One of the worst-kept secrets in Hollywood is out: Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer has signed on to direct a remake of the 1984 teen-cinema fave Footloose for Paramount. Brewer has been rumored in connection with the remake since late last year and had recently been working on a new script for the project, but the final deal for Brewer to helm the rebooted Footloose was reported Monday night by industry trade publication Variety and confirmed by Brewer shortly thereafter.
"I'm now directing Footloose," Brewer told the Flyer Tuesday. The next step in the process is casting the film and choosing a location, but Brewer says he expects the film to begin shooting sometime this summer.
The project initially had been set up for High School Musical director Kenny Ortega and envisioned as a lighter, musical-theater-style piece. Brewer had turned down the project after being approached by Paramount last year but took another look when Paramount executive Adam Goodman gave Brewer the go-ahead to scrap the initial rewrite and take the project in his own direction.
Brewer, who has long expressed a love for the "working-class cinema" of the '80s such as Footloose, Purple Rain, and Flashdance, had plenty of ideas.
In his new version, Brewer sought to return the film to its original drama, wrapped up in teen angst, parental control, religious repression, and small-town malaise. And he appears to have made the project personal by drawing on his own experiences with the Baptist church and as a teen outsider who grew up in California but would spend summers visiting relatives in Memphis. Brewer says he's also drawn on his parenthood in developing a new appreciation for the material.
"I'm beginning to understand how parents, worried about the dangers and potential deaths of their children, can make rash decisions," Brewer says.
Brewer says he did his rewrite in six weeks, completely rebuilding the project from the ground up.
"I've been shakin' the Etch A Sketch," he says.
Brewer has set the film in Tennessee, but given the more generous film-production incentives in surrounding states, particularly Georgia, shooting the film in Tennessee may be a long shot, though Brewer says he hasn't given up.
"This is a battle, unfortunately. There's nothing the studio can do. There's just a lot of financial incentives to go to Georgia," Brewer says. "It would be a shame to shoot in Georgia and have to put up Tennessee flags. I guarantee you I'm the only person in Hollywood fighting to make a movie in Tennessee."
It's been nearly five years since Brewer shot his last feature, Black Snake Moan. Now it looks like he'll be helming two major feature-film productions over the next year or so.
"The one reason I'm focused on shooting [Footloose] this summer is because I want to make Mother Trucker next summer," Brewer says of his adaptation of a Details magazine story about a man who breaks out of jail and hijacks a semi-trailer truck to visit an ailing mother.
Mother Trucker, according to Brewer, is lined up and ready to go. The script has been approved, and "there's a budget, there's a schedule, and there's a plan."