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LAist Interview: The Jacobson Brothers

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LAist recently sent over a few questions for the Jacobson brothers, Shane and Clayton, an Australian filmmaking duo, about their latest film, Kenny. Shane co-wrote and stars in the title role, while his brother co-wrote and directed the film.

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It's in limited release in LA and the OC, and if you're in the mood for something quiet, quirky and heart-warming at the same time (or if you can't get into The Dark Knight ) then check it out.

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Australians seem to have a "quirky" sense of humor. We're thinking Strictly Ballroom, Muriel's Wedding and now Kenny...." How would you describe differences in Australian vs. American comedies?
Clayton: I would say our most popular comedies are often referred to as Aussie Battler stories. The underdog is a well championed character in OZ film. Which may or may not stem from a very recent history of convict white settlement. The struggle for personal dignity and self worth is a strong theme in many OZ films. Easy to understand from a country often referred to as Down under. Virtues like Good will to others, giving the next person in line a fair go and never taking once self too seriously are reoccurring character traits in OZ comedies.

Describe the Jacobson brothers' style for American audiences who might not be familiar with your work...like how did you come to create an entire film around the "plumbing" industry?
Clayton: I supported myself through film school many years ago by cleaning factory restrooms or dunnies as we call them here. I experienced first hand how most people would struggle to hide their repulsion when you arrived on the scene with clean toilet rolls in hand. In fact most people could barely bring themselves to make eye contact with me. Cut to many years later both my brother Shane and I are working in the entertainment industry, Shane in the world of event management and stadium concert lighting, and myself directing music videos and TV commercials. One day Shane walked into my office and began entertaining the staff by impersonating one of the portaloo guys he'd been working along side at a rock concert. "It's only 80% water I dont know what all the fuss is about" the self deprecating humor of these portaloo guys was very funny but behind the laughs was a more alarming reality.

A society cannot function without clean water and good sanitation yet once these services are provided we expect those who maintain them to move in the shadows far from view. Why? - I knew then we had beginnings of an interesting film and a wonderful character study. We mentioned the idea to Glenn Pruesker the owner of Splashdown (the portaloo company in Kenny) and we were handed the keys to his dunny kingdom giving us access to all his clients, crew and equipment and then he capped it all off by being the sole investor.