Michael Goldbach begins his directorial career with an independent feature film on life in a small town. However, this film, Daydream Nation, "is not a documentary".
After Childstar (2005), which he co-wrote with Don McKellar, Goldbach wanted to direct a film. It took him 7 to 8 years to find the financial support. "It's very difficult to raise money for a first film," he mentioned. Although "Daydream Nation is not an auto-biography", it still contains a few references to what he has known in high school in Arva, a small town in Ontario near London.
During the first minutes of the interview, Goldbach speaks quickly and with enthusiasm. After all, Daydream Nation will be released tomorrow in select theatres in New York and Los Angeles.
As he was in the city of angels to promote his first feature film, Goldbach explained on the phone that he wanted to offer a different vision of what we're used to see about small towns in our collective imagination.
"Small towns seem to be idyllic for many people. However, in small towns, I can tell you that a lot of drugs do find their way in schools," Goldbach said. "I wanted to create a world for teenagers with an edge to it. It's a heightened world."
Although the film, added Goldbach, is neither an autobiography nor a documentary, it contains "hinge of things that happened in Ontario" in the 1990s. For instance, in the film, an industrial fire ceaselessly burns near the town and a serial killer is after teenagers.
While the latter refers to the crimes of serial killer Paul Bernardo between 1990 and 1992, the former is based on an industrial fire in Hagersville, Ontario (about 130 km from Arva), involving 13 million tires that took weeks to extinguish in 1990. These veiled references are used to illustrate "the anxiety that the characters in the film live".
While 19th century French novelist Gustave Flaubert gave life to Emma Bovary in one of his masterpieces, Madame Bovary, Goldbach also made the choice to have a heroine in Daydream Nation in the form of Caroline Wexler (Kat Dennings).
"This idea to have a leading lady started with a question period, because I knew some girls who were like Caroline Wexler. In fact, she mirrors smart, beautiful and mysterious girls I knew when I grew up. Through Caroline, I wanted to explore who that mysterious girl in real life was. Back then, I didn't understand that girl, because I didn't have enough life experience."
Any comparison with Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone), the character in Easy A? "As Olive, Emma Stone did a great job. However, while Olive is confident, Caroline is troubled," clarified Goldbach.
Let's point out that Caroline is bored by life since she came to live a small town. Most of her classmates are stoners in search of the next big thing that will get them high. She seduces her English teacher (Josh Lucas) behind curtains and also engages in a relation with another troubled classmate (Reece Thompson).
Daydream Nation comes out on DVD on May 17 in Canada and the USA.