Goodman, Lawson confront taboos in “The Nest”

Goodman and Lawson's "The Nest"

Goodman and Lawson’s “The Nest”

Jennifer A. Goodman (also known as Jennifer Karum) wrote and co-directed with Jessica Hebda Lawson a short film called The Nest.

This 20-minute short is intended to be a concept film that Goodman and Lawson both hope to turn into a feature. The film is Goodman’s next big project following the pilot of Conrad.

Also Read: Four “Conrad” crime drama episodes comprise pilot

Production of The Nest took place in Chicago and Plainfield, IL, and shooting wrapped up on March 27. The Nest is currently in the editing phase of post-production.

The film follows Rachel (played by Gina M. Harrison) as she experiences terrifying premonitions that provide insight into the fate of her loved ones. However, Rachel’s family disregards her visions as a result of mental illness, and the narrative eventually forces audiences to choose sides in this tense and provocative short.

Reel Chicago spoke with co-directors Goodman and Lawson about the production process and themes of The Nest.

Both praise the professionalism and skill of their cast and crew and emphasize that there was something special about having women in the lead acting and producing roles.

“It is really empowering to work with a female lead, female co-director, and a female 1st AD (assistant director)” says Goodman.

According to Goodman, “Giving women the opportunity to be seen, to be heard” provides them the opportunity to develop their craft. “From where I started, to where I am now, my acting has tremendously grown. I think it is about giving people the opportunity to grow.”

When speaking of co-directing with Goodman, Lawson reflects, “We complimented each other very well with our different areas of experience.”

Jennifer Karum on the set of "The Nest"
Jennifer Karum on the set of “The Nest”

Co-directing allowed Goodman to focus on the actors and story and, in return, gave Lawson the ability to concentrate on the technical aspects of filming.

Lawson names Stanley Kubrick as her primary influence, and it is exciting to imagine how the methods and techniques of A Clockwork Orange and The Shining may creep into what she labels a “psychological thriller.”

However, while Kubrick’s films emphasize the horror and depravity of their characters, one of the primary goals of The Nest is to empathize with those suffering with mental illness and give value to their perspective. Goodman states that the film touches “upon the idea that mental illness is a taboo, and it shouldn’t be.”

"The Nest" on location
“The Nest” on location

Numerous scenes are from Rachel’s point of view, and Goodman explains that this “makes you question mental illness… someone’s brain really might see something.”

Goodman attributes her empathy for those facing mental illness to some of her own life experiences. As a child, she was diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

“I have been through a lot of trials and tribulations to get to where I am (and) have surpassed a lot of expectations,” says Goodman.

It is clear that Goodman is driven by a mighty work ethic, and she admits that this is reflected in the characters she creates that are resilient and persistent in the face of powerful forces.

This trait matches the lead role of Katy that Goodman wrote and created for Conrad, and it matches the lead of Rachel in The Nest.

When it comes to making films, Goodman declares, “It doesn’t matter where you come from and who you are. It matters, you know, if you can bring it to the table and really show that you have the ability.”

Goodman, Lawson, and the cast/crew are bringing it with The Nest.

Their short is expected to premiere in late June 2018

For more information about The Nest, click here.

Contact Joey Filer at or follow him on Twitter @FilerJoey.