BAM Column: Gigi Garner, daughter of James Garner, seeking funds to make movie in Oklahoma
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
James Garner’s daughter seeking funds to make a movie in Oklahoma
Gigi Garner values her dad’s ties to his home state and seeks to create her own Oklahoma connection
Gigi Garner wasn’t born in Oklahoma, nor has she ever lived here, but she feels an undeniable tie to the Sooner State.
“My dad feels like a huge, huge piece of his heart is connected to Oklahoma, and I’m connected to him. So that means I want to be connected somehow to Oklahoma,” the Californian said during a recent phone interview.
As the daughter of legendary Norman-born actor James Garner, making a movie in Oklahoma seems a natural way for Garner to plant her roots a little deeper in our red dirt. But despite her famous father’s Oscar nomination for “Murphy’s Romance” and his memorable roles in movies like “The Great Escape,” “Support Your Local Sheriff!” and “The Notebook,” Gigi Garner’s foray into filmmaking is a relatively recent endeavor.
Sure, the younger Garner grew up in Los Angeles and attended University of Southern California film school. But she picked the music business, penning three No. 1 hits as a staff songwriter for Christian label Word Records. She also worked as a private investigator, wrote two books and handcrafted jewelry for TV shows “Desperate Housewives,” “The O.C.” and “America’s Next Top Model.”
“I change careers like every several years because I do something, I get interested in it, then I reach a modicum of success and then I move on,” she said with a laugh. “I like to do everything; I’m kind of like jack-of-all-trades at once. So, now I’m producing a couple of (film) projects and I’m also managing a couple of actors, directors, writers.”
Her father, who also starred in the TV shows “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files,” is behind her decision to explore the film side of show biz. In 2008, James Garner suffered a stroke.
“He’s in his 80s, but he’s OK. He doesn’t have any impairments … like when you think of a stroke victim. He’s walking and talking fine. But he’s tough, you see. They don’t make ’em like that anymore,” He’s the toughest guy I know,” she said.
“I knew the fact that I did not use my education was always a bone of contention between us. And so before it was too late, I wanted to show my dad what a grateful daughter I am, and I wanted to make a couple of film projects that he approved of.”
The Garners were drawn to a dramedy penned by writer/director/actor Michael Worth, who is set to helm acclaimed author and filmmaker David Mamet’s next movie, “Come Back to Sorrento.”
Titled “Apple Seed,” Worth’s story follows middle-aged Prince McCoy, who loses everything except the once-impressive convertible he inherited from his recently deceased dad. Prince hears the town of Apple Seed boasts a bank with no security system, so he plots a road trip and robbery. With no money for the trek, he strikes a deal with an elderly hitchhiker, who agrees to pay for gas and food in exchange for a ride.
Gigi Garner, who plans to produce the film with Mamet and her dad, describes it as “‘Rain Man’ meets ‘Away We Go’ meets ‘Dog Day Afternoon.’”
“The story is so charming and it has such a great message,” she said. “I’d much rather make a film that actually means something and actually has a good message rather than just making a film to make a film.”
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