Award-winning New Zealand actress Rena Owen features in a new short thriller. It's called 9 Across and also stars Vincent Ball (Sirens and Breaker Morant) as a prison inmate with a secret. Day and night he works on a crossword puzzle, encrypting into his answers the materials he needs to make a dramatic escape.
9 Across is a short film about choices. Incarcerated in a maximum security prison for robbing a bank, Leo is an inmate with a secret. Day and night he fills in the questions to a crossword puzzle, encrypting into his answers the materials he needs to escape his private hell.
Sharing a cell with leo is Terry Fitzroy - he too is a man with a secret... he is an uncdercover police officer. His job is to discover how Leo intends to escape from prison and then to let him go. The police hope in this way to follow Leo to his notorious partner, Franklin Cope, a man desperately sought in connection with several crimes.
Trying to appease the sense of guilt he feels for informing on a man who is fast becoming his friend, Terry secures the promise of his superiors that once caught, Leo will be treated with lenience and given the opportunity of early parole.
So begins a game of cat and mouse as Terry attempts to learn from leo his plans for the jail break. He is sucessful however only of lifting a few mystical clues from his cell mate. "If you have a blueprint, all you need to escape is a steel bar, a hammer, a screwdriver and a bedsheet."
At his wits end as to what the clues might mean, Terry acquites a blueprint of the prison and begins piecing together the possible avenues of escape Leo is hinting at. using the materials given in the puzzle, Terry finds that a "hammer and screwdriver" can be used to pick an old cell lock, a "steel bar" works well in breaking through a ventilation screen, and a bed sheet can allow Leo to turn off burning hot water pipes.
Armed with what he believes is Leo's plan of escape, Terry and his team lie in wait outside the prison, hoping to follow him to the whereabouts of his old partner, Franklin Cope. In a dramatic twist of events however, things go tragically wrong as Leo's clues are ultimately revealed.