[ EDITOR'S NOTE: indieWIRE's monthly production report looks at independent films in various stages of production. If you'd like to tell us about a film in production for future columns, please contact us. ]
"30 Century Man: The Music of Scott Walker"
Responsible for some of the biggest hits of the 60s, he was once more popular than The Beatles and to this day his music has influenced the likes of Bono and David Bowie, so why have you never heard of Scott Walker?
After heading the pop scene in the UK with his band The Walker Brothers, the American-born Walker has since become an eccentric recluse who never grants interviews and releases an album every 15 years. But somehow Stephen Kijak ("Cinemania") gained access for what he hopes will be a revealing doc about Walker. "I met with his managers and they just liked our pitch," Kijak says of his idea to tag along as Walker works on his latest album. "We didn't want to do a retrospective on him, we wanted to look at him here and now, examine the music he's making today, and make a movie that felt like his music that pushed the boundaries."
Kijak also interviews the groups who've been influenced by Walker's work including Bowie (who's executive producer), Sting, Franz Ferdinand and Radiohead. "We've just been traveling with all sorts of Scott Walker vinyl and that's were the discussion goes," he says. "The guys in Radiohead had never seen them on vinyl before, they were like kids."
Produced through Kijak's Loop Filmworks and Mia Bays' ("24 Hour Party People") UK-based Missing In Action Films, Kijak's currently filming interviews and Walker's studio sessions. Shot on DV by cinematographer/director Grant Gee ("Meeting People Is Easy"), graphic design company Tomato (known for creating the opening credits in "Trainspotting") is creating the graphics for the doc's music interludes.
"All Fall Down"
While his award-winning stage play "American Divine" was touring in Scotland in 1996, Matt Tauber came across a play that would inspire his first film project. Exploring family, politics and social status in Glasgow, "The Architect" follows an idealistic architect as his family falls apart along with his buildings. Tauber related the story to poverty stricken families living in the Chicago housing projects. "I was working in the public school system [in Chicago] and was deeply effected by the stories of these people that I had encountered," Tauber says.
Contacting the playwright, David Greig, Tauber pitched the idea to adapt "The Architect" into a film set in Chicago about one architect's (Anthony LaPaglia) confrontation with an activist (Viola Davis) living in the projects. Greig accepted. "He really responded to it," Tauber says of the early drafts he sent Greig. "He said something really cool, that it was the most amazing experience of having your own story retold to you but you have no idea what's going to happen next."
After years of looking for funding with producing partner Danny Leiner ("The Great New Wonderful"), the two found an interested party in New York-based HDNet Films last year. The only problem was they couldn't shoot in Chicago, a city that's become a hotbed for production after years of neglect. Having to use New York City's outer boroughs to double as Chicago, Tauber's optimistic of the change. "The crew has done an unbelievable job of selling areas of New York as Chicago, I don't think it will effect the movie," he says.
Currently in its final weeks of shooting, the film is produced through Leiner and Tauber's Sly Dog Films along with HDNet Film's Jason Kliot and Joana Vincent. Shot on HD by John Bailey ("The Anniversary Party"), editing is being done by Tom McArdle ("The Station Agent"). Film also stars Isabella Rossellini and Hayden Panettiere.
Set in and around Cologne, Germany and Belgium, this coming of age story by first-time director Pia Marais follows Stevie, a precocious 15-year-old who along with her hippie parents move to a small rural town in the hopes of finding a more stable life.
Having worked on the script for two years, the story and characters come from memories of families that Marais grew up around during her roving childhood in South Africa, Sweden and Spain. One family, who owned a marijuana plantation in Spain, was a big inspiration for how she developed the family in the film. "The parents practiced a lifestyle of living from one day to the next and their children were pretty independent and left to themselves," Marais recalls via e-mail. "Somehow the trivial day to day life of these people interested me." Admitting the story isn't very plot driven but "focuses instead on the characters and atmosphere," Marias has spent most of pre production trying to find the perfect Stevie. After months of searching she found newcomer Ceci Chuh-Schmitz. "We did a very extensive casting," she explains. "Going to schools, street casting, it took what seemed like ages and after a few hundred girls I started to have a very uncomfortable feeling we might not find her. Fortunately that wasn't the case."
Budgeted just over 800,000 Euros ($1 million), the film's financed through German-based Pandora Film and will begin shooting in the fall. It will be shot on Super 16 mm by Müller.
Feeling life is passing him by Diego (Nomar Rizo) ditches his job and decides to live out his dream of being an artist. Like his idol, Post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin, who abandoned everything he had and moved to Tahiti to further his art, Diego leaves El Paso, Texas in the hopes of a renaissance life in Mexico. Unfortunately all he finds is trouble and comes to a realization his boring life in the states wasn't that bad.
Written and directed by John Galceran, much of the story is autobiographical as Galceran quit his career as a video game designer to be an artist full time. "I just had to feed my soul," says Galberan from the El Paso set. "When I was designing video games I just felt that I needed to pursue my own dreams."
After working as an artist in the 80's for Steven Speilberg's production company Amblin Entertainment and Tim Burton, Galceran got into the video game world and made enough money that he felt he could live off his royalties until he got his career going as an artist. Then three years ago he decided it was time to move from the canvas to film. After having his script placed in the top ten at the Austin Film Festival screenplay competition, Galceran started his own production company, Vision Point Productions, and began filming "Living Gauguin" this past July.
Budgeted at $40,000, the film is currently in its final week of shooting and Galceran hopes to be finished with post production by the fall.
"Randy and the Mob"
Actor/writer/director Ray McKinnon's latest, "Randy and the Mob," follows a wheeling and dealing good 'ol boy (McKinnon) who gets in too deep with some loan sharks and calls on the help of his gay twin brother (McKinnon) to bail him out of trouble.
Known for his "hillbilly art films" like the Oscar-winning short "The Accountant" and 2004's feature length "Chrystal," McKinnon thought it was time for a more lighthearted story. "Chrystal turns very dark and I do believe after two years with a dark, sad movie we were all ready, and I was certainly ready, to approach something where everyday something funny happens," McKinnon says.
While looking for financing, McKinnon, and his Ginny Mule Pictures partners Lisa Blount and Walton Goggins (stars in TV's "The Shield"), were approached by Phil Walden's new production company, Capricorn Pictures. Known for managing music legends like Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers Band, Walden has turned his sights to movies and hopes to highlight what the south has to offer in independent film. "He wants to support southern filmmakers and tell southern stories," says McKinnon. "He stumbled upon 'Chrystal' and 'The Accountant' and wanted to work with us [Timbergrove Entertainment is co-producing]. We've been seeking financing for a while so to find these guys was really fortuitous."
Currently in rehearsals with the cast, which includes Blount, Goggins, Bill Nunn and Brent Briscoe, the 22-day shoot is set to start August 8 outside of Atlanta, GA. Budgeted at under $2 million the film is being shot on 35mm by Jonathan Sela and is produced by Blount, Goggins and David Koplan. Executive producers are Walden and Benjy Griffith.