Culture / Entertainment

The Real Story Behind a Major Hollywood Director’s Secret Dallas Movie

David Lowery on Casey Affleck, Ghost Stories and his Hometown

BY // 07.07.17
photography A24 Films

David Lowery secretly made one of 2017’s most important films in Dallas last summer. A Ghost Story, written and directed by Lowery and out in theaters today, is a strange supernatural love story between a wife and her late husband, played by Rooney Mara and Oscar-winner Casey Affleck.

Since Lowery’s breakout film, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, also starring Mara and Affleck, debuted in 2013, the Dallas-based filmmaker has made a name for himself. Last year, he took on mainstream cinema, writing and directing Pete’s Dragon for Disney. With A Ghost Story, the 36-year-old returned to his indie roots and his hometown.

The film debuted at Sundance earlier this year and will be widely released on July 7. I won’t give anything away, but I will tell you that Casey Affleck wears a sheet with holes over his eyes, Rooney Mara eats an entire pie from Spiral Diner, and Rolling Stone called it “a poetic and profound experiment you do not want to miss.”

We asked David Lowery about his experience making A Ghost Story and what’s coming next (clue: Robert Redford is involved).

How did you get into filmmaking?

When I was seven years old, I decided I wanted to make movies, and have been on a pretty much one-track path ever since then. I didn’t have a camcorder back then, but I started writing scripts and building props and costumes —everything but shooting the actual movies! When I got my first job at a movie theater when I was 16, I finally was able to buy a camera and start shooting things on my own.

Holiday Gifting

  • Nocturne Studio
  • Loeffler Randall - Clutch
  • Oscar De La Renta - Earrings
  • Cle Du Peau - Nail Polish
  • Oscar De La Renta - Clutch
  • Cle Du Peau - Lip Gloss
  • Bond No 9 - Perfume
  • Loeffler Randall - Shoes
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Bond No 9 - Candle
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Casa di Lino

Why did you want to make A Ghost Story in Dallas? Also, was it filmed primarily in Dallas or in Irving?

A Ghost Story was primarily filmed in South Irving, in a house right off Belt Line Rd. But we also shot scenes in downtown Dallas, Waxahachie and Fort Worth. I wanted to make the film in Dallas because it’s just a more comfortable place for me to make films. I know the vendors, I know the crew and I wish I could make all of my films here.

What’s it like making a film in the place you grew up? Especially a film about the passing of time in a place that changes as quickly as Dallas.

It was really interested shooting the movie in Irving, in and around the streets that I used to ride my bike and the roads and highways I learned to drive on. Everything has changed and at the same time nothing has changed. It definitely added a layer of nostalgia to the whole experience, which I imagine was helpful on some level, as the film is about letting go of nostalgia.

How did you get the idea for A Ghost Story?

I don’t really remember. There was the image of the ghost in an empty house, and then there was a fight I had with my wife about moving, and somewhere between those two ends the story came into being.

What was it like working with Mara and Affleck again?

It’s great. It’s always helpful to work with friends on movies — it just makes the process easier, and on this one I wanted to surround myself with folks I knew and trusted. It contributes to the familial process of filmmaking. I love what they do, especially when they’re together, and it felt like we really got to develop and expand the collaborative process we started with our first film. Also, we’re all vegan so it was great to get to go to Spiral Diner together.

Do you see yourself pursuing more indie films, more big productions like Pete’s Dragon, or both? Anything currently in the works?

I’m finishing up a film called THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN which we shot in the spring, starring Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek. It actually takes place in Dallas but we shot most of it in Ohio. I’m editing that one right now and other than that, I’m just writing. One of the films I’m writing is huge and would have to be a studio film, and the other is much smaller.

I’ll make whichever one feels right to me to make — I don’t let size factor into that decision. They just have to feel right.

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