The first movie Tyler Davidson produced was the 2002 drama The Year That Trembled, a coming-of-age story set at Kent State University in 1970. Not too many people saw it, and those who did weren't all that impressed.
His latest, Take Shelter, is having no such problems filling up theater seats or picking up buzz. It was a hit at top film festivals. And like the first movie Davidson produced, Take Shelter is set in Ohio — this time in Lorain County. "The story struck a chord with me right away," says Davidson, who will answer viewer questions at the film's Cleveland premiere on Thursday at the Cinematheque. "It reminds me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind — this lonely journey of a character questioning his sanity."
Davidson — who lives in South Russell, near Chagrin Falls — oversaw the three-week shoot in Elyria, Grafton, LaGrange, and Oberlin in June and July of 2010. Though the movie never spells out its rural Ohio setting, an Elyria sign figures prominently in one scene. "We needed flat treeless land. So instead of shooting in my backyard, we headed west," he says. "It was new territory for all of us."
Already, Take Shelter has snagged some top awards for Davidson and his crew, nearly two-thirds of whom are Ohioans. It won a pair of awards at Cannes, including the Critics Week Grand Prize. It also caused a stir at Sundance, where it was nominated for the prestigious Grand Jury Prize. Not bad for a movie shot in a part of Northeast Ohio little known even by most Clevelanders. — Gallucci