“Lucky Them,” the latest from “Eden” helmer Megan Griffiths, charmed auds and potential buyers at its world premiere in Toronto Friday night, thanks to its breezy banter and the appealing, oddball pairing of Toni Collette — as a whiskey-drinking rock scribe with an edge — and Thomas Haden Church as her blithely upbeat music-hating pal and wannabe documentarian.
Shot in and around Seattle on a low seven-figure budget, the pic, which also features Oliver Platt, Ryan Eggold and Nina Arianda, lands in Toronto after an often bumpy 11-year journey for writer-producer Emily Wachtel, who co-penned the script with Huck Botko.
Wachtel was sustained early on by encouragement from family friend Paul Newman, who liked the script and sent a draft to several actors in 2007.
“Around that time I connected with Thomas Hayden Church, who ended up calling me once a month for seven years to ask me what was going on,” recalled Wachtel the day after the preem.
After years courting potential producers, Wachtel set up her own shingle and eventually found a major investor. Griffiths came on board in June 2012. Her first suggestion to Wachtel and co-producers Amy Hobby and Adam Gibbs was to reset the New-York story in Seattle, where she’s based. “It’s such a music town, a wonderful place to shoot, and I have such a great team,” she said.
Collette, who is in almost every frame of “Lucky,” was impressed by the material, Griffiths’ articulate understanding of the story, and by the shared experience of the small-budget production. “It’s all about finding the right people to bring the story to life,” she said.
One of the right people, it turns out, was Johnny Depp, who delivers a key cameo. The folks at his production company Infinitum Nihil are now developing a horror project with Griffiths. “They determined I had a genre, and that is ‘damaged woman movies’,” the director laughed.
“Lucky Them,” which screens for the industry Tuesday and has its final public showing Saturday, is produced by MyMy Productions in association with Tangerine Entertainment. Joanne Woodward, Peer Pedersen and Linda Henry are exec producers.
Cinetic Media is selling the film in Toronto.