|Jeff Daniels. Photo by Richard Kern.|
Says Daniels, "The theater proved to me that there is a talent pool here in Michigan. Its smaller, but its here. Time and time again Michigan will see a studio come in and shoot in Detroit, and theyll bring all their own people from New York or L.A. I didnt build the theater that way, and I dont plan on doing that with Purple Rose Films. Its what I remember about The Purple Rose of Cairo; the people were a handpicked team that Woody had assembled over the years, people he knew, liked, and could count on. [Acting in that film] was like watching him walk into a huge comfort zone. I want that."
Together with producing partner Bob Brown, Daniels just launched the companys first film, Escanaba, based on the theaters long-running play. Of the film, a comedy about "Upper Peninsula deer hunters," currently in post, Daniels says he was inspired, in part, by Preston Sturges. "I know its ignored at the Oscars," he says, "but I love comedy, the art and the science of it. And I love the way Sturges was able to use comedy to express himself." Brown banded together a group of regional investors for Escanaba and now plans to do the same for other films. And Daniels, while he readies his debut feature for distributor screenings, says he cant wait to direct again. "In a way, I feel as if the last 30 films were a setup for what Im going to do with Purple Rose Films," he concludes. "Its like, Thanks for teaching me so much and giving me so much experience with some of the best people in the business. Im ready to start my career now." Scott Macaulay