By Jordan Gass-Poore’
Native Portlander Michael Johnson makes his feature debut with The Wilderness of James, which made its world premiere during this year’s SXSW. The drama, based on a short story by Johnson, follows teenager James (Australian newcomer and fellow hyphenated last namer Kodi Smit-McPhee) a few months after his father’s death. He struggles to find a way to cope with his feelings and, after visiting a therapist (Danny DeVito), takes to the streets and woods of Portland, where the movie was shot in 2012. During one of these outings James befriends the older teen Harmon (Evan Ross who starred in one of my favorite movies Gardens of the Night and will star in the upcoming Hunger Games movies) on a bus, who introduces him to the city’s teenage nightlife. His outlook on life changes through his friendship with Harmon and Val (Isabelle Fuhrman), the teenage he reconnects with from a clinic.
I spoke with Johnson, writer/director of The Wilderness of James, Fuhrman (of Hunger Games fame, whose stylishly-dressed mother was also in attendance snapping photos) and executive producer Glenn Howerton, maybe better known as Dennis from the FX TV series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia during a small press roundtable about the movie.
SXSW 2014: ‘The Wilderness of James’ Interview