Rafael Motamayor chats with actor/director Clayton Jacobson on how to balance humour and tragedy, acting with your brother and more…
Where did the idea for the movie come from?
Jaime Browne, a friend of mine who’s a writer, stayed at my house one night. I think he got a little bit freaked out. Him being a city boy, I think he thought that anyone could come in and kill him without anyone ever noticing he was gone. The next morning, I said to him “mate, you could be killed in the city and everyone would know, but they wouldn’t do anything about it”. So I think it got him thinking, and he and another writer, Chris Pahlow, basically fashioned this script for my brother Shane and myself. So Brother’s Nest was born out of a writer’s desire to do a simple and easily contained story with talent that he knew, and based on the fears he had living in my house.
How was it acting alongside your brother in addition to directing him?
Oh, it was amazing. I had a film here in SXSW in 2006 called Kenny, where my brother played a plumber. He did that very well and was very well received in Australia, so it’s been very hard to work again with Shane because he’s so popular in Australia. This was a very interesting, and what’s kind of ironic is that everything you see in the film in the complete antithesis of what actually exists behind the camera. It was a beautiful experience and I actually think we are stronger as brothers now than we were before. Though it still was challenging because we promised to be as raw, and to push each other as much as possible. I really wanted as much truth to come through in the film, so we were each other’s meter to see if we bought what the other said.
I really enjoyed the tone of the film, because it was funny, but it wasn’t afraid to go to some dark places. How do you achieve that?
Yeah, it gets of the rails. Whenever I read anything for the first time or think of an idea, I always pay attention to how my body reacts and think about what made me do that. In the case of this script it was the tone that excited me. At first I thought ok, this feels a bit theatrical, and wondered when it was going to become cinematic, and then it exploded into this larger sort of tragedy. I always loved film with a duality, where it ends in a different place than where it began. I also love atmosphere and creating worlds, so having the story in one location was perfect. To manage that tone was a difficult thing. I wanted it to be as truthful as possible. I didn’t want to be too farcical but wanted to sort of trick the audience.
How did you find the set? Was it built?
Originally it was going to be my own house. But when I realized that the first fifteen minutes of the film is just my brother and I in orange suits just talking I realized we needed a location that was a character. You need to be able to peruse the frame and my house wasn’t going to cut it. What was bizarre is that this was the first house our location scout went to, yet I made him go to another like 80. Every house he went to I kept going back to the first place. And what originally kept me from choosing the first house was that it had all these cars and radios in it. The place was a bit more rundown than we expected, but eventually I thought that we could just fit the script to the house, so we went back and re-wrote the script to include all the talk about the radios and the cars and we quite literally made the house into a character in the film. We fit a few scenes to include the uniqueness of the house.
Rafael Motamayor is a journalist and movie geek based in Norway. You can follow him on Twitter.