What drew you to this story, and why did you want to make a film about it?
From the beginning, nothing felt right about the crime. It was the wrong town. It was the wrong family. The perpetrators didn’t make sense; they were petty criminals who had never committed acts of violence, or anything remotely on this level. And it goes further. The father escapes alive while the rest of the family dies. How did that happen? None of it made sense. The series of mysteries just kept unfolding as we probed deeper.
Did you have a particular point of view when you started shooting?
We wanted to show the effects and causes of this crime from different perspectives. Everyone focuses on the perpetrators. But there are other forces involved that are just as interesting, like the lives of the victims, the Petit family, who were so extraordinarily good that they made an almost mythical contrast. And then there’s the town which was a picture of American innocence, the suburban notion that, if you just buy a lovely house in a lovely town, you’re safe. And so it was important for us to look at this from a multi-level perspective, to take it outside the level of just a forensic recounting of the crime.