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The Babadook | Director Jennifer Kent

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Attention, our audience’s and our own — it’s a valued commodity these days. We struggle to command our audience’s attention, for them to discover our work and then, once they’ve discovered it, to actually focus on it. Meanwhile, we struggle to focus our own attention, to fight our society’s weapons of mass distraction so we can not just see our work to completion but fully discover the meanings within it. What role does attention play in your work? Can you discuss an instance where you thought about some aspect of attention when it came to your film?

In order to keep my attention clear and strong on The Babadook, I really had to know exactly what I wanted to say from the get go. In starting the script, I focused all my attention on this; what idea did I want to convey to my audience? The script was honed and developed with this single point of focus running through it. So by the time I finished writing, I knew what beast I had in my hands.

So when the time came to shoot it, and the inevitable challenges of filming began, I was able to hold my attention firmly on the core of the story. That way, even if we were losing daylight, or it was bucketing down with rain and shots had to be prioritized, I could stay true to the idea. Being clear on what I wanted to say from the outset saved me from time wasting distractions. Now when I watch the film, I may not think it’s perfect, but at least I can think, “Ah, that’s what I wanted to say!”
[PREMIERE SCREENING: January 17 at 11:59 pm – Egyptian Theatre, Park City]
Sundance 2014 Responses

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