Focus : About The Filmmakers



When Neal Slavin first read Arthur Miller's Focus as a student at New York's Cooper Union School of Fine Arts in the early '60s, he vowed to one day make a film of the powerful novel. Even as he rose to become a world-renowned photographer and commercial director, Slavin remained passionate about the idea. Finally, after some 30 years and multiple re-readings, he approached Miller in the mid-'90s and, with friend and partner Michael Bloomberg, optioned the film rights.

Long regarded by his peers as a master of composition and color, Slavin imbues the film with a surreal intensity while remaining true to the novel's narrative integrity.

In many ways, Slavin was ideally suited to bring Focus to the screen. At its core, his photography has always shared many of the film's central motifs: identity, assimilation, and the delicate balance between our public and private selves. In his two most acclaimed series, "When Two or More are Gathered Together" and "Britons," Slavin revived the group portrait as both art form and sociological commentary. With compassion, humor and craft, the large-format pictures of such groups as The Channel Swimming Association and the Statue of Liberty staff capture the power and humanity of people coming together.

Throughout his 30-year career, Slavin's visual palette and strong thematic stance have brought him to the attention of museum curators, private collectors, gallery owners and art directors. His photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, the International Center for Photography, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in England, among many others. In addition, Slavin has appeared in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe, while contributing editorial pieces to such notable publications as The New York Times Magazine, Camera Magazine, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Artforum, Life Magazine and Town and Country.

A top commercial photographer, Slavin has worked on campaigns for a wide range of corporate clients, including Apple Computer, The Chase Manhattan Bank, Oliver Peoples, Reebok and Warner Communications. He made the jump to broadcast in 1988 after writing, directing and producing a short film about a Harlem-based swing band. The film caught the attention of executives at European American Bank, who asked Slavin to create their next campaign, a highly successful series of 17 shorts, each featuring a different group on Long Island.

Slavin has come a long way from his days as a traveling postcard photographer for the Eston Colorcraft Company, a job he held after graduating with a BFA from Cooper Union. In 1968 he became one of the first Fullbright Fellows in Photography, leading to the 1971 publication of his first book, Lustrum Press' Portugal, a dark, black and white document of the country. After returning to New York from Portugal, Slavin continued his experimental work and began a four-year stint as a photography teacher at Manhattanvile College, Queens College, the School of Visual Arts and Cooper Union.

By the mid-'70s, Slavin had become both a sought-after commercial and editorial
photographer and a respected artist, propelling him to top of his field where he has remained ever since. Along the way, Slavin has received copious honors, including two NEA Grants, a Creative Service Public Award, the American Society of Maealing Photographers' "Corporate Photographer of the Year" Award, and numerous awards from Communications Arts Magazine, the A. I. G. A.

and the Mead Library of Ideas. In addition, Slavin is listed in such reference works as Who's Who in American Art, The Photographers Guide and Men of Achievement, published by the International Biographical Center in Cambridge, England.


Robert Miller began his apprenticeship in the film industry as a student attending the University of Michigan. His film credits include Up the Down Staircase, Midnight Cowboy and his first feature film, The Crucible, which received two Academy Award® nominations.

Miller's diverse repertoire includes extensive national and international television commercial production credits for Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Ford, Jaguar, McDonald's, Visa, Mastercard, Nike and Adidas.

Miller's music video credits include Randy Newman's "I Love L. A. " and "It's Money that Matters," ZZ Top's "Legs" and "Sharp-Dressed Man," Huey Lewis & the News' "Bad is Bad" and "Power of Love" and Lou Reed's "I Love You Suzanne" and "The Red Joy Stick. " He also co-produced the Grateful Dead concert film Sunshine Dream.

Miller has directed Trophy Hunters and Tigers at The Company of Angels in Hollywood, and is a consulting judge for the Laguna Beach Film Festival. During the spring and fall semesters at Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Miller conducts a series of lectures in film production, directing and screen acting.

Additionally, Miller, with Neal Slavin and Kendrew Lascelles, is developing a play for the theatre based on an outgrowth of Slavin's research for Focus.


After graduating from the New York University Institute of Film & Television in 1978, joined ABC's Good Morning America as assistant producer. In 1980, Adelman received numerous awards for directing and producing for Group W Cable Productions.

As producer and director at Delilah Films, Adelman was at the helm of such projects as The Neville Brothers: Tell It Like It Is, The Doors in Europe, A Reggae Session, and HBO's Roy Orbison & Friends as well as Eric Burdon: The Animals & Beyond and Deep Purple: Heavy Metal Pioneers for Atlantic Records.

Adelman's additional production and credits include feature films, television documentaries, theatre/movie productions and music videos such as Chuck Berry: Hail, Hail Rock 'n' Roll, directed by Taylor Hackford, musical direction by Keith Richards; Let the Good Times Roll, Final Stage, James Dean, Big City Blues, Nevada, The Velocity of Gary, It Came From the Sky and The Day October Died.

Adelman recently co-produced the basketball feature documentary The Supreme Court.


Tariq Anwar has distinguished himself as a film editor in a career spanning over 30 years in the United States and the U. K. He recently earned an Academy Award nomination, an Ace Nomination and the BAFTA for Best Editing for American Beauty. His previous feature film credits include Tea with Mussolini, The Misadventures of Margaret, Alien Love Triangle, Object of My Affection, Cousin Bette, Wings of the Dove, The Crucible, Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets, Under Suspicion and The Madness of King George, which earned Anwar a BAFTA nomination for Best Editing.

