Doing stand-up for ten years and establishing himself as a singular, memorable comedic voice, Bo Burnham, at some point along the way, burned out on himself as a subject of exploration, and the art of stand-up in general. “I was so violently tired of my own face, and my own voice, and my own head,” Burnham explains.
But when one door closes, another opens—and in the medium of film, the comedian has found a new creative outlet that allows him to express himself in a different way, filtering his experiences through the story of another.
This is what Burnham has done with his Sundance-premiering directorial debut, Eighth Grade. Starring Elsie Fisher (who had previously voiced Agnes in the Despicable Me films), the film follows Kayla Day, a “nervous, weird kid” growing up in the age of the internet and all its complications.
Having his film produced and distributed by A24, Burnham is quick to express his gratitude for Scott Rudin and his collaborative, thoughtful notes—echoing comments made recently by Lady Bird‘s Greta Gerwig—while explaining the very personal concerns embedded in his first film outing.
“I wanted to write something about the internet, and I wanted to write something about how I was feeling at the time, which was very anxious. It felt like those two things were connected somehow, so I just set out to write about it,” the director said, appearing yesterday at Deadline’s Sundance Studio with Fisher. “I tried writing a lot of things, and I stumbled on this sort of voice, and found that I could say everything I wanted through her.”
To hear more from Deadline’s candid conversation with Bo Burnham and Fisher, click above.
The Deadline Studio is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.