When someone bemoans the death of the solid middle-brow movies that made the 1990s such a great time to go to the movies, my first inclination is to point them in the direction of Gavin O’Connor‘s films. His first widely released film, Tumbleweeds, came out in 1999, anchored by a tremendous performance by the great Janet McTeer, and he’s been making movies pretty consistently since then, with a few TV credits sprinkled throughout. He’s best when looking at the world and passion of sports, whether in Miracle or, even more so, in Warrior, his excellent MMA-centric drama starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy.
His other main interest seems to be with crime. The movie he made before Warrior was Pride and Glory, about a family of cops that is struck by a very public police scandal, and movies like Jane Got a Gun and the upcoming The Accountant are similarly marked by a fascination with those who uphold the law and those who break it. It’s not very surprising, then, to report that during an interview with our very own Steve Weintraub for The Accountant, O’Connor broke the news that he will next be taking on a Netflix series centered on politics, corruption, community, and the police in modern-day Jersey City. Here’s how O’Connor broke it down:
“So, what am I doing next? I’m going to go do a Netflix series. It’s straight-to-series, 10 episodes, probably go for three seasons. I’m going to direct the pilot and hopefully the last episode of the first season.”
“[The show’s name is] Seven Seconds. We haven’t even started casting it yet. It hasn’t been announced yet. I just signed on like a week ago.”
“It’s a drama that takes place in a post-Ferguson world in Jersey City. Politics, corruption, community, police. The creator is a woman named Veena Sud, who did The Killing. This is her new show.”
That’s not a lot of information in terms of the narrative, but it’s excellent news to hear that Veena Sud hasn’t been slacking in the years since The Killing ended. It’s also great news to hear that O’Connor is going to be directing episodes, as he mentioned that he starts prepping for filming in November and shoots in January. I might only point out that the last TV pilot that the Warrior director helmed was The Americans, one of the best television series to ever see release. And it’s even better to hear that he’s working with Netflix, who is having a great 2016 with the premieres of Luke Cage, Easy, The Little Prince, and, most important, Ava DuVernay‘s upcoming, brilliant 13th. O’Connor had some very positive words to share about working with the streaming service:
“They’re a filmmaker-driven network and it’s all about storytelling and letting storytellers go tell the story. Once they go ‘yes we want to make this,’ they encourage you to go bring your artistry to the story.”
The praise for Netflix is becoming unnervingly consistent, to the point one has to wonder when the company will start going for even bigger fish, like Wes Anderson, P.T. Anderson, David Lynch, or Terrence Malick. They’ve done well with David Fincher to the point that they teamed with him twice now, and there simply must be projects from these artists that the studios have turned their nose up at that Netflix would be interested in. Though they’re now working with O’Connor, it doesn’t sound like they’ll have a bid out for the director’s long-gestating FIFA drama, which O’Connor also took time to talk about:
“The FIFA movie that we’re doing is a long way off because the story is still being written. So, the author who’s writing the book is still immersed in research. As I’ve told the studio, I don’t want to tell the story until the story is completed and we don’t know what that story is yet. So, once that book is written, then we’ll figure out how to adapt it.”
That seems to be about right for a story that could honestly be more suited to the mini-series format than to the big screen. We’ll have to see when all of this shakes out, but O’Connor seems to have a really nice set of projects coming up, each one of which touches on ideas that he’s returned to throughout his career. Even if his movies are nowhere near as ambitious as many of the aforementioned filmmakers, O’Connor is making very good movies that feel consistently unfettered and aware of all the little bruises that everyone carries around with them, no matter what they do for living or when in time they lived.