom to use a lighter equipment load and the flexibility to create "chamber pieces with lesser known actors and smaller crews.” 

Armed with the wisdom and experience he acquired through this new approach to filmmaking, Figgis decided it was time to undertake another studio project. "I have always been a fan of genre pictures,” he explains. Earlier in his career, Figgis had directed the thriller "Internal Affairs,” starring Richard Gere and Andy Garcia, and he was ready to explore dark-edged territory once again. 

"Cold Creek Manor”—the story of a family of cityfolk who move into a creepy mansion in upstate New York and embark on a spine-tingling search for clues to the estate's lurid past—fired Figgis' imagination. "Obviously when you engage with a script, you want to bring your own ideas and collaborate with the writer. But there was enough in that first reading to interest me, and make me enthusiastic about the film's potential. There were three or four areas that I thought were really frightening.” 

Figgis rang his agent to indicate his interest, and soon he was flying from his base in London to meet with Nina Jacobson, President of the Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group, and other studio executives to discuss the project. The discussion was a positive one. "They liked what I was suggesting about the film, and right then and there, they asked if I would like to do it. It was a simple process,” explains Figgis. 

Figgis wanted to stay true to the psychological thriller genre, but give it a new twist. "I wanted us to be faithful to the genre, but with the understanding that there are fresh elements that we could bring to it. The genre is strong enough by itself that you can bring your own personal touch to it.” 

Figgis met with Touchstone executives in March, and it was clear that the film had to be shot in the summertime. "The trees had to be green, so right away the clock was ticking loud and fast,” says Figgis. "We had two choices: either we shoot immediately, or wait until 2003.” The first choice was made, and the process took on a new level of urgency. Six months after Richard Jefferies delivered the screenplay, "Cold Creek Manor” was in production. 

Next, the filmmakers tackled the task of casting the project. "Right away we started having conversations about casting and about combinations of people that might be good together,” says Figgis. "It was a thriller that took place with a family, so it had to be an interesting family.” 

Figgis wanted to establish the Tilsons' authenticity within the constraints of the genre, and so casting the right actors was crucial. "This is a couple with an established marriage, and there are so many possibilit

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