Australian filmmaker Clayton Jacobson has been getting interesting reactions to his new film, ‘Brothers’ Nest’.
“Lynette Curran, who played the mother in the film, her first reaction after she saw it was, ‘I found myself laughing a lot more than I thought I would. I hope that’s ok’. I said, ‘That’s exactly what you should be doing’. This world that we’re seeing is insane,” Clayton says.
‘Brothers’ Nest’ is the director’s second feature film, following the 2006 comedy ‘Kenny’. The two films share much in common: they’re both small films directed by Clayton, and he and his brother Shane star as brothers. “It deals with many of the same themes,” he says. “The theme of validation with family, and I think that’s a very universally understood conundrum for most people.” While ‘Kenny’ is a light-hearted film about a larrikin plumber, ‘Brothers’ Nest’ is a blackly-comic thriller about brothers committing a terrible crime.
“It’s a very different film, and for good reason: we don’t want to repeat ourselves,” he says. “We really wanted to surprise audiences the way we did with ‘Kenny’. In this case, we kind of knee-capped the audience a little bit at some point,” he laughs.
Clayton and Shane play brothers Jeff and Terry, respectively. Jeff is sociopathic and overbearing, planning the entire crime to the smallest detail and forcing younger brother Terry to follow. The brothers have a natural chemistry on screen, although in ‘Brothers’ Nest’ it appears to be toxic. Clayton points out that this came from a real place for the brothers.
“Shane has had to fight for his independence from me as an older brother because like every older sibling your role is to care for and protect your younger siblings. When ‘Kenny’ came out, I was full of advice. Shane, rightly so, had to at some point break clear of that and say, ‘Hey, I’m 35 years old. We don’t need to continue with this dynamic’. It was the right thing for him to say and I needed to hear it. For this film, I said to Shane, ‘Let’s go to those dark corners of yesteryear, but really push it hard. Let’s really experiment with all of that’. It was really cathartic.”
Following up the surprise success of ‘Kenny’ was a long and difficult process for Clayton. Immediately after it was released, Clayton sought the advice of Australian filmmaker Fred Schepisi (‘Roxanne’, ‘Evil Angels’). “He said, ‘You’ve got to get seven films happening’. I died a thousand deaths and said, ‘But mate, I’ve spent the last 42 years trying to do one. You’re telling me to do seven?’ He said, ‘Four will die of natural causes, three will get close, the one you’re most interested in doing will fall over, and you’ll be left with these other two and one of those will get up’. He couldn’t have been closer to the truth. When [family friend Jamie Brown] came to me with this script, it was actually a godsend.”
With ‘Brothers’ Nest’ now out in the world, Clayton is now travelling Australia, screening the film at the small cinemas that helped finance it. Despite the darker tone, he says audiences have found the film relatable.“What I always like doing with these things is bleeding as much domestic reality into them as possible. I know of people who find nothing more terrifying than the thought of having to spend Christmas dinner together. I think there’s something in there for everyone, really. Just not kids, don’t take kids,” he laughs.