Luck brings WWE champ to Sleeper film
By Zona Marie Tan
Even before hitting cinemas, Australian high concept action-thriller flick Sleeper has already made waves in the U.S. following news that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) champion Scott ‘Raven’ Levy will play the lead.
Helmed by first-time feature director Dru Brown, Sleeper is about escaped convict Resnik, who makes his bloody way through a small bayside town to hunt down his love interest.
The film will feature plenty of live-action and stunning fight sequences brought to life by Australia’s most respected stunt coordinator and stuntman, Darko Tuskan (The Matrix Revolutions, MI:2).
With a mere $50,000 budget, Brown says that getting Levy on board was pure luck.
“We only really got Scott through a series of co-incidences,” says Brown. “We knew we needed a ‘name’ to play the main antagonist role of Resnik. We approached Brisbane Lions’ Jonathon Brown only to get knocked back and told we were dreaming. As we were drawing closer to production, we gave up and were just on the look out for any ‘big scary looking guy’.”
But even after commencing principal photography, Brown persisted and tried again with the Australian Wrestling Federation.
“We started production and had pushed all of Resnik’s scenes towards the end of the shoot to accommodate the lack of a Resnik,” explains Brown. “Then we got a call from Australian wrestling champion Greg Bownds telling us that Scott was in town and that we should approach him.”
“We quickly got in contact with Scott and explained our situation. He then asked for the script and a day later committed. So in the span of 48 hours we went from no one to an ex-WWF world champion with a fan base of millions!”
Within two days of the news, Sleeper’s website received 6,000 hits from reports stemming from wrestling websites and WWE/TNA fan boys all over the world, mostly in the U.S.
“We knew Raven was the guy to drive the film, and it gave us a very unique selling tool and already established market,” says Brown. “We find it funny that this Australian high concept, small budget action film is being talked about by thousands of people in the US but very few outside the production here. Still, we aren’t complaining.”
Alongside Levy, the cast of Sleepers also includes New Zealand actor Bruce Hopkins (as Gamling in Lord of the Rings), Kym Jackson (Criminal Minds), Ty Hungerford (See No Evil), Corey Robinson (The Condemned, The Marine), Robert Reitano (See No Evil) and international model Lauren Orrel.
Although Sleeper doesn’t yet have a distribution deal, Brown’s Brisbane-based production company Seven 8 Media are already in discussion with Levy to develop future productions which will include other famous WWE wrestlers.
For more information about Sleeper, visit www.sleeper-film.com