Jim Mickle has been interested in film-making since he was 13 years old. After studying film at NYU, he spent several years working in independent films as a storyboard artist, a grip, and an editor. His projects include “Mulberry Street” (a film festival hit eventually acquired by Lionsgate), “Stake Land” (a vampire apocalypse film released by IFC Films) and last year’s Sundance American re-imagining of “We Are What We Are.” Mickle told Indiewire “With all of our films we’re trying to do something more than what’s on
the surface, whether it’s horror or thriller or contemporary noir.”
What it’s about: “It’s based on the novel by Joe R. Lansdale. A small town father kills a burglar in self defense in 1980’s East Texas.
He then comes face-to-face with the dead guy’s ex-con father, who comes
to town looking for revenge. From there, the two fathers set a larger,
unexpected story into motion.”
What it’s really about: “It’s about a guy coming to terms with what it means to be a man, a father, and a son while defining his own ideas of morality.”
Biggest challenges: “Time. Too much and too little of it. We optioned the novel seven years ago
and have been banging our heads against the wall with different drafts
of the script for years, seeing it come together and fall apart a number
of times to the point where I thought it would never actually happen.
After Sundance and Cannes last year, we were finally able to get a green
light to make the film, but had only seven months to prep, shoot, edit, and
post the film. It’s been surreal to spend so much time on it early on
and then suddenly sprint through actual production. In a way, it’s been
great for the process as it made it impossible to over-think.
Any films inspire you? “‘Blood Simple,’ ‘Red Rock West,’ ‘Memories of Murder,’ ‘The Chaser,’ ‘The Big
Lebowski,’ ‘Roadhouse,’ and anything by John Carpenter and David Lynch.”
Cameras used: “Red Epic.”
Hopes for Sundance audience take-away: “I want people to leave feeling like they’ve experienced something
different. I’m a big fan of Korean films like ‘Memories of Murder,’ ‘Mother,’ ‘The Host,’ ‘The Chaser,’ and ‘The Yellow Sea.’ American films
are usually content to be one simple thing, but I love how Bong Joon-Ho
can weave so many genres and tones together into one unique film that
can be thrilling but at times quite funny. Joe Lansdale does that in his
own very East Texas way and so we set out to make something that can be
tragic and haunting at times, but also funny and exhilarating other
times. It’s also an ode to action movies and thrillers from a few
decades ago, so hopefully it makes people remember those movies fondly.”
What’s next? “Sleep.”
Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us
about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they
faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses
leading up to the 2014 festival. For profiles go HERE.