Ann Arbor, Mi
Bo Burnham, 27 has been making audiences laugh for years with his unique style of comedy that he often blends into singing. Fans show up in droves whenever he's on the scene. You might have seen his supporting turns in, my favorite film of 2017, “The Big Sick,” or the unappreciated “Rough Night” - but now he's making the leap to directing with his new feature film “Eighth Grade” (due out July 27th).
I recently spoke to the comedy icon at the Cinetopia Film Festival (which took place in Ann Arbor from May 31st to June 10th) where “Eighth Grade” had its midwest premiere.
This is the first screening for your film in Michigan; how did your team choose the Cinetopia Film Festival as the venue for the midwest premiere?
We got an offer to be able to come here and the (Michigan) theater saw us at Sundance and we were just totally flattered. Who wouldn't want to be in this theater? Look at it, it's amazing.
Now, you had distribution for 'Eighth Grade' heading into Sundance from A24 that's gotta be nice
It defiantly alleviates some of the pressure, and A24 was so gracious and co-financed the film heading in.
How much creative control as a first time director did A24 (as a studio) let you have?
They give a-ton of freedom, which is the terrifying part when you realize 'oh shoot' your movies are really good, just because the directors are good (laughs) not because A24 made them good. So it's really on me to make this. But also it's just wonderful to be in a position when I actually want to hear what they're saying, I'm not trying to double talk a studio, and figure out 'okay, how can I sell what I want to the studio' I know the version of the movie they want is the one I want too. It was always open.
How do you feel about the reception to 'Eighth Grade' so far? It’s currently sporting a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes
It's very gratifying, I try not to sink to much of my feelings into that (laughs) because in a couple weeks who knows what that Rotten Tomatoes score will be. But generally it being well received is nice, even just being seen on the terms that I want it to be seen, which is just taken seriously is incredibly flattering.
What's the current release strategy?
It opens in LA and New York first on July 13th than it will slowly expand from there, we just want to build up word of mouth. It's a small movie, so getting people to talk about it early is crucial. But honestly, I already feel like I've gotten more out of it than I was expecting, so this is all kinda of surreal.
How were you able to infuse your style of comedy and drama into the film?
Well it's all my sensibilities, I had all these sensibilities that I could never express in my stand up show. This is less apparently intentional, my shows are so technical and every word is written. I wanted to make something a little more loose and natural. I hope it has the same sort of perspective, well it does because it is me. Part of it was moving away from that, I mean music - which our composer (Anna Meredith) worked endlessly - plays a big part of the movie. You know, I still think the movie's pretty theatrical.
'Eighth Grade' poster courtesy of A24