Getting a film off the ground is no easy feat, and for a first time filmmaker, that task tends to be all the more difficult. However, for director Tristan Patterson, he’s gotten off to a helluva start. His first film, the SXSW Best Documentary winner “Dragonslayer,” has put him firmly on the map. We caught up with the film at IFFBoston and thought it was great, calling it a boundary pushing flick that created an authentic moviegoing experience. But what most people may not know is that Patterson was initially attached to make “Electric Slide” his film debut. The film had Ewan McGregor and Carey Mulligan set to star but as it goes, things didn’t come together at the time. However, there is still life in the project. Last month, it was confirmed to still be in development (though Mulligan has moved on) and we recently caught up with Patterson at IFFBoston who indicated the film was still very much on this radar.
“I wrote a script that’s based on a true story about a guy in 1983 in Los Angeles. He owned an Art Deco furniture boutique, fell in love with a girl and robbed 63 banks in 9 months,” Patterson explained. “He drove to the banks in a Lincoln Continental, made mix tapes to listen to while he robbed the banks. When he robbed the banks he was nothing but a gentleman, wore immaculate suits, flirted with bank tellers. He’s in the Guinness Book of World Records by 40 banks for most banks robbed. I’ve written that script, and Ewan McGregor is going to play the bank robber. Christine Vachon is producing it, with this guy, the other producer, Jamie Patricoff, who produced this awesome movie ‘Blue Valentine.’ A company called Myriad Pictures is financing it.”
Indeed, the film is about real life thief Eddie Dodson, who was known for his antiquities but who became addicted to heroin towards the end of the 1970s, and in 1983 turned to bank robbing to support his habit. Known as the New York Yankees Bandit, Dodson peacefully and politely robbed 64 banks in seven months (a record), picking up more than $280,000 for his troubles, but was caught in 1984 when a bank employee followed him after a robbery.
Sounds like a great story, but Patterson confirms that the film has been a hard one to get off the ground — certainly, the climate isn’t exactly a good one to try and get a movie about a heroin-addicted bank robber made — but it certainly sounds as if he’s got a vision for the picture already in mind, having worked it out even before he tackled his award-winning doc.
“It was in the works way before [‘Dragonslayer’]. I feel like ‘Dragonslayer’ is a consequence of how hard it was to get this movie made. Because it’s period…for me the thought of making a period movie is not…it feels like it’s heightened and in a dream, beautiful. Period is a good excuse to do that. I don’t care what 1983 LA looks like, I care what my idea of 1983 LA looks like. I want to make a movie of what my idea is like, so it’s odd. It takes years and it’s been really hard to make,” Patterson revealed.
“Electric Slide” certainly sounds like strong material and we hope the film does get moving. At any rate, the steam building behind Patterson will hopefully kickstart renewed interest in the project. In the meantime, track down “Dragonslayer” if you can, and then read more from our interview with Patterson right here. —interview by Catherine Scott