Mystery White Boy - The Movie

Below I've posted the frustrating news that arrived just recently to my inbox via the Jeff Buckley International Newsletter. Despite the rationalization of Mary's reasons for greenlighting the movie, it is to me nothing more than another case of "if somebody's going to make money off of my son's legacy, it might as well be me". Somewhere, principles do still count for something.

Subject: JB Biopic - Mystery White Boy - The Movie

It has now been nine full years since Jeff's passing and not a single one has passed without someone approaching me on the subject of making a feature-length film based on Jeff's life and music. From the beginning I was adamantly opposed. I had many good reasons: 1) it was hard to point to any Hollywood biopics that weren't sappy, oversimplified, and glamorized the subject's life to the point that it only bore a passing resemblance to reality; 2) no matter how good the screenwriter is, reducing anyone's life to under two hours of screen time is fraught with pitfalls; 3) none of us (my family and Jeff's closest friends) wanted to see our characters and lives portrayed through someone else's eyes on the big screen; 4) last, but by no means least, is the fact that I KNOW FOR SURE that Jeff would have had nothing to do with a feature film made about his life - were he alive, today. And, that's the catch. The fact that Jeff is no longer with us means that anyone can make a film or write a book about him without anyone's permission or our participation, which nearly became reality last year. That fact really got me to the point of re-thinking my stand on the subject. Nine years later, when I looked around, I saw films like "Ray", "The Aviator", "Walk the Line", and "Finding Neverland" making it to the screen. Also, I had to come to the realization that I did not want someone else to be in control of how the script was written and on what information that script was based.

Even David Browne admits that no-one could write a proper screenplay simply by adapting his book for the screen. I want Jeff's bandmates and the people who were really a part of his life to be able to convey IN PERSON what it was like to work with and be around Jeff. The bottom line is - I changed my mind and started looking for a producer and a screenwriter - in that order. My first jackpot was in contacting Michelle Sy (Executive Producer of "Finding Neverland"). We met several months ago, and she agreed to cast about for a screenwriter who would have the right take on what we wanted to accomplish, and she up with an amazing young film-maker. His name is Brian Jun. His most recent film "Steel City" was screened at Sundance, last year, and you can see his bio and reviews of the film on the Sundance website. He's currently in negotiations to secure a distributor, so you will be able to see it in theaters and buy it on DVD in the near future. In the mean time, suffice it to say that Brian has eagerly plunged deep into my Jeff Buckley archives and will be spending the next few months interviewing Jeff's friends and associates, and absorbing everything we have saved of Jeff's personal effects in preparation for submitting a first draft by the end of the summer. Having had a chance to speak with him at length over the past two weeks, I feel absolutely confident in my choice. I will be doing everything to make his work easy and to open any door he needs to walk through to do his job well. I would not have chosen him if I wasn't ready to give him every kind of support he needs. Even if it means putting him together with people I feel were less than positive influences in Jeff's life. I can tell Jeff's fans with complete confidence that Brian is not the sort of fellow to sugar-coat or manipulate the facts. I've looked into his eyes and I know that he's a straight shooter. There's a depth of character to Brian, surprising in someone so young, and I have seen from his film-making that he has the courage and the skill to do this the way it should be done.

So, now, my friends, you can swing on the chandeliers speculating about which actors will play which parts - BUT, DON'T ASK ME! (Read my lips, you actors, out there!) We will not be making any decisions about casting a film we don't yet have a script for. As soon as the word gets out to the media that we are moving forward, I won't be able to walk the streets of Hollywood! Talent agents will be jamming Michelle Sy's voicemail. However, all of that will be to no avail until we have a finished script, which should be some time in the Fall of this year.

As usual, I will do my best to keep you all posted as this project finds its way (hopefully) to a theater near you.

Jeff Buckley - The Way Young Lovers Do (Live At Sin-E)


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