Still being collated
a) Starting the film story
David Robert Mitchell had the urge to make a horror movie, and slowly he added pieces to piece of memories from his nightmares , and then he started thinking, "Oh, it'd be fun if it's something that can move between different people" almost like a game of tag to some degree. And then it became clear to him and he then thought "Oh, it should be through sex because it would sort of connect the characters physically and emotionally" and this for him felt like the right thing. And this developed over a number of years in the back of his brain.
b) No explanation for sexually transmitted monster
So this scenario seemed to reflect the idea of a sexually transmitted distease, but there would be no explanation as to how this would take form. If one thinks back to a dream, there isn't necessarily a reason that you had it, it's simply the reality of your world at the time, and this for him was much stronger that inventing something with a logical beginning because something like this didn't need logic, it just simply existed. There was no intention to turn this into an origins story, but have his characters thrown in to a nightmare, and there is no logical way to escape from it, it can't be solved, nightmares defied a solution. He didn't want a magical thing to make them enter the nightmare or any event leading to this things. It was about something that didn't make sense, it came straight out of a nightmare and it can't be avoided by natural logic. There were people who went to see it that wanted answers but it was not what he was trying to do with this film.
c) Placement out of time
Another goal of the movie was to have production design elements from different eras and include some things that don't quite exist, and this would place the film outside of time in the way that suggested a dream state or play like a nightmare. Perhaps the viewer might wonder where and when the film was taking place and there would be something troubling about that. It definitely leant in the direction of the 70s and 80s whole there were some things from the 50s and 60s. Perhaps things such as the characters watching a 1950s horror movie didn't make sense or the organist playing the Wurlitzer at the cinema.
d) A Peanuts cartoon dream
Another element of this dream state might come through the fact that there was something not quite right about the parents being outside the world of these teenagers, which was quite isolating for the protagonists because it didn't feel quite real. Some of the characters are on the edge of being young adults, and it seemed to be the right thing for the horror film in the sense that they can in some way navigate some elements of the adult world, but they're also in a limbo to some degree. This all contributed to the suggestion of a dream like world, perhaps in this case, a Peanuts cartoon dream world because they seem to be just floating in space, and an adult teachers from off the screen would be an undefinable 'Wa-Wa-Wa".
e) The shell compact cellphone e-reader
He wanted some modern things in that that were not easily datable, because if there was something such as an iPhone, the viewer would know what year it was set in. There were a couple of cell phones in the film but the rules and the way that people interacted with them were different than the way they were used in the real world. Another example of mixing temporal differences was the fact that one character has a cell phone e-reader designed using and re-purposing a 'shell' compact from the sixties.
f) A plan to kill the monster
The master plan concocted by Paul to try and rid Jay once and for all of the monster that follows her is an elaborate scheme that involves bringing a bunch of electricl items to a swimming pool, hoping to lure it into the water, and then electrocuting it is an example of a stupid idea that belonged perhaps to a children's movie plan, perhaps something out of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, and this was the point. What would you do if you were confronted by a monster and found yourself trapped in a nightmare?
The answer to this usually would be that one would resort to some way of fighting it that would be accessible to oneself in the physical world and it wasn't going to cut it for the movie. Traditional setup for the creature was avoided, because in the more traditional films, there would be a clue that would lead the characters to figure out how to destroy this monster. Intentionally he avoided placing those. They do their best to accomplish something that they witness its failure and perhaps this was a very non-conventional way of approaching a third act confrontation, but the director and his team thought it was a fun way to deal with it.
- Sarah Meikle: The
film seems to be set in some sort of temporal vacuum - a kind of retro
look mixed with modern tech. The characters watch black-and-white
televisions and play card games, or they read e-books on a gadget from
the 1960s. Why the mix of different time periods ?
David Robert Mitchel:The goal was to have production design elements from different eras and some things that don't quite exist. The e-reader is designed from like a sixties' 'shell' compact, re-purposed as an e-reader, and that was to keep the film from being too time-specific. I wanted some modern things in there but I didn't want them to be too easily datable. if it was an iPhone, you'd know what year we made it. So some of that is on the edge of being fantasy; all those different things from different eras places it outside time. That, in effect, suggests a dream-like world. When you're dreaming, you know that there's something just not quite right about the world you're in.
(The Dark Side, #166, p42)
- AVC: The time period of the movie is fascinatingly indeterminate.
One of the girls has this mobile device, but otherwise we could be
watching a movie set in 1990.
