Dallas filmmaker David Lowery leaps onto national stageFilmmaker David Lowery is keeping busy with several projects, including "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," which played at Cannes and Sundance. But he's content to remain at home in East Dallas.
By CHRIS VOGNAR Movie Critic firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: 01 June 2013 01:36 PM
The second annual Oak Cliff Film Festival kicks off Thursday and runs through the weekend, with filmmakers from Texas and other locales stopping by. But for all of the festival’s variety, the event is shaping up as a showcase for one red-hot native son.
That would be David Lowery, the prolific 32-year-old Irving High School graduate currently leaping onto the national stage. His latest feature, the Texas outlaw romance Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara), played Sundance and Cannes this year and will be released by IFC in August.
He’s now at work on a reimagining of the Disney favorite Pete’s Dragon and the Robert Redford project The Old Man and the Gun, based on a New Yorker article about a septuagenarian bank robber. Redford will star and produce; Lowery will write and direct.
Lowery has long been tight with the Aviation Cinemas crew, which runs the film festival and the Texas Theatre. So his footprint on the festival comes as no surprise. He’ll host a screening of the dreamlike Robert Altman Western McCabe & Mrs. Miller at 7 p.m. Friday at the Texas Theatre, then return at 9:30 p.m. for a “secret screening.”
Keith Carradine will attend. He’s in McCabe. He’s also in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
Lowery’s plate is fuller than a buffet platter. He uses a different dining analogy to describe his work habits.
“I’ve always taken a kind of Lazy Susan approach,” Lowery says. “You get to a good point on one project, and then you do some work on the next one, and then later in the day you work on the next one. There’s actually plenty of time if you just utilize it well.” He pauses. “Which I’m terrible at doing.”
With his thick facial hair and old-soul bearing, Lowery looks like he could have stepped out of a Civil War photograph. He’s soft-spoken and slightly overwhelmed, though it’s not as if he came out of nowhere.
Lowery is known around Texas as a do-everything guy quick to take work on other people’s projects. He was all over this year’s Sundance catalog: In addition to writing and directing Saints, he co-edited Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color and co-wrote Yen Tan’s Pit Stop, which won the Dallas International Film Festival’s Texas Filmmaker Award. “My intent was always just to help out on films that I like and help out friends who were making films,” he says.
Now his creative karma and focus are paying major dividends.
“He’s skyrocketing right now,” says Aviation’s Adam Donaghey, the executive producer of Lowery’s 2009 feature St. Nick and a high school friend from Irving. “It all stems from his relentless execution of his own style. He just did, and kept doing it, and somebody finally saw it.”
That style, much like Lowery, is quiet, patient and soulful; it makes sense that he counts McCabe & Mrs. Miller as a favorite movie, and that Saints has drawn comparisons to the work of Terrence Malick.
Lowery simply isn’t very Hollywood. But unlike other locally raised filmmakers, including Yen Tan and David Gordon Green, he hasn’t decamped for the higher-profile Austin scene. He calls East Dallas home and sounds as if he will for a while.
“I like that Dallas is off the beaten path, as far as the entertainment industry goes, but is still culturally ahead of the curve,” he says. “I get everything I want out of a big city while also managing to remain somewhat invisible. It has plenty of art house theaters, great vegan food and great coffee. And lots of friends.” He should expect to see plenty of them over the weekend.