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THE LAST SHOT

Production Information
Writer/director Jeff Nathanson first came upon the true story on which he based "The Last Shot” while reading an article by Steve Fishman in the February 1996 issue of Details magazine. The exposé, titled "What's Wrong With This Picture?” was an account of an obscure but real life FBI undercover sting operation in which two aspiring Hollywood filmmakers, Gary Levy and Dan Lewk, became unwitting pawns in the government's covert operation to ferret out the mob.

Levy and Lewk had achieved a modicum of recognition in Hollywood in the 1980s with their low-budget, twelve-minute comedy film, "The Good Life.” Critics applauded the short film, and it went on to win multiple awards on the film festival circuit. Their next low-budget comedy, "Raw Tunes,” was selected for screening at The Sundance Film Festival. Still, the partners seemed in distant sight of achieving their dreams of being successful Hollywood filmmakers. As disciplined and determined as they were, the team couldn't catch a break.

Then suddenly, opportunity seemed to be within their reach as they were unexpectedly summoned to the Wilshire Boulevard offices of David Rudder Productions.

David Rudder Productions? It didn't matter to Levy and Lewk that in all their years in Hollywood they had never heard of producer David Rudder. In fact, Rudder openly admitted that he had never produced a movie in his life. However, he insisted that he had an alliance of investors who trusted him and who would back whatever motion picture project he wanted to pursue. To Levy and Lewk the only thing that counted was that after pitching movie ideas to untold numbers of producers someone believed in them and was willing to lay out the cash to turn their dreams into reality.

There was only one catch. Although Levy and Lewk's screenplay was set in Arizona, and required locations as specific as The Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, and Native American caves, Rudder insisted that they had to shoot the film in Providence, Rhode Island. Baffled, but undeterred, and willing to go to any length to make their film, the duo agreed to adapt the story to accommodate New England.

Pre-production ensued, and the following weeks were spent rewriting the script and scouting locations in Providence that could, with a stretch of the imagination, double for sites in the Arizona desert. They assembled the production crew, auditioned actors and cast each of the roles.

And then the unthinkable occurred. When they were a mere five days away from the start of principal photography, as suddenly and unexpectedly as the project had begun for them, Levy and Lewk were informed by Rudder that the biggest (albeit nonexistent) investor had backed out of the project. "We have to pull the plug on the production,” said the undercover FBI agent to the stunned and demoralized would-be filmmakers.

"Many are called, but few are chosen.” So goes the mantra in Hollywood movie-making circles. It is a minor miracle when a film project actually reaches the screen of a movie theatre, but for Levy and Lewk to have been so close to achieving their dream, and to then have it literally ripped out of their grasp at the eleventh hour was an ordeal that neither man could understand … until several years later.

The truth about what really happened during that incredibly short-lived but enthusiastic and heady period in their careers was revealed in an article in the Los Angeles Times (July 15, 1992). It was through the media that they discovered their movie production experience had been nothing more than a ruse set up by the FBI in an attempt to capture a few mobsters who were brokering bribes between filmmakers and the teamsters who provide trucks for motion picture productions. Levy and Lewk had simply been dupe

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