Is it possible to survive the apocalypse while your own world is collapsing around you?
Austin-made indie Jack’s Apocalypse centers around alcohol and chemical-dependent Jack Coleman (David Maldonado) as he battles with this question. During the apocalypse, his brother Shane (Nick Stevenson of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black) tasks him with protecting his wife and daughter despite the fact that Jack’s life is already crumbling around him. However, it’s through this challenge that he ultimately finds redemption.
We spoke to director and writer Will James Moore and actor Nick Stevenson at Austin Film Festival about all things apocalypse, as well as some of their favorite moments of the film.
Tell me: why make a film about the apocalypse?
Will James Moore: Why not? (Laughs) I had had another idea for a film I’d been working on for about two years, and our first budget came in at about $5 million, and I realized that I was not going to be able to raise that amount of money, and I found out that my wife was pregnant with our second child. So, I had my own kind of apocalypse. I was thinking about family – this film is really more about family than anything else – and I was sulking because I was thinking about this other film that I was not going to get to make. I was out watching this band play, and it was sort of peaceful and chaotic and I thought about this character that found peace in chaos, and so that’s where this idea originated from.
What do you think the apocalypse will be like?
Moore: We actually did a lot of research on this. One thing that kept popping up was how easy it is for someone to knock out electricity worldwide. And what happens at that point? What do you do? So, I think it’s going to be a bunch of people without lights, and without water, trying to cope.
What was your favorite scene to write?
Moore: Well, towards the end there’s a scene where Jack is talking to one of the characters, Roosevelt. Roosevelt is telling him about his family and how he’s struggled with feeling at war with himself because he’s never felt like he’s had a tribe or family and he finally feels that way with Jack. Jack realizes that that’s him, and it’s kind of a mirror moment, and I think that was the best part of the writing process.
What do you hope audiences will get out of this film?
Moore: I hope they take away that family has the ability to save. Our bond with other people, not just blood relatives, but also the people that we choose to keep close to us, has the ability to keep us civilized and to keep us sane.
Tell me about your work on the film and about your character.
Nick Stevenson: Well, I know that I’m in the film, so that’s a good thing. (Laughs) I know that it’s a character outside of me, but there are a lot of similarities. I play a guy that’s pretty much come back from the Army, who’s very well in-tune with his emotions and America. He comes back to inform his brother that the water is contaminated and that he needs to get himself and his family out of town for the apocalypse. The film is also about just being with your family and having your family there to pick you up, and not forgetting that people are out there to help you out. If the help is there, take them up on it.
How do you think you would react if you were in your character’s situation?
Stevenson: I would pack up all the nice craft beer in the world, get a surfboard, bring my wife and my kids and some SPF, maybe a little bit of water, sushi, and go find ourselves a nice beach and start over again.
When you look back on making this film, what is your favorite memory?
Stevenson: Meeting the cast and crew and coming back to Austin. We moved here now, and I love it. It’s just wonderful. The crew, Will Moore, were all just fantastic. Dave Maldonado, who’s the lead actor, is fantastic. He’s just a real nice, genuine guy and very easy to act with – almost like a brother.
Can you tell me about your next project, The Big Spoon?
Stevenson: The Big Spoon is an unromantic comedy, which is mostly all female-made. There are a lot of females in it and it’s shot here in Austin. Mallory Culbert, she wrote it, and Carlyn Hudson is the director, and she is just fantastic. She’s a very nice woman, very easy to talk to and I had a blast. I actually got to be an Australian again – right up my alley. He’s a fun character, bit of a creep, as most Australians tend to be after a few beers. (Laughs)