Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shreveport director ready to shoot first feature

A local director has been making the biggest steps of his career for some time now. After a year of fundraising and years of planning, Shreveport native Jeffrey Goodman is gearing up to shoot his first feature film.

“The Last Lullaby” begins a 22-day shoot in his hometown on Jan. 22. Its production budget is $1.5 million.

Goodman remains tight-lipped about the stars, but we recently discussed some of the hires he’s made so far: producer David Koplan, cinematographer Richard Rutkowski, production designer Elizabeth Mickle, costume designer Erika Munro, first assistant director Yann Sobezynski, and line producer Matt Leonetti Jr.

Goodman is excited to work with Koplan, who produced “Chrystal” starring Billy Bob Thornton and “Winter Passing” starring Ed Harris, Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell.

“Dave produced two movies at our exact budget level, and two movies in the South. He was able to attract A-level talent to these very small films and actually get them out there,” Goodman said. “I can’t think of a more perfect candidate.”

The creative team behind “The Last Lullaby” recently met in Shreveport. When Goodman met Rutkowski and Mickle, he gave them a few pages of notes and DVDs of “The French Connection.”

“I told them what I want for this film is what I call aesthetic naturalism, and I use ‘French Connection’ as a model of that,” Goodman said. “To me it means it is a film that is intimate, very naturalistic, very raw. But at the same time (it) maintains a sense of design, a sense of aesthetic. I keep telling them I think ‘The French Connection’ has an unprecedented look. … Usually films that claim to be cinéma vérité end up being very ugly. They are all about found lighting and found frames, and, ‘Let’s just take the camera out on the streets and see what shows up.’ ‘The French Connection’ has that sense of immediacy, but it also has a sense of beauty and maintains its aesthetic integrity.”

Goodman has scouted locations for “The Last Lullaby” himself. All scenes will be shot in Shreveport or inside a 30-mile radius.

He is confident he has pulled together a team that can create a film that measures up to their hopes. Many have worked together before.

“I’m trying to create as much of a team atmosphere as I can,” Goodman said. He later added, “What my job is right now is to get all of these people into my head and let them know what it is I’m seeing, what it is I’m thinking. Then I can let go and know that they understand, that they get it and will coach everyone around them so they get it and they can deliver everything we’re after.

“I’m not someone who believes in micromanaging. All these guys that I’ve hired know their jobs better than I do. I’m not someone that believes that to be a director is to be a master of every single domain, and every single department.”

Goodman is excited about beginning the shoot and focusing more on the creative side of “The Last Lullaby.” He is still, however, working 'round-the-clock to make sure all the details are in place.

“The process of selling never ends,” he said. “You’re selling to raise the money, you’re selling to get people to let you use their locations, you’re selling to crew members to get them to work on your film, and you’re selling to get actors to work on the project. And once again, you’re selling it to a distributor to get them to buy it. ... You’d think I’ve got money to pay these people and I’ve got a fully financed film. You’d think people would be just lining up, but it’s not that. Every time we interview a camera man, it’s me trying to convince them that this is worth putting on their reel.”

“The Last Lullaby” is co-written and based on a short story (“A Matter of Principal”) by Max Allan Collins. Collins wrote the graphic novel, “Road to Perdition,” which was turned into a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks, Jude Law and Paul Newman.

The screenplay for “The Last Lullaby” is co-written by Peter Biegen.

An abridged version of this story will appear in The Times next week. PHOTO BY GREG PEARSON/THE TIMES. NOT FOR REUSE.


JaneDoughnut said...

It's good to see Shreveporters getting in the game at such a level. Congratulations to Jeffrey.

Anonymous said...

when are casting calls?