Exclusive Interview: Director Clayton Jacobson talks 8K Radius, the film industry and more!

With its launch on Thursday (23 July), the 8K Radius Film Series will be premiering at Lido Cinemas, presented by director Clayton Jacobson and co-presented by the City of Booroondara. The series entails mini-documentaries that showcase the lives of everyday people and takes a look at their lives in the Lido community. Jacobson took the time to answer some questions on 8K Radius, working with cinematographer, Peter Falk and the film industry…

How did the idea of the mini-documentaries come about for 8K Radius?

Eddie Tamir approached me to help devise some value-add for his customers at the Classic Cinema in Elsternwick. We talked about a number of ideas – film festivals, community events, etc – but then I suggested we put a spotlight on interesting, everyday folk living or working within an eight kilometre radius of the cinema. Eddie loved the idea and the series was born. The original 8K Radius Classic Cinema series did very well. The locals responded to the free short film add-on to their feature with delight and surprise and, for the subjects themselves – well, they became movie stars for a week or two. As a filmmaker I loved it, because the 8K short films played in Eddie’s Cinemas longer than most Aussie features do. The project garnered such wonderful good will and spirit from all and sundry that saw the films.

The concept is inspiring and there are different people that are part of the storytelling in the mini-documentaries. What did you learn when it came to portraying the lives of different people within the community of Hawthorn?

Well as a filmmaker my number one interest is storytelling and finding a window to the human condition. What becomes very clear when you take the time to look into individuals lives is just how rich everyone’s life experiences are – full of great highs and lows and above all, the realisation that the majority of people are decent, caring, hardworking people trying to find their place in the soup of life. They are all gloriously fascinating in their own way. Truth be known if I could be paid to do this for a living it’s all I’d do – it’s such a privilege being able to meet and highlight their worlds.

Jaya Bollywood dancer

How was working with ACS cinematographer Peter Falk on this project? Do you think the way the mini-documentaries were filmed put forward a sense of inspirational take to the everyday lives of the people in Hawthorn?

Peter shot the first series with me, so it was a given that I wanted him on the second. This time it was particularly special because we spent much of our time shooting around Hawthorn. Peter and I went to Swinburne film school in Hawthorn during the 80s. He has always had a beautiful cinematic sensibility and over the years we have often come together on various projects. It’s a wonderful project for a cinematographer because one is given huge room to play. We were searching for beautiful imagery that gives focus to the subjects’ everyday lives and as such it was important to make sure the camera’s gaze was intimate and up close. So often it was about giving Peter the freedom to get right in tight with the subject in order to seek out those moments when the camera, subject and surrounding mesh as one. We filmed everything at fifty frames per second giving every moment a gentle sense of grace and fluidity.

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The premiere is on Tuesday 23rd July which is very exciting and it will be co-presented by the City of Booroonda. How do you feel knowing that you’ll be presenting your work to the community of Hawthorn?

I’m thrilled on a number of levels – you always have your audience in mind when constructing a film so the final moment of bringing the film and audience together is always a mixed bag of delight and terror. Secondly, I just love Eddie’s take on the business and what he creates for his patrons. He is a wonderful storyteller and filmmaker in his own right, and is a terrific collaborator. The Lido Cinemas are wonderful – built with love and deep respect for the building’s history. Eddie and I have walked around the cinema many times during its construction so I’m excited to see the place up and running and showcasing our joint efforts. It’s a very rare thing to have an exhibitor and filmmaker come together the way we have and yet it feels like the perfect marriage. And lastly, it’s thrilling to see the subjects of these films get showered with the kinds of attention and adoration that only celebrities usually experience. It’s a wonderful night out for all concerned.

What would you say has been the biggest learning curve for you as a director for 8K Radius? 

Just the confirmation that we each are the stars of our own journey and that there is great dignity in how many choose to live their lives; their ethics, their perceptions of the world they inhabit. It’s all very humbling when put under a microscope. The biggest challenge for me is always how to distill each person’s story into such a small time frame – you can only say so much in a five to six-minute film.

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As your journey as a director progresses, how has working in the film industry shaped you as a person? 

That’s a hard question because filmmaking has been a huge part of my life for over forty years now – it is my life. I once heard someone say “a normal person will go to a funeral and comment on how sad the proceedings are, whereas a filmmaker will say ‘You know, I think I can use this moment someday in a film’.” It’s very true – as a filmmaker, you spend much of your life looking at the world as though you are only a spectator. The last ten years have been my happiest as a filmmaker because I think I’ve found that balance of how to participate as well as comment on the world before me.

Has filmmaking shaped me as a person? Possibly not, but what it has done is helped me to understand how I see the world and, in particular, what it is about the human experience that I’m drawn to. And for me it’s the commonalities of experience rather than the differences. It’s our innate desire to be validated and to connect with those around us; our need to not feel alone in such a busy complex existence.

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What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to get into the film industry?

It’s the doing, not the talking about filmmaking, that makes the difference. It’s never been easier to make films – finding an audience is getting harder but there is a huge shift taking place with VOD formats and cinemas like Eddie’s taking a greater interest in local talent. It’s a great time to be a filmmaker. But you need to live and breathe storytelling to succeed. Having talent helps, but being persistent and tenacious is everything in this business.

For more info on Lido Cinemas and the 8K Radius Film Series, check out their official website HERE