Thursday, June 12, 2014

'True Detective' creator beckons Davidson after 'The Signal'

Tyler Davidson, the suburban-Cleveland-based producer who has opened films at the
prestigious Sundance Film Festival four years in a row, is now headed to "Galveston" -- sort of.
Seriously, with his latest film, "The Signal," just opening wide on Friday, Davidson already
has signed on to co-produce the novel-based "Galveston," and it all sounds like a big deal for
a couple reasons.
Tyler Davidson (left) with "The Signal" director /writer William Eubank
Most importantly, "Galveston" will be the first feature film project from Nick Pizzolatto, creator, writer and executive producer of HBO's wildly successful "True Detective." However, there's an extra added attraction that finds Davidson working with legendary TV/theater/film producer Jean Doumanian, whose lengthy resume includes "Saturday Night Live" and seven Woody Allen movies.
"I feel pretty fortunate," Davidson admitted two days ago during a telephone interview. "Before I 
knew about ("Galveston"), I was a huge fan of  'True Detective.'  Then I had an agent friend send me the script, which had been acquired by some New York-based producers (Doumanian and Patrick Daly), and they were looking for a partner, somebody who had the kind of experience I have with films that are in this general budget range and where I can bring the financing to it."
Davidson's own portfolio shows off movies such as "Swedish Auto," as well the three indie hits that preceded "The Signal" at Sundance: "Take Shelter," "Compliance" and last year's "The Kings of Summer."  Obviously, his Low Sparks Films company is very ready to take the trip to "Galveston."   
"I jumped on it," he said with a slight laugh. "I had a number of meetings in New York with the producers, the director (Janus Metz Pedersen) and a nice call with Nic Pizzolatto himself, and it just seemed like a great fit.
"Honestly," Davidson continued, "I fell in love with the script first and foremost. I hadn't read Nick's own novel on which it was based, so I was just going from his adaptation as a screenplay and thought it was an electrifying piece. 
"It takes place in the South, and it's got that great mix of characters that 'True Detective' has. I think fans
of the series are going to be happy with this movie."
Although filming won't start until Oct. 1,  Davidson said "'Galveston" already is in what he calls "soft pre-production."
 As for Doumanian, it sounds as if the two producers are hitting if off quite nicely, thank you.
"When you don't have unlimited financial resources for these budgets, the one ally that you have to take advantage of is time," Davidson said. "We have a few months now to really lay the groundwork and that's what we're trying to do.
"Of course, it's really exciting to be working with Jean. To me, she's one of these iconic New York producers who has done so many cool projects and already has been a tremendous partner. We joked earlier today, in fact, that we should have long-range walkie-talkies because we've been speaking so much lately.
"You know that everyone is gauging the chemistry when you have those first meetings to discuss the production plan, the financing plan and to see if the partnership is going to be a fit. Everyone is paying close attention, but we just hit it off right away and immediately felt as if we were meant to be partners."
As for his current offering, "The Signal," Davidson naturally is hoping that the movie's reception nationally is on par with the reaction it got at Sundance last January.
"Sundance is as good as it gets as far as a film festival in this country and, having gone there now with films the last four years, you might think that some of the luster has worn off, but I can assure you that's not that case," said the Chagrin Falls-raised producer who currently calls South Russell, Ohio home.
"It's just as exciting every time I go because I recognize how difficult it is to get in each and every time and, of course, it boasts the best audiences in the world. You can't have a better launch for the film; the energy is incredible.
 " 'The Signal' was received tremendously well when we played in a section of Sundance called 'Park City at Midnight.' It's focused on genre films, so a sci-fi thriller was a perfect fit. We were playing to audiences that were really geared up for this type of film and they just absolutely loved it. We had really great, high-energy screenings and some terrific reactions."
Since watching how the good-looking tale from writer/director William Eubank (2011 festival favorite "Love") unfolds is part of the fun, we won't give away any pertinent details here. Let's just say that a trio of up-and-coming actors -- Brenton Thwaites ("Maleficent" and late summer's "The Giver"), Olivia Cooke ("Bates Motel," "The Quiet Ones") and Beau Knapp ("No One Lives" and next year's"Ant-Man") -- are joined by distinguished and distinctive vet Laurence Fishburne in a fresh film that mixes a couple of genres into an often surprising one. Northeast Ohio locals also will enjoy some scenes filmed in various area locations, particularly during the first act of a film mostly shot in New Mexico.
"I always have interest in any film that has a screenplay that I fall in love with and a director who I want to work with," Davidson said about Eubanks and his "Signal" story. "I certainly don't immediately think about what the budget limitations are or the budget range of these movies.
"What I will also say," he concluded, "is that I love being an independent filmmaker. You can make these films for $100,000 or $30 million, but I love being  involved in the creative process, I love not having a studio over my shoulder, and I love the freedom of working with our team to make the best film we possibly can. That's what I'm married to."
By the way, Davidson was calling from Virginia, where he was driving home from his Q&A session after a special screening of "The Signal" in Winchester, where the family of his real wife (Lyon) resides.  
Read more about Davidson and his latest film here, then check out John M. Urbancich's Critic's Choice ratings on recent releases here.)

No comments: