Ain't Them Bodies Saints director David Lowery. Photo: Eugene Hernandez
Each year the Sundance Film Festival introduces an "it girl," but this time around the person worthy of that distinction is a guy. David Lowery, the Dallas based filmmaker, ushered a whopping three feature films to Sundance 2013 and they were among the most exciting and distinctive films of this year's festival.
"It's been a significant 12 months, I have to say," David Lowery told The Daily Buzz as we began our conversation about the films he worked on this past year.
Lowery not only wrote and directed his latest feature, Ain't Them Bodies Saints (a movie that sold to IFC Films for a reported $1 million just last night), he co-wrote Yen Tan's gay Texan story Pit Stop and co-edited Shane Carruth's anticipated New Directors/New Films entry Upstream Color.
Ain't Them Bodies Saints, starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, plays out as a classic American tale of star-crossed Texas outlaws who head off in different directions in the wake of a crime. The title for the film came from a song lyric that Lowery says he misheard. He kept it anyway because it applies literally, but also establishes an appropriate tone for his tale.
Lowery explained that he sees Ain't Them Bodies Saints as a movie in the tradition of other American stories.
"There's a muscular tone that I really admire and I wanted to make something in that vein, something that felt in sync with folklore in America," David Lowery elaborated, "a story that had been told for a long, long time."
That tone expresses itself not only in the story, but in the striking cinematic components of the film, from the music and cinematography to the design and the costumes.
Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in Ain't Them Bodies Saints.
Lowery's team included cinematographer Bradford Young, production designer Jade Healy and costume designer Malgosia Turzanska, with a score by Daniel Hart.
"Texture is something thats hugely important to me," Lowery explained. "I love having films where you feel like you can sink your finger into or bite into them, that there's something that would rub off... from the tenor of the character's voices to the light that was hitting their cheek bones."
David Lowery also brought a texture to Pit Stop, working with good fried Yen Tan on dialogue for the naturalistic look at gay life in Texas. An accomplished editor on numerous indie features, Lowery had hoped to also edit the movie, but Tan started shooting Pit Stop just as Lowery was making Saints.
In the case of Shane Carruth's Upstream Color, Lowery was editing Sun Don't Shine by the film's co-star Amy Seimetz when Carruth tapped him to work on his second feature. While Carruth was still shooting the film, he sent a hard drive with footage and Lowery began assembling the movie. Lowery finished with just days to spare before he hit the road for Louisiana to shoot his own feature.
"That's a collaboration I am truly proud of. I was just on his wavelength," Lowery enthused about Carruth. "I feel so lucky to be on that wavelength because I think he's a true genius."
David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints gained momentum one year ago after Lowery participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab and was quickly signed by WME. A few of this year's Lab Fellows joined program head Michelle Satter and sat down with The Daily Buzz to tease their upcoming projects on this final edition of our Sundance festival series. Also on the show are Rose Kuo from The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Ira Deutchman from Columbia University and Emerging Pictures, as well as filmmakers Lucy Walker (The Crash Reel) and Robert Stone (Pandora's Promise).
David Lowery – Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Pit Stop, Upstream Color
Michelle Satter – Sundance Institute
Chinaka Hodge - 700th and International
Russell Harbaugh - Love After Love
Pamela Romiaowski - The Adderall Diaries
Lucy Walker – Sundance Institute
Sara Bernstein – HBO
Robert Stone – Pandora's Promise
Ira Deutchman – Columbia University, Emerging Pictures
Rose Kuo – Film Society of Lincoln Center