I like interviewing up-and-coming talent because there’s a curiosity factor. Like, who’s this rookie writer-director out of Britain everybody’s talking about, whose movie won audience awards at both SXSW and the Los Angeles Film Festival?
Insiders have been tracking Joe Cornish not only because he’s a protege of Attack the Block exec producer Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), with whom he co-wrote Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin and Marvel’s Ant Man, but because he’s also a TV writer-personality (late night Channel 4 homemade sketch comedy series The Adam and Joe Show). (All Cornish will say about Tintin is that because Herge drew each panel from photographs, performance capture is a “good fit.”)
Cornish does talk below about his $13-million debut film Attack the Block, which Screen Gems picked up out of SXSW (July 29).
It all started about a decade ago when Cornish was mugged near his home in the south London neighborhood Stockwell, where he still lives. He decided to write a movie about just such a mugging, but instead of following the victim, he’d track the perpetrators. Gifted newcomer John Boyega plays the thug leader of a teen gang in the projects who sees an alien crash through the roof of a car just as he’s ripping off a neighbor’s purse. He pursues and kills the simian-like alien, only to be assaulted by wave after wave of much bigger, blind, dark, glow-jawed alien apes. Clearly, not only Spielberg’s E.T., but Joe Dante’s Gremlins, Walter Hill’s The Warriors and John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 are antecedents for this funny, fast-paced, surprising movie, which Cornish dubs Super 8 Mile.
The only limits on this film’s success are its thick Brit street accents, which audiences will hopefully be able to overcome.
Part 1: His SXSW debut; writing with Wright, Jackson and Spielberg.
Part 2: Why Cornish loves the 80s–and doesn’t like computer graphics.