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WANTED

Before The Production
From Comic Book to Screen

"Cool as hell,” "unique,” "experimental,” "ironic” and "creative genius” are just some of the words used to describe Russian-born director Timur Bekmambetov, who hails from the city of Guryev in Kazakhstan. Bekmambetov's vision has landed him his first English-language film, in collaboration with astute producers and an award-winning cast and crew, all under the aegis of a large American movie studio. Just how did that happen? Perhaps a little background… The year 2004 saw the release of Bekmambetov's film Nochnoy Dozor (or Night Watch). The film was budgeted at $1.8 million but grossed more than $16 million in Russia alone, making it more of a hit in his own country than The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The sequel to Night Watch (the first installment of the trilogy), Day Watch, was released in Russia in early 2006. Again, the film was considered low budget (costing just $4.2 million) and became a juggernaut—grossing nearly $40 million in Bekmambetov's home country.

About the same time, executives at Marc Platt Productions had come across Mark Millar and J.G. Jones' first issue of their comic book series "Wanted” and immediately thought the dark and inventive tale had huge cinematic potential…but the subject matter (a covert band of super villains who has split up the world into factions) needed an offbeat spin. They sought an exciting, creative new filmmaker who thought beyond limits and, after seeing Night Watch, they knew they'd found their man. If Bekmambetov could create such a visually stunning movie on such a low budget, producers reasoned, there would be no holding back the auteur's energetic point of view and dark sensibility when given a large-scale budget and the vast resources available to a studio-made film. Producer Marc Platt comments, "The cinematic experience of Timur's work and the visual language employed by him are so unique, eye-popping and extraordinary, I knew his was a voice that had to be heard. I had never experienced visual images in that way. I thought by matching him and his ability to create a completely new world with this material, we could create something exciting, experimental and yet accessible for audiences all over the world.”

Bekmambetov's producing partner, Jim Lemley, adds, "We spent two years getting from the first draft of the script to the shoot. It was important for us to push through a comfort level of what had been seen on film before and come up with ideas— no matter how outlandish they seemed on paper—that could visually blow the audience away.”

Regarding his trust in the director's unique vision, Lemley concludes, "You could put three people in a room, give them the same camera and ask them to take the same shot. Timur's image would be amazing.”

Of his thoughts on visual imagery, Bekmambetov remarks, "It is like 100 ideas are going on inside my brain, all fighting to come out. What happens is this makes a new style, maybe something that no one has seen before. I want to put the audience in the action—in the middle—so that they go on a journey with the character, not just sit and watch.”

The director's mantra seems to be a fantastic realism on each of his projects. He believes there should be a realistic base to every action, every emotion, no matter how outlandish the circumstances. As a director, his attention to detail gives him something on which to focus—a solid way into each scene.

"Making my first film in English is not so different from my other movies,” claims the director. "I just try to communicate with the audience, fall in love with them in a way and make a good movie for them—be a good storyteller for them.” The director's approach to filmmaking and skewed tone hardly changed with his move to an American-studio and English-language production. Platt adds

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