Daniel Algrant

Tribeca Exclusive Interview: Filmmaker Daniel Algrant Talks ‘Greetings From Tim Buckley’

Daniel Algrant will be the first person to tell you that he had no intentions of making a Jeff Buckley film. So how did the writer/director ever become interested in making what is now the only film about Jeff Buckley? Like most people who are impassioned about the man, Algrant remembers the moment he heard Buckley’s music. It was after a late night drive with the film’s producer Fred Zollo. Zollo was interested in making a film about the estranged father and son relationship between Jeff and Tim, and played Algrant some music. Once Algrant learned about the complex nature of the elder Buckley abandoning his son for the road, he saw a story that was universal. On a personal note, he saw a story that he connected to over issues he had with his own father. With that knowledge and Jeff’s story in his hands, Algrant set out to construct a story about a boy reckoning with the father he never had in order to become a man.

It’s a familiar tale even if one isn’t a huge fan of Tim or Jeff. Using the canvas of Jeff’s life proves to be interesting, if only because of the person he went on to become years after his death. It’s a starting point that we aren’t usually given in terms of where Jeff was before he recorded his first and last completed album Grace. Thanks to Algrant, we have a bit of an unorthodox version of what Jeff might have been like traipsing around New York City before the singer uttered his famous Hallelujah cover. If anything Greetings From Tim Buckley acts as another shard of glass in a whole menagerie of what Jeff Buckley meant to people. For Algrant, he was clearly just a man, and not a God as he’s often dreamed up to be.

The Inquisitr’s Niki Cruz sat down with director and writer Daniel Algrant to discuss the arduous task of finding the right person to play Jeff Buckley, and the universal story underneath Greetings From Tim Buckley.


THE INQUISITR: As far as your casting, that’s obviously such a critical element. Where did you throw out the net?

DANIEL ALGRANT: What happens is you say you’re doing this, and then of course everyone has a lot of people on their mind. They begin to tell you all the people that should play this. There’s a circle of people who you’re interested in listening to – your producers, your casting director, and then there’s an enormous loop of people on the Internet. Babysue123 says, “James Franco is the only one who can do it.” And Sexybaby says “No f—king way! It has to be Robert Pattinson, otherwise I’ll throw myself out the window.” It was madness. In a sense I knew that it was important. It was the decision I needed to make. I had producers who didn’t require me to use anyone who they thought was going to finance the film. The film was financed. I looked at 150 tapes. They showed me this tape that Penn Badgley had made. I saw this young man who just was incredible. He took a million risks, and he could sing, and the camera loved him. He was willing to make mistakes.

THE INQUSITR: When did you become aware of Jeff Buckley’s presence in the music industry?

ALGRANT: When Fred Zollo drove me home, on Greenwich avenue and started playing it for me. That was probably just about the time when the Tribeca Film Festival was starting up, or maybe it was a little before.