The University of Virginia-Charlottesville didn't have a film program, but Tyler Davidson took all the film classes the school had to offer while he was there. That exposure in undergrad had him planning to attend film school at Florida State University after graduation. But some real-world experience provided a better opportunity in the business.
His uncle, Scott Lax, had written The Year that Trembled, a coming-of-age story about a group of friends waiting to hear if they'll be drafted to serve in Vietnam, and had a director who wanted to make it into a film. They pitched a potential producer and got right into it. He's been producing movies ever since.
"That was a long time ago," he says. His last four films, Swedish Auto, Take Shelter, Compliance and this summer's indie sci-fi flick The Signal, all premiered at Sundance to great acclaim.
"They've been Sundance hits, so it's been great," he says. "I love being an independent film producer. I love being closely involved in the filmmaking process. And I love feeling that our filmmaking team has a certain degree of autonomy. The only real boxes that I have to check as a producer are whether I personally love the material when I select a film and whether I think it has a shot to be successful. There are more boxes to check if you're working with a huge studio."
Davidson, who lives in South Russell with his wife and two children, takes a hands-on approach to producing. Not just a moneyman, he's often on set. And he regularly brings the sets to Northeast Ohio, which is becoming a little hotbed of filming activity in recent years. But he says he has no aspirations of directing.
"It's the only job in the world that offers equal parts business and creative, and I feel like that's consistent with my passion and personality. I love both sides of it. I wouldn't trade it for another job."
He's currently producing Galveston, the feature film debut from HBO's True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto. Pizzolatto, who wrote the novel upon which the film is based, also penned the script. "It's one of the best scripts I've ever read," says Davidson. That film will start shooting in the fall.