Director to Watch: David Michod

Aussie enjoys dabbling in other genres as well

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.

VITAL STATS

AGE: 37

HOMEBASE: Sydney

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)

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