“If it was my job to process it, I would be very bad at it,” Bo Burnham tells Gold Derby in an exclusive interview (watch the video above) about the nominations and awards that he has earned for writing and directing “Eighth Grade.” In the days since Burnham attended the 76th Golden Globe Awards with his nominated lead actress Elsie Fisher, Burnham has received recognition from two peer groups — “it’s hard to even consider them peers because I wasn’t their peer like two months ago,” he laughs — in the form of a Best Film Original Screenplay nomination from the Writers Guild of America and a Best Film First-Time Directing nomination from the Directors Guild of America. He recounts, “I got a text about the Writers Guild and then the president of the DGA actually called me yesterday morning and that was crazy, so that’s amazing. Just to be recognized by other writers or other directors is obviously incredibly flattering.”
“I didn’t want to write about being a kid; I didn’t care about being a kid — I wanted to write, to me, what it felt like to be alive right now, so that was my impulse for writing,” Burnham explains about writing his first narrative feature film after making a career as a stand-up comedian and variety performer. “It started as not about a kid; just about ‘the Internet’ and about ‘right now’ and then it happened to be about a kid and then it became more universal from there,” Burnham continues, explaining about his depiction of technology, “The hope was with the movie not to embed [any] judgment of the technology; just portray the reality of it, so it was really just trying to get real kids — actual 13-year-olds, actual eighth graders — in the space, in the scenes and just have them exist.”
For viewers who appreciated the style, themes and voice of “Eighth Grade,” Burnham has a few recommendations. He says about the 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “I wanted the kids in the film to have the energy that the actors had in that movie — the spontaneous raw energy where it feels like the line between acting and reality is really blurred.” Although “not for kids,” Burnham cites the 2015 film “Krisha” as “a big reference for me in terms of stylized naturalism.”
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