One of the most anticipated reunions at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Good Kill sees writer-director Andrew Niccol re-teaming with Gattaca and Lord of War star Ethan Hawke in a pressing psychological drama about drone warfare. After a successful stint on the festival circuit, the film is now getting a wide release and will be hitting theatres this Friday.
Back at TIFF, we caught up with both Niccol and Hawke to discuss the strange landscape of modern war filmmaking, and knowing when the realties of drone warfare seem too much like fiction to be believed.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
Andrew, you’ve mostly worked by looking into the future –with the exception of Lord of War, which you both worked on – but drones are the here and now. Why the change?
Andrew Niccol: I’m just drawn to that story. I don’t ever just sit down and go, “I’m going to write a sci-fi story,” or this, or that. I just write whatever draws me. I don’t have a choice. This film is actually a period piece in a weird way.
Ethan Hawke: Yeah, but when I see this movie there is the feel of science fiction to it, even though it’s not. And I don’t know if that’s just the baggage I bring.
AN: No, I think it looks sci-fi, weirdly enough, because people aren’t familiar with how the drone program works. But I didn’t do anything stylistically. It was a real liberation for me, actually, because I just said to the production designer, “make it look like that.”
EH: Which was an actual photograph of the real GCS.
AN: You know, real soldiers.
EH: Real uniforms.
AN: I didn’t design anything.
Was it hard to get that sort of access for a film about the military?
AN: I didn’t get any military cooperation at all. Actually, I had one photojournalist who had been into these boxes before. He had fantastic photographs – this is when they were proud of the program, and they would let people in. He was the last guy in before they closed the door and realized it was too controversial, and he gave me these great photographs, even though they quickly came back to him and said, “Oh, by the way, you know those photographs you took? Please burn them.” [laughs] But he gave them to us.
It’s certainly going to inspire political discussion. Is it hard to get a film like that made?
AN: Yes, definitely.
EH: We had no money. It’s scary to make, it’s an uncomfortable truth. It’s interesting, what I find is, the left doesn’t like it, and the right doesn’t like it. Nobody is totally comfortable talking about the drone program.
AN: Because everything in [Good Kill] has happened. We’ve struck funerals, we’ve done double-taps.