Written Interview: Jeff Nichols (“Take Shelter”)

October 1st, 2011 by

I’ve already given you a heads-up about Take Shelter. Now this interview from Indie Wire with the film’s 32 year-old writer-director Jeff Nichols:

The 32-year-old Little Rock native slayed festival goers with critically acclaimed his 2007 domestic drama “Shotgun Stories” and reteamed with that film’s star, Michael Shannon, to deliver “Take Shelter,” an apocalyptic thriller that premiered at Sundance 2011, landed a home at Sony Pictures Classics and won the Critics Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. [It comes out this Friday, September 30 in limited release.]

Some excerpts:

Two films that played Cannes this year, “Take Shelter” and Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” both deal with how humans react to an end-of-world scenario. Both you and Lars chose to approach the potentially epic stories at a micro level. Am I right in guessing this was a personal film for you, despite what transpires?

Yeah, they all are. You’re dealing with issues that are in your everyday life. That’s what I want to write about. It’s the only way I know to write something that has a remote chance of connecting to the audience on an emotional level. I just have to feel it.

I learned it on my first film, which is this movie about revenge and the concept of one of my brothers getting hurt. It was such a palpable thing for me that I just clung to it through the writing. I think it translated and I took that into “Take Shelter.” 

There was this fear of loss and this anxiety of the world around me not hanging together. It was something I could wake up to, tasting in the morning. I think it’s a really powerful tool to have something that clear, a feeling that clear.

Where did that feeling stem from, for you?

I was moving from my 20s into my 30s. I had just gotten married and my first film had done all right. I finally had something to lose. The anxiety grew out of that. Not to mention, shit was going crazy: Bush was in the White House, the economy was collapsing, there were wars everywhere, towns were getting destroyed by storms. It was just like, what’s going on? It felt like the world at large was losing its grasp of keeping everything together. That was just in the air. It sill is.

Here is the trailer for Take Shelter:

Interesting to note that Nichols is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, just up the way from me.

For more of the interview, go here.

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