DRM: There are production design elements from the ’50s on up to modern day. A lot of it is from the ’70s and ’80s. That e-reader cell phone—or “shell phone”—you’re talking about is not a real device. It’s a ’60s shell compact that we turned into a cell phone e-reader. So I wanted modern things, but if you show a specific smartphone now, it dates it. It’s too real for the movie. It would bother me anyway. So we made one up. And all of that is really just to create the effect of a dream—to place it outside of time, and to make people wonder about where they are. Those are things that I think happen to us when we have a dream. (http://www.avclub.com/article/david-robert-mitchell-his-striking-new-horror-film-216215)
- The film seems to be set in no particular era. Was that deliberate?
DRM: David Robert Mitchell: That’s intentional. We built the film from a production standpoint as if it were several different eras. A lot of stuff was from the 50s, 60s, 70s and there are some modern things as well. All of it was to put the film a little bit outside of time, so it’s closer to a dream. If you can’t quite place it then it’s intentional. ( http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-features/interview-with-it-follows-director-david-robert-mitchell/)
- Whenever the characters are watching TV, there's always an old
black-and-white B-movie playing. That makes it pretty clear that you
were working with heavy nostalgia.
It's true, so much of It Follows comes from classic horror. It was about trying to seamlessly mesh what's so great about those older horror films into something that feels contemporary but, at the same time, doesn't seem to exist in a specific time or place. I like the idea of mixing eras and having the film exist slightly outside of time. There's a feeling that It Follows could be happening in the 1980s, but there are a few things that are modern in it. And some of the thing the kids are watching don't really make sense—the last thing you'd expect these kids to watch is a monster movie from the 1950s. It's a little outside of reality and dreamlike. (http://uk.complex.com/pop-culture/2014/09/it-follows-tiff-interview-david-robert-mitchell)
- Going over to casting, it seems that you like working with a younger age group for you films. Both this one and The Myth of the American Sleepover are sort of coming-of-age-esque.
DMR: They are both coming-of-age films to some degree. Myth is very specifically a coming-of-age film and it’s also a younger cast. This one is similar and there is a coming-of-age themes connecting with the horror, but they’re a little older. Some of the characters are more on the edge of being young adults. It seemed to be the right thing for the horror film in the sense that they can in some way navigate some bits of the adult world, but they’re also in a limbo to some degree. We tried to exaggerate that with the way they’re isolated and you see very few adults. It’s kind of like a weird Peanuts cartoon dream world. They’re kind of just floating in space.
- You seemed to reference a lot of old school cult movies, there was a bit of an '80s aesthetic...In terms of production design it definitely leans in the direction of the ’70s and ’80s but there are a few things that look like the ’50s or ’60s and there are a few modern things. It was sort of an attempt to place it outside of time. Yes there are references to that time but there is also an attempt to create something that is closer to a dream state or a nightmare. Because it doesn’t quite feel like our world. It’s similar, it’s almost our world, but there’s something that isn’t quite right. And there were a lot of choices that were made to suggest that. (http://www.hungertv.com/feature/follows-david-robert-mitchell/)
- There’s a certain level of ambiguity throughout the film, whether it’s the inconsistent presence of these character’s parents or the specific timeframe in which it takes place. It could be set in the eighties; it could be the present day. What was your rationale for that? DRM: I wanted to maintain this idea of placing the film outside of time, which would suggest a dream state or play like a nightmare. There’s something not quite right about the parents being outside of the world of these teenagers, which is quite isolating for the protagonists because it doesn’t feel quite real. The out of time concept was also explored through the mixed approaches to the production design elements of the film. It makes you wonder where and when this is taking place, and there’s maybe something a little troubling about that. We spent a lot of time mixing different design elements, which made it a very specific conscious choice. (http://www.film3sixtymagazine.com/index.php/2015/02/25/david-robert-mitchell-and-maika-monroe-discuss-the-nightmarish-it-follows-page-2-2/)
- The film seems to be set in no particular era. Was that deliberate?
That’s intentional. We built the film from a production standpoint as if it were several different eras. A lot of stuff was from the 50s, 60s, 70s and there are some modern things as well. All of it was to put the film a little bit outside of time, so it’s closer to a dream. If you can’t quite place it then it’s intentional. (http://vulturehound.co.uk/2015/02/david-robert-mitchell-interview/)
- IT FOLLOWS has a very timeless quality to it – was it hard to keep the technology out of the film?
We definitely put effort into it in terms of a lot of it our Production Designer spent a lot of energy just selecting the right things from many different decades. It definitely leans in the direction of the 70s and 80s but there are some things from the 50s and 60s there. Some modern things and some things that don’t quite exist. It was definitely carefully planned. It places you outside [of time], like in a dream maybe. There are a couple of cell phones in the film but the rules and the way that people interact with them are different from the way we handle them in our world. It’s maybe not quite our world. (http://www.thehollywoodnews.com/2015/02/26/thn-interview-it-follows-director-david-robert-mitchell/)
- Paste: Timeless” is a good way of putting it. The film
doesn’t feel like it exists in any specific time or place, but in its
own universe. Was that done on purpose to give yourself more freedom?
