Interview : Henry Jacobson on Bloodline

“A serial killer has a baby, and hilarity ensues” – that’s how writer/director Henry Jacobson pitched his terrific new horror jaunt, “Bloodline”. But you know what? Jacobson and co-writer Avra Fox-Lerner sold themselves short on that pitch, for the film – starring Seann William Scott – is much more profound and undeniably more captivating than the nine words would attest.

What an incredible movie –  is this the one that’s going to put Seann William Scott back on top, you think?

Thank you so much! I think Seann gives an incredible performance and I’m sure everyone who sees it will agree. As Evan, he shows his versatility as an actor, and I do think both audiences and industry will take notice.

What was it about Seann that made you believe he could play this part? An earlier performance, maybe?

I think comedy is often harder to pull off than dramatic roles. And when I was working on the script, I loved knowing that Seann would play the role, because I knew audiences would bring assumptions about him based on his persona from his earlier comedic roles. It was an opportunity to subvert those expectations and take the audience somewhere unexpected. And there are a number of underappreciated roles he’s played – one of my favorites being in Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales  – one of the most underrated films of all time. I’m also a very big fan of Dude Where’s My Car and Goon.


What kind of direction did you give him? Any specific notes on how to play this guy?

Seann and I talked a lot as I was working on the script with Avra. He read every draft, we talked about the research I’d been doing on psychopaths – he read a lot of what I was reading and did tons of research on his own. So when he got to set, he already had a very fleshed out character and backstory. I was very lucky to have him, because he was so professional and on low budget projects like this one, you don’t get a lot of takes, because your production time is so short. Most of the on set direction took the form of bouncing ideas off each other, and making tweaks and suggestions to his performance. It was very collaborative.

Did you have to do much research into human ferocity and those afflicted with violent tendencies?

Yes, as I mentioned before Avra and I did a lot of research into the science of psychopathy. I also read a lot about specific serial killers to find some of those universal traits and methodology that we could apply to the movie. Of course, we took plenty of liberties.

Now, at any time, because there’s a very popular Netflix series of the same name out there, did you consider going with another title?

We did. We had lots of discussions about it, but ultimately Bloodline felt like the best fit and Blumhouse backed us up on that choice.

How did you find working on a feature film, as opposed to shorts and documentaries? Was it a much more challenging experience?

It was certainly different, but I wouldn’t say more challenging. I have produced all kinds of projects, including big budget commercial campaigns, which operate on an even bigger scale (we’ve had bigger budgets for 30 second commercial spots than we had on the entire movie). This was a lot more fun, in part because as a director the considerations are more creative than logistical (though anyone who says directing is purely creative and that you don’t have to be practical is full of shit – it’s a balance). I also had incredible support from Blumhouse – which is a very different relationship than you might have with a client or agency on the commercial side. I think the biggest difference, and learning curve, for me was post.

Now that you’ve whet your – and ours !- appetite on Bloodline, what’s next?

Well, Avra and I just finished a new screenplay based on a short story my company optioned. It’s actually another very dark family story. Beyond that, my producing partner, Emma Tammi, and I have a number of projects under our Mind Hive banner – both documentary and narrative, both features and TV. So stay tuned!

BLOODLINE is now available on demand and digital.

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