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This is as real as it gets. Andrew, Matt, and Steve are recognizable teens, each with a distinctive personality and each facing relatable challenges that come with being in high school, forming new friendships, and exploring new facets of their ever-changing lives. Theyâre imperfect, awkward, and a little reckless.Â They could be you.
Like so many of us, theyâre obsessed with chronicling their lives, however mundane â or in their case, however extraordinary. For Andrew, Matt and Steve have stumbled upon something beyond their â or anyoneâs â understanding. Their discovery leads them to acquire powerful telekinetic abilities; in graphic novel parlance, they have superpowers.
Theyâre now capable of, well, almost anything. They can move objects just by thinking about them, crush cars through force of will. They learn to flyâŠthe ultimate wish fulfillment. Then things get dark.
What would you do if it happened to you? What would you be capable of? Those are the intriguing questions posed by âChronicle,â a new film unlike any youâve seen before. Itâs a superhero movie thatâs not really a superhero movie. On the surface it belongs in the relatively new sub-genre of âfound footageâ or âP-O-Vâ films, but it turns their conventions on its head. Itâs thrilling, yet relatable; rich with creatively conceived and executed camera work and visual effects, but grounded in reality.
So, what would you do if you suddenly obtained abilities beyond comprehension? Would you don a special suit, fly off, and battle evildoers? If you were a teenager, the likely response would be: hell, no. Youâd have a blast with them, pull elaborate pranks, and maybe exact revenge on those whoâve wronged you. Maybe those powers would amplify your less noble qualities. Or worse.
âIn most stories, superpowers are generally applied to good and evil, but in reality theyâd be applied to necessity,â says Josh Trank, who makes his feature directorial debut and also co-wrote the story with Max Landis. âAnd when youâre a teenager, necessity is really about making yourself happy.Â Youâd want to laugh and have a good time with those powers.â
Trank was determined that Chronicle wouldnât be âyour fatherâs P-O-V movie. The story is very grounded; itâs not a fantasy or genre film; itâs a story about young people. Itâs about real teens and not caricatures of young people. Their lives are anything but perfect. We get into their world and discover their challenges, long before anything extraordinary begins to happen.
By the time the guys have obtained their powers, that element is so firmly woven into the story and characters that the film segues into an exploration of how they come to terms with those powers.âÂ Adds Max Landis, who wrote the screenplay based on his and Trankâs story: âI think Chronicle is going to give audiences an experience, from which theyâll leave the theaters, thinking, thatâs exactly what I would have done if I had telekinetic powers.â
Producer John Davis notes that Chronicle is anything but âcookie-cutter,â and fills a need for bold, non-traditional storytelling that speaks to todayâs audiences. âItâs really fresh and different,â says Davis, who has known screenwriter Landis since the latter was a child.Â âChronicle represents a unique vision that has remained intact since Josh and Max first discussed the concept. It takes familiar concepts, like superhero and âfound-footageâ films, and takes them in new directions.â
The title itself speaks to our obsession with self-documentation, through social networking or even by just carrying around a camera and recording our lives, simply because we have the means to do so. âWe live in a world where you can film anything you want to, at any time,â says Trank. âThere is an emerging aesthetic from this generation.
Kids in high school today are the most self-photographed people in history. Almost everyone has a camera in some form, and are uploading images every few seconds to social networking sites. So weâre seeing more films inspired by this new style of shooting.â
Trank, whose experimental short film âStabbing at Leiaâs 22nd Birthdayâ was an online sensation amassing over ten million views, embraces this new aesthetic with a vengeance, while dialing up its potential and impact. âJoshâs work in Chronicle is the next step in that kind of storytelling,â says producer Adam Schroeder.
âWeâve seen movies that have made extensive use of someoneâs point of view and hand-held cameras, but never in the way we use the camera here. Itâs more than a device to tell a story; itâs a character, or an extension of our lead character.â