CHRONICLE EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Director Josh Trank
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Chronicle definitely has a different feel to it from what we’re used to with superhero films.
Josh Trank's Chronicle could very well be ushering in a new type of superhero film, which audiences will be able to decide for themselves beginning tomorrow. CBM's Ed Gross sat down with the director to discus the film in this exclusive interview.
JOSH TRANK: It is different, but instantly relatable and familiar because we’re dealing with things we’ve seen before in almost every conceivable way, but suddenly it’s grounded and shown through an aesthetic that feels immediate and not uncomfortable. There’s a lot of things that are kind of going on in there that are all part of a filmmaker design, which is kind of why people are intrigued by it. It doesn’t look shaky, but it seems like a POV movie, but has this cinematic thing going on. It’s very cool to see people responding to that, because it’s been a real labor to fine craft the film into something that is as specific as it is.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Where did the concept for this come from?
JOSH TRANK: This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Since I was a little kid I wanted to be a filmmaker and didn’t want to do anything else. Superhero movies and scifi films are my favorites, but everything has been done before. The reason why is there are only so many ways that you can glamorize the supernatural or superpowers. There’s only so many ways you can film it to make it seem awesome or stylish. I just want to live the experience, so to be able to make a movie that captures the experience of what it would be like to be a part of this, was something that I just always wanted to do. But I didn’t have any kind of context for a story. About two years ago I was on this indie movie and working really close with this guy named Rob Segal, who wrote THE WRESTLER and wrote and directed this movie called BIG FAN that I produced. His scripts have always inspired me, because they’re very character driven. I started to think about what would happen in my own life if I had telekinesis, and how that would affect the consequences of when I get angry or things just happen to me, and then suddenly this whole storyline popped into my head. I told Max Landis the idea and he wanted to write it, because he’s a big comic book guy. He came back about two weeks later with a draft. I was excited and I knew it was going to be really cool and had potential; he just knocked it out of the ballpark. It was such a great script, I loved it, and I knew we had something amazing there.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Generally, what kind of people are these characters before the powers and what kind of people are they post-powers?
JOSH TRANK: Pretty much your regular high school kids. We tried to avoid clichés of “Here’s the jock, here’s the nerd,” etc. Just kids in high school. The powers in this film are not explored as a means for them getting revenge or bringing peace to the land. It’s just how it affects whatever they’re dealing with in their normal life and kind of amplifies that. Let’s say you’re a really good student and you’ve got this small scale telekinesis and you learn that if you work with it over time, you get stronger with it. You get to do more complicated things.
It all boils down to your social interaction with other people; that’s what keeps you grounded. I go through periods where I’m a loner, I don’t talk to anybody and I feel really disconnected and I get more paranoid than I would if I was hanging around with a lot of people. When I’m social and I’m going through those periods, I feel like I understand people more and am less worried about things. The thing that connects these kids and keeps them from disconnecting like that is their friendship. That’s all I can really say. Once something like that crumbles and you don’t have that basic connection with anybody anymore to get you through hard times, that’s when something like this unravels — especially if you have god-like abilities.
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: In a way, do you view this as the next stage in the superhero movie?
JOSH TRANK: I think it’s a new starting point for telling a new type of a story involving powers or extraordinary circumstances. Every genre movie, if it’s done right, is wish fulfillment. It’s an escape, but a very specific kind of escape because there’s an element of fantasy to it. Wish-fulfillment in most superhero movies in everything we’ve seen so far and everything that’s coming out next summer and the summer after that. I love all of these things and not to say that people are getting sick of it or whatever, but we’ve just seen that story done the same exact way but with cooler visual effects and new stars. It’s just pure glamorization. But to be able to tell a story and be able to bring a level of humanity to it and to actually be a good drama, it for some reason hasn’t been done or taken seriously. This is a drama. I think to tell a story that anybody could relate to, whether you’re a 16 year old or a 66 year old, it’s a story about coming of age, because we can all relate to those movies. But to tack on a plausible element of super powers — and on paper it sounds stupid, because we just assume it’s going to be stupid — and to make it work, if anything I hope it inspires people to do stories they’ve always like to do. The reaction I’ve been getting is, “Hey, I’ve been waiting for this kind of movie.”
It’s a movie that starts off very grounded and intimate and small scale, and by the end we go to some pretty extreme places, while still keeping everything in the world very grounded.
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