Scott Tims is not a name that many may know firsthand, but he is a promising director who is worth watching. The man is co-author of the upcoming Halloween murders and has also been used in a new adaptation of Stephen King Firestarter. The latest film, Teems Quarry, starring Shea Wigam and Michael Shannon, will soon be released on digital platforms, offering viewers something new at home. This film is one of the many films that were screened at the SXSW before the festival was cancelled due to current events.
The career is based on the novel of the same name by Damon Galgut. It targets a refugee who, after killing a wandering preacher, goes to a small town and pretends to be the man he killed. The parishioners of the small town like to preach forgiveness to vagrants, but the local police chief (Michael Shannon) suspects the man. Soon a terrible discovery at a local quarry causes the killer to fight for his freedom.
I recently had the privilege of talking to Scott Times about his new movie. We discussed what it’s like to work with actors, the impact of SXSW on the release and much more. Enjoy it.
I was glad we could do it. I live here in Austin, and I was gonna report it for SXSW, and I was looking forward to it. But at least I’m glad we made it. Simply because many people who were not there and did not leave, do not really understand the importance of South Bai and the place of films that are not great blockbusters. How has the fact that you don’t have a SXSW affected your situation?
Scott Tims: It’s really important. And generally speaking, with everything that happens in the world, it may not be so bad to lose your first film, but it breaks your heart because you’ve worked so hard to make films, especially independent films, and you want people to see them and you want them to see them as well as possible. There are better possibilities than a big festival like South By at the Paramount Cinema with a huge screen and a huge crowd and all the great things that go with it and the energy you can gather from a moment like this to get the film out into the world. This is huge. And losing is heartbreaking. That’s right. We were lucky to receive a flyer for the festival. But many films that don’t have that are tragic.
Plus, you lose the festival, and then you lose… who knows what’s gonna happen in the release world in the next few months? It is clear that everything is in motion. But we’re lucky to have a cast. But that doesn’t make losing your first one any easier. The film is coming to the cinema in three weeks, so we almost certainly lost a large part of our cinema edition. And so sad. You want people to see a movie on a big screen with a group of people. That’s why you’re doing this. At least, that’s why I do it. That’s one of the main reasons why you know most people will see it at home, and that’s fine. But you’re doing it for the theater board anyway. They’re building it for the temple. But everything that is said, that this will come true and that we will get a division, is a great blessing and I am grateful for that.
All I can think about, man, would be really great at Paramount. As the man who brought this film to life, how would you describe it to people?
Scott Teems: The Quarry is a film about a man on the run from his past, who takes on a new identity and goes to this small town in Texas and tries to disappear. But you can’t run away from your past, and you soon call it that. And he throws himself into this cat-and-mouse game with the local police chief when the burden of guilt and conscience engulfs them. It’s a black Texas. It’s a slow-spinning suspension. It’s a character drama. But above all, it is an opportunity to see some of the best actors in the world, in my opinion, in this dance, so to speak, in this dramatic dance. Mike Shannon and Shea Wyham. Not to mention Catalina Sandino Moreno and Bobby Soto, Bruno Bichir. I’ve had a lot of luck with this casting. Let’s get some very good actors for this show.
Actually, I wanted to ask you that because men, since Shea and Michael have been together, they’re great. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Were they related to him when you arrived, or were you just lucky to be there?
Scott Tims: I chose this novel by Damon Galgut 10 years ago, just after my first movie That Night Sun, I tried to make my second movie out of it. I found this book, I picked it up from Laura Smith, my producer, and I tried to get it back. In fact, I told Mike Shannon then, in 2010, 2011, and he was unavailable. He was gonna make Superman [Man of Steel]. He wanted to go next year when I tried to make this movie, but we didn’t. Actually, he’s missing. It was a strange time back then. This was after the bursting of a big real estate bubble and the economic collapse we have experienced or are experiencing now. So there was less money and less movies. Moreover, the possibilities of the platforms are less numerous. Until now, none of the feeds were available. So fewer films have been made. Then I didn’t make it. She’s gone, and it was Shea’s interest that brought her back to life a few years ago. Shea got involved and her interest in the film gave her a boost. I haven’t thought about it in six years. I’ve moved on, I’ve been trying to do something else. I was sad to lose that movie, but we had to do something else. Shea’s got it in her hands. He fell in love with her, got her back, and because Mike already read it, and because Shea and Mike were good friends, and because [the producer] Christine Mann and Mike were friends, that brought Mike home. With those two guys on board we could now get the money and finally make a movie.
This is so unbelievable. I think some people don’t understand how long it takes to make a movie, and frankly most of the time to do something. Well, I guess how do you feel now? It’s this way. He’ll be right there. And what does it do? After what, about ten times ten years of effort?
Scott Tims: It’s a little surreal. I can’t believe this really happened, but I’m excited. Films change and develop, and it’s a very different film from what I thought ten years ago. But that’s the beauty of this process, it develops as you grow up. I grew up as a camerawoman, I changed as a writer, and then it’s really interesting to go back after so many years and see how I changed in those years as a writer, as a camerawoman, and try to translate that ten-year-old version of myself into the current version. It’s an interesting process. But I’m just excited. I mean, it’s true. The best thing I think about all this chaos with the virus and everything else is that probably more people will see it than it would have been, even if it had had its advantage in the theaters, because everyone is at home and I think there will be fewer re-releases in the coming months, because everyone is taking out their films. We have less competition, and maybe more people can discover this film. I hope so. Even if they don’t see it in the theatre, I think maybe more people will. It’s exciting for me and a little comforting at such a chaotic time.
I don’t want to sit in spoilers because, as you said, the film is slowly consuming and there are a lot of things. I really want people to find out. But there is a strong religious element in this story. I’m just curious, has religion ever been an important part of your life? How did you feel? Because it looked like there was a lot of room on it.
Scott Tims: I mean, I think that when I first read the book, although the book was written in South Africa, in post-apartheid South Africa, it still talked to me about some very universal themes that are important to me, those men, violence and Go, and how these things sometimes overlap, and where they explode together. For me, these issues are still very topical. I grew up in Georgia. As you grow up in the South, religion somehow becomes integrated into who you really are. That’s why I’ve always been fascinated by the way religion plays a role in a character’s life, and the fact that you grow up with it, and don’t approach it from a more objective perspective. Since I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 15 years, there’s no obligation. There is no social obligation to go to church or to have a religion. If that’s the case, it’s the other way around.
He grew up in the south, especially in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, where it was a social duty to go to church. This has created an ambivalence towards religion in many people. Complicated relationships. I’m still fascinated. I grew up there. She’s been an important part of my life, but my relationship with her has changed a lot. I am only interested in researching this subject from a unique perspective. I’m not interested in making films that are exclusively about religion. I just like to explore it as an organic part of the world and as a story, but it’s cooked in people and places, it makes me feel like it’s not propaganda run by a program I’m not interested in. I wouldn’t like that. So I like these elements and the way they are combined in a flammable way.
The quarry is available on request at 5 pm. April in Lionsgate available.
Author of several things online (mostly about movies) since 2013. The biggest fan of popcorn movies. An avid connoisseur of James Bond, Marvel and Star Wars. He has an incredibly fat cat named Buster and he always buys CDs. I have my reasons.