INTERVIEW: The Outsider; Richard Kelly Breaks In with "Donnie Darko"
by Jessica Hundley
(indieWIRE/ 10.24.01) — Attempting to pitch a black comedy/sci-fi/horror/romance about a psychologically troubled, but intellectually sharp teen who narrowly escapes death by a falling jet engine because he just happens to be chatting with a six foot rabbit who may or may not be an alien, an angel or a figment of his imagination, would be a difficult task for any filmmaker. Add to that the fact that Richard Kelly, writer and director of “Donnie Darko” (opening Friday), is a 26-year-old film school grad (USC class of 1997) who has directed only one previous short and had never before written a screenplay and you’ve got a young artist with a whole lot of odds against him.
Regardless, Kelly has become one of those remarkable stories of unlikely success, his persistence and belief in his project gaining him an agent, a series of disheartening pitch meetings, a fortuitous meeting with Nancy Juvoven and Drew Barrymore at Flower Films (who agreed to take on the project, with Barrymore cast in a small role), selection in the 2001 Sundance dramatic competition and finally, a distribution deal with Newmarket Films.
Recently, Richard Kelly talked to indieWIRE about how it feels to be the underdog.
indieWIRE: Start by telling me a little about you’re experience at USC. Do you feel like it was a good decision or do you think that film school was a waste of time and money?