Director Josh Trank discusses his found footage movie Chronicle, which debuts on Blu-ray and DVD May 15
Josh Trank is a filmmaker who certainly has a bright future ahead of him, after his impressive directorial debut Chronicle. The 27-year-old cut his teeth as a co-producer of Big Fan, and he wrote and directed several episodes of The Kill Point before his big break with Chronicle, a movie that manages to look and feel like it cost a lot more than it actually did. Chronicle arrives on Blu-ray and DVD May 15, and I recently had the chance to speak with Josh Trank over the phone.
Here's what he had to say below.
I was actually at the Fox presentation on the lot, where you showed us some of the footage, and that awesome short film you made. I was hoping to see it on the Blu-ray or DVD, but it doesn't seem to be on there. Is there any possibility of it being an easter egg or something?
Josh Trank: The test scene? Oh, I think the test scene is going to be on the DVD. Yeah, it's very exciting. I just saw it for the first time since then, and it was weird. It was like all that anxiety bubbled up again.
How long did it take you to shoot that?
Josh Trank: One day, just a day. We cast the thing in about a day and a half or two days, we shot it in a day, and then we did a week of post to do all the visual effects. It was a rush.
You mentioned before, when you were casting Chronicle, how difficult it was to find Andrew. Can you elaborate on that casting search some more? When you saw Dane DeHaan, did you know right away you had your guy?
Josh Trank: Yeah, it was instant. He was somebody that I and our producer, Adam Schroeder, had spotted from HBO's In Treatment. When asked by our casting director, who would be our perfect Andrew, both of us were immediately drawn to Dane DeHaan. We said, 'If we could get a guy like Dane DeHaan...' and we were just lucky enough that he loved the script and wanted to do it. We didn't need to find somebody like him, we got the guy.
It looks like there is just one deleted scene in here. Would it be safe to assume that practically everything you shot made it in to the feature?
Josh Trank: Well, not everything we shot ended up in the movie itself. There are certainly a lot of scenes that were left on the cutting room floor. The director's cut on the DVD was great, because I got to throw in some more stuff that I really feel paints a deeper dimension to some of the characters in the movie. I'm very excited about that.
How much longer is that director's cut than the theatrical cut?
Josh Trank: You'd think that I should be really good with time and stuff like that, but numbers are so abstract to me. Five minutes? 10 minutes? 25 minutes? I have no idea. I can tell you that it's long enough to make it better. I don't even remember how much longer it is, but I know we definitely did throw in a substantial amount, which I thought was missing from the original cut.
Is the additional material more from the beginning, when they're trying to figure out these powers? Or is there more towards the end?
Josh Trank: There is more stuff in the beginning. Here is a cool one. My favorite shot I got to do in the whole movie, which I'm not going to reveal, obviously, while on set I announced to everyone this was the coolest thing I've ever seen on the monitor, and it happened live. It's one of the coolest shots I've ever seen planned out and executed. I myself, separated from my own body in that moment, and took a step back. That was one of the first scenes to go from the actual cut of the film, and I'm very excited that it's going to be in the director's cut, so you'll have something to look forward to there. I challenge anybody to be able to spot that shot. It will be pretty obvious.
Great. I'm looking forward to it even more now. We talked before about the car scene, and there are some visually stunning moments I really enjoyed. When Max (Landis) was writing the script, were you planning these out that far ahead in advance, or was it more on the set, trying to figure out how to get these in camera?
Josh Trank: No, it was all very, very heavily planned out. I wrote up about a five-page long director's statement, which served as sort of the bible of the production plan moving forward. That included the approach to the camera work, which is a controlled amateurism. You assume the main character of this so-called found footage movie, is not a neurotic guy running from somebody, causing the camera to shake in a nauseating manner. There is that one person that everybody knows who can hold a camera steady, and has an eye for framing up his world. When somebody is saying something important, he impulsively knows to zoom in or get a close-up. We didn't want the style of the movie or that plan to create too much self-awareness in the audience, so there was a lot of trial and error, and things we would eventually work out on set, because you never know until you get there. I storyboarded every scene about 20 different ways, we did pre-viz on a lot of the more complicated set pieces, so we could essentially try things out before we shot them, particularly the third-act battle sequence and the flying sequences. So yeah, there was a lot of planning before we got to the day, but it was a very quick, rushed schedule.
Josh Trank: It's really hilarious, almost like my answers are timed, in a way that I'm aware of subconsciously, because I just got the wrap-up (Laughs). I can't say anything about anything, in general. I always feel that you can't talk about the drawing until you're done with the drawing. That said, there is a lot of amazing stuff ahead, so you have a lot to look forward to.
We also reported awhile back that Max is writing a Chronicle sequel. Are you involved in writing that as well?
Josh Trank: Can't answer any of that. Sorry, my friend.
I loved the theatrical experience of Chronicle, but do you think that there is more value in seeing this at home on Blu-ray?
Josh Trank: I think it's the kind of movie where it's like big screen meets small screen. It's ostensibly shot by people who weren't intending on having their footage projected on a large screen. I think the experience will be both unique to the movie theater as well as the home theater. That was my perfectly-phrased, press release-y thing to say about that (Laughs).
Great. That's about all I have. Thanks so much, Josh. It was great to talk to you again.
Josh Trank: By the way, I have had zero press training. I just wanted to point that out (Laughs).
I thought it went fine. Thanks so much.
Josh Trank: All right. Thank you so much.