Short Film of the Week: Watch ‘Chicken’ by Barry Dignam


Chicken is a micro-drama about two boys hanging out on a beach at dusk. A game of dare tests the limits of their trust and redefines the boundaries of their relationship. The film features Darren Healy and Niall O’Shea.

Directed and produced by Barry Dignam and based on a screenplay by Audrey O’Reilly this “Short Short” is essentially about the lengths the male of the species has to go to for affection. The games we have to play to make it “ok”.

Funded by the Irish Film Board and nominated for a Plame d’Or at Cannes 2001 Chicken has screened at festivals and on TV worldwide.

Speaking to Film Ireland, Barry Dignam said, “I think I was drawn to Chicken by the idea of longing. The story is about two young guys who I guess have little or no physical contact with anyone in their lives and are presented with this unusual game in an unusual place. They just act rather than think. It’s subtle and has very little narrative but the script resonated with a sense of longing and I think the finished film captures that. It wasn’t that they were gay or straight (though they might be either) they just needed to be closer to another person. At the time it seemed like Irish men could only touch if it was during sports or fights! Oddly I think that has changed massively now.


“The film was written by screenwriter Audrey O’Reilly back when we were in college together.  She shot a version of it on Hi8 as part of a college project with zero budget and while it was good she’d be the first to admit it was rough around the edges. I annoyed her over the following years to go back and try to get it funded to do it properly but she never got around to it. After college I produced a film called In Loving Memory for Audrey – after that I tried to get her to reconsider making Chicken and she said if I liked it so much then why didn’t I direct it. So I did.


“Then we got lucky. The Film Board was launching the Short Shorts scheme and in the first year they were insisting that the films were less than 3 minutes and shot on 35mm film. We were selected for the funding. We also landed the perfect cast in Darren Healy and Niall O’Shea. I think Peter Robertson did a lovely job with the cinematography. We also shot it in the depths of winter which caused havoc with the schedule (2 half days) but the crisp frostiness really helps the mood of the film.


“We’ve been lucky that the film has been screened in Cinemas, on TV and on DVD extensively and even though it’s 12 years later it still screens. I’m not sure why people are still drawn to it but I’m happy they are.”



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