Insights into ‘Kill Your Darlings:’ Interview with Director John Krokidas

In writing my weekend lead on “Kill Your Darlings,” I sat down with director John Krokidas to to talk about his film.  Discussing everything from writing to his own college experiences, Krokidas made one thing very clear: he has both passion and excitement. He got emotional talking about his premiere, explaining, “I made this film for a young audience. I obviously want people to learn about the beats and be educated, but it’s an inspirational film about the fact that we all go through this process of finding our own voices.”

For some behind-the-scenes info on the inspiration for and making of the film, check out this exclusive interview.

What was Krokidas’ favorite day of shooting? The one he spent here.

“What was really nice about that was that this was such a hard and fast shoot—24 days, each scene we only got a couple of hours—and I just remember going to Columbia university, and when we did that big wide shot on the steps half the campus came out. Them being so supportive gave us such an energy boost. That day was one of the best days of the shooting process. How cool is that? We never thought we’d get to shoot at Columbia University. We had 5 back up locations where everyone shoots that KIND OF looks like Columbia.”

This movie was ten years in the making.

“Over ten years. This has been such a labor of love. This movie came together and fell apart so many times. I couldn’t give up on this one. I cared about it too much, and I felt it too much. There were so many times we almost went into production, only to find out the next day that the financing had fell through. That, again, we were just another script in a pile of phone calls to be made.”

Director John Krokidas and company weaseled their way into Kerouac’s old apartment.

“We pulled the old New York trick and just pressed buzzers. We got into the building and knocked on the door. There were students living there, and they had no idea that they were living in Jack Kerouac’s apartment. But they thought it was the coolest thing that we were there! We got to hang out in their apartment for an afternoon.”

Like Allen Ginsberg, Krokidas had his own spats with professors as a student.

“When I went to film school, I went to NYU. They tried to teach me a certain kind of filmmaking that was inherent to their voices. It was this neo-realistic way of looking at the world. I tried making a film for my professors and it was horrible. They had a ranking back then, and I was ranked 37 out of forty students. It wasn’t until I said no, rebelled, and said this is who I am as a person and these are the kinds of movies I want to make, that I made my first short that I’m proud of. And it went on to play 70 film festivals. That’s where I got the confidence to see what I should be doing with my life.”

One of the film’s pivotal scenes—where the Beats break into Low Library to pull an elaborate prank—never happened.

“The beats never robbed Low Library. That I can tell you. That did not happen. That may have happened in the co-writers lives, but I’m not allowed to say anything about that. This movie was incredibly researched. You have all of the facts of everything that happened and some of the conversation. But obviously you don’t have all of the emotional tissue. That’s when you have to look, based on the facts, what kind of relationships they had—drawing from relationships you’ve had in the past, or what you’ve seen other people have and can relate to and communicate to actors. It was really about finding where my life and Austin’s life connected with the facts that we’d researched. This is not a biography of John Krokidas; it’s a factual biography of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs. What’s important to me and what informs the story I want to tell is my personal connections.”

“Kill Your Darlings” is playing at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on the Lower East Side and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Tickets are $13.50 and $9, respectively. 


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Anonymous posted on

So cool that you got to speak with him!
Great movie

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