Danny Boyle is definitely a film director that needs little introduction; his new film Trance opened last Friday in Philly. I have been a huge fan of his films since I first saw Trainspotting back in 1996, and its been great to see him have a career that is nothing short of amazing, including his recent stint as the artistic director of the Olympics.
I hope you enjoy this chat with a director who is not only a great storyteller, but also a constant innovator in how he tells those stories.
When you are working on a script like this that is so complicated, do you ever worry about the audience being able to follow along with the narrative?
That’s a great question and particularly applicable to this film, which is a puzzle with clues and mysteries.
I think what helped us in the case of Trance is we shot the film while we were preparing the Olympic opening ceremonies in London, but we didn’t edit it till we had finished the Olympics. There was a 6-month gap where the footage was put on ice if you like, and when we came back to it, it did feel like I was seeing the story for the first time again.
That certainly helped us in presenting the story.
Rosario Dawson plays a hypnotherapist in Trance, do you believe in the power of hypnosis and is that a subject that has always interested you?
Yes, and its very interesting the reputation of hypnotherapists and hypnosis have changed a bit. It was once legally admissible as evidence, but was discredited because of suggested memories were proved to be untrue. Since then hypnosis has been trying to rebuild its image.
In about 5-10% of the population there are people in the profession they call virtuosos, these people are highly suggestible and who want change. Although what we depict in the movie is ethically very dubious it’s actually clinically possible and makes for a great premise for a movie really.
I am really interested in how the opportunity to be the Artistic Director at the Olympics came about. Could you take us a bit behind that process?
They pitched it to us right as we were wrapping up promoting 127 Hours and I was delighted to do it, because I am a big sports fan. The Olympic stadium is very near to where I live in London and it regenerates an area in East London that needs that work, so there were lots of positives.
I was also very proud to do it, because I wanted to represent the country. We do mock ourselves a lot in Britain, its part of our humor. But every once in a while you have to stop and say ‘we are ok’. People find our country a beacon. You know, it’s a place where if you put a lot in, you will get a lot out and people can be what they want to be.
Working on it is interesting, because it’s a huge corporation of course.
It’s a weird mixture, because it’s big as Coca Cola as a brand. So you get all of those problems you get working in any huge corporation, that paranoia of how they are seen and all the kind of stuff. But it also has uniquely, the belief of so many people in it that we come together in peace, we put down our weapons and the absolute best of us come together to compete in peace.
That belief is very powerful.
So after working with Daniel Craig on the intro to the Olympics would you be interested in possibly doing a Bond film in the future?
It sort of interesting, because we feel like we have done one, it’s very short obviously but it’s an amazing cast. I love the Bond movies, and the books were part of my growing up, it’s very difficult to convey to you how important they were to me.
I read them all multiple times.
When you are 14 alone in your bedroom and your glimpsing a world that isn’t your Catholic upbringing hasn’t prepared you for. (Laughs)
I don’t think I would make a good job of a Bond movie and I wouldn’t want to spoil my relationship with it like that. I am happy to remain a consumer after having a little taste.
Finally, you have a great variety in the projects you pick. Is that something you strive for as a director?
I have a kind of theory, that your first movie is always your best movie. Technically it might not be, and certainly in people’s opinions it might not be. But in some way there is something in it that you never, never quite get back to, which is innocence really.
There is something wonderful about doing your first movie where you really don’t know what you are doing. You are kind of having to discover it as you make it under enormous pressure, because you probably don’t have a lot of money. And yet something is released in that journey that you can never quite recapture, but you should always try.
One thing you start to realize after you make a few film however, is you keep making the same film again and again, because you look back and you are like that is the same story. My story is there is usually someone who faces insurmountable odds and yet somehow overcomes them. If you look at all of my movies, they are that pattern really.
The difference is with Trance is when it starts you really don’t know who that character is, its only at the end do you realize who has faced those insurmountable odds.
That is the change I hope you see in Trance.