PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 25: Director Jacob Aaron Estes poses for a portrait during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival at The Samsung Galaxy Tab Lift on January 25, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival) *** Local Caption *** Jacob Aaron Estes
When he moved from Lincoln Park to Lala Land, “The Details” director Jacob Estes found himself in a drama featuring some very determined raccoons.
“I planted fresh sod in my backyard and then noticed there were these raccoons visiting every single night, flipping over the sod and looking for grubs and worms,” says the writer-director, who made 2004’s critically acclaimed “Mean Creek.”
Estes used his Chicago wildlife-fighting skills on them. “I went out there and threw a shoe at them. The raccoons just stared me down,” he says. “The next night, I put a big fish net over my lawn with a pile of fried chicken on it.”
The net was rigged to a pulley. “It was my gardener’s idea. He said it was a proven trick,” says Estes. “The raccoons moved the chicken to my patio, ripped apart the grass and then ran away. The next night they came back to destroy the lawn with a vengeance.”
Frustrated beyond belief, he began to write about his plight and it became the basis for his new dark comedy. “I thought the raccoons would be a funny obsession for a main character. All the tensions stem from there.”
A career in Hollywood wasn’t exactly the plan for the Francis W. Parker grad. “My mother is a painter, so I was always encouraged and interested in art,” he says. “But still in high school, I thought I’d become a lawyer.”
In his spare time, he was always taking photographs and writing short stories. “It didn’t occur to me that being an artist was a viable future.” He began writing plays, which led to screenplays and then “Mean Creek.”
“We made that film totally independently,” he says. “Then we crossed our fingers.”
Next: a topical movie about a man about to lose his home due to a foreclosure who ends up involved in corporate espionage.
“He has to decide how badly he wants to get out of debt but gets involved with the wrong people,” he says.
It’s vermin of a different kind.