Chronicle set visit 0
What would you do if you woke up tomorrow with telekinetic powers? “The answer isn’t that you’d make yourself a suit and swing from building to building saving the world,” says Dane DeHaan, the teenage star of Chronicle, a film asking just that question. “If a group of teens in real life actually got superpowers they would mess around, see how much fun they could have with it, and eventually it would probably all spin out of control.”
DeHaan shows Empire what he means as he shuffles off for the next take on the film’s Cape Town set. His character, Andrew, is in a bit of a strop. But rather than slam his bedroom door, he’s come to a junkyard to crush cars with the power of his mind. We watch as a battered hatchback crumples in front of us, a complex mess of hydraulics rigged to achieve the effect practically. Inanimate objects might be bearing the brunt today but, DeHaan assures us, things get darker from here on out, as he and his group of similarly-supercharged friends struggle with to treat their great power with great responsibility.
As kids of the YouTube generation, of course, their first instinct is to document their burgeoning abilities, filming themselves lifting objects, putting up force fields, even flying. We see events through their camcorders, but debut director Josh Trank reassures us we won’t need to worry about motion sickness. “Andrew has a steady hand, he’s a visual kid with an HD camera,” he explains. The characters can use their telekinesis to swing their cameras through the air with blockbuster flair. “This isn’t the found footage film of five years ago, where it’s supposed to look shit.”
But it’s no multimillion dollar Marvel movie either. Pulled together from Trank’s original idea by John Landis’s screenwriter son Max, the approach has been to achieve as much of the film’s impressive effects work practically, hence the one-take spectacle we’ve just witnessed. This meant inventing several cast and camera rigs to shoot the flying sequences without making it look like the actors were being thrown about on wires.
“The wire-work freaks me out,” DeHaan laughs. “But the best part of the job is that you get to do stuff that you’d never, ever do in real life. You get applauded for doing things that, in real life, would be totally unacceptable to do.”