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“My Own Feeling of Unease in Living with and on the Internet”: Director Bo Burnham | Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

As you made your film during the increasingly chaotic backdrop of the last year, how did you as a filmmaker control, ignore, give in to or, conversely, perhaps creatively exploit the wild and unpredictable? What roles did chaos and order play in your films?

Chaos was pretty much the name of the game for our film. Our film concerns two very specific and incredibly chaotic times: eighth grade and right now — and we wanted to portray those times honestly. Not to interpret what was happening and provide answers, but to capture what’s happening and pursue the feeling of not having answers. A big motivation for writing this story was my own feeling of unease in living with and on the internet and I wanted to make a story that explored that confusion. Luckily, when working with 13-year-olds, confusion and chaos are very, very easy to find. So much of the joy of working on this film came from how alive and chaotic and free and wild the kids were, and we structured the production around allowing them to be themselves — to be silly and loud and annoying and bored. We knew that the truth that this movie was after — the truth of being 13 right now — was only truly known by our young actors, and so we allowed them to lead, and to show us. And they did. And the film is what it is because of them. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to work with those funny, sweet, shy, loud, lovable, terrifying, chaotic, weird, little lizard people. And as far as how order played a role in the film, I forget.

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Friday, January 19 at 6:00pm — PC Library]

Sundance 2018 Responses

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