As a career move, Ulee’s Gold does not compute. It just isn’t the kind of film Tinseltown tends to make. Still, given critics’ thumbs-up for the story of one family’s brush with oblivion and an Oscar nomination for Peter Fonda, its beekeeper hero, Hollywood can’t be blamed for prospecting — and director Victor Nunez can’t be blamed for feeling bemused by the offers coming his way.
”This has happened to me three times now — people always send you scripts amazingly like the ones you just did — and it is amazing how many there are,” says Nunez, 52, who with the success of Ulee’s — his fourth independent feature set in Florida — can safely be dubbed the state’s auteur laureate. ”The scripts have been pretty bad. One thing about struggling is that you have a lot of time to work on a script.”
So while Fonda waits to see if Oscar ups his ante, and Patricia Richardson lines up roles for life after Home Improvement, Nunez is working on a story ”about a family in an academic setting.” If, like Ulee’s, it’s a $2.7 million indie, he says that’s fine: ”If you have to return $100 million, you might not do a story about a beekeeper.”