Tyro Aussie helmer David Michod will get double exposure at this year’s Sundance fest with feature helming debut “Animal Kingdom” playing in the World Cinema section and “Hesh-er,” a pic he co-penned with (fellow Director to Watch) Spencer Susser, screening in the dramatic competition.
Michod says “Animal Kingdom” is “the film I always wanted to make: a big, bad, sprawling Melbourne crime story.” Bringing together thesps such as Guy Pearce, Ben Mendel-sohn and Joel Edgerton, “Kingdom” centers on a teen torn between his criminal family and the police. “Hesher,” helmed by Susser and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, concerns a mayhem-prone loner who helps a grieving family.
A Melbourne film school grad and former editor of Oz cinema mag Inside Film, Michod shot to prominence through a series of compelling short films. Many were made with frequent collaborators, such as Susser and Edgerton, with Michod also writing for and acting in their respective shorts. Michod’s award-winning short “Crossbow” was invited to the Venice fest in 2007 and to Sundance the following year, and helped get “Kingdom” made.
The style of ‘Crossbow’ is exactly what I wanted for ‘Animal Kingdom’: gritty and violent yet beautiful at the same time,” Michod says. “It was not translating very well in meetings, so I needed to make a short that encapsulated what I was talking about.”
Kingdom” producer Liz Watts of Porchlight Films (“Little Fish”) says Michod has a “clear authority and visual language. What’s great about David is that he’s a really fine writer as well as a director, so he brings a great script to the set.”
Despite his penchant for urban crime dramas, Michod says he’d like to tackle other genres, including sci-fi. “If you look at all the shorts, not just the ones I (directed) myself, they are all wildly different,” he says.
INSPIRED BY: “So many and so wildly different directors, from Michael Mann and Andrew Dominik to Michael Haneke and Steven Spielberg.”
AGENTS: Bec Smith, Rich Klubeck, David Flynn (UTA); Kathryn Fleming (Cameron Creswell in Australia)