Thursday, February 16, 2012

Australian film famous for characters, not effects

By Mel Natwick, A&E Editor

While U.S. films focus on explosions and special effects, one Australian film shows that a masterpiece can be made with just a good idea.

"Kenny" is a mockumentary starring Shane Jacobson as the beloved Kenny Smyth, a man who deals with and delivers portable toilets for a company called Splashdown. Director Clayton Jacobson directed, shot and produced the entire film in Melbourne, Australia and Nashville, Tenn.

This mockumentary follows Kenny and his crew handling the challenges that come with portable toilets, including a woman dropping her ring in the toilet and dealing with the toilets at the Melbourne Cup, one of Australia’s major horse races. All the while, Kenny struggles with his father’s disappointment and with making time for his son.

Shane Jacobson won a well-deserved Best Lead Actor for "Kenny" at the 2006 Australian Film Institute Awards, beating out Heath Ledger and Gabriel Byrne according to Ioncinema.

The storyline of poo and portable toilets might not seem appealing at first, but Jacobson creates a warm, genuine and loving character whom audience members will love immediately.

At the beginning of the film, Kenny compares his job to a fireman’s. He says children will "jump on the back of the truck and follow you to a fire," but kids will not do it in Kenny’s line of work. "So, I don’t do it to impress people – it’s a job, it’s my trade, and I actually think I’m pretty good at it." This glimpse of Kenny inspires compassion and appreciation for the character and continues to stand out throughout the film.

What’s interesting about Shane Jacobson is that he and director Clayton Jacobson are brothers. In fact, most members of the cast are related to each other.

Clayton Jacobson shot the entire movie by following Shane Jacobson around the filming locations. Shane Jacobson talked into the camera as though he was having a conversation with you. This style infused realism into the piece, making Kenny’s character believable.

The film had a budget of only $500,000, according to The Australian. It is not filled with special effects or glamour, but is filled with a character whom audience members will fall in love with. Kenny has humor, romance and appreciation. The character himself makes this film a must-see.

"Kenny is a hero [who] shows audiences that doing a hard job well, with justifiable pride, deserves respect – regardless what the job entails," said a reviewer on the Internet Movie Database website.

Australian audiences agreed with Jacobson’s performance; Kenny stayed in the cinemas for six months, making the Top 25 Australian Box Office hits of all time according to