August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

TRAKTOR PULL Put the Coen brothers and ABBA together and the result might look like Traktor, Hollywood’s first directing ensemble. The six-member Swedish collective, best known for its Miller Lite ”Evil Beaver” commercials, is about to start work on its first feature, Shiny New Enemies, a time-tripping heist comedy. While the directing credit will read Traktor, only two members — Patrik von Krusentjerna and Pontus Lowenhielm — will be calling the shots on set. Does the prospect of a designed-by-committee movie scare investors? ”Not at all,” says producer Matthew Weaver. ”I take a lot of comfort in the fact that they’ve already done 200 commercials together.” Adds Lowenhielm, ”Yes, it’s six brains, but the finished product will read like it came from just one weird mind.”

MAKING WAVES Sometimes a lavish special effect can spell disaster. Consider the splashy sequence Industrial Light & Magic whipped up for Snake Eyes, the Brian De Palma thriller starring Nicolas Cage. Most of the action occurs inside an Atlantic City arena, but a pier-bashing swell made too much of a deep impact on test audiences. ”It wasn’t a tidal wave, it was just a wave in a storm,” De Palma insists. ”But we had to remove it because people kept on thinking it was some kind of disaster picture.” … Meanwhile, an actual tidal wave nearly wrecked In a Savage Land. The epic love story, starring Rufus Sewell (Dark City), was being shot in a boat on location in Papua New Guinea when July’s killer tsunami struck. ”They were filming on the other side of the island,” says Amanda Huddle of Beyond Films. ”Even so, some of the cast and crew were thrown out of their beds.”

(Additional reporting by Daniel Fierman)

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