The Andrew Wyeth Movie - America’s ‘First Family of Art’

Andrew Wyeth fans are a legion. Many consider the artist to be the “People’s Painter” and quite possibly America’s most beloved visual craftsman in the mid-20th century, before the Modernist movement took hold of the art world and abstract subjects became in vogue.

However, did you know that the story of Andrew Wyeth’s life, especially his relationship with his father and his son have been deemed dramatic enough to create a feature-length film? The Wyeth movie will cast the prolific painter in a completely fresh light and expose the influences, mechanisms, and tragedies that fueled and inspired one of America’s favorite creative souls.

If you are not familiar with his work, Andrew Wyeth is best described as a regional naturalist and realist painter, replicating subjects in stark detail and with remarkable accuracy. He faithfully painted landscapes and human figures that existed within close proximity of his home in rural Pennsylvania. This artist created a long line of art work that emphasized the beauty of nature and the simplicity of its inhabitants.

The Andrew Wyeth Movie

Currently titled “Wyeth”, the movie line was written in 2008 and personally approved by Andrew Wyeth himself, who cited a desire for the screenwriter “not to take it easy on him at all.” The project not only has Andrew’s personal blessing, but also the approval of the Wyeth family, who have confirmed that the events in the screenplay are based on facts and actual events. Unfortunately, ninety-five year-old Andrew passed away in late 2009, before the film could be completed.

Prestigious Backing
The Wyeth movie is being executively produced and funded by Snow Hill Productions. Mary Kemper Wolf, who directed ‘120 Wooster Street’ on PBS, is expected to assist with the production. In addition, the screenplay was penned by film veteran Frank Barhydt, who has written many scripts for the venerable Robert Altman, including ‘The Player’, ‘Short Cuts’, and ‘Kansas City’.

Other big names currently attached to the project are Eric Keith, the CEO of the Capstone Entertainment Group, and veteran film producer David Rosenfield. The budget for the film is now listed as $7.5 million. Although this figure is relatively low compared to average Hollywood productions, it is considered a decently large budget for an independent film. The Wyeth movie is expected to eventually make the rounds through film festivals.

Andrew’s son Jamie, who is also an important character in the film, is listed as a consulting producer for the work, so fans can be assured that the material will be truthful.

Pre-Production Rumors

Wolf has been trying to shoot the Wyeth movie in Maine due to the family’s association with the area and because of the lush, undiscovered beauty of the rural locations. She had intended to shoot in Massachusetts, but a friend and advocate of Maine convinced her otherwise.

Wolf is currently contacting collectors that hold expensive Wyeth originals in order to tempt them to participate in the project, which would help offset the fact that Maine presents a very limited incentive package (usually in the form of tax breaks) to film crews. The state of Maine offers a 9% tax incentive, compared to the 25% that is available in Massachusetts and in parts of Canada. The Maine Film Office has arranged a meeting between the governor of Maine, John Baldacci, and state agencies to see if an exception can be made due to not only the prestige of the Wyeth name, but also to the interesting history it has brought to Maine.

To attract a big-name director for the Wyeth movie is Wolf’s intention. She has not yet divulged the identity of that director, but, if successful, it will most likely bring much attention to the project and possibly additional funding.

If everything goes according to plan, the Wyeth movie is slated to begin shooting early in 2011, and is looking at a 2012 release.

The film is aimed at capturing the complicated relationship between three generations of famous American artists, and will surely reveal interesting facts about Andrew Wyeth’s personal life and family. Fans of Wyeth’s work are advised to stay tuned as the production process continues. We will, without a doubt, be thrilled with the end result.

- by Dan Woods

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