The Olson Brothers answer the operator call! Directors Amariah and Obin Olson candidly discuss their upcoming release Operator while on set.
What can you tell us about the film?
Operator is an action/thriller exploring an aspect of society that is important but often overlooked: 911 call center operators and emergency dispatchers.
The story was compelling for us as directors because of the insight it provides into these unsung heroes, men and women faced with so many crimes and having to learn to deal with these situations as the first response team… and then throw in the thought of “what if this system were taken over by a criminal to pull off the biggest heist of the century?” We thought this idea would be very interesting to explore as a film, thus Operator was born.
Being able to juxtapose storylines (the story of a broken relationship against the primary plot of their daughter taken hostage and the city under siege) proved to be a challenge. Not only did we have to ride the fine line of believability from the dramatic angle, we had to balance it with the action, and meld it all together seamlessly.
Describe the characters–who are they?
This film is about everyday people who get thrown into extraordinary situations. Luke Goss doesn’t play a superhero cop. In fact, he’s just been demoted and is struggling with his personal life. Mischa Barton’s character is a mother, a behind-the-scenes type of hero. Ving Rhames isn’t just the bad guy. He had to play an intense character with only a phone, no other actors to play off of. Michael Pare’s character is a cop that toys with greed and with frustrations that seem common these days.
Audiences will enjoy the various layers that make this high-octane film more than the stereotypical shoot-em-up flick. Suspense and intrigue gets woven through every scene. We try to keep the suspense high and the action well-paced. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. You don’t know who’s in on it. You don’t know what’s going to happen to your favorite characters or the characters that you hate the most.
Did the lead actors have a say in the movie?
As directors, we always feel the pressure and urgency outside of the storyline as well; the time and budget constraints can make it very difficult to coordinate the shoot and bring together a team of people who are as passionate about making films as we are. On Operator we were pleased to have the lead actors believe in us, to come aboard, and to collaborate to make a film that will (hopefully) entertain audiences.
Working with an interesting story helps to bring out our passions while we work toward that goal – and we couldn’t have done it without our fantastic crew. Everybody was excited to join the project, whether it was because of the nonstop action sequences (the buildings blowing up, the structures collapsing, the car chases, and the car wrecks) or the complicated and relatable characters.
How was it working with Ving, Luke, Michael, and Mischa?
Ving Rhames portrayed a complex individual. He fit the character perfectly. He’s scary. He’s a big guy with a deep and intimidating voice. He was a perfect villain to be on the other end of a phone line. He was an immense force but beneath that character’s rough exterior is a broken man. His emotional performance brings out the duality of the character and he was fantastic. We were lucky to be able to have him play this role.
Luke Goss was always full of energy. He gave his all to each of the scenes that he was involved in. He did what needed to be done with no question. Run through a fire? Done. Break through a door? Got it. In fact, he did all of his own stunts which added a level of authenticity that can be lost by using stunt doubles.
It was so great to work with Michael Pare. After watching The Greatest American Hero, The Lincoln Lawyer, and The Virgin Suicides, we were thrilled to be able to work with him. He took his character to a whole other level by playing to his complex motivations and background.
It was our pleasure to work with Mischa Barton. Not a lot of people know what they would do in a situation like that: when the people that you love are threatened you will do almost anything, but here we have an added layer of conflict. Save the city or save your daughter?
Any message for the audience?
When the audience has to pay Php200 for a film, they need to be able to feel fulfilled when the end credits start rolling. If they can feel gratified with a fun, suspenseful thrill ride that keeps them guessing, then we’ve done our jobs.
We want to thank everyone that has been a part of this film. We’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by a terrific and talented team. They’ve helped make this vision a reality. We were excited to make Operator and we hope that audiences find it as exciting to watch as it was to make.
Opening across the Philippines on October 21, 2015, Operator is distributed by Solar Pictures.