Late musician Jeff Buckley is getting the biopic treatment. Writer-director Brian Jun, whose "Steel City" was nominated for the grand jury prize at January's Sundance Film Festival, will write and dir
Late musician Jeff Buckley is getting the biopic treatment. Writer-director Brian Jun, whose "Steel City" was nominated for the grand jury prize at January's Sundance Film Festival, will write and direct a feature based on the artist's life. The movie is being produced by Buckley's mother, Mary Guibert, and Michelle Sy, who executive produced "Finding Neverland."
Buckley was considered by critics one of the most promising artists of his generation after he released his debut album, "Grace," in 1994. Such musicians as Robert Plant, Elton John, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney praised the album, and his cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is considered the definitive version of that song. Just as his career was taking off, however, Buckley drowned in Memphis, Tenn., on May 29, 1997.
This isn't the first time that a Buckley biopic has been attempted. Last year, writer-producer Train Houston secured the rights to "Dream Brother: The Lives & Music of Jeff & Tim Buckley," a book by Entertainment Weekly music critic David Browne.
It was that event that spurred Guibert, who controls the rights to Buckley's songs, to finally take an active role in a movie about her son's life.
"Over the years, the number of offers were unceasing, and I had resisted for so many reasons, one being that Hollywood, traditionally, did a lousy job of realistically portraying the life of people like Jeff," Guibert said. "But the possibility that it could happen without my participation set me back to re-examine why I wasn't doing it."
And after seeing recent films such as "Ray," "Walk the Line" and "Finding Neverland," Guibert became convinced "that time was right to have a project where integrity could be built into the script and that we could wrangle it so that it didn't get co-opted or changed in getting to the screen."
Guibert conveyed her ideas to her attorney, who in turn suggested she talk to Sy, a producer client of his. Sy was not an avid fan but was attracted to Buckley's story.
"It's really about how music is so much a part of this person's identity, and there are so many ironies in his life," Sy said. "For example, he was constantly being compared to his father (singer/songwriter Tim Buckley), but he only met his father twice. He had the trajectory of someone who gains a certain amount of success in a short period of time, and there [are] some downsides to that. And it was music that guided him through that."
Sy and Guibert went to Jun after seeing his "Steel City," which offered an unsentimental take on a father-son relationship. Jun also was a finalist for the Student Academy Award and was part of the Fox Searchlab talent program.
"As a filmmaker on the rise, I think he is actually experiencing a lot of the things that Jeff would have been experiencing at that point in his life," Sy said.