You wouldn't normally expect a director like Joel Schumacher to be premiering a film at the Sundance Film Festival, but as Schumacher himself points out, his career is full of smaller films that were made for little money and featured young, up-and-coming casts. Twelve looks to continue a Schumacher trend that began with films like St. Elmo's Fire, The Lost Boys and Flatliners when it screens in the Premieres section at Sundance next week.

Featuring a cast that includes Emma Roberts, Chace Crawford, 50 Cent, Zoe Kravitz, Rory Culkin and Kiefer Sutherland (who reunites with Schumacher for a fifth time, and the first since 2002's Phone Booth), Twelve (based on Nick McDonell's novel) is a gritty drama that follows a young drug dealer who finds his life slowly spiral out of control after his best friend is arrested for the murder of his cousin. Cinematical caught up with Schumacher ahead of the film's premiere to learn a little more about it.

Cinematical: Give us the "word on the street" description of your film.

Joel Schumacher: White Mike is a teenage dropout who sells drugs to the over-privileged, under-loved youth of New York's upper east side. A.K.A. -- beautiful guys, beautiful babes, fu*ked up lives.
Cinematical: You've worked with so many young, talented actors over the years, and now you're returning to that sort of trend with this film. Is that what drew you to the project?

Joel Schumacher: Well it's always fun to work with a young ensemble but it was really Nick McDonell's fantastic best-seller, TWELVE, that made me want to make the movie.

Cinematical: As someone who's worked on a lot of big films throughout their career, is it nice to get in there and grind it out at a film festival? What do you enjoy most about this particular process versus the big Hollywood premieres?

Joel Schumacher: I think people don't realize that D.C. Cab, St. Elmo's Fire, Lost Boys, Phone Booth, Tigerland, Veronica Guerin, etc, etc were made on meager and low budgets. I think if you make a string of Blockbusters, which I was lucky to enough to do, you're considered a "big Hollywood director." But success at the box office does not always mean they were big Hollywood movies.

From the official Sundance synopsis:

Based on the critically acclaimed novel by Nick McDonell, written when he was only 17 years old, Twelve is a chilling chronicle of privileged urban adolescence on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Set over spring break, the story follows White Mike, a kid with unlimited potential, who has dropped out of his senior year of high school and sells marijuana to his rich, spoiled peers. When his cousin is brutally murdered in an east Harlem project, and his best friend is arrested for the crime, White Mike is hurled on a collision course with his own destiny.

Led by director Joel Schumacher, a talented ensemble cast perfectly captures the obvious pain of children teetering on the brink of adulthood. Schumacher counters their overindulged behavior with operatic staging and a literary voice-over. For every decade, there are moments when youth culture is frozen in "art," to be reveled in by the generation that lived it and observed by those that didn't. That is Twelve.

For screening and ticket info, see the film's official Sundance page.