by FilmInk Staff

Over the last twenty years, Nash Edgerton has emerged as one of Australia’s top filmmakers. Stuntman, actor, writer, editor and director he is one of the founders of Blue-Tongue Films – a loose collective of creators including brother Joel, David Michôd, Mirrah Foulkes, Kieran Darcy-Smith, and Spencer Susser. The Blue-Tongue brand has etched a unique style of imaginative and edgy cinema including Judy and Punch, Wish You Were Here, Animal Kingdom, The Gift, The Rover, The King, Felony and Nash Edgerton’s debut The Square.

Like most filmmakers of his generation, Edgerton started his career making shorts. And he still is: “I’ve made a lot of shorts,” he told FilmInk recently. “There’s a lot of freedom to making short films. You’re working with friends. It’s not about money. You’re just making something you wanna make and there’s no other agenda really [laughs].”

Below, Edgerton talks about his approach to filmmaking and collaborating with Scott Ryan on the hit series Mr Inbetween as well as his latest short film, Shark. A finalist in the Dendy Awards at the Sydney Film Festival, this black comedy takes his prankster Jack character from Spider and Bear on a honeymoon holiday at sea.

Can you talk about your approach to action? Your movies and shorts have shock value – for want of a better phrase – in that you show us things we normally would not see… someone getting hit by a car in real time and the aftermath, say, or in Mr Inbetween we see someone take a huge fall and hit the ground. Without giving anything away, Shark has that same ‘you are there’ feeling’. You can’t help but wince!

“It’s not about making it graphic. It’s just about making it feel real. The way Spider, Bear, and Shark and Mr Inbetween feel, it’s like it’s just captured, and I think they are effective because they are shot in a style of a handheld domestic drama and the violence is shot the same way.”

Your action never feels cliched, why do you think that is?

“I think there’s an expectation for viewers. They are familiar with a style of editing that cuts away at certain points for practical reasons. [Sometimes it’s not possible to show things a certain way]… And I’m always like, ‘well, if you are experiencing it like the characters are experiencing it, you don’t get to cut away from it if it’s really happening!’

“With a typical fall, you cut away to another angle or to someone’s reaction… but what I’m doing is trying to use practical elements… so, in Bear and Mr Inbetween a stunt performer is doing an actual fall on a wire and they are going as close to the ground [as possible], and the harness is stopping them from hitting the ground, and then there’s a second element of them landing… I find a spot where I can seamlessly join the two elements together – but it’s not a cutaway. You can paint out the wires using sfx.”

Your work has a definite style, but it’s not doco and it’s not flashy and it all seems deceptively ‘simple’…

“I like the audience not to be aware of the filmmaking. If I’m aware of a camera move, I’m thinking about the camera as opposed to what the characters are going through. Any time I’m aware of the camera, I think ‘I don’t want to use that shot’.”

You have a reputation for moving very quickly on set. How do you manage that?

“Casting it right makes a huge difference; cast the right people and the shooting of the scene falls into place. There’s an immediacy in shooting fast. I think [one of the key things] is planning and preparation and knowing what you want.”


Talk about the trilogy of films which began with Spider (2007), followed by Bear (2011) and now Shark (2021)… all of which follow the mischievous violent comic misadventures of a prank-happy bloke called Jack played by you…?

Spider was way more successful than I ever could imagine. It played at festivals

all around the world. It’s taught in film schools. When I made Bear, I hadn’t seen any sequels to short films. People would ask me about Jack…who is such a fun character.”

You once said that it’s good going into a film with a specific filmmaker challenge. What was it with Shark?

“A lot of the time, the challenges are subconscious. A lot of the time you are just challenging yourself. I guess this time, I wanted to make the world a little bigger.

“The other two are two handers, Shark has this full ensemble. I knew it had to be on the water. After Spider, which was city, I knew I wanted him to be in the bush or forest which was Bear. With this one, I had the setting to start with… and I knew I wanted to call it Shark. And I had never shot on water before… though there was a little bit on a boat in The If Thing (made for the 2005 IF Awards). And this was the first time I had ever used CGI 3D animation sfx.”

You wrote the Jack trilogy with David Michôd. How does that work?

“We talk it through. We bounce ideas back and forth.:

Rose Byrne is great as Jack’s wife, Sofie in Shark.

“Yeah, Jack has finally met his match [Ed. note: Jack’s relationship track record ain’t so hot]. There’s a lot of my wife in that character. When Dave and I were writing it, we talked about different practical jokes our partners have played on us. My wife actually played the same joke Rose plays on Jack at our wedding!”


Mr Inbetween brought you a new audience, universal acclaim and established you firmly as an actor’s director… can you talk a little about the experience?

“It was amazing to do all twenty-six episodes. I got a real sense of validation out of it.

“People might remember I was involved with The Magician (the 2005 featured that introduced Scott Ryan and his character hitman Ray Shoesmith. Edgerton produced it with Michele Bennett.) One of the reasons the show took so long to get made was that I was adamant about casting Scott.”

Scott Ryan won Best New Talent for Mr Inbetween at the 2018 AACTA Awards after the show’s first season and won Best Lead Actor in a TV show for the second season in 2019. Ryan wrote all three seasons and created the series.

“To get received that well and to win awards for Scott… you get a lot of validation for your instincts for casting! One of the joys of the show was working with so many great actors. Some familiar [like Brooke Satchwell, Justine Clarke, Damon Herriman], some not so…and casting directors like Jeremy Sims, Kriv Stenders, Abe Forsythe, David Michôd… and casting non actors. [Since] Scott had never been in anything, I had a sense about people who I had to surround him with who could roll with his style of acting.”

Behind the scenes on Mr Inbetween

A fan highlight for the show of course is Ray’s relationship with his daughter, played by Chika Yasumura [Nash’s stepdaughter].

“The biggest fear I had about directing the show was once we cast Chika, I thought ‘how am I going to do this? She won’t clean her room when I ask her, how am I going to direct her?’ But [in the end] it was probably the reason why I directed every episode. It became the true highlight of doing the show… all the stuff between Ray and Chika’s character is based on our relationship.”

The show got a solid but appreciative audience in the States and great reviews and yet it’s unapologetically Australian. What was your relationship with FX, the show’s US producers?

“FX were amazing. They did give us notes and they always made the show better. They never tried to Americanise it all.”

It’s a very unglamourous Sydney in Mr Inbetween.

“It’s the Sydney I know as opposed to the tourist version.”

Shark screens at the Sydney Film Festival, Mr Inbetween is screening on Foxtel and streaming on Binge.


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