An Interview with ANTIVIRAL's Writer/Director Brandon Cronenberg

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Brandon Cronenberg’s highly anticipated feature film directorial Antiviral hit theatres, and it’s had nothing but great reviews. The film is a dark edgy horror similar to his father, writer/director David Cronenberg’s early works.

Antiviral follows Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones), an employee at a clinic that sells injections of live viruses harvested from sick celebrities to obsessed fans. Biological communion – for a price. Syd also supplies illegal samples of these viruses to piracy groups, smuggling them from the clinic in his own body. When he becomes infected with the disease that kills super sensation Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon), Syd becomes a target for collectors and rabid fans. He must unravel the mystery surrounding her death before he suffers the same fate.

I had the opportunity to speak with Brandon in Vancouver at the VIFF: Annual (BELVEDERE) Red Carpet Film Party and asked him a few questions about his new film Antiviral.

Felix: Antiviral is your first feature film, tell us how you came up with the premise of the film?

Brandon: I was sick with a flu in 2004 when I started film school. During a fever dream I started obsessing over the physicality of illness – how I had something in my body and in my cells that had come from someone else’s body, and how there was a weird intimacy to that. After, I tried to think of a character who might be able to see disease in that intimate way, and I thought of a celebrity-obsessed fan who might want to catch Angelina Jolie’s cold as a way of feeling physically connected to her. From there it developed into what I thought was an interesting metaphor to use for discussing celebrity culture.

Felix: Any big obstacles or challenges while filming ANTIVIRAL?

Brandon: It was all quite challenging in a way, because it was my first feature. But it also went weirdly smoothly. There wasn’t a major obstacle that I recall, besides the usual filmmaking obstacles.

Felix: ANTIVIRAL is filmed in digital, why? Which film type do you prefer to use?

Brandon: We shot on the Arri Alexa, which is a beautiful camera. I believe it actually has more dynamic range than physical film, and I prefer to shoot that way. Partly because I like the image, and partly because it allows for more freedom. Aside from not having to worry about burning film, a camera like that can function well in incredibly low light. We were working on a pretty tight 21-day shooting schedule, but we were mostly able to make our days quite easily, and a lot of that was due to the fact that Karim Hussain could do so much of his lighting with practicals (often we would have few or no film lights). He could get what he wanted without long set-ups.

Felix: When you are not making films, what do you like to do for fun? Hobbies? Activities? Special Interests?

Brandon: I’m a big book nerd. I also like video games, although I haven’t had much time for them lately.

Felix: What future projects can we look forward to seeing from you? Is there anyone you would like to work with?

Brandon: I’d really like to work with a lot of the same people who were involved in Antiviral. I’m writing something now, but I don’t have anything interesting to say about it yet.

Felix: And last but not least, how are you enjoying Vancouver?

Brandon: I liked Vancouver quite a lot. Great vegan doughnuts from Cartems Donuterie. Unfortunately I only had a few days there – I’m actually writing this from Korea. But hopefully I can make it back some time when I’m not working.

Felix: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for Brandon Cronenberg. Antiviral is now playing in select cities. Check your local listings.

Felix Kay,
Follow Felix on Twitter: @TheFelixKay

 

photo credit: @TheFelixKay

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Felix Kay Entertainment Columnist for Vancity Buzz
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