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'Donnie Darko': Production Diary (2004)

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Verité style behind-the-scenes 'the making of' cult classic "Donnie Darko"
19 October 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Included as a bonus feature on the Director's Cut edition of "Donnie Darko," the 'Production Diary' will interest both fans of the movie and film school wannabees. The footage appears to have been gathered by a crew member (Michael Hoy) without much else to do and with no crew but his lonesome. The sound is strictly camera mike and talking to the lens is kept to a minimum. The structure mimics the countdown format of the film as each days sequence moves closer to picture wrap.

The 'diary' maintains a fly-on-the set perspective that is sometime tedious unless one chooses to view this extra with the extra extra commentary track of cinematographer Steven B. Poster. In this mode, the piece truly comes alive as Poster walks the audience through the 28 day shooting schedule. 28 days was also the time Donnie is told by Frank that the world will end. Poster comments are heavy on camera department inside baseball which makes for a fascinating break down of the rigors of a difficult production on a low budget.

The most revealing insight here is that the crew had no idea what director Richard Kelly had in mind as they slaved away through all night shoots to gather the pieces for a puzzling film. Nevertheless, all seem to rise to the occasion to give their best and the results show in the finished product. Another interesting angle is how a young Jake Gyllenhaal flips from cast clown to on screen disturbed teen, a performance Kelly reveals in the films commentary track the actor based on the director himself. Watching Kelly work as a new filmmaker with quiet confidence while hiding an internalized terror of failure makes this choice increasingly clear.

Finally, it is a joy to see Drew Barrymore as herself, a testament to her professionalism and good heartedness. No diva here!


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