Jeff Nichols is in the middle of an intense press tour for his new film “Loving,” which screens tonight (Oct. 13) at the Paramount as part of the Austin Film Festival.
But he also discussed his relationship to another medium on display at AFF: television.
“The first time I ever got paid (for a script) was a pitch I did to HBO for a TV show,” Nichols said in an interview Thursday. “And it was great. Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, my producing partner with Sarah Green, is like, ‘To this day, that’s the best script you’ve ever written.’ And it’s just sitting in turnaround at HBO.”
Then again, he wrote it when he was pretty young. “This was before ‘Take Shelter,'” Nichols said, “and at some point HBO was like, ‘This is real good but you are just not famous enough to have a one-hour drama on HBO.’
“And I said, ‘I completely understand. You’re developing something with Scorsese? Fair enough.’ And thank goodness they said that.”
Nichols said he wouldn’t want to show-run an ongoing series but is interested in the mini-series format.
“What really appeals to me creatively right now is a four-, six- or eight-part piece” Nichols said. “I think ‘True Detective’ really broke down the door for having one filmmaker, one guiding voice, for a series.”
Nichols notes that while novellas are the perfect length for the traditional movie, novels have never been a great fit. “Everybody knows it, it’s just that there was no other option and now there is,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do something with (William Faulkner’s novel) ‘Go Down, Moses,’ and there are certain things that need to be longer, they need to be six hours instead of two.”
“It’s very tempting to say you wanna make (Cormac McCarthy’s 1895 masterpiece Western) ‘Blood Meridian,'” Nichols said. “I could probably never get the rights and, frankly, to live in that world for the years that it would take to make it is pretty dark. But there are so many amazing visuals.”
Nichols trails off for a second. “If anyone ever gave you enough resources to do it correctly…” Nichols said. “Plus (frequent Nichols actor Michael) Shannon agreed to shave off his eyebrows to play the judge.”
“Loving” screens tonight at the Paramount.