I am inspired by the art of storytelling and interested in the way all forms of artistic expression are used in the telling of a story. From music, art, theatre and film, art exists as the voice of its creator yet finds a broad range of meaning in the minds and hearts of the audience it discovers.
“I always drift but remain tied to the dock.” I believe this approach to life works well for storytelling especially film. Characters that are lost, alone, damaged or simply just confused are always the most interesting to watch. We either envy them, desire to help them, or in some cases…both.
The brothers in MY BROTHER JACK are completely lost and desperate to be found. The scars of their childhood have put them on the fringe of society and they will be probably remain there long after we “fade to black.”
On the surface the film plays out as a psychological thriller (or so they tell me) but at its core, the film works as an exercise in isolation and/or the need to isolate oneself, in one way or another. The idea of being broken or damaged and the direct or indirect ways we choose to go about our lives, once the damage has set in, is always in question.
During the development of the script, I started looking at different ways in which we isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. The questions as to how and why we do this for me, was the creative part. For the character of JACK, skillfully and honestly played by Malcolm Madera, I researched the world of found object art (the object-art used in the film was created by the incredibly gifted sculptor, Silas Finch) I thought that the idea of finding random pieces of every day items and transforming them into creative art pieces, would work well cinematically and also add to the “who dun it” mystery-thriller storyline.
For the character of the younger brother VINCENT, played by actor Jon Thorndike (Jon has received rave reviews by critics and fans alike. “a must see” “breakout performance”) I wanted to avoid the more stereotypical journey of a damaged soul such as, drugs, alcohol or crime and create a world that internally haunts him. My writing partner (Matthew Vlahakis) and I researched the world of “sleep paralysis” a condition that blurs the line between real and unreal. This condition is often set off by some form of childhood trauma and once again works well cinematically.
Jon Thorndike in MY BROTHER JACK
Here is a brief synopsis of the film: As young boys, celebrated found object sculptor JACK and his brother VINCENT witnessed the murder of their parents in cold blood. Twenty years later, the man convicted of the crime is released from prison and is found brutally stabbed to death shortly after his release. Who killed the killer? All signs point to Vincent who battles the demons of mental illness and sleep paralysis. To protect his brother, Jack is forced to confront his own demons and uncover the painful truth of what really happened on the night of his parents’ murder.
Jon Thorndike of MY BROTHER JACK
MY BROTHER JACK is currently screening in film festivals around the world. It will screen at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival on Friday, June 28th, 2013 at 9:30 P.M.
Award-Winning Director of both Stage and Film, Stephen Dest has worked at a number of notable theaters, including: Long Wharf, Yale Rep, Seattle Rep, TheaterWorks, Goodspeed Opera House, Coconut Grove Playhouse, The Kennedy Center, BTC, Vital Theater, MTC, PaperMill Playhouse and The Nederlander. His gift for storytelling has been seen in a variety of productions; Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Nights Dream, The Tempest, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank, Noises Off, The Laramie Project, Fools, Loot, Meet Rachel Barracuda, A Raisin in the Sun, The Wiz, Seussical, My Fair Lady, Into the Woods, Guys & Dolls, Grease, Peter Pan, Fiddler on the Roof, Bye Bye Birdie, Once on this Island, Fame, Legally Blonde, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and many others. Along with his stage work, Stephen has also directed a number of noteworthy film projects. He is the writer/director of the award winning film BLIND (Cannes Film Festival – 2008), and most recently MY BROTHER JACK. Â Stephen is the recipient of the “Artist of the Year” (2012-Filmmaker) awarded by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. He is currently working on his next narrative feature GRACE (working title). For more information, please visit Stephendest.com.