10 Directors to Watch 2013: John Krokidas

According to writer-director John Krokidas, “‘Kill Your Darlings’ was originally designed to have a film noir structure.” He and co-writer Austin Bunn believed they had found the perfect noir in the story of how a 19-year-old Allen Ginsberg fell in with a magnetic charmer named Lucien Carr, the man to whom the poet dedicated “Howl.”

“Carr was bright, charismatic, worldly and wealthy,” Krokidas says. “He looks at Allen and says, ‘You’re an artist and I see it in you.’ Allen fell in love instantly.”

Carr introduced Ginsberg to Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs and inspired him with his own brand of Emersonian bohemianism, which he dubbed “The New Vision.” Then, in 1944, Carr admitted to killing a man named David Kammerer, claiming that he’d been stalked. The Daily News stoked the era’s homophobia, labeling it an “honor slaying.”

“I thought to myself, I’m dealing with a story that ends in murder, in which the protagonist faces a siren-like character who tempts him into kind of an underworld,” says Krokidas, an NYU film grad whose short “Shame No More” imagined a 1950s gay America where homosexuality was the norm and “breeders” necked in illicit clubs.

With the help of producer Christine Vachon, Krokidas assembled an improbable cast for the Sundance selection, led by a risk-taking Daniel Radcliffe, who tells Variety, “The confidence he had in the story we were telling and the way he wanted to tell it was a huge part of why we all wanted to be involved.”

Krokidas decided the best solution was to focus on “the enthusiasm and exhilaration of being young,” he says. “I told the actors, you’re not playing Allen Ginsberg, you’re playing a kid named Allen, age 18, in the closet: an insecure, awkward person who has the potential to do something big.”

Homebase: New York
Inspired by: “The holy Italian trinity of Coppola, Scorsese, DePalma. I come from an Italian Greek and Jewish background, so minimalism or holding back emotion has never been my entry point.”
Reps: Agents: Andrew Cannava, Keya Khayatian, Rena Ronson (UTA); Managers: Steve Dontanville, Frank Frattaroli (Circle of Confusion); Lawyer: Andrew Hurwitz (Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz)

<< Return to 10 Directors to Watch 2013

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more