CHRONICLE Footage Preview and Interview with Director Josh Trank

     January 6, 2012

chronicle-slice

If I was telekinetic, I would probably just sit in a comfy reclining chair and drink hot cocoa and have every single conversation there –in my chair- forcing any who wanted to speak with me to come within talking distance and I’d probably win every conversation because if I didn’t or the other disagreed with me, I’d force him/her into the corner of my chair-room, until they nodded in sycophantic agreement. I’d be the super-villain, I oh so wish I was. That and I would scare small children by floating stuffed teddy bears off the aisles of shelves in front of their innocent, terrified faces. So imagine my chagrin – to see such a scene in the upcoming douchebags-get-superpowers cum found footage flick Chronicle (the excellent trailer to which can be found here).

The film exemplifies just what happens when the least responsible people in the world (i.e. teenagers) get powers they are more than ill suited for. Chronicle, for those unfamiliar, concerns three high school students, who after being exposed to something in an underground lair suddenly have the ability to move cars, people, baseballs, and (most importantly) teddy bears by only the far recesses of their mind. To say they abuse these powers would be putting it mildly. Girls’ skirts are blown up alla Marilyn Monroe, children are frightened via teddies, cars demolished, innocents grievously injured, Seattle destroyed (poor Space Needle) etc… At the 20th Century Fox lot, select footage (about eighteen or so minutes) from the film was shown and an impromptu interview with the film’s director Josh Trank conducted. For a full description of the footage and highlights from the proceeding interview, hit the jump.

chronicle-posterThe Footage

(Mild spoilers follow)

Six scenes from Chronicle were screened – the first of which introduces the three young protagonists pre-powers: Steve – a personable wannabe politician, Matt – the handsome lady’s man prone to quoting philosophy from Jung or Plato, and Andrew – Matt’s socially maladroit cousin and the camera operator for the film’s footage. I’ll accredit Chronicle for seemingly being the first found footage film to acknowledge just how weird it is to constantly have a camera filming your life. People treat Andrew and his ever-present camera as both a nuisance and emblematic of just what a loner he really is.

At a party/rave, Matt and Steven discover a hole in the ground and force Andrew to tape their findings. Down in the hole they become exposed to something… and I’m not playing coy here because right before the discovery of whatever’s-in-the-hole, the clip ended and any inquiry to Trank about just what’s actually down there was met with some derivation of ‘you’ll just have to wait and see’. But regardless of the mysterious hole’s content, the results are clear: all three men soon thereafter become telekinetic.

The second and third clips detail the youths’ misuse of their powers in numerous entertaining fashions: moving a woman’s parked car from one spot to another, Teddy Bear child hatred, bending forks and ultimately learning how to fly. Things take a darker turn in the fourth clip, when Andrew swipes a tailgating car off the road and into a nearby lake. In the ensuing wreckage, Steven saves the comatose driver from drowning. But the incident causes friction between the three as Matt and Steven begin to suspect that Andrew may not be all there (shades of Christine’s Arnie Cunningham).

This conviction comes to fruition in the fourth clip, wherein Andrew telekinetically robs a convenience store and deflects the gun of a cashier causing the surrounding gas station to explode. Of note: at this point Andrew is also telekinetically operating his camera, the ALEXA floating in midair by his side (a nifty touch that enables the film to get all the characters within frame without breaking the “reality” of the found footage conceit). The fifth and final clip screened seems to occur at the climax of the film as Andrew forces helicopters to crash into buildings and offs poor anonymous police officers. In what is surely the “money shot” of the film, Andrew lifts up Matt and his female paramour trapped within the confines of a car to the very top of the Space Needle. Then forcing Matt straight through the windshield, he releases the car (girl still enclosed), allowing the vehicle to plummet downwards. It was here that the clip ended leaving the relative fates of Matt and his gal pal literally ‘up in the air’.

Josh Trank image chronicleHighlights From the Interview with Josh Trank

  • Trank explained that the initial genesis of the project originated from his daydreams – in which telekinesis was a recurring fantasy. However, Trank stated, “If the daydream went too long”, inevitably the negative consequences of such powers would become the focal point of the dream.
  • It was important for Trank to keep the film “grounded”. The characters within the film should react as any other everyman teenager would. The question of what would you do, if you had such powers – seems to be of primary concern to the filmmaker. The cinema verite/found footage conceit therefore becomes an attempt to place the viewer literally within the character’s shoes. Even the very tagline of the film: What are you capable of draws attention to the audience interactivity/resonance the film seeks to achieve.
  • Trank, when first pitching Chronicle made up a director’s manifesto for the film. In which one of the main points of contention stated that the film should not give into the stigma of “the shaky POV”. “Everyone has one friend who can [handle] a camera,” said Trank – so cinematically speaking, Chronicle’s found footage should appear professional. Trank noted the cinematography of Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man as an example of a real found footage film, with beautiful (non frantic) cinematography. Just because Chronicle’s a found footage film, doesn’t mean the footage has to look amateurish.
  • At its heart, Trank noted, Chronicle is a film “about friendship”. It is a “character study within the context of a superhero story.” Andrew (the film’s lead) comes from a broken home (his mother dying from a terminal illness, his father an alcoholic). How this character deals with his new abilities and the wearing effects it has on those around him are the construct upon which the story is built.
  • Chronicle-posterOn the production of the film, Trank offered that there was heavy storyboarding and a very specific plan for each scene in the film. The looseness and on the fly style was all telegraphed and planned out ahead. Trank stated that he is prone to a lot of takes (to help find the little realistic moments between the cast) and a heavy amount of rehearsal.
  • Originally the film was to be set in Portland – but there was just something inherently iconic about the Space Needle (and the potential to destroy it) that made Trank (and writer Max Landis) want to switch locales.
  • Trank consulted with Simon Hansen (a colleague of Neil Blomkamp) on the visual effects for the film. Trank did not want to rely on digital effects, instead opting to keep the film practical in most instances. He cited ‘the moving the car’ moment as emblematic of the practical approach. A number of grips were literally pulling the car (which was on skates) with rope to achieve the effect of Steve’s telekinetic abilities.
  • When asked about influences on the film, Trank stated that they were too far reaching to be distilled down but did offer Akira as a one such influence.
  • On a potential franchise: It was hinted that there was a much “bigger” story that could be explored on the mysteries behind what happened to these teenagers (i.e. what enabled their powers in the first place)…

Chronicle opens everywhere February 3rd.  Here’s a new clip from the film and below that an update from 20th Century Fox.

 

20th Century Fox has just sent us this.  So if you’re watching the football game Sunday, be on the look out.

HISTORY-MAKING 5-SECOND QR “BILLBOARD” ON SUNDAY’S NFC WILD-CARD GAME BROADCAST PROVIDES GATEWAY TO EXCLUSIVE “CHRONICLE” FOOTAGE

LOS ANGELES, CA – January 6, 2012…Mark your calendars.  Set your DVRs.  Settle in for the Atlanta Falcons-New York Giants Wild-Card Game beginning 1:00PM (EST).  And get ready to capture and “Chronicle” an historic moment when the first-ever motion picture-themed QR-coded “billboard” flashes on your television screens.  During the game’s second quarter, Twentieth Century Fox’s CHRONICLE will flash, for five seconds only*, a branded QR code; the code will link to exclusive footage from the much-anticipated film, which arrives in theaters everywhere February 3rd.

*For those who forget to set your DVRs to capture the code, the code to the footage will be posted on facebook.com/Chronicle

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