"The Hollywood pitch would be the Indiana Jones story of finding the Ark in the future," explained Shmuel Hoffman of Allentown-based Hoffman productions. "The film, a half-hour pilot for a proposed television series, is called The Ark Report. It is planned for release in film festivals in early 2013."
Hoffman and his team of 30 actors and crew came to Lansford's No. 9 Mine to film a series of scenes depicting action taking place in an underground cavern beneath the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In search of the location for the scene, Hoffman turned to event planner Tara Banninger of Jim Thorpe Weddings & Events.
"I take care of the logistics and provide food for the cast and crew, make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there," Banninger explained. "He needed to find an underground cave system. Being from the Jim Thorpe area, I'm Familiar with the No. 9 Mine. I came out, scoped it out, and showed him some pictures. He loved it and felt it was the perfect site for our movie."
"The Ark is believed to be in Jerusalem in a tunnel under the Western Wall. There's an entrance into a huge tunnel system. We are attempting to imitate that look," Hoffman said. "The No. 9 Mine tunnel is a fantastic location. It has everything that we could dream for. It has water coming out. In the tunnel in Jerusalem there is also water coming out. It is very spacious. There is an old elevator there that has a surreal element, which suits our needs because we want to make a sci-fi film using ordinary things, but refunction them and give them a different meaning."
"I wanted The Ark Report to be highly entertaining but also have layers of meaning, that has an allegorical wrapping around the story," said film writer Asher Crispe, who is also the film's artistic director and a rabbi in Philadelphia.
"It's science-fiction oriented," he continued. "In science fiction there is always room for improvement. I see a lot of dystopic science fiction with an unredeemable future. In this story, the future can be redeemed by interplay between past events and future events."
"Today, this mine is doubling for an ancient archaeological site," Crispe said. "There is a certain amount of ambiguity as to which Ark this refers to. Is it the biblical Ark of the Covenant as in The Raiders of the Lost Ark? The search for the Ark is really the search for meaning. The meaning here is buried and hidden and has to be exposed and uncovered."
The two main characters of the story are Roth, the Shadow Man and Karmi. Roth is an Indiana Jones type from the future whose spirit returns to the past to seek to help of Karmi, a young woman, in search of the lost Ark.
To bring peace to the world of the future, Roth brings Karmi to the future in search of the Ark. Roth is played by Pascal Yen-Pfister, professional actor for three years who has been working in commercials. He has a background in martial arts and as many of his own stunts.
As for his approach to acting, he said, "I'm 100 percent instinct. I just jump at it and figure it out as I go."
Karmi is portrayed by Katy Castaldi. He's been doing community theater since childhood, and has been working professionally for a year and a half.
"I identify with Karmi," Castaldi said. "She's a young girl, thrown into a situation, who doesn't really know what is going on. She finds out a lot about herself and her life."