SXSW Film: Nichols shows clip from ‘Midnight Special’

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Austin's Michael Tully, left, interviews director Jeff Nichols, center, and Michael Shannon at SXSW on Saturday.

Austin’s Michael Tully, left, interviews director Jeff Nichols, center, and Michael Shannon at SXSW on Saturday.

Austin director Jeff Nichols, who drew critical acclaim for “Shotgun Stories,” “Take Shelter” and “Mud,” showed a clip from his upcoming movie “Midnight Special” on Saturday at South by Southwest. And it looks very good.

The clip shows a scene of two men and a boy in a van, and while one of the men goes into a gas station to buy snacks, the other (frequent collaborator Michael Shannon) leaves the van to make a phone call. The boy, meanwhile, is wearing strange goggles and starts hearing sounds outside. So he walks into the parking lot, stares into the sky and starts seeing lights.

The clip had a definite sci-fi vibe, especially when it became apparent that the young boy has special powers and has apparently attracted the attention of alien spaceships, who begin firing blasts at the gas station.

“Midnight Special” is expected to be released this fall, and it’s Nichols’ first studio film, working with Warner Bros.

Nichols says he’s very happy with the way the movie turned out, and that Warners gave him final cut. “It’s the movie I wanted to make,” he said.

The screening of the clip was the highlight of the session, which featured a discussion between Nichols and Shannon about their previous collaborations.

Shannon, who expressed admiration for Nichols, said he wanted to be in all of the Austin director’s films.

They discussed their first collaboration, “Shotgun Stories,” which Nichols wrote with Shannon in mind, after seeing clips of Shannon while attending the North Carolina School of the Arts.

That led to “Take Shelter,” followed by “Mud.”

Nichols said that, as a director and screenwriter, he always worries about whether he’ll let Shannon down. But Shannon pooh-poohed the idea of Nichols’ letting him down. Shannon said, in fact, that he considers “Take Shelter” to be “the most significant film of my career.”

That, of course, might change after the release of “Midnight Special.”

 


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