“Directly opposed to the grumpy gentlemen you may have seen JK play, he was the most generous and lovely person, with an obvious and wonderful ability,” actor turned filmmaker Cameron Nugent tells us when we ask him about working with JK Simmons (Juno, Whiplash, Justice League).
“He was our dream choice for his role, and when one of our Producers, Sullivan Stapleton, mentioned they’d recently worked together, his introduction led to the script being sent, and before we knew it, I was on a phone call that had me pinching myself. We were surprised, excited, and ultimately humbled. It was a different role for JK, and driving out into the desert eight hours for a few days with a bunch of Aussies and a frisbee somehow appealed to him. I’ve kept in close contact with him, discussing much about film and our work, so don’t be surprised if he remains strong throughout the remaining films in the series, of which there are four more.
“Oh, and he also donated half his fee to breast cancer out here in Australia, which should give you the idea of the beautiful person he is,” Nugent adds.
An actor himself, with credits ranging from TV faves such as Round the Twist and SeaChange, and feature films Blackrock and The Jammed, Nugent has transitioned to writing/directing, with his first feature film, A Boy Called Sailboat, shot in New Mexico, USA.
“We are a long way from the stage of this story here in Australia,” he says with a smile about why make the film in the US. “But I think the themes of inclusion, and the universal pursuit of happiness underpinned by the notion of surprises from unlikely places is interesting to us all. Then with the conduit of these ideas being music, I hope it’s a story of art and love that we can all relate to. So, in telling the story I chose one of most underrepresented cultures that I felt represented all the beauty and simplicity that we sometimes forget and tried to tell it in a way we can all relate to and hopefully be inspired from.”
A Boy Called Sailboat follows a disadvantaged Hispanic family and their young son, who uses the power of music to unite his community. Having started out as a child actor himself, Nugent had hands-on experience in working with his young cast.
“I needed the child cast to be REAL,” he says with emphasis. “In that sense I cast kids very close to the characters’ traits so that they weren’t doing too much acting so to speak, but reacting naturally. This then afforded us the ability to have them engage naturally with the adult cast. If you then take away all our notions of the age gap, and what sadly these days may seem a risky interaction, the conversations are cutely civil and quite mature.”
A Boy Called Sailboat is in cinemas December 5, 2019