How many actors get to beat up George Clooney on film? OK. So the plot called for Bruiser - Scott L. Schwartz' character in Ocean's Eleven - to fake the punches. But he did land one which Clooney's Danny Ocean didn't expect.
Schwartz reprised his small role of Bruiser in the two subsequent Ocean films, which also starred Brad Pitt and a cast of celebrated character actors. But it's the Philadelphia native's directorial debut with “Changing Hands” which brings him to this year's Atlantic City Cinefest, which runs Oct. 14 to 16. In addition to screening “Changing Hands,” Schwartz will receive the Lifesaver Award for achievement in film.
An action thriller, “Changing Hands” tells the story of a gun, and the path it takes on its journey through different hands. From stolen roots, to unscrupulous trades, to robberies and assaults, this film follows the twists and turns of the travels of the gun.
"Working on `Ocean's Thirteen,’ I helped Steven Soderbergh overcome a problem in filming and he said to me, 'you should direct. You would make a great director,'" said Schwartz, who also wrote the script and co-stars. "When Soderbergh tells you that you should do something, you listen to him."
Directing a film was a total learning experience, he said. "Without of the help of my friend and colleague Michael Candelori, I would have been totally lost. In virtually every scene, he educated me in the art of film making." The visit to Atlantic City will be like coming home as he often frequented the shore growing up.
Schwartz grew up in Northeast Philadelphia. After college he became a professional wrestler, trained by Walter "Killer" Kowalski. He wrestled initially as Giant David, and later changed his name to Joshua Ben-Gurion -The Israeli Commando. He wrestled in Japan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, American and Western Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Guam, Hawaii as well as 40 states and every province in Canada.
"I never wanted to be an actor," he said. While wrestling in California, he was approached by an agent who had seen him wrestle on television. He told him he thought he should try acting. He did. Because of his size, agility, ability to carry out dialogue, and mean looks, Scott got a lot of roles as a bad guy. In addition to the three Ocean movies, Schwartz appeared in “Fun with Dick and Jane,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “Scorpion King,” “Spider-Man,” “Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas” and “Fire Down Below.” A bunch of TV shows, too. To find out more about “Changing Hands,” visit www.changinghandsfilm.com.
During Scott's free time, he visits children's hospitals throughout the world, signing autographs, posing for photos. He focuses on children with life threatening illnesses. His interest began in 1998 when Scott lost his sister Beth to lung cancer. At that time doctors told him that a happy, upbeat attitude of the patient is a key factor in battling this tragic disease. More on that can be found at http://scottlschwartzchildrensfoundation.wordpress.com/
The 9th annual Atlantic City Cinefest will present more than 50 feature, short and documentary films. The film festival will serve up a mix of comedy, drama, horror and science fiction, many from New Jersey filmmakers.
As with last year, films will be screened in the resort's Arts District at Dante Hall Theater and the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University, both on Mississippi Avenue.
The festival opens with the East Coast premiere of “Bad Frank,” starring Howell, New Jersey's Kevin Interdonato, Tom Sizemore and last year's honoree, Brian O'Halloran, also from New Jersey. First time director, Mendham’s Tony Germinario, wrote the drama, with Red Bank's Peter Dobson producing. The film, made entirely in New Jersey, centers on Frank Pierce, who leads a seemingly normal life, but when a disturbing past re-emerges and something precious is taken from him, his mask of sanity loosens and unearths the urge to be violent once again.
Dobson stars in and produced the short, “The Demo,” which precedes “Bad Frank.”
For more details, visit atlanticcitycinefest.org. Tickets are $40 for a Weekend Pass; $25 for a day pass and $5 for a single block of films. Purchase them at the door, through
www.atlanticcitycinefest.org or through Stockton University. Ticket go on sale by mid-month.
Atlantic City Cinefest celebrates the art form of independent moviemaking. The festival has hosted Kevin Smith, Terry Winter, Robert Downey, Sr., Scott Rosenfelt, William Forsythe, Dominique Swain and Brian O'Halloran during the first eight years. Presented by Downbeach Film Festival, the Cinefest shows movies at Dante Hall Theater, 14 N. Mississippi Avenue and the Noyes Arts Garage, 2200 Fairmount Avenue. Both venues are managed by Stockton University.