Prolific Oklahoma-based helmer Mickey Reece – now at Fantasia with “Country Gold” – will join forces with “It Follows” producer David Kaplan on his upcoming feature “The Cool Tenor,” Variety has found out exclusively.

The film, set in a vaguely dystopian future and co-written by John Selvidge, sees a retired widow who weds an unstable jazz enthusiast but becomes obsessed with avenging her late husband’s death.

“It’s more of a thriller, but it’s still funny. You will never have to worry about me making a serious movie,” assures Reece, intending to keep his signature sense of humor intact.

“I didn’t know I had a unique sense of humor until people told me that. Essentially, I try to turn every movie into a comedy. It has always been about the same thing for me: ‘What can we do to have fun?,” he says.

Currently casting and looking to shoot later this fall, “The Cool Tenor” will be lensed by Samuel Calvin and executive produced by TIFF Midnight Madness programmer Peter Kuplowsky. Producer Kassie Gann will reunite with Reece after “Country Gold.”

Reece, who started making films in 2008, has already completed 29 features. His 2021 horror “Agnes,” set in a convent, premiered at Tribeca and received international attention. But while his upcoming title will be an even bigger endeavor, he is not planning to change his DIY ways anytime soon.

“People will have to get cool about some weird shit real quick for me to get into [A-list] festivals,” he deadpans.

“I don’t plan on suddenly developing one project for a couple of years. I am pretty addicted [to making movies quickly], so it would be hard. But I am getting older, so we will see.”

“Every movie I’ve ever made was exactly what I wanted it to be. There were no compromises, and I think it was because of keeping this low profile and trucking along here in Oklahoma. I certainly don’t want to get sucked into that machine of being a director for hire. I like where I am at.”

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The Cool Tenor Courtesy of Mickey Reece

“Country Gold,” about country star Troyal Brux (played by Reece himself) who “sold more records than Michael Jackson and Madonna” and finally gets to meet his hero George Jones (Ben Hall) back in 1994 in Nashville, echoes some of these conflicts.

“It’s a very personal story. As much as I can be personal, given my style,” he says.

While he didn’t originally intend to play the part, he quickly saw some parallels between his path and the conflicted artist who is also “just a boy from Oklahoma.” All the while lovingly referencing record-breaking country artist (Troyal) Garth Brooks.

“I will never reach the heights of Garth Brooks, but my work is receiving more attention than ever. It inspired a great deal of self-reflection,” admits Reece.

“I still try to approach it in the same way, however. I like to dip my toes in all the genres out there and I have five ideas a day about movies I want to make. But it’s a much more involved process than it used to be.”

Thinking about country music films, from “Coal Miner’s Daughter” – starring Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn – to “Tender Mercies” and Altman’s “Nashville,” Reece also saw his new film as a “spiritual successor” to 2017 “Mickey Reece’s Alien” about Elvis Presley.

“I have this fascination with American iconography,” he says, praising Baz Luhrmann’s recent take on the singer’s everlasting appeal.

“I loved it. It’s fantastic! But a lot of people, when they are making a biopic of an artist, are trying to get it exactly right even though it’s still their own interpretation. I went one step further: it doesn’t have to be true. It didn’t have to happen at all. So let’s just see what these characters would do in that situation.”

Despite riffing on the lives of recognizable stars – George Jones passed away in 2013 – Reece describes his story as an “alternate universe,” where reality and fantasy collide on a regular basis.

“I this it’s clear that it’s a satire. Also, I doubt Garth Brooks is ever going to watch this movie. But I think he would like it.”

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Mickey Reece Courtesy of Mickey Reece