by director Aaron Schneider
After the good fortune of winning an Oscar in 2004 for my first short film, "Two Soldiers," I felt certain my first feature was sure to follow. And it did follow... just several long years down the Hollywood Road.
But now at last, here it is.
I suppose I could have speeded things along by choosing a more conventional idea for my first feature. But the story producer Dean Zanuck brought me of Felix Busha deeply mysterious man who buried himself in the hills for forty years and then suddenly decided to throw himself a huge funeral party so he could tell his story, was just too intriguing, too unusual, and too good to ignore.
After the script by C. Gaby Mitchell and Chris Provenzano had taken shape, our thoughts turned to casting and it was a very short list of names for the role of Felix Bush. One name, actually: Robert Duvall. Like so many people, I was a huge fan of Mr. Duvall’s work and in awe of the way he could fill the shoes of larger than life characters. It was a great day for all of us when he accepted the role. Especially great, since there was only one name on the list.
Having Sissy Spacek play the role of Mattie Darrow was another dream come true. It is through Mattie’s eyes that the truth of who Felix Bush once was is revealed. And she does it with a warmth, grace and charm that is uniquely Sissy.
The role of Frank Quinn was tricky. By turns funny, dark, irrepressible, and with his own unique view of right and wrong, Frank is a former Chicago car-salesmen who has invested everything he has in a funeral home. Problem is, nobody’s dying and Frank is dead broke. Bill Murray coming in at the last minute to be our Frank was an amazing gift. He not only makes you laugh, he makes you think.
While bringing all the elements together that make a movie, I was continually amazed by the enduring power of the performances and by the contributions of everyone who helped to richly reveal the mystery of Felix Bush. I hope you enjoy.