The team behind the $2m crime mystery Stolen discuss the challenges of being first-time film-makers and why Josh Lucas turned out to be so invaluable to the project.

Anders Anderson directed and produced and Andy Steinman produced Stolen with Code Entertainment. This is A2 Entertainment’s first feature and IFC Films is currently releasing the film in key US markets and simultaneously on VOD.

Stolen stars Lucas and Jon Hamm from the TV hit Mad Men. The story combines parallel timelines as Hamm plays a detective haunted by his son’s disappearance who finds clues to his son’s whereabouts when he finds a box containing the remains of a boy from 50 years ago. Lucas stars in the 1958 segment as a journeyman whose youngest son goes missing.

How did you start working together?

Anderson: I came out to LA after studying for a PhD in Chinese and medicine. I started acting and launched a small production company and we decided to hire Andy as the cinematographer for a short Western. We got along well and had the same feeling about movies so we formed A2 Entertainment and started looking for material and called everybody we knew in LA.

How did Code Entertainment get involved?

Anderson: Andy had worked on a project with Code a few months prior and when it came time for us to look for scripts, we knew they had a writer management company as well. They sent along Boy In The Box by Glenn Taranto who had known some of the producers at Code. When it came time to production, they helped us quickly put together a team with some of their contacts.

How did Josh Lucas help?

Steinman: We knew the script was great, but one of the challenges of being first-time film-makers was to get access to actors and sell them on us. Before we met Josh [Lucas, who also served as co-producer] we compiled a montage of clips from movies that we felt were similar to what we wanted to do and set them to music and artwork. We sent it to Josh with the script.

Anderson: Josh responded to it. He basically greenlit a movie for us and he co-produced the movie.

Steinman: At the time of pre-production it was August 2007 and the strike was looming. Josh was busy lining up another project and we spoke a lot on the phone and the first time we met him was to discuss wardrobe a few days before the start of production. We went out to get coffee and could see he wasn’t only interested in his role but in the whole story.

The setting is unspecified and you chose the Los Angeles area for the 23-day shoot. Why this location?

Anderson: Everything came together so fast because the fear of the strike made us realise we had a choice between making a movie then or not making one for two years. There was such a time crunch that it was difficult for us to find the locations, so we decided we could get the movie up and running and not worry about tax incentives from filming in another state. So the quickest way was to shoot in LA. We filmed as far away as possible from the city itself and had to figure ways to find towns where people hadn’t shot much before. Eventually we shot in mid-October 2007 in Chatsworth, Pasadena and Ventura Farms.

IFC came on board around AFM 2009. What caused the delay after production?

Anderson: It was nothing more than issues concerning the market and wondering where these distribution and sales companies were going to be [because of the economic collapse]. Our sales agent Arclight were great because they put us on to IFC. Foreign sales are going well although a lot of it depends also on how Mad Men hits specific territories with the Jon Hamm element.

Steinman: We’d been talking to a lot of people about distribution and then there was the merger between William Morris and Endeavor, which shook things up. IFC came on board around AFM and they’ve been so helpful.

What’s next?

Anderson: We’re finishing a few pitch books. We’ve optioned Dickfish by RS Moore [about the lives of six frisky young professionals in Washington], and we’ve got a genre project called Unity.