Early in his career, Anwar determined that cutting was his passion and for 18 years edited numerous television programs at the BBC. For Oppenheimer, he received the BAFTA for Best Editing and BAFTA nominations for Summer's Lease, Fortunes of War, The Monocled Mutineer, Tender is the Night and Caught on a Train.

Anwar's additional television credits include HBO's Fatherland and Doomsday Guns, the pilot of Charing Cross, Hostage and Harnessing Peacocks.

Anwar's next feature film project, Four Feathers, is directed by Shekhar Kapur.


Production designer Vlasta Svoboda recreated 40s Brooklyn in 21st century Toronto. Svoboda's greatest joy and challenges have been her work on period pieces, including the television miniseries based on Danielle Steele's The Ring, spanning four decades and set in New York, Paris and England; Edith Wharton's turn-of-the-century The Reef, which took place in Paris and England; and the magical, mystical sets of King Arthur's The Mists of Avalon.

Svoboda's diverse art direction can be recognized in numerous feature films: Gossip. Three to Tango, A Cool Dry Place, Woo, It Takes Two and To Die For.

She also adds television movies to her credits, most recently with the dramatic film noir At the Mercy of a Stranger, Sex and Mrs. "X", Run the Wild Fields, set in 1945, as well as the contemporary sets of Friends At Last, The Boys Next Door, Young At Heart and Trilogy of Terror II.


Juan Ruiz-Anchia's more than 20-year career spans documentaries, short films, feature films and the commercial and music video genre. Born in Bilbao, Spain, Ruiz-Anchia graduated in 1972 from the Escuela Oficial de cinematografia in Madrid, during which time he explored his cinematic skill with a number of documentaries, short films and a drama: Una Escultura (1972), El Dresencanto (1972) and Estado de sito (1970).

In 1999, Ruiz-Anchia was awarded the Goya Prize for Best Cinematography at the Hispanic Film Festival for Mararia.

Ruiz-Anchia's is also recognized in such films as Loren: Blood of a Poet, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Corrupter, At Close Range, Dying Young, Things Change, House of Games, Miss Lonelyhearts, Liebestraum, Mr. Jones, Where the River Runs Black and The Seventh Sign.

Ruiz-Anchia's foray into commercial work includes American Express and 1-800-COLLECT as well as Madonna's music video, "Bad Girl. "

Mark Adler brings to his work as a composer a broad background in both film and music. At age 16, he created an award-winning animated short, which the New York Museum of Modern Art acquired for its permanent archive collection. A year later, he was the recipient of an American Film Institute production grant for his original screenplay. He studied piano privately for fifteen years, and was initially a music major. His return to music followed graduation from UCLA film school (magna cum laude), where he studied film scoring with David Raksin.

His earliest feature film work involved orchestrating and conducting Mark
Isham's scores for Never Cry Wolf and Mrs. Soffel. He followed those
projects with work as a music editor on such films as Amadeus, Blue
Velvet and Godfather III. He has scored twelve television movies and seven
feature films. One of those projects being Picture Bride, which won the Audience Award at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival. Virgin Records released his soundtrack for that film and the Main Title was featured in the 1997 soundtrack compilation, "Miramax Films Greatest Hits" (which also included the work of Ennio Morricone, Hans Zimmer, Elmer Bernstein and Luis Bacalov. )

Other credits include the Wayne Wang films Eat A Bowl of Tea and Life Is Cheap, over a dozen National Geographic Specials, and three Oscar-nominated feature documentaries. In 1999 he won a Primetime Emmy for his work on HBO's The Rat Pack, which featured Ray Liotta, Joe Mantegna and Don Cheadle. Other recent TV movie scores include Hallmark Entertainment's "Forbidden Territory: Stanley's Search for Livingstone," starring Aidan Quinn and Nigel Hawthorne, for which he received a 1998 Primetime Emmy nomination, "Flowers For Algernon" starring Mathew Modine, and two Hallmark Hall of Fame productions. He was commissioned to compose a new main theme for the long-running PBS series, American Experience, which debuted last fall.

He also composed and produced source music for the Philip Kaufman films The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Henry and June, and was involved as a producer in the recreation of indigenous Brazilian music for the Saul Zaentz
production "At Play in the Fields of the Lord. " This range of experience has
resulted in an eclectic musical style, often drawing on jazz, folk, world
music, and traditional orchestral idioms.


Vicki Graef has established a solid reputation providing contemporary and period costume designs in the film and television industry. Graef's period feature films include Mariette in Ecstasy, set in 1906 upstate New York; the colorfully stylized costumes of Dick Tracy from the 1930's; and Marie: A True Story, set in 1970 Tennessee. Her period television movies include Boss of Bosses, Love Letters and the multi Emmy-nominated Lincoln, based on Gore Vidal's novel.

Graef's contemporary costume styling can be recognized in numerous feature films: Three To Tango, Universal's Half Baked, Columbia Pictures' Booty Call, Paramount's Godfather III, Columbia Discovery's Sapphire Man, Miramax Films' Return of the Swamp Thing, New Horizons' Big Bad Mama II, Transworld Pictures' Programmed to Kill, MGM's Evil Dead II, Orion Pictures' China Moon and the independent feature film Homage.

She also adds television movies to her credits, most recently, Warner Brothers' Gilmore Girls, CBS's The Last Don Part II and A&E's Thin Air and Small Vices.

Author : 2001 Paramount Classics