DRM: Yeah, totally, that was very much part of the plan, to make the film exist outside of time so that in a way it resembles a dream or a nightmare. There are some anachronistic production design elements, things from many different eras. There are some things that don’t quite exist. The fact that you rarely see any of the parents or adults in the film, they’re on the edge of the frame or they’re barely there, all of that is to suggest something that doesn’t feel quite right, that is a little bit outside of reality or the way that we see the world. You can’t quite put your finger on it, or where this is, or when this is specifically, and I think that’s a quality that shares with a dream. (http://www.pastemagazine.com/ March 17th 2015)
- Do you have the whole mythology mapped out, like how this supernatural disease all started, why it's passed along the way it is?
DRM: I have an idea of what this really is and what it's about, but ultimately it's just a guess. If you think back to a dream, there isn't necessarily a reason you had it, it's simply the reality of your world. That's much stronger than having something that has a logical beginning. Things like this don't need a logical beginning, they just simply exists. (http://www.joblo.com/horror-movies/news/exclusive-interview-it-follows-director-david-robert-mitchell)
- Filmmaker: Both It Follows and Myth of the American Sleepover have a timeless feel, especially with regards to technology. Is that a part of your style or more specific to these narratives?
Mitchell: It’s part of my style in the sense that I like not being locked into the rules of our natural world. I like being able to change some of the ground rules in creating a film, and that happens to be what I’ve done in the films. I like altering something just a little bit. It’s about creating something closer to a dream state (or a nightmare), and that’s something I like to do. Whether I’ll do that, maybe or maybe not. They’ll all be different in their own way. But I like the idea of changing things — sometimes simple things, sometimes significant aspects of the world, because that’s what movies can do. They can do that really well, and they don’t have to operate or exist in the world that we know. And nor should they, a lot of the time. (http://filmmakermagazine.com/)
- Kicking things off, the site inquires about the master plan concocted by
Paul to try and rid Jay once and for all of the spectres that are
following her. It's an elaborate scheme that involves bringing a bunch
of electronics to a swimming pool, hoping to lure it into the water, and
then electrocuting it. Does that sound dumb? Well, Mitchell agrees.
Mitchell : It’s the stupidest plan ever! It's a kid-movie plan, it’s something that Scooby-Doo and the gang might think of, and that was sort of the point. What would you do if you were confronted by a monster and found yourself trapped within a nightmare? Ultimately, you have to resort to some way of fighting it that’s accessible to you in the physical world, and that’s not really going to cut it. We kind of avoid any kind of traditional setup for that sequence, because in more traditional horror films, there might be a clue that would lead them to figure out a way to destroy this monster. I intentionally avoided placing those. Instead, they do their best to accomplish something, and we witness its failure. It’s probably a very non-conventional way of approaching the third-act confrontation, but we thought it was a fun way to deal with it. (http://blogs.indiewire.com/ April 2, 2015)
- Question: I read that you got this
idea from a dream you had as a kid. Can you tell me about going from
that to turning it into a STD?
DAVID ROBERT MITCHELL: Yeah, well that came later. I had the nightmare when I was like nine or ten or something, I always remembered pieces of that nightmare, the feeling from it. I’ve always wanted to make a horror film and so I always kept thinking about that nightmare. So, over the years, I’d just kind of add things to it. In the nightmare it’s about being followed by something that looked like different people, all the things that are in the film, it was very slow, it’s not that hard to get away from it if you’re paying attention, but it’s the fact that it’s always coming for you. I just tried to kind of build on that feeling of dread and then at some point I started thinking, ‘Oh, it’d be fun if it’s something that can move between different people,’ almost like a game of tag to some degree. And then it sort of became clear to me like, ‘Oh, it should be through sex because it would sort of connect the characters physically and emotionally.’ It just felt like the right thing. But that happened over a lot of years just sort of in the back of my brain. (http://collider.com/david-robert-mitchell-it-follows-interview/)
- Sarah Meikle: There's an obvious lack of parental input throughout the story. Why?DAVID ROBERT MITCHELL: I did that for several reasons. I did a similar thing for my first film but for a different reason; in American Sleepover, the characters are a little bit younger and it was about separating them from the adult world so that the world they would inhabit was almost magical in some way. In this film, I separated them because they are a bit older but it's about isolating them. It's not so much about putting them into this beautiful magical world, it's more of a lonelier, more frightening place. Again, it's also doing a similar thing with production designs. There's something not quite right about it. Something that feels a little off. You're tripping into this sort of dream-like nightmare quality. And also it's fun to do what the Peanuts cartoons did in some way, like Charlie Brown. You never hear the adults - they're like 'Wa, wa, wa". (The Dark side, #166, p42)