nixey_simple_machines

Variety reports that former comic book artist Troy Nixey, currently directing the remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark for Miramax, has been signed by Phoenix Pictures (the outfit producing Scorsese’s Shutter Island) to direct Simple Machines, based on his own script. I’ll be up front about this right now: Troy is an exceptionally talented creator and could be a great new filmmaker, but he’s also a good friend. That, coupled with the fact that my former editor (CHUD founder Nick Nunziata) is co-producing the film, means that my objectivity is pretty much out the window on this story. But I’ll try to convince you that it’s worth knowing about anyway, after the jump.

My enthusiasm for this really comes from a simpler place than knowing and liking the people responsible: it’s an original fantasy story with sci-fi overtones. As the trade puts it, “Story centers on a reclusive young inventor who must save his beloved creation from an evil industrialist before he uses it to corrupt the world.” We always ask for more original stories, and a few people are offering it up. I’ve seen Troy’s original short film work and I like it; even with Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark he’s working with less than obvious source material. While that film is a remake it is also rife with possibilities for a new version, so I’m willing to check it out. Finally, I’m intrigued by the fact that Simple Machines is overtly oriented as a family film. There’s such a push to have everything be dark and terribly ominous, and I’m curious to see what happens with an original idea that works for both kids and adults. Those movies got made once (I’m thinking Amblin Entertainment 25 years ago) and some of them were pretty good.

I’ve known about Simple Machines for a long time, but as something that was always a work in progress, I’ve never read it. So here’s what Nunziata had to say about the film on CHUD:

This has been coming together for quite a few years, dozens of drafts, amazing conceptual artwork and pre-viz efforts and it is a visionary and deeply affecting story Troy has imagined. Watching the project evolve and Troy develop as a filmmaker has been astonishing. His work on Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark has already turned heads and Simple Machines is something he’s been filming in his head for quite some time and I have no doubt that audiences will soon be adding his name to the list of filmmakers whose work is absolutely unmissable.

Meanwhile, in an email this afternoon Nixey mentioned to me a few other influences. “I.E. the movies that informed and shaped me growing up. Movies like Star Wars, ET, Raiders, The Wizard of Oz. It has a real sense of adventure and wonder and is tonally all along the same lines as what WE grew up on.” Again: think Amblin/Spielberg from their ’80s heyday when it comes to tone and feel.

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