USA | 85 min.
Justyn and I hope you have fun watching Wichita. We also hope you feel what a mass killer feels up to, and during, his spree. When we shot Wichita in 2014 a mass killing (four or more victims not including the killer) happened about every two weeks in America, and this year, 2016, there’s been a mass killing almost everyday. It’s important for us to be fascinated by and to empathize with our fictional psycho, Jeb, because it takes our gaze away from the real thing so we can talk more clearly about why so many young men do this. And if you are one of those young men, we hope Wichita turns some of your anxiety into laughter, and that you also don’t feel so alone. There’s so much more than murder!
Producers and USC Cinema classmates, Yaniv Elani, Justyn Ah Chong, Nate Gold, and I tried to understand the modern spree killer, and once we had a grasp on him, we agreed we had to show him to the world. As if it might defeat him, we had to show how the mass murderer is in us all, and how we all participate in his creation. Our antihero, Jeb, became a magnet for everything we thought about the phenomena of youth spree violence, and it didn’t take long to see that these mass killers viewed themselves as performance artists and entertainers, not too different from us filmmakers. (read more…)
I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life until I watched Easy Rider. I was 15, home sick from school, and full of anxiety over simple unknowns like, “Will I ever get back to school?” as well as more complex ones like, “When I turn on the TV and see the live-stream decimation of my mother’s Iraqi people, do I still think of myself as an American?” I don’t know. I do know that anytime I need the weight lifted I think about choppers; I think about Rafelson and Hopper out there with one hand on “Rec” and the other on the throttle; I think about innocent lost boys Jack Nicholson, and pure-hearted lost girls Karen Black abandoning oven mitts and picket fences for the swimming holes and cemeteries of the open road; I think about Jimi, “If all the hippies cut off all their hair, I don’t care! I don’t care!” I think about Fonda channeling Kerouac and Kesey, as if to say, “This is as American as it gets, kiddos.”
I stopped cutting my hair and joined the cool kids in the stream… When Wichita was coming together some years later, and Karen Black popped up on a casting list, I was absolutely star struck. My script was nowhere near production-ready, but Karen helped me. She helped me by sharing her brilliant thoughts and honest concerns; she helped me by understanding what I wanted to say and illuminating proper pathways; and she helped me by telling me about herself, her amazing career, and her worldview. (She grew up down the street from me, so that leggy babe out there on the road was actually the girl next door after all?!) Karen Black helped me by saying she would be in my movie. What Karen did not tell me, though, was that she was very sick. She left us before we could get together on set, but she never said she would not be in my movie, and I never pulled her from it.
When my best friend, my grandma Mimi, was diagnosed with the same illness that took Karen a year later, I took the remaining time I had with her very preciously. Mimi was an artist who showed me The Shining when I was six staying over at her house, and then stayed up all night clawing at my door trying not to LOL. Maybe I had a clue what I wanted to do?
“Now Beso,” Einstein writes, referring to one of his oldest friends, “has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us… know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
Cheers, Loves. I hope you have fun watching Wichita freak ‘em out.