Matt Nable on Taking the Leap Into Directing With Transfusion

dailyMatt Nable, best known to genre fans for roles in Riddick and as Ra's al Ghul in the Arrowverse, is kind of a jack-of-all trades. The former Rugby League footballer is an actor, but also a writer, director, and author of novels. His l latest film, Transfusion, is an action-infused drama in which he stars opposite Sam Worthington, who plays a man desperate to make some money to improve the lives of himself and his son in the years following his wife's death. Nable plays Johnny, who was in the armed forces with Worthington's Ryan, and who wants to help.

Of course, he's also a local crimelord, so his help establishes the stakes and threat of the film. The story takes place over the course of decades for all of the characters, and as Johnny becomes more twisted and dangerous, Nable's appearance mirrors it, with facial disfigurement and a milky eye coming in late in the film to establish that he has not had an easy go of his life of crime.

"The milky eye I had in I would take out," Nable said of directing while the facial prosthetic was on. "So I got really, really good at taking that out and putting it in pretty quickly. And I think I only had 14 days on the film as an actor. I think we had nearly 30 days to film, so most of the time I was just strictly behind the camera, so it wasn't too bad. And I'd done a lot of that stuff beforehand, so you get comfortable with it, and you understand what the process is."

The film represents Nable's directing debut, but he previously wrote the films The Final Winter and Outlaws, as well as an episode of the TV series Last King of the Cross. Those four credits, though, span 16 years. 

"Well, I write novels in between," Nable said. "They take a bit of time. I've written four books, so in between my credit is a writer, there's been four novels that have come out, and there'll be another one out next year. If I'm not writing a screenplay or an iteration off-screen work, then I'm writing a book, a novel. Acting takes up a lot of time because you get yourself in a situation where you look at financially, 'Okay, what do I need to do to take the time off to write?' And I write on spec. So I'm not a screenwriter in the sense that someone's coming to me to write for someone else. I'll only write things for myself. So that happens, you only get paid when it goes into production. So in between that, you're working, juggling a few balls to be honest, so that you get the opportunity to do that."

The film opens on a sequence that sets the tone for the whole thing: Ryan and his young son Billy (Gilbert Bradman) are out hunting, and given two different opportunities in two different situations, the boy can't bring himself to pull the trigger. Rather than being a point of conflict, as it often is in movies that feature fathers and sons -- especially ones where guns are involved -- Ryan tells Billy that he respects the bravery it took to say no, knowing that it might disappoint his father. That one scene sets up a lot about the two characters and the relationship that the whole movie rides on.

"There are many ways to be brave, and this kid's not like his father," Nable explained. "He knows that, and he's worried about it. And his father in a really articulate way, but a very gentle way, tells him that what you did was way braver than what I asked you to do, because you don't want to disappoint me. Bravery and courage is so often equated to something that's physical or combat-related, and it's not the truth. So having that bond and that love was really, really important because the point that they get at is they're so separated and they're so disengaged, but at the heart of it, they've banked all this wonderful experience and time together when they were younger."

You can get Transfusion now on digital video on demand platforms.