Nash Edgerton is already recognised in Australia thanks to the likes of The Square, but in 2011 he makes his first Cannes appearance with his short film Bear as part of the Official Competition. We were lucky enough to talk with him about the experience, why he wanted to create a sequel and putting directors in front of the camera.
CPR: You had a good reception at the press screening…
Nash: Yeah, it went pretty well.
CPR: How long was the shoot?
Nash: Three days… one was at the house, one outside with all the bike riding and then the third day was the aftermath.
CPR: Where does the character of Jack come from?
Nash: Jack will always be a part of me… like, I’m not as bad with my pranks and things as he is but I did some stuff as a kid.
CPR: Things you did as a kid? Can you elaborate?
Nash: Have you seen Spider (Jack’s first appearance)?
CPR: I have.
Nash: Well, I used to have a toy spider and I used to hide it in the kitchen for Mum. It’d be different every week, do something new to freak her out. Once I put it on the oven handle and she went to grab the food before we heard a shout. She didn’t see it until she was halfway out… smashed the dish. I got in a lot of trouble.
CPR: So that’s your inspiration?
Nash: Yeah that, and Joel and I had an incident in the car with a spider. We were on the freeway and it crawled up his pants and he lost control of the car before stopping and jumping out – he didn’t get hit though. It’s interesting how people would risk their lives to get away from a spider so that’s where it came from. I guess I like scaring people. But it’s all in humour you know, not actually setting out to hurt anyone. With Jack, he just can’t get it right.
CPR: Why did you want to bring him back after Spider?
Nash: For a number of reasons I guess… so many people would ask me what happened, whether they stayed together, whether she survived, and then I started thinking about what would happen – whether he learnt his lesson. But for some people it takes more than a needle in the eye. You know, Spider was so popular and I kind of liked the idea of asking myself if could I do something that stood up to that but stood alone. A film that could work as a follow-up though, to take on a different challenge that could also be humorous.
CPR: So did you enjoy the process of revisiting the characters and ideas?
Nash: Yeah of course, when you’ve got something as good or better than the last idea you had it seems to have an extra element of nostalgia to it because it’s linked to Spider you know?
CPR: But the audience here got a kick out of it without realising it had a predecessor…
Nash: Well it totally works on its own, it’s pretty solid because Jack’s known. Because of the events of Spider, he has two different coloured eyes now, and his ex offers the opening quote in Bear.
CPR: How did you get Teresa Palmer and Warwick Thornton on board?
Nash: Oh you know, I’m just good friends with both of them for a long time and they’d both seen Spider and were fans; I loved the idea of putting Warwick in a film. I’ve actually put a lot of my friends, and a lot of directors that I really like in my films.
I don’t know whether Warwick’s been in a film before… I think it’s good to see him try out being on the other side of the screen though (laughs).
CPR: Speaking of collaborations, what can you tell us about your company Blue Tongue Films and how that’s helped you get here?
Nash: It’s helped a lot – I have a good bunch of friends; my brother, Kieran (Darcy-Smith), Luke (Doolan), David (Michod). We encourage each other and help each other. Bear was written by David and myself, we went through the shoot and storyboards together. Whenever someone makes something we just collaborate with each other.
CPR: How do you feel about the Cannes selection? It’s a big deal!
Nash: Yeah it’s awesome, I’ve always wanted to have a film here! It’s always special to be recognised; you know, there were over three thousand entries so to get here is great. Shorts are a good stepping stone, they lead to big things and I’m hoping that’s what this film will help me do.
CPR: Well, you’re having The Square released in the UK this month aren’t you?
Nash: Yeah, it premiered at the Film Forum two days ago so that’s really good.
CPR: Back to Cannes… now that you’ve seen your fellow nominees’ films, who would you pick to win if you couldn’t pick yourself?
Nash: Oh I don’t know, I feel like I want to see them all again, it’s the first time I’ve seen them… it’s a strong year. I don’t know if I can answer that?
CPR: No comment?
Nash: (Laughs) I don’t know… I really enjoyed Meathead (New Zealand) and Ghost (Japan). I liked the shoot of that one.
CPR: Would you go for another film to complete a trilogy?
Nash: Yeah, I have an idea of what I might do…
CPR: Any details?
Nash: Nah not yet! I think there’s more to do with that character. Maybe I’ll just do it every four years, revisit Jack and see what he’s up to. I was saying to someone the other day that it’d be fun to keep going back until when he’s 60 and find he’s still causing trouble and hasn’t figured it out; scaring some old lady.
CPR: Like the 7-Up documentary series, except it’s Where’s Jack?
Nash: Yeah exactly! Sporting his injuries from the previous events.
CPR: And what about your next feature film?
Nash: There’s no title, but it’s an action-road type of film, bit of a crime movie. Joel and I are writing it, it’s only a draft at this stage. I have a few ideas about casting but nothing definite.
CPR: The action-road crime movie isn’t something Australian cinema has much of…
Nash: I just wanted to do something a bit bigger than I did before (with The Square) – you know, with set pieces, being able to play with toys and money!
CPR: Anything else you’d like to add on your experience here at Cannes or about Bear?
Nash: I haven’t had much sleep! No, I’ve been able to meet a lot of people here, like Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) and discovered how everything works which has been great. Seen some films too – I really loved Snowtown, it was a very hard film to watch. People were walking out — it’s very powerfully done.
CPR: Thank you for taking the time to chat, and good luck!