Blog: 'Tribulations of making films with heart.' By Mairtin de Barra

Heart Shaped

Mairtin De Barra is a North Dublin based writer, director and sometimes producer. His body of work includes music videos, promos, short films and broadcast TV, but now he’s taking on a new venture with ‘Films with Heart’. This is a new innovative international collaboration which he talks about in the first of a series of blogs and a ‘Film Ireland’ Web Exclusive.

Tribulations of making films with heart.
When no budget is just not enough…
By Mairtin de Barra

I need money to make a film. Who wants to give me some? Pretty please?
I’ve made a lot of no budget projects, mainly music videos, the occasional short, while waiting for funding on other projects. I’ve been lucky, I’ve won a few awards, got Filmbase/RTÉ funding for my short film Tart, and all of this has inspired me to leap into the quagmire of getting something else made. Something…gasp…longer!

And herein lies the problem. I have a number of features in development, where they will no doubt stay for a number of years. I think I read somewhere that the average script to screen time for an Irish feature is 5 years and 6 drafts. That’s a long time when you’re burning to make something.

So I investigated other options. The world is open. New social media makes the world a community, so the theory goes… After a lot of investigation I signed up with Marty Shea and Ian Bonner at – a truly exciting global feature film shooting in segments across 16 countries. I was very excited, I wrote my segment, they loved it, and the shoot date was set: the first week in July. Collabfeature is unfunded; it’s testing a theory. Taking award-winning filmmakers from across the globe and developing scripts, shooting on a shoestring and seeing what we get. It’s fresh. It takes the waiting out of the game. It lets me work on honing my skills, both writing and directing.

Then I noticed the first problem. I can’t shoot my segment for no money. It came to life. I began having costume, location, equipment requirements I couldn’t afford. And this time, I don’t want to compromise. So what could I do?

Well, it’s time for another experiment. After wasting time with kickstarter (who only allow people with American bank accounts) I finally found indiegogo – a fundraising site for people like me who have something they want to say and no money to say it with! It’s a straightforward process, they take paypal, people can pay by credit card too. It has a nice design. You register, answer their questions, upload images. They host your site and give you the tools to market it via twitter, facebook, widgets. It’s remarkable. I got excited as I designed the page. Easy. Urm… then I checked out the other irish films on the site; of the five I found, I think they managed to raise $80 between them. It’s not promising.


I don’t think they did it right. There seemed to be very little interaction – no updates, no video, no stills, no casting news et cetera. I’m aiming to keep the information flowing, I hope to capture people’s imagination. So I’m going to give it a try. I want people to care about my film, and even if they can’t donate, if they can spread the word and get it profile it can only help. I need to raise what is, by film standards, a very small amount. €2000. It will make all the difference though. The major obstacle I can see is getting my message to the people who might help – who, to be fair, are probably not my filmmaking peers. We’re all scraping together budgets. So how do I hit the people who might find it novel and interesting? I’ll let you know how I get on in the next instalment.

I have no idea where this will go, if anywhere.


My segment is called Heart Shaped –

It’s the story of two young brothers whose parents are in the midst of a break-up. They’re sure they can fix their parents’ relationship, and do their utmost to bring them happiness. It’s a bittersweet story of parcels, cake and brotherly love.

I’ve taken a risk with it – I’ve cast my own two sons in the film, as I know they have the talent to make it heart-warming, and, in theory, if anyone can get it out of them it’s me. There’s a lot of theories floating about…

If anyone would like to donate please go to
There are a number of different options available, from DVD to walk on to producer credit to a business sponsorship.


One Reply to “Blog: 'Tribulations of making films with heart.' By Mairtin de Barra”

  1. Great sounding project,love the collaborative element. It’s nice to see an Irish filmmaker making (very public) steps into the alternative funding models now available.

    Don’t dismiss sites like indiegogo, the onus is on the film maker to actively promote the project, it’s not up to the platform to engage with the audience, the funders, the champions of your project.

    Why let your projects in development lie dormant? No one will tell you you haven’t sat on them long enough to move forward with them.
    With film makers like Ted Hope and Jon Reiss writing invaluable free information (and productions to back it up) that promotes collaboration on many levels. I’m glad you have found @fnafilms on Twitter, she will be an inspiration for you as she is talking an alternative route to getting her film made. And she’s dead cool too 😉

    I look forward to seeing how your project/s develop. Having been in the UK the last 3 years, I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss the state of Irish indie film and alternative modes of production with Irish filmmakers before I move back.

    Tweet me @indigochameleon

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