Exclusive Interview With Destin Cretton On Short Term 12
I watched an interview you did with a YouTube Channel called the Pretentious Film Majors, I don’t know if you remember doing that specifically.
DC: I do remember that! [Laughs]. That was for Hipster, that was like a while ago.
DC: Didn’t I do that with Adam Shapiro?
Yeah, that’s the one. Anyways, one of the things you said in that interview was, that once everything finally all comes together — production is over, audiences are out seeing the film and it’s hopefully resonating with them — that you consider that to be a “minor miracle,” just because so much has to come together. So I was wondering if you’ve ever had an experience where the “minor miracle” didn’t kick in, and that’s your frame of reference, or if that is just a belief you hold in general.
DC: Um, you mean like, other productions that have just fallen apart? [Laughs]
Well, not necessarily fallen apart, but where you didn’t feel this amazing positivity at the end.
DC: Well I mean, there are always ups and downs to making the movie, because it lasts so long and it’s impossible to actually retain a high for that long, so you just have to trudge through the shit as well as go through the really high, blissful moments. But I mean for me everything, I preplan pretty meticulously, along with my DP, and we know exactly how we will shoot something, and how we will piece it together if everything else goes bad. We hope that when we get there, the actors will be inspired, and the set is going to create better angles and shots than we originally perceived, and that we won’t have to cut around things too much. But, if everything doesn’t work out, which does happen sometimes, if scenes just aren’t working and we have to just push through it, we fall into this backup plan that is usually foolproof in having a way to piece together something that will at least be OK. For this project, that did happen a few times. But most of the time, I was so blown away by the actors and what they were bringing, it inspired so much more than what we had originally planned for.
So it’s kind of like, you have a safety net in place, but fingers crossed to not need it.
DC: Yeah, exactly. I mean, that’s how I used to be, when I first started making movies, everything was so pre-planned and structured, including the exact lines that I wanted the actors to say, and the exact facial expressions that I wanted them to do, and you know, it makes a watchable movie, but it doesn’t feel like an inspired, exciting, living organism, you know?
Yeah, definitely. Actually, I wanted to talk about the character Mason. My main observation about him was that he’s probably the only character in the film who has experienced an actual loving upbringing. That kind of results in how patient he is with Grace, and his genuine affection for her. So I was curious, did that come from any real life inspiration? Do you know a Mason?
DC: Yeah, I think everyone knows a Mason. I think most people know somebody where you know what they’ve gone through, and they shouldn’t be as positive as they are, they should be more cynical towards things, but somehow they have found a way to rise above the path or circumstances that they’ve been through. And for Mason, a huge part of that does have to do with the family that took him in at the right time in his life. But it was really important for the story, I think, to have one character who is an example of a healthy outcome to what all the other characters in the movie are trying to do, which is just deal with the shit in their past. And here we have one character who has successfully done that, and it’s obviously through the help of other people and through the help of this idea of creating a family wherever you can and in whatever means possible. And I think– I think we can do one more quick question, I may have to get off the phone I’m being told!
Ok, well I do have kind of a funny bonus question here. Do you know someone named Jacob Morrison?
DC: Oh yeah, totally! That’s my old student!
Yeah, in San Diego, right? My brother goes to Emerson College, and Jacob is his best friend basically.
DC: Oh, no way! [Laughs]. Do they make movies together?
Yeah, they did this movie Disorder, I don’t know if you saw that.
DC: I saw that! No way, tell them I said hi.
Yeah, that’s actually part of why I volunteered to do this interview [Laughs].
DC: Wow, that’s so cool. Well definitely tell them hello for me.
I will – anyways, thanks so much for taking the time!
Short Term 12 is out tomorrow, so be sure to schedule it into your weekend plans! Big thanks again to Destin for chatting with us.