Mr. Movie

Interview: 'The Square' director Edgerton

Australian stuntman/turned director Nash Edgerton has crafted an interesting thriller titled The Square.

It opens Friday, May 14 at Carmike Cinemas in the Tri-Cities.

I spent a few minutes on the phone with Edgerton as he promotes his movie.

Gary Wolcott: You released this in 2008. Even with the good buzz, it took a long time to get here.

Nash Edgerton: We’ve shown it at film festivals, and we’ve done quite well at those. They helped us to get the financing to keep going. Critically, its been great. It’s tough competing with a bunch of films with famous people in them from filmmakers you’ve heard of before and studios with backing. We’re pretty much relying on critical response and word of mouth. One reviewer complained that the movie is full of pot holes.

GW: It is full of pot holes. Lots of them. But they fit. You don’t tell us everything about the characters and their circumstances. We have to fill in the blanks.

NE: Life doesn’t fill in the blanks.

GW: You’re right. How much fun is it to create characters like these? Even the people you’re supposed to like aren’t easy to like.

NE: You don’t necessarily have to have likable characters in a movie. You just need characters that people like to watch.

GW: You seem like a fairly upbeat, positive guy, and yet you made a very dark movie and an even darker short film that precedes the movie. It is a really heavy movie with really heavy people involved in some really heavy, self-caused problems. How do you think that way?

NE: (Laughs) It has a sense of irony about it. I think of Ray [the main character] as a really bad chess player. He only makes one move at a time. He doesn’t think ahead.

GW: Who inspired you?

NE: I really loved Jaws. I love Hitchcock films. I try to recreate how a certain film makes me feel. I like it when I go to the cinema and get so involved in a film that I can’t think of anything else. I like to feel the tension. I grew up loving American films. My brother and I set out to make a movie that would work just as well in America as it does in Australia.

GW: The Square does that. I like it as much for what I don’t know, don’t see and don’t hear as what I do see, hear and know. In most films, that is a detriment. Here, it is what helps you stick with the movie.

NE: As I said earlier, it’s deliberate. When I go to the cinema, I like it when a filmmaker treats me with some form of intelligence and doesn’t beat me over the head with everything.

GW: That seems to be most U.S. films. Americans have to know every detail.

NE: Yeah, I want to think about a movie the rest of the day. And the day after that. And the day after that. The characters in my movie have trouble because they aren’t true to themselves. Only the arsonist is true to himself and behaves the way he’s supposed to behave.

GW: Are you an observer of people?

NE: Yeah. I think sometimes people take the easy way out. They lie or cover things up without thinking how much worse it makes things.

GW: We’ve been talking a lot about the in depth details of your movie. Most of that conversation will have to be left out of the interview because it’ll spoil the movie. But my readers do need to know that I liked your movie at the time the studio screened it and after talking about it for the last 20 minutes I like it even more. This is a really heavy movie. Did you have any fun making it?

NE: Yeah. I got to work with my brother and my best friend. We had fun making the movie. Trying to make it feel tense and fitting all the pieces together is tricky and challenging. And fun.

Gary Wolcott: Your film kicks off with an exceptional short [The Spider]. All during the short, I sat on the edge of my seat, nearly chewing my nails. Yet nothing was happening. But the whole time I knew something was going to happen.

Nash Edgerton: You try to set those things up so the audience sees things the way the characters see things.

GW: The guy from the short turns up later in The Square. Why?

NE: I did it for myself. I didn’t think anyone would notice.

GW: I did. It’s the only thing about The Square that made me laugh.