Son Of A Gun, a bold new Australian heist thriller, promises gun fights, plot twists and authenticity.
19-year-old JR (Brenton Thwaites) finds himself in a Western Australian jail after committing a minor crime, and becomes the unlikely ally of notorious criminal Brendan Lynch, played by Ewan McGregor. The two quickly develop a father-son relationship as they get caught up in a daring high stakes heist, as Lynch and his gang attempt to rob a Kalgoorlie mine of its gold.
At an advance screening for the film at Bondi Junction Westfield, director and writer Julius Avery, producer Timothy White and Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites spoke with the audience about their experiences making the film together.
Speaking on how he developed the idea for the film, Avery said it had all come from his experiences while growing up.
“As a kid I fell into a bit of a bad crowd and I had a gentleman come into my life who was very much like the character the Ewan McGregor plays.
“He was this really charismatic bad guy and I lost my father when I was about 6 so I was always looking for father figures. He took me under his wing.”
When Thwaites was asked how he brought his character to life and where he found the lost and scared character of JR within himself, he admitted to it being difficult, as he was the “complete opposite of JR”.
“I actually got a lot of my material from friends of mine… Ivan. He had a better understanding of jail life, he’d just got out.
“He was very specific with little things like hand gestures and vocal things. He brought to our attention how simple it is to start something knurly in prison. How easy it can be to fall into a trap.”
To help the actors get into character and to create an atmosphere on set, the prison scenes were filmed in several prisons throughout Western Australia. Avery said the experience was very confronting and definitely helped everyone on set to realise the magnitude of JR’s situation in the film.
“Even though we kept away from the general population, they were there and they were shouting at us as we walked through the gate… the first time that Brenton went in was the day we shot and he gets broken down like they do in real life, stripped searched and the whole thing and I can’t imagine what that must have been like.”
These extra details and steps are what make this film so spectacular. As an audience member you feel uncomfortable, and the film is so immersive it seems to take you from your seat in the cinema and throw you into a jail where you’re forced to deal with the reality of threats against your personal safety.
Avery was determined not to use sets. He spoke of Thwaites’ commitment to his technique in surviving in the Kalgoorlie desert saying,“I remember one of our first shots was in the back of a paddy wagon and I said ‘Let’s turn the air conditioning off’ and it was 40 degrees outside and then you [Thwaites] stepped in and said ‘yeah let’s turn the air conditioning off’ and I was like, I like this kid.”
Thwaites, who had spent the last two years filming in England and America for blockbuster films Maleficent, Oculus and The Giver, admitted to preferring location filming to film sets.
“It’s always nice to make films like this where the crews are a little smaller and you’re out on location. For some reason locations for me are a lot easier to act. In studios you’re always aware it’s a studio, you’ll be staring at a green box and there’s an imaginary dude flying past you.”
Thwaites definitely made a big change coming back to his Australian roots to work with an Australian crew on location in Western Australia. Avery boasts that not a single set was used throughout filming, and the authenticity of the locations and the atmosphere it creates really shines through, building this film up to be one of the Australia’s newest masterpieces. Son Of A Gun opened in cinemas yesterday. – Mary Jordan
Top photo from Son Of A Gun’s Official Facebook page.