Stalker Films and Five Knight Films in association with Filmbase present Mark O’Connor’s latest feature Cardboard Gangsters. The film introduces us to a group of young men who attempt to gain control of the drug trade in Darndale, chasing the glorified lifestyle of money, power and sex.
Film Ireland caught up with producer Richard Bolger ahead of the film’s premiere at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.
Described in the Galway Film Fleadh programme as “an intoxicating blend of high-octane violence and crime and a sobering condemnation of the circumstances that trap people in the lifestyle with no hope of escape”, Richard Bolger, the producer of Cardboard Gangsters, explains that the film is “the story of four best friends who form a gang in Darndale. They start off selling marijuana before things start to get a bit more serious and the main character Jay, who has a kid, has to get out as the situation becomes more dangerous when they start stealing heroin.”
Jay is played by John Connors, who was involved in the script with writer/director Mark O’Connor. The pair had originally worked together on Stalker and King of the Travellers. “The original idea for Cardboard Gangsters was John’s,” Richard explains. “Mark came on board and the two of them co-wrote the script. John was thinking that maybe he would do it himself and then the idea got bigger and bigger and he brought the project to Mark. Both of them have a huge love of the gangster genre. John started writing it around King of the Travellers in 2012 and we started shooting in September 2015 for just over 3 weeks.”
The film boasts an impressive cast alongside John. Fionn Walton (What Richard Did) plays fellow gang member Dano. Irish rappers Lethal Dialect and Ryan Lincoln complete the gang. Kiersten Warren (Fishtank) is joined by Damien Dempsey and Jimmy Smallhorne who plays Derra – Jay’s nemesis. The cast also includes Stephen Clinch (Love/Hate), plus Gemma-Leah Devereux, Corey McKinley Lydia McGuinnessand Graham Earley amongst others.
“It’s a huge and talented cast, “Richard says. “The first AD, Craig Kenny, said to me that we probably had more in the movie than you’d have in a season of Game of Thrones. That’s down to the story and the different characters the guys meet along the way, be it opposite rival gangs, friends, and the like. Obviously, the guys are dealing drugs so through that there’s a lot of people that they meet for small periods in the film.”
The title of the film is a Dublin phrase for wannabe gangsters. Richard explains that the gang “are not really gangsters; they just want the lifestyle. They are not the most organised professional outfit. They are not like the Joker’s gang at the beginning of the The Dark Knight. These guys couldn’t come up with a plan like that!”
The look of the film was created with the assistance of Irish cinematographer Michael Lavelle, who Richard is quick to praise. “He’s done such amazing stuff. He worked with Terry McMahon on Patricks Day and that’s how Mark got to work with him. Terry just said you’ve got to work with this guy. The visuals were a huge concern for Mark on this project. Gangster films look a certain way. They need to look slick and we knew these characters wanted to be like them so they had to be shot and had to be framed in a certain way. Getting Michael on board was a huge step to achieve that. He knows what is going on and the dynamic of a scene and he can figure how to work it. Mark and him watched an awful lot of films together discussing things that they felt would work for this film.”
Talking about the music, Richard says, “we were blessed on this film. We have Darklands Audio. There’s a real talented guy there called Daniel Doherty who composed the original score for the film which uses a huge amount of rap music. There’s a really interesting scene in Dublin at the minute and some of these musician are in the film and they’ve been working with Mark making tracks for the film. What these guys are coming up with and with Dan producing is amazing. He’s engineering a whole feel to the film. Mark wanted the music to reflect the realism and grittiness of the film and show what life is like for these cardboard gangsters in Dublin.”
And for Richard himself working with Mark O’Connor, “I’d always admired Mark’s work and it was great to get a chance to work with him. He has a special voice and is a real talent in the industry. He makes films that nobody else does.”
Director Mark O’Connor and cast will attend.
The 28th Galway Film Fleadh runs 5 – 10 July 2016