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The Skeleton Twins | Director Craig Johnson

The Skeleton Twins

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? 

I have never struggled with a short attention span. Quite the contrary: I am singularly focused. Obsessive, even. I think many directors are and, generally speaking, that’s a good thing. As we all know, indie filmmaking is a marathon, not a sprint, and you must have almost Ahab-like focus to make it to the finish line. But it’s also possible to be too obsessive, too tunnel-visioned to the point where you can get lost in your own head. I am keenly aware of my tendency to over-think things and knew that my second feature, The Skeleton Twins, would only work if got out of my head and opened my eyes. As we were shooting, I’d repeat to myself, “Make sure it’s alive. Make sure it’s alive.” I can’t really articulate what I meant other than to remind myself to LOOK; to look at the life around me, to embrace it and allow it into my film. That means if you see ducks hanging out near the set, use them (we did). If you find a cool dam on a location scout, re-write things so that a character works there (I did). And if you have a scene where Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig get high on nitrous oxide, just turn on the camera and let them go (they did, and it was worth it). My favorite moments in this film happened when I silenced the voice in my head and paid attention to the world.


[PREMIERE SCREENING: January 19 at 2:30 pm – Library Center Theatre, Park City]

Sundance 2014 Responses

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