Miramax, Ziehl in ‘Airtime’ deal

Producer to helm, co-write drama

Scott Ziehl has inked an unusual deal to direct and co-write his original story “Airtime” for Miramax Films. The film, a drama involving media manipulation and cat-and-mouse car chases, will be produced by Lawrence Bender, Richard Gladstein and Roxana Zal with a budget of between $10 million and $15 million. It will likely go before the cameras in the spring.

Ziehl, who had produced several low-budget action features, made his directing debut with “Broken Vessels.” The film premiered at the L.A. Indie Fest in March, receiving the top prize and is in next month’s Toronto Film Fest lineup.

“I wanted to meet Scott after I saw ‘Broken Vessels.’ He’s got a very visceral style and is a practical filmmaker,” Bender said. “What I didn’t know was that he had a pitch.”

Committed to produce

Bender said that midway through Ziehl’s description he committed to produce it. However, the filmmaker informed him that he was awaiting word from Gladstein’s company FilmColony about possible participation.

“After the initial ‘Broken Vessel’ screenings, I started to get offers to make a certain type of street picture,” Ziehl said. “I wanted to do ‘Airtime,’ which I could never afford to produce myself, and realized I could capitalize on the heat from the L.A. Indie fest to finally do it.”

Ziehl said the core of the story is the disaffected youths who devise ingenious ways of baiting the cops into high- speed chases and elude capture by preparing effective escape routes. He noted that most freeway chases have involved “joyriders” and that the film will tackle such issues as why the kids crave the attention and how the police determine how and when to pursue.

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