The trouble with sitting in Dad David Cronenberg's director's chair

His new film shows he's his own man, says Brandon Cronenberg

"He's my father, I grew up with him and I've been compared with him all by life," states Brandon Cronenberg batting off the inevitable question about following his father, Videodrome director David Cronenberg, into the director's chair. "That is one of the problems when you have a well-known parent, people are interested in that relationship, but it also got quite boring after a while and I didn't want to be defined by it. I'm just doing what is interesting for me."

Nonetheless, 32-year-old Brandon is not helping his own cause by following in his father's footsteps and sitting in the director's chair. It becomes all too easy to compare the two and of course it's the nature of celebrity that has us wondering what it was like for Brandon growing up under the aegis of Canada's best-known director.

He even admits that to a certain extent it's because he saw the celebrity of his father and his circle of friends that he was motivated to make Antiviral: "I definitely had some insight into celebrity, seeing my father and the other side of it and so I borrowed from that."

Antiviral even has a plot that could have come straight out of one of his father's movies. Set in the near future, celebrity fascination has continued to balloon to the extent that a market has developed for the germs of famous people. When oddball Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) injects himself with the germs of rising superstar Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon) he gets incredibly sick. Soon after, Geist is discovered dead and March has a race against time to find a cure to the virus.

Celebrities would often pop over to the Cronenberg family home for dinner. It was while the cutlery was at work that the young Cronenberg saw a disconnect between the public and private personas of the dinner guests and he began to question how the media report on those in the limelight.

"One of the things that is interesting to me and I also have some insight into because of how I grew up is how removed the celebrity as an entity is from the actual human being," says Cronenberg. "Celebrities are cultural constructs, they are loosely based on human beings and I think being able to see a human behind that construction has given me insight into how disconnected these fabrications are from the actual people."

Brandon, himself, seems like an awkward character, uncomfortable under the media spotlight. Dressed all in black he seems nervous and sits atop of his hands to stop them flailing as he tackles questions. Growing up, he had natural emnity to following in his father's footsteps, but with his interest being in books – he imagined as a child he would be a novelist – music and visual art, cinema seemed like a natural home for his talents.

The initial idea for the thriller came in 2004 while he was at film school and Antiviral started life as a short film. Bed-ridden by a particularly bad case of the flu, Cronenberg remembers, "I started having this feverish dream and obsessing over the physicality of illness and the fact that I had something in my body and my cells that had come from somebody else's body and there was a weird intimacy to that connection."

The irony is not lost on Cronenberg that by making a film about celebrity he is feeding the beast. "Sure! But at the same time, film is a great way to discuss things and explore aspects of our culture. I mean the film is satirical and critical but it's not meant to just be a statement against celebrity culture, it's meant to be a discussion about it."

'Antiviral' plays at the Sci-fi London Film Festival on 10 November

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing