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PRESS RELEASE

April 12, 2005

 

SWARTZWELDER SPEAKS ON
PROJECT 168 PANEL

 

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Photo © 2005 Elise P. Gordillo

168 HOUR FILM PROJECT
Interactive Panel Participants

Left to right:
Greg Michael - writer (BABY GENIUSES), second-unit director (VAN
HELSING, THE SCORPION KING, THE MUMMY)
Ralph Winter - producer (FANTASTIC FOUR, X-MEN, X2)
Hudson Hickman - senior vice president, MGM Worldwide Television Group
Rik Swartzwelder - writer-director-producer (THE LEAST OF THESE)
Luke Schelhaas - writer-producer (SMALLVILLE, TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL)
Billy Zabka - writer-producer (Oscar-nominated MOST), actor (THE KARATE
KID, BACK TO SCHOOL, JUST ONE OF THE GUYS)


Filmmaker Rik Swartzwelder was recently invited to participate in an interactive panel discussion for the 168 Hour Film Project in Los Angeles, California. On Saturday, April 9, Swartzwelder and the other select panelists fielded wide-ranging audience questions on the topics of cinema and faith and how the two can intersect successfully. Joining him on the stage were Ralph Winter, producer (Fantastic Four, X-MEN, X2); Hudson Hickman, senior vice president, MGM Worldwide Television Group; Luke Schelhaas, writer-producer (Smallville, Touched by an Angel); Billy Zabka, writer-producer of the Oscar-nominated short Most and actor (The Karate Kid, Back to School, Just One of the Guys); and Greg Michael, second-unit director (Van Helsing, The Scorpion King, The Mummy).

“The enthusiasm in that room was palpable,” Swartzwelder said. “I was honored to be a part of it and, of course, a little in awe of the folks I was sitting on that panel with. What really impressed me, though, was the level of commitment and tenacity I witnessed in the audience: there is a growing colony of filmmakers that simply will not settle for cinematic mediocrity and is unafraid to do the hard work of making the spiritual authentic on the screen.”

Swartzwelder is best known for writing, directing, and producing the 35mm short The Least of These. That beautiful and haunting slice-of-life film became a runaway hit on the festival circuit, winning 27 awards and garnering over 60 “official selection” screenings internationally before launching into worldwide retail distribution in the fall of 2004. He also served as first assistant director on Florida-based filmmaker Joe O’Brien’s Blackwater Elegy, which also met with extraordinary festival acclaim. Prior to his work on those films, Swartzwelder won the “Student Emmy” for his graduate thesis film, Paul McCall, which he produced at The Florida State University; and, he established the central Florida comedy troupe Studio 13, while a student at Lake-Sumter Community College in Leesburg, Florida.

Presently, Swartzwelder just completed work on a screenplay for LA-based director Harold Cronk. Adapted from a short story by Mark Twain, the film is scheduled to go into production this May in western Michigan. Another script, a short and controversial parody piece, will be lensed under the helm of LA-based director Benjamin Hershleder in Los Angeles this May and June. In addition, Swartzwelder continues to develop his pet project, Old Fashioned, a romantic comedy he’s diligently working toward being his first produced feature. For more information on Swartzwelder or if you’d like to purchase a DVD of The Least of These, please visit www.oldfashionedpictures.com.

The 168 Hour Film Project was created to give filmmakers of faith the opportunity to network with industry insiders and to collaborate, over the course of just one week, on films exploring spiritual themes. Since its inception in 2003, over 750 filmmakers have participated in creating provocative new works in only 168 hours. For more information, please visit www.168project.com.

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