BigSPEEGS Movie Reviews
Interview with Ben Coccio, Director/Writer of "Zero Day" (Page 2)


ES:  As you see it, do you think that either Cal or Andre had ever thought of doing such a thing before they had met each other; do you think they would've had even the slightest idea that they could have pulled such a thing off if they never met?


BC:  I think if you're ever looking for an easy reason as to why Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did what they did in Columbine, it's because they met each other.  I think when two people do something like that; they probably would have never done anything of that magnitude by themselves.  I do think that beforehand they might think about doing something like that, definitely, or similar thoughts might get entertained, but I think it's this sort of meeting of the minds that starts these things up, and I think they (maybe even unconsciously) egg each other on, and they get farther and farther along.  But I think if you're looking for a simple reason as to why someone would do something like that (if there's two of them) it's because they met each other and they just buttress each other.


ES:  I thought one of the most effective scenes in the film was when they take all of their stuff and just burn it; and obviously that must reflect your opinion on the influence of outside media on someone doing something like this.  Do you think that the movies, TV, video games, etc., have any role to play in a situation like this?


BC:  The answer is no.  I don't think movies or video games or television could ever incite anyone to do something that awful.  Blaming it on that is just a simple way for someone to deal with it, simply put.  I think there is a kind of culture of fear from the media, but I don't think that would incite anyone to do anything bad.  I think if someone's going to do something bad, it's their own responsibility and it's their own decision.


ES:  Do you think that by the end of the film, Cal and Andre got what they wanted; to "teach the world a lesson," get people to wake up?


BC:  I think in a very simple sense, they got what they wanted.  But, like anything like that, they got more than they bargained for.  I think their desire to give a "wake up call" is not too remote from Napoleon or Hitler's desire to give a "wake up call."  These things definitely have an impact on society in some way or another, but it's a selfish, arrogant, ego-maniacal thing to say: "It's my responsibility to give society a wake up call."  That's what kids like that probably feel; they probably feel very superior, in a sense.  I think one of the problems is that no one treats them the way they feel they are entitled to.  They think they're better than everyone else, and no one treats them that way.  Not that anyone necessarily torments them, but they just don't give them the treatment that they feel they're worth.  So I think when someone says, "I'm going to send these guys a wake up call," that's a sign right there that this person believes that they know better than everyone else, which doesnt usually work out so well.  (Laughs)



ES:  How do you think the film would be different if it was filmed in a perspective other than a video diary?


BC:  Oh... that's a good question.  A related question is; someone once asked me if I would've done anything different if I had a huge budget.  No, I wouldn't have done anything different.  I personally feel that you have to do this movie this way, in a sense.  What I was trying to do was trying to get you really up-close and personal with these characters, and I think the best way to do that is the video diary approach.  It allows you to do a lot of things that you maybe could do with a 35-mm camera and a different perspective; a third-person perspective, but with the first person perspective, technically, as a filmmaker and with acting you can get a lot of things really fresh and really honestly, but you also create a sort of urgency to it.  It's just another device to really suspend disbelief. 


ES:  What has been the general reaction to the film so far?


BC:  It's actually been remarkably good.  I mean, considering the subject matter of the movie, it's been remarkable.  Boston was the first place to play it.  In Boston, they actually added two extra days to screen it, which was really cool.  Then in New Haven, which was the next place that it played, a pretty small festival (only three or four days long), they usually only play each film once, but this was screened twice, and both sold out, and ended up winning the Audience Choice Award, which was a shock to me.  I didn't think that that kind of movie would win an award like that when the audience could've gone with one of the few good comedies at the same festival.  The reviews have been good to really good so far.  In Denver, it may get buried a bit, since "Bowling for Columbine" is there at the same time as well, and I just don't know how that community is going to react to that, so should be interesting.  It's actually had some interest from some smaller distribution companies so far, so we'll see.


ES:  You mentioned "Bowling for Columbine", which deals more with the gun issue than the more psychological issues that you deal with.  What role do you think access to guns plays in fueling a violent act like a school shooting?


BC:  I didn't make this movie to make a statement about gun control at all.  I think one of the worst things that's happened to American civilians on American soil, the worst event of mass violence happened (on September 11) because someone had a tool that was intended for something else and used it violently.  I think philosophically, I know guns are designed to shoot living organisms, but still there's almost no one in this country who buys a gun explicitly to kill somebody.  So in that situation, too, you have people who take a tool and use it in a way that's not intended.  That really comes down to a question of personal responsibility.  Agreeing, if they didn't have guns, they'd have to do it with something else.  But there's no guaranteeing that it wouldn't have been worse, actually.  Because maybe they'll build a bomb, and bombs will kill more people than guns.  I wouldn't really come down one way or the other on gun control, but if you get anything from this movie, you can sort of get this idea that gun or no gun, these guys were willing to do something like this. 


ES:  How would you respond to someone who would say that the film goes into too much detail as to how Cal and Andre do this; that you show too much of the specifics of their "operation"?


BC:  That's an interesting question, and I think if someone were concerned that we go into too much detail as to how to build a bomb or something, I would say that again, the knowledge about how to do this is readily available in other places.  In the movie, in the scene where, for instance, they show how to build a bomb, it's really more about them, and how they are and how they see the world; that's just what they're doing at the time.  I would understand why someone would be concerned, but personally... again, I think it comes down to personal responsibility.  I don't think anybody watching this movie is going to think, "Oh yeah, let's go make a pipe bomb!"  I don't think it's handled that way. 


ES:  So what's the next step for "Zero Day"?  Do you think it has any hopes for distribution?


BC:  I really honestly believe that this movie can have a respectable audience on the art-film circuit (you know those little art-house theaters).  I think that seeing what makes the run of art-house theaters nowadays, I don't see why this couldn't make it.  It would definitely cause a stir or a buzz and garner some interest, and I think it would attract an audience; I think they would respond to the movie well.  My hope of hopes with this movie would be to get some kind of small scale distribution like that.  I think it's pretty clear that this movie could never go real big, it's just too difficult; I don't think it could play at a mall or attract huge audiences.  I think it could definitely turn a profit and find an audience, and that would be sort of the best life it could have, I think.


ES:  Thanks for your time; hopefully we'll be able to talk sometime about how the Denver Film Festival goes.


BC:  Thank you very much. 

To learn more about "Zero Day", find upcoming screenings, or to view some of Ben Coccio's short films, visit Professor Bright Films at http://www.professorbright.com/