Article by Jonathon Natsis
February 22, 2013
FilmInk speaks to producer Neal Kingston about the just-wrapped Nerve, a psychological drama that tonally edges toward some of our best local flicks of late.
“Nerve is more of a psychological drama than a crime thriller. It’s also probably more exploratory than gritty. And probably more a mix of both Australian and European.” Neal Kingston, producer of the freshly-wrapped local production Nerve, certainly knows what kind of beast he’s dealing with. While it would be so much easier to simply pass the film off as another dangerous, tough-as-nails crime thriller – a genre Aussies do better than just about anyone else – Kingston prefers to weed out the rhetoric, hoping to give audiences a piercing alternative to local darlings.
“Sebastien [Guy, director] was keen from the beginning to make a film that looked at themes our characters chose to wear as consequences of their actions and less derivative of plot,” adds Kingston. “So I guess in that respect it’s more akin to Australian films like Burning Man, Wish You Were Here and Somersault than an Animal Kingdom or The Square. It’s funny…the day after we wrapped the main unit shoot, the AACTA nominations came out and so many of our Australian film influences were nominated. So I think Nerve will fit in well with this new breed.”
The film’s ambitious intention to blend the psychological with the mysterious, while maintaining a foundation as an intimate character study, is intriguing at the very least. When Jakob (Christian Clark, Any Questions For Ben?, Home & Away – pictured) suffers an emotional breakdown following the death of his wife in a car accident, all hope of closure is lost when he learns of her prior infidelity. Stricken with a deadly cocktail of rage and obsession, Jakob enlists the help of Grace (Fringe‘s Georgina Haig) to track down his wife’s lover and comprehend what the pair once shared.
The intensity of the plot seems to have stretched to all facets of filming, most notably a 14-day shooting process, which Kingston rationalises with confidence. “The crew were small and focused which helped us to move fast. They just wanted to make the film with us,” he says of the herculean undertaking. “We tried to keep to ten hour days and only went into overtime on a couple of occasions. I think the other key was having James L. Brown” – whose experience in the ‘get-it-done-yesterday’ world of television commercials and music videos must have been invaluable here – “as cinematographer. Seeing the pace that James works was contagious to everyone. He was able to create these amazingly beautiful images yet move so quickly. It was inspiring to all of us.”
Kingston is naturally full of praise for leading man Clark, citing his dedication and “contained intensity”, and even recalling a moment in post-production in which Clark was called a “young Mel Gibson”, but Nerve also benefits from a truckload of Aussie talent including Gary Sweet, Cameron Daddo and Denise Roberts. “Having them on board brought us confirmation that we were onto something special. They all loved the script and Sebastien’s vision for the film,” Kingston enthuses. “All are such professionals but to see them bring their own stamp to the characters was fantastic.”
Nerve is shaping up to be a true diamond in the rough, potentially destined for a devoted cult following until the fandom spills over into mainstream cinemagoers. Appropriately, Kingston is eyeing a festival release, but when queried on specifics, he gives an answer that – this close to Australia Day – simply can’t be argued with. “Now we’re finished filming, I think a few lazy summer days of beach and barbecues is the perfect formula to strategise festival placement,” he smiles. “It’s great timing for festival entry and there are so many good ones. We’re now in discussions with sales agents and distributors for the new year so I’m sure all these factors will help focus the pathway for Nerve.”