EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (The Right Stuff, The Natural, Passion of the Christ) has directed just two features to date. Now 25 years after his last helming effort, Deschanel is eyeing his third trip to the director’s chair with the Elvis Presley biopic Growing Up Graceland, for upstart studio BiteSize Entertainment. The based-on-a-true-story pic is told through the eyes of Elvis’s younger stepbrother David Stanley, who moves with his family into Elvis’s famed Graceland estate after the singer’s return from the Army in the fall of 1960. Graceland will chronicle the bond between Elvis and his little brother as both siblings deal with the loss of their parents amid Elvis’s growing success.
Robert Boris (Blood Feud, Marilyn and Me) is adapting the script from Stanley and Dr. David Gruder’s bestseller Conversations with the King: Journals of a Young Apprentice. Stanley is producing through his own Impello Entertainment banner through which he previously wrote and directed his own 2007 Elvis film Protecting the King, also based on his life with his famous sibling. Financing is still coming together on the project as Oscar-winning producer and BiteSize cofounder Gene Kirkwood (Rocky, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Gorky Park, Get Rich or Die Tryin’) launches a search for an unknown to play the young Elvis. While Graceland is not a musical, Kirkwood plans on tapping Broadway and other talent sources looking for an actor with singing chops who can handle gospel tunes because Elvis “only sang gospel at Graceland.”
Deschanel most recently shot WB’s Winter’s Tale for director Akiva Goldsman. Last year he DPed Killer Joe for William Friedkin, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for Timur Bekmambetov, and Jack Reacher for Christopher McQuarrie. His first feature film as director was 1982’s The Escape Artist, for Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope and 1988’s Crusoe starring Aidan Quinn marked his second pic as director. Deschanel is repped by The Gersh Agency.