Everyday is a battle,’ says director Graham Cantwell. He is midway through shooting his first feature, Anton, with very little money and a great deal of determination. Aidan Beatty visited the set, and tried to delay proceedings as little as possible.
An odd sight greeted those who happened to be making their way through Smithfield on a recent cold and wet January morning: a small, nondescript pub had been converted into a mid-1970s Parisian café-bar. This transformation took place to aid the production of Graham Cantwell’s debut feature, Anton. Ostensibly the film is the story of a merchant sailor’s return to an Ireland caught up in the midst of the Troubles, though, for scriptwriter and lead actor Anthony Fox, this film is definitely ‘not just another IRA movie – it’s a family story, a rock-and-roll love story.’
Graham Cantwell is well known in the Irish film industry due to the positive reception his short films, such as A Dublin Story, have received. Making a complete nuisance of myself on this frantically busy set, I shangai Graham and his producer Patrick Clarke for an interview, taking them away from obviously more important work. I begin by asking them about a seemingly incongruous aspect of this production: it’s a low-budget period drama; surely that’s a contradiction in terms… Graham doesn’t quite agree: ‘It is a kind of a contradiction, but basically what we’re doing is getting a bunch of incredibly talented people who are very dedicated, and pulling out all the stops. Most of the time it really is a case of necessity being the mother of invention. They have to be very clever to be able to do what they do.’ Patrick goes further by informing me ‘Most people would define low-budget by the amount of money they have to shoot a film. That’s true in most cases, but here we’re shooting a Hollywood-type film with no money because people have been working for a reduced rate of pay. We’ve being getting a lot of help with locations, even just staying in people’s houses in Cavan. So we’ve been able to minimize costs. A lot of people aren’t getting paid anything because they’ve taken points at the end of the film, so if the film does well they’ll get paid. Everybody in the film is taking a risk.’
The full article is printed in Film Ireland 115.