Cleveland and Lorain Provide the Setting for the Dark Comedy ‘My Blind Brother’

click to enlarge Tyler Davidson and Adam Scott at Lakeview Park in Lorain. - Photo by Tiffany Laufer
Photo by Tiffany Laufer
Tyler Davidson and Adam Scott at Lakeview Park in Lorain.
When Tyler Davidson, a locally based producer who’s been involved with movies such as Swedish Auto, Take Shelter, Compliance and The Land, came across director Sophie Goodhart’s script for her new dark comedy My Blind Brother, he noticed a lake figured in the story.

The tale of a blind swimmer who swam from Nantucket to Martha’s Vineyard inspired the basic plotline. A proponent of Northeast Ohio as a setting, Davidson tried to talk Goodhart into shooting here.

Initially, convincing Goodhart wasn’t easy, especially since he brought her here during the winter.

“What I love about making movies here is that try to play this area for this area,” says Davidson one afternoon from the Rising Star coffeeshop in Little Italy that’s down the street from the apartment where he lives. “So many movies come and they’re Cleveland for New York. When we first scouted, it was the dead of winter, and you couldn’t even see that there was a lake. It was a frozen tundra. She was a little bit panicked. I was trying to tell her that in three months it would not only be a lake but a lake that you can put people in. She was pretty happy when that came true.”

The movie centers on Bill (Nick Kroll) and his blind brother Robbie (Adam Scott), a self-centered prick who has Bill tag along and guide him as he trains for marathons and swimming competitions. When the two both fall for Rose (Jenny Slate), trouble ensues, and Rose finds herself caught in the middle of their many squabbles.

The film’s final scene at Lakeview Park in Lorain includes an extensive scene shot on the lake as Rose and Bill try to guide Robbie in his attempt to swim the entire lake. Davidson says it wasn’t an easy scene to shoot.

“I was on set and having many panic attacks during that scene,” he says. “It was a fairly choppy night on the lake. Sophie was in a boat seven months pregnant. We had our $100,000 cameras. I was on shore. I was listening on headset. The signal kept dropping out as they got further onto the lake. I remember Adam Scott saying something off camera to the effect that he thought this was something that felt genuinely dangerous. When you go for it like it, it adds so much drama and texture to the scene. That was the high point of the whole shoot for me. When we got that scene and I saw it on the monitor. It turned out great.”

The film made its debut earlier this year at the South by Southwest film festival, and it screened at the Cleveland International Film Festival. It opens on Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre and goes to video on demand that day too.

“I think it will play great,” says Davidson, who will be on hand for question and answer sessions following the 4:30 and 7:10 p.m. showings on September 23 and 24. “The trailer has gotten a huge number of views. It’s a simple,  accessible story. What I love about it and what I loved about the script is that it takes these complex dark themes of resentment of jealousy and self-loathing and sibling rivalry and packages that in a simple story. The ability to ride the line and carry that tone is the strongest aspect of the film. On the festival circuit, audiences have really liked it, and it appeals to a broad range of audience, not just fans of these actors but older audiences too.”