Rare coin chase leads film through Great Neck office

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A Great Neck law office recently crossed paths with a story of ancient Egyptian folklore.
“The Hit,” an independent film, shot scenes at the law office of Elias C. Schwartz at 343 Great Neck Road.
“He has Hollywood clientele and he saw my resume and my pitch and I told him we have kind of a unique style and gave him all the background,” said A. J. Cross, the film’s director and lead actor. “He was eager to help us out.”
Schwartz said it was the first time a movie had been filmed in his office and that he was willing to help Cross because of his own appreciation for the arts.
“I’ve developed a passion for the creativity of the people that work in the industry and particularly those who are trying to break in on low budgets with a lot of talent and little dollars,” he said.
The manner in which he and Cross found each other, Schwartz said, was a bit unconventional.
“I was running an ad to hire a secretary on Craigslist,” he said. “He reached out to me from that ad, offering up front at how bizarre the request was going to sound. Since I was looking for a secretary, he assumed I had an office.”
Schwartz, a Great Neck resident since 1959, said it ended up working out perfectly because his offices have “two distinct décors,” so Cross was able to film two scenes at the office that, in the movie, took place in two separate locations.
He said he did not charge Cross any fees for using his office.
“He’s a young filmmaker and all of the actors and participants were all donating their time for this effort to bring this movie out so it was my pleasure as a patron of the arts to allow them to film within the office,” Schwartz said. “It was very exciting that he was coming and everybody enjoyed it.”
He said that after his experience with Cross, he would be willing to allow other filmmakers to shoot scenes at his office.
The film, Cross said, is a romantic comedy that tells the story of a man from the United Kingdom and a woman from New York City on their journey to reclaim a rare coin that leads to a lost treasure belonging to ancient Egyptians.
“The film brings Kam, this young wide-eyed guy who has this kind of appreciation for the artistic value of objects, from the United Kingdom to New York not knowing what will happen,” Cross said. “He meets his Juliet. He meets the girl who has become his light in the darkness, who lights the way for him because he’s an outsider.”
In their quest to secure the coin, he said, Kam and his partner, Val, played by Inna Beynishes, cross paths with “repo men” seeking to find the coin for themselves.
“Peter Murphy becomes this iconic guy who is this menacing, intimidating role in the movie,” Cross said. “He keeps coming back and it’s kind of haunting in a way.”
He said part of what has pleased him in the film’s production stage was the talent of all the actors.
Cross said he spent a lot of time casting for the roles in the film, and feels that it has “very talented cast members who were perfect in their roles.”
As well as starring and directing the film, he also wrote it and is the producer.
Cross said that the film was his “own vision,” and he drew from experiences in his life.
While he was attending St. John’s University, he studied abroad in Rome, where he saw the Trevi Fountain, which served as one of the influences for the film.
“The fountain is this place where you throw a coin behind your back and it says if you throw a coin into the fountain you will always go back to Rome,” Cross said. “That experience in Rome that I had and the legend of the fountain subconsciously caused me to write this movie.”
After graduating, he said he worked at a museum in Morristown, N.J., which also influenced his writing of the film.
“When you work at a museum, it is a magical place where history comes alive,” Cross said.
He also said that critically acclaimed films like “National Treasure” and “The Mummy”  influenced the film.
Cross, a Queens resident, said that once the film is completed, he wanted to send it to film festivals and hold private screenings, including one in Great Neck.
He said his distribution plan was to have the film available on popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.
“The Internet gives us this chance to really reach out to a wider audience,” Cross said. “And give people this chance to watch a movie they might not have a chance to watch otherwise and live out this escapism.”
He said the film was about 75 percent complete, with most of it taking place in New York City.
Cross said he wanted to take an “ancient theme” and base it in a “modern city.”
“The Hit” is expected to be released this December, he said.
“I want this movie to live on and have its own place but also have a place within the pavilion of movies that are these light comedies,” Cross said. “The vision was to create this movie that would lead, metaphorically, a passage through the hidden tomb.”

By Joe Nikic

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