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Anton Yelchin Was Weeks Away From Shooting His Directorial Debut, ‘Travis’

Producers Keith Kjarval and Gary Schultz talk about looking forward to collaborating with Yelchin on his writing-directing debut, "Travis."

Anton Yelchin

Anton Yelchin

Daniel Bergeron

I woke up today and the world was a different place.

I heard less laughter, and I felt less love.

I imagined less, and I felt less inspired.

…and my heart hurt a whole lot more.

To say Anton inspired me and made my life more joyous would be an understatement.

That was the impact of this incredible young man. He had this great power to impact people in the most profound ways. Whether it was random people in a crowded bar playing video games or it was one of the many great artists he has worked with, Anton befriended them all and made them laugh.

And he would hate for me to even say this, because he was so humble and against praise of any kind….but the praise he hated most was the public kind. That just isn’t why he did anything.

Anton was driven by something special and pure. That drive was an incredible artistic impulse that frankly drove him mad at times. I always told him that watching him create made me feel like I am watching a composer suffering in wait for the perfect chord progression or dare I say the perfect note.

Anyone who has ever known or worked with this young man knows that he could spend countless hours working on something that seemed so unnecessary. Not to Anton. He believed that the more that he immersed himself into something, the more it would become a part of him…and, in turn, the more he could capture that ever elusive perfect note.

This was exactly the case when we made Rudderless together. Every single night he would leave work and come home and work on whatever was happening the next day. Some days it would literally be him trying to hit the perfect note on his guitar, but most nights it was him trying desperately to sharpen his cadence or contort his body or remove fractions of a breath from a word. And sometimes it was ALL of the above. There was one scene in particular where his character arrived at the boat of another character played by Billy Crudup. Anton had this entire physical arrangement planned – from the yelp in his voice, to the perfect nodding of his head, and onto the exact moment he wanted the breath to leave his lungs at the end of a sentence. And he was merely offering donuts to Crudup’s character. Some might see this as overkill, but I learned to love that Anton wanted everyone to feel the characters he played as much as he did and he was obsessed with making that happen.

Many people don’t know, but Anton was prepping his directorial debut when he suddenly and tragically passed. We were working together to get the film ready for a July shoot. Man, he was as excited and as full of life as I have ever seen anyone. He simply could not wait to express himself as a filmmaker…and to tell this particular story.

Having known him for years, I knew he would someday direct a film. His understanding of film language and the medium was a rare thing. We would spend countless hours talking about his film, which he wanted to be called Travis. He named his lead character after his obsession with his favorite film, Taxi Driver. Anton’s ambition was as limitless as his sprit, and I am convinced that he would have created a brilliant piece of cinema.

His references for his own film were some of the great filmmakers to ever live, and in hearing him paint the portrait of what his film was to be and then hearing his artistic ambition day in and day out for years, I kept seeing into the future and seeing someone who would change our world.

When his mother phoned me to tell me the tragic news, I was shocked to my core. I immediately thought of what will now never happen with him gone.

To continue thinking like this is to miss what Anton gave to all of us.

What he gave us was an example of the joy we should all take into our passions and the spirit with which we should live our lives. And for those of us who are chasing that perfect note, he showed us time and again that it is possible.

Goodbye homey. I know one day we will create together again.

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