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Philly2Philly Interview with Nash Edgerton, Director of The Square

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Nash Edgerton’s The Square  has quickly escalated into one of the most critically acclaimed thrillers of the year. The noir-ish film has officially Director Nash Edgerton. Photo-http://images.theage.com.au/ftage/ffximage/2008/08/17/svEDGERTON_narrowweb__300x337,0.jpgmade Edgerton one to watch. The movie opens this weekend in Philadelphia, but Philly2Philly was lucky enough to sit down and talk to Edgerton about the little independent Aussie film that could.

Philly2Philly: Critics have compared The Square  as far as style to directors such as the Coens’ (Fargo) and the Wachowski Brothers (Bound, Matrix). Did you attempt to channel their styles while making this film?

Nash Edgerton: I’m definitely a fan of Fargo and Bound for sure. But like I hadn’t seen those movies in a long time when I made this, and I think it kind of helped reference how a film made you feel, or what your memory of those films are. It was not really intentional though. In some way, those films are set in a more hyper real world than The Square is. We tried to make it based in as much reality as we could. I wanted to cast ordinary people, and I thought the more real I could make the situation, the more tense it would be. I tried to play it really straight, not tongue in cheek.

P2P: The film is generally played straight, but there some very dark humor. Was that intentional?

NE: Yes. I have a very dark sense of humor. It’s all in perspective. I think it’s funny because life is funny. Some people will see someone trip and fall walking down the street and laugh. Others would find it shocking or disturbing. There are definitely elements of both in the film. I wanted people to make their minds up on their own as to whether to laugh at it or be disturbed by it.

P2P: Some film noirs sacrifice character for the tricks and twists of the script. This film is very far from that. Were you trying to make an anti-noir?

NE: I don’t want there to be some sexy femme fatale, and I didn’t want characters to be well this guys good and this guys bad, cause real people have elements of both in them. For example, Carla’s husband is violent towards her but feels bad afterwards. Generally, you could still get a sense that these two characters were in love with each other. There is an affair, but it’s not hot and steamy, but rather mundane. They have a connection, but I didn’t want to make it so easy for the characters to make choices. I thought the more complex and grey each of their situation was, the more relatable it would be.

P2P: How did you keep the film so unpredictable without cheating the audience?

NE: What’s great about playing with a genre and working against conventions, is that when you play against them, people have their own expectations of what’s going to happen, and then you can kind of mess with the audience without being too tricky. I like when I got to the cinema and the filmmaker treats the audience with some kind of respect and doesn’t spell anything out or play it as expected. I think it’s fun when you don’t know what is going to happen.

P2P: This film was actually made a few years ago in Australia. How did such a small film makes it’s way to a wide U.S. audience?

NE: We shot it for 7 weeks. We played it at the Sydney Film Festival  three years ago, and later that year I came and showed it to U.S. distributors because I thought it would work here. We showed it to the guy, who runs Apparition, and he really responded greatly to the film, but at time no one was really picking up independent films, so we held out until he was ready. I felt like he genuinely loved the film. We had other offers, but they were more interested in me as a filmmaker rather than the marketing and promotion of the film.

P2P: You worked with your brother Joel on the film, who is credited as a screenwriter. What was your collaboration like in terms of being siblings, and how did the two of you work off each other so well.

NE: For me, if I can see the story when I am reading it, I know I can make it, and if I cant then there is something wrong the scene, and so that is how I worked with him. I would have him do something different with that scene. When he first wrote it, he didn’t really know much about structure so there was this great idea that was quite loose, and as the structure got better, I had him read what he first did and inject those great dark elements back into it.

P2P: What’s next in store for you?

NE: Joel and I are writing something at the moment. I do want to do a bigger film, and I have been getting attention from studios, but not sure if I am ready. I don’t want to just jump from this into a really big film. I’m used to having control, and the idea of having a bunch of people tell me how to do it doesn’t excite me. I definitely want to do something bigger than The Square, though.

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com