Back to IndieWire

Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #48 : Michael Petroni Digs Up Ghosts in ‘Backtrack’

Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #48 : Michael Petroni Digs Up Ghosts in 'Backtrack'

Director Michael Petroni is ready to dig up the ghosts of his past in his new film “Backtrack.” Adrien Brody plays a troubled psychologist who suffers from nightmares and visions. He uncovers a terrible secret shared among his patients, one that holds the key to a disturbing, repressed memory. 

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

It’s about a psychologist who finds out that his patients are actually ghosts that hold the secret to unlocking a repressed memory of an event in his childhood.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

It’s about facing the past. A lot of my stories tend to be about facing the past and guilt and how we deal with it. I guess it’s the repressed Catholic in me. As a kid I always felt like I was about to get into trouble for something but I never knew what for.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I feel like my last answer revealed a lot about myself. but here’s some more – I’m Australian but have lived in the US for 20 years. I recently moved back to Australia for my family. I’m a writer-director, in that order. I started out writing and still see it as my main path of expression. I love directing and it’s a great antidote to writing – interacting with other people and going out on location beats sitting at a desk, hands down. Some stories I just can’t imagine anyone else directing – Backtrack was one of them. Other stories I am happy to hand to a director with a particular sensitivity that enhances my story.

What do you want the Tribeca audience to take away from your film?

Mostly I want them to be entertained. I also hope they’re teased and occasionally scared out of their wits. I also think it’s a movie you can see more than once and keep getting more out of it, so I hope people want to see it again.

What’s next?
I don’t really like to talk about what I’m doing next, I’m very superstitious.

What cameras did you shoot on?

Arri Alexa and we used Cooke lenses. We debated anamorphic lenses but went with Cooke which I’m pleased about. The film really looks beautiful. Stefan Duscio did a great job as DOP. The Alexa was amazing, especially in low light conditions. Sometimes I’d look up from the split and I literally couldn’t see the person’s face next to me but the camera made it look like the afternoon.

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform. If not, why?


Did you go to film school? If so, which one? 

I went to the American Film Institute in LA. I can trace back the path of my life and see that going to AFI was a pivotal decision in my life and my career.

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Festivals and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox