16 Nov ABC: Chicago native, filmmaker Andrew Davis celebrates 45th anniversary of his first movie ‘Stony Island’
CHICAGO (WLS) — South Side native Andrew Davis is an acclaimed filmmaker, best known for directing movies like “The Fugitive,” shot right here in Chicago.
He’s back in his hometown to celebrate the 45th anniversary of his first film “Stony Island.”
“It’s a love letter to our city, it’s music and the young people following their dreams in a changing culture,” said Davis.
In 1978, Davis, his cast and crew created a dazzling landscape, with dynamic sounds.
They had no money, but fierce determination and purpose.
“I saw Marty Scorsese’s Mean Streets, I saw George Lucas’ American Graffiti, said David. “These guys did films about where they grew up. I grew up in a pretty interesting place on the South Side of Chicago, my brother’s a white kid growing up in a Black neighborhood.
Davis said that became the basis of the story.
“It was about a kid putting a band together in a mixed neighborhood and how they worked together and music being a common language,” said David.
The mentor in the movie is Gene Barge and he helps the kids put a band together.
“Gene Barge was an amazing producer at Chess,” said Davis. “His rhythm section was Donnie Hathaway, Maurice White played drums and that’s the rhythm section of the Stony Island Band.”
“We found Dennis Franz who was in The Organic Theatre, never been in a movie before,” recalled Davis. “Susanna Hoffs who was just a kid, my partner’s daughter who was thinking about becoming a singer and later starts The Bangles. My brother, struggling to be a guitar player, becomes a studio musician and starts the Chicago Cats.
“If you look at Stony Island, you’ll see a lot of stuff that’s in The Fugitive and my other movies I’ve shot here,” said Davis.
Davis went to the University of Illinois with Roger Ebert. The critic wrote that Stony Island “captures a city’s spirit with a certain refreshing cynicism.”
“The cynicism of corruption and having somebody who knows someone who can get you in the door where you can get a place to rehearse your music – that was all part of growing up in Chicago,” said Davis. “You had to know somebody to get ahead.”
“Trying to tell stories that people can relate to, and have some hope and heroes, hope because you’re getting the bad guy, or doing the right thing, trying to tell stories that have a sense of history and reality about how we live and how we treat each other,” said Davis.
Andrew Davis will be at the Siskel Film Center Friday night presenting “Stony Island” on its 45 birthday.