Musician Kurt Cobain has had a lasting impact not only on those who were fans of Nirvana throughout the 90s and at the time of his death, but also on the culture as a whole. Cobain wrestled with the uneasy marriage between his disdain for fame and desire to have his music heard on a massive scale, and it’s that dichotomy (among many other things) that makes him such a fascinating figure.
This past spring gave us the incredible documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, which provided an intimate look into Cobain’s life by way of archival footage, home videos, and never-before-heard recordings, but there are others who still think there’s more to Kurt’s story to tell, such as screenwriter/director Oren Moverman. The Rampart filmmaker signed on in 2010 to write and direct a movie about Cobain, no doubt thanks to his screenplay for the unconventional Bob Dylan pic I’m Not There., but word has been quiet on the project for years.
Steve recently spoke with Moverman about the upcoming Brian Wilson film Love & Mercy, which he wrote, and the filmmaker talked at length about the Cobain movie, titled This Is Gonna Suck. Despite reports years ago that he fell off the project, he told us that he’d still love to make it and financing is no concern, but the main roadblock appears to be rights issues.
Read the full portion of Steve and Moverman’s conversation about This Is Gonna Suck below, in which Moverman addresses whether Montage of Heck affects the plans for his film:
What are you working on in terms of spec scripts or just writing in general?
OREN MOVERMAN: A lot of different things, and just kind of trying to find out what the next project is. I’m not really sure. I’m always surprised with how much music means to me, because even after doing Bob Dylan, and Brian Wilson, working on a Kurt Cobain script; I always think, ‘Oh I don’t want to be thought of as the music guy, so I wanna do something else’ and then I’m always coming back to music. So there’s a Kurt Cobain script that has been around for a bit and I wish there was a way to make it but I don’t know if there is. I’m writing all kinds of projects, I’m just really kind of trying to find my next thing.
Sure. Have you seen Montage of Heck yet?
MOVERMAN: I have, yeah.
I though Brett [Morgen] did a wonderful job with that film, just such a wonderful job. The script that you’re working on, how does it incorporate his life? Is it a chapter, is it a moment?
MOVERMAN: It’s really the 20s in his life, so from 20 years old to 27 and the end. So it’s 7 years of his life. What was interesting about Montage of Heck was that because he used so much of the footage that exists, it actually leaves room for a biopic because when you make a biopic it’s all the stuff that you haven’t seen, there’s no documentation for it there are no videos of Kurt in these situations. So actually what I was surprised by—because I was willing to watch Montage of Heck and say, ‘Ok, it’s been done, it’s been told, we’re done. We love Kurt, let’s move on’ but actually there’s a story that Montage of Heck doesn’t tell, about Kurt’s development, his relationship with Courtney [Love], the growth of the band, the changing of drummers, and all that kind of stuff. So there’s all that stuff that I hope I get to do as a film, but if not somebody else does.
What’s interesting is I’ve learned in the last few years the importance of the international money to getting a movie made, and I would imagine Nirvana’s popularity and Kurt’s popularity would make it so that it wouldn’t be as challenging to make a film.
MOVERMAN: It’s actually not challenging in a financial side, that’s the irony here. It’s challenging in terms of making everything work with the rights, because there are plenty of people lining up to say, ‘We’ll finance a Kurt Cobain movie’ because a lot of us are interested in that life and with Montage of Heck even more. So it’s really about finding a way that satisfies the history of the project.
I get it. So basically it’s the balancing of getting Courtney and everyone else involved saying, ‘You can make this movie’.
MOVERMAN: Yeah, and it’s not just Courtney, Courtney’s been great actually. It’s really a lot of…
MOVERMAN: It’s a big world. Which is so ironic because Kurt hated all of that.
Does your Kurt script have a title?
MOVERMAN: It’s called This Is Gonna Suck.
I like that, and I think Kurt would like that.
MOVERMAN: Honestly, I was just trying to please him. It’s a very strange process to write something about someone who was actually my age, so through the process of doing it I really started feeling like, ‘Oh I know this guy. I’ve been living with this guy, I’ve been listening to him, we’ve been talking, I’ve been writing dialogue for him,’ so when it came to finding a title for it I thought, ‘Well what’s his whole attitude about this? This is gonna suck!’ Which is perfect, I said, ‘Yes, let’s make a sucky movie about you and it’s gonna suck and it’s gonna be great’.