Courtesy of the Owens Group
Tyler Davidson (he's the guy wearing sunglasses) on the set of 'Galveston'
A few years ago, Tyler Davidson, a Northeast Ohio-based movie producer who's worked with indie flicks such as Take Shelter
, My Blind Brother
and The Signal
, received a script based on Galveston
, a novel by Nic Pizzolatto, the American writer known for creating the HBO hit True Detective
. Davidson loved the script and began to try to get the financing to turn it into a film.
“I was a big fan of True Detective
and really loved the script for Galveston
the first time I read it,” he says over coffee at the Phoenix Coffeehouse on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. Davidson will take questions about the film after the 7 p.m. screenings on Friday and Saturday at Silverspot Cinema in Orange Village. The film also goes to On Demand on Friday. “It was a dense, moody piece, but it had a strong tone. That was the first thing I look for. I was moved by the relationship between the central characters.”
At first, things didn't go smoothly. The initial director tapped to make the movie didn’t work out, and Davidson and his fellow producers had to reboot the project. They wound up recruiting French actress Melanie Laurent to helm the movie, her English language directorial debut.
“Melanie Laurent had such a strong vision for the story and the film,” Davidson says. “I was not familiar with her as a director, but I watched a couple of her French language films. Respire (Breathe)
, in particular, really struck me, specifically the way she captured the nuance and intimacy and honesty of a relationship between two people. With the Pizzolatto story, we knew that we could have that crime thriller canvas, and the genre elements would come through no matter what. To me, the key to the movie was that central relationship between those two characters. I thought if we could capture the truth in that relationship, the movie would work.”
The film’s two main characters — Roy (Ben Foster) and Rocky (Elle Fanning) — embark on a wild ride to try to escape their pasts (he’s a hitman, and she’s a prostitute) while attempting to shield Rocky’s young sister Tiffany from the violent worlds in which they live. They're only marginally successful at doing so.
“Part of what Melanie [Laurent] did with the script was make changes that elevated the Rocky character,” says Davidson. “In the original version of the script, it’s a Roy-centric piece. Melanie put the Rocky character on a parallel level.”
It’s a breakout role for Fanning, who has to inhabit a mentally unstable character who regularly breaks into tears and resorts to desperate measures on a regular basis.
“I’ve seen most of Elle’s films,” says Davidson. “She plays teenage coming-of-age roles, but I think Galveston
was the first time she got to go to the depths of emotions that are usually just granted to adult characters. We had a L.A. premiere, and she said in the Q&A session that she’s never had to go that deep and dark.”
The grim story includes only a small glimmer of hope in its final scene that includes a compelling moment between Roy and the Cleveland-born actress Lili Reinhart, who plays Tiffany as an adult.
“To me, the film is heavy, but I feel like ultimately, it is hopeful,” says Davidson. “I feel like it is redemptive. I think it’s a beautiful story about these two characters who find this platonic love that I don’t know if they knew they were capable of experiencing. I hope it provokes interesting questions for people to talk about. Can you outrun your past? Are we the product of these choices we make in our lives, and do they lead to inevitable effects or can we change that future?”