Film Ireland caught up with Richard Bolger, one of the producers of How to Be Happy, which has its world premiere on Sunday at the 25th Galway Film Fleadh.
The comedy feature film How to Be Happy stars Brian Gleeson as Cormac, a marriage guidance counsellor who starts sleeping with his clients, and Gemma-Leah Devereux as Flor, a private detective hired to investigate his antics. The film is set to premiere at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh on Sunday, 14th July. Due to demand a second screening has been organised. Both screenings are now sold-out.
Written by award winning writer/director, Conor Horgan (One Hundred Mornings), How to Be Happy is directed by Michael Rob Costine, Mark Gaster and Brian O’Neill. The development of the script was a collaborative effort between Conor and the students of the Filmbase/Staffordshire University MSc Digital Feature Film Production Course, which prepares filmmakers for the reality of writing, developing, pitching, producing, shooting, editing, posting and distributing feature films in digital formats.
Richard Bolger, one of the producers of the film, relished the experience of working on his first feature film. Cutting his teeth as a producer on the short film Death Can Wait, the course provided him with a great opportunity to step up to the world of features, embracing the challenges such a venture brings with it. “For me as a producer, moving from shorts to features means more complications, such as casting – you need people for longer; you need to get contracts sorted; you need locations and equipment for longer; so there’s all these obstacles. We were doing our film at the lower end of the budget and that makes things harder. I love it though. I like all the phone calls, the paperwork and the stress – I get an energy of that!”
Reflecting on the challenges he faced producing his first feature Richard points out that “whereas a short film is like a sprint; a feature is very much a marathon. For most people in the class it was their first feature film and it’s trying to get across to everyone that every day is really, really important. When you can only shoot for 17 days everyone’s got to be giving it 110 per cent every day. And that’s hard when you’re working long hours, 6 days a week. It’s trying to keep everyone’s energy up. That’s tough; but the guys were fantastic – and I was lucky in that sense.”
Richard stresses how important teamwork is when coping with the complexities of putting a feature film together. “The dream is that everything runs like a Swiss clock – but that’s never gonna happen. And it’s like putting out fires to keep things running as smoothly as they can. But with everyone rowing in the same direction, everyone with the same vision, everyone with the same drive, it’s a lot easier to deal with obstacles as they present themselves and get the job done.”
The film benefits from some great casting and as well as having Gleeson on board also features the likes of Carrie Crowley, Gemma-Leah Devereux (below), Brian Fortune and Rebekah Wainwright.
“We had 3 directors working on the film [Mark Gaster, Michael Costine and Brian O’Neill] – and that was one of the things I stressed to the lads from the start – casting is so important and so much time should be dedicated to it – whenever you’re reading the script you’re asking “who is that?”. And we really punched above our weight with the actors we got. We were so blessed to have such great talent willing to get involved. You only get to do your first feature once so we aimed for the best cast we could and it was fantastic that we got practically everyone we wanted. And their performance and energy in such a short space of time was amazing to have.”
With How to Be Happy ready for its world premiere this weekend in Galway, Richard is looking forward to this year’s Fleadh and delighted that both screenings are sold out, “which is absolutely fantastic for everyone involved and it’s great to be screening at the Fleadh on the weekend. There’s such a buzz down in Galway and all the filmmakers are there as well. I was only at the Fleadh myself last year for the first time but the greatest thing about it is that you can walk up to any filmmaker and people in the film industry and chat away to them – people you would normally never get access to – and that’s a great opportunity.”
How to Be Happy screens on Sunday, 14th July in the Cinemobile at 11.00 & 12.30