David Oyelowo’s ‘The Water Man’ is a love letter to the 1980s


David Oyelowo’s pedigree of being a classically skilled stage actor has largely translated into his profession in movie with weighty roles in Selma, The Butler, Nightingale, and so forth. So when the alternative to make his directorial debut with the kid-centric fantasy The Water Man happened, his concern was double-fold: stepping behind the digital camera and going left of what folks have come to count on from him as an actor.

“I have a tendency to gravitate in the direction of roles and tasks which can be terrifying to me,” Oyelowo says in an upcoming episode of Quick Firm’s podcast Artistic Dialog. “This is a story that I knew, and it’s been confirmed, that folks can be like, ‘However you do these essential films? You do these historic films. Why have you ever gone off and accomplished this family-adventure film?’”

Directed by and starring Oyelowo, The Water Man follows Gunner (Lonnie Chavis), an 11-year-old boy who embarks on a journey to discover the Water Man, a legendary determine stated to possess the potential to heal. Regardless that the Water Man is believed to be nothing greater than an city legend, Gunner is determined sufficient to search him out with the help of his pal Jo (Amiah Miller) to treatment his mother (Rosario Dawson), who’s dying of most cancers. However when Gunner and Jo get in over their heads, Amos (Oyelowo), Gunner’s dad—with whom he has a strained relationship—embarks on his personal mission to save them.

“After all I used to be extremely nervous about going into this process,” Oyelowo says. “I used to be speaking to Ava DuVernay about this, and he or she stated, ‘David, the actuality is with the profession you’ve had, you’ve been on much more movie units and had much more movie set expertise than most world-class, prolific administrators.’ And he or she’s proper.”


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David Oyelowo [Photo: courtesy of Karan Ballard]

Oyelowo’s appearing profession additionally served as his movie faculty. And when he leaned on his Rolodex of administrators he’s labored with for recommendation, the prevailing sentiment was, “Rent people who find themselves much more skilled than you at what they do,” Oyelowo says. “Be very clear about your imaginative and prescient after which allow them to do their factor.”

As for his imaginative and prescient, Oyelowo noticed The Water Man, written by newcomer Emma Needell, as a possibility to faucet into the ’80s fantasy adventures that formed him as a child, whereas additionally dialing into themes which can be central to who he is as a husband and father.

“I’ve had to go and present [my kids] The NeverEnding Story, E.T., Stand by Me, Gremlins, The Goonies, however there are fewer of [those movies] to present them lately,” Oyelowo says. “What I beloved about them was the confluence of actuality and fantasy, which is so baked into what it is to be a child. The fantasy aspect is partly what will get eroded if you become older. However that imaginative aspect of ourselves is typically what helps us to address the hardest sides of life.”

Having that connection to a mission was Oyelowo’s most substantial takeaway from his first foray into directing together with his 2009 brief movie, Huge Man.

“What it actually taught me was, sure [directing] was one thing I wished to do however my goodness, it wants to be a story you’re keen about, since you spend a lot of time with the movie,” Oyelowo says. “So when you’re going to say one thing with movie, you higher say one thing.”

So what did he need to say with The Water Man?


“I believe individuals who know me, and fortunately this is one thing that folks have stated, my largest preoccupation—the factor I worth the most in my life, the factor I strive to put out into the world the most I can—is love,” Oyelowo says. “I attempted to direct it from that perspective. I attempted to empower folks to do nice work from that perspective. It was one in every of the themes of the movie that was prime of thoughts all through the course of the movie: How far are you ready to go for the ones you love?”

Including to which can be the private touches Oyelowo imbued the movie with, like altering the character of Jo, who was initially scripted as a boy, so his daughter might see an adventurous woman like herself on-screen. Or tapping Nigerian artist Ric Hasani for 2 tracks in the movie, in addition to incorporating Afrocentric touches into the wardrobe.

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David Oyelowo as Amos Boone and Rosario Dawson as Mary Boone in The Water Man [Photo: courtesy of Karen Ballard]

“There are such a lot of issues on this movie which can be what I consider in, what I would like to see in the world, whether or not it’s illustration, whether or not it’s my tradition, whether or not it’s the movies I beloved as a child however I by no means noticed myself represented in,” Oyelowo says. “I now get to have a little drop in the ocean of these films by way of The Water Man. What filmmakers ought to do is carry themselves, all of themselves, to the mission and communicate from that reality.”