Director Andrew Niccol Shines a Light on Drone Warfare
Nobody wanted to back a film on the subject of drone warfare, according to New Zealand-born director Andrew Niccol, whose drama Good Kill, about that very subject, is on now in UK cinemas.
“We had no help from the military either,” Niccol tells the Financial Times. “We sent requests to the US Department of Defense, with part of the screenplay, and they politely declined.”
Niccol, whom Times correspondent Nigel Andrews “meets in a location aptly equidistant (give or take) between Washington DC and Afghanistan, explains how he got some assistance from the military even so. Under the radar.”
“‘I had former drone pilots, whom I relied on quite heavily. None wanted to be named. When I asked them if they flew missions for the CIA,’ — a prominent contention, and bone of contention, in both films – ‘they said, “We can’t talk about that.” Which for me is tantamount to saying yes.’
“‘But, in fact, even when I got these guys drunk they still wouldn’t use the three letters CIA. They called them OGAs: other government agencies. One of the offshoots of the drone programme is that the CIA has become a new military arm which didn’t officially exist before. They’ve gone from the spying business to the killing business. That’s the really big sea change.’
“The film’s combination of eye-in-the-sky omniscience and fateful fallout is surreal and perturbing, even by the standards of a film-maker whose Hollywood calling card was the script for The Truman Show.
“No one in Hollywood was ever going to promote Good Kill, starring Ethan Hawke and January Jones, for its feel-good factor. ‘Unpatriotic’ is an adjective Niccol could have expected, if he didn’t have the get-out response of not being American. Has he worked in the US long enough, though, to feel American?
“‘I’ve lived out of New Zealand longer than I’ve lived in it. So I’m a foreigner everywhere, including my own country. It does give me greater perspective. I’m not sure an American would necessarily have made this movie, exactly because it could be seen as anti-American. But, for me, it’s just about an uncomfortable truth. I’m not trying to be anti or pro. I’m just trying to shine a light and say, “This is what is.”’”
Good Kill is released in American cinemas on 15 May.
Original article by Nigel Andrews, Financial Times, April 3, 2015.