Charlene Gleeson (QED)
Amy-Joyce Hastings shines a light on her short film QED, which screens at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.
What can you tell us about QED?
I’m being somewhat tight-lipped about some of the major themes until after it’s had its world premiere in Galway. You only get one chance to see it with a virgin audience if that makes sense… QED tackles some big issues, it will be controversial to some I imagine but sure to spark debate at any rate! At its core it’s a film about love. For a short, at just 17 minutes, it takes a deep dive into a passionate marital relationship and poses the ultimate question – what won’t love do?
How did the story come about for you and Michael O’Kelly?
So the story was Michael’s, and the screenplay was mine. He had this amazing idea he’d been carrying around in his head for years, it was loosely inspired by real events from his own life. He first pitched the idea to me last year at the Kerry Film Festival and I was blown away by it. When I read his first draft it didn’t really put across the story he’d described to me back then so we worked on the story for several weeks till we had a filmable script that effectively put across the themes and relationship I’d found so captivating initially. Michael was great to work with on the script, and that is so often not easy for somebody to do. It was a very fluid collaboration.
Were you planning to direct from the get-go?
No, not at all. I was just at a festival listening to an actor’s idea for a short. That happens a lot. I never imagined I’d end up making it! Then a month later I asked Michael to take part in a reading of my feature screenplay After The Rain, after which he asked if I’d direct his short. I was very taken with the idea but was stuck into my own screenplay and thought his first draft needed time I didn’t have to develop it into a film. But at the same time, something in it just struck a chord with me and I couldn’t let it go. And here we are now….
You’ve written and directed a number of shorts now – it’s obviously something you enjoy alongside acting…
I love it. It’s a crazy amount of work, but there’s something addictive about taking something from your imagination and making it manifest. There are commonalities with acting – the storytelling, the creativity, and of course there are differences – it’s a lot more technical and time consuming on the one project, but they are all very rewarding in their various ways.
Can you tell us a little about Filmbase’s involvement in the project?
Yes, I’m delighted Filmbase was one of the main production companies on QED. It was similar to the scheme Alan Fitzpatrick [Filmbase MD] devised last year with Lily. So, each Spring the Filmbase Digital Masters students make a feature film through Filmbase. And last year Graham Cantwell, who mentors on the course, had a short film script he really wanted to make, so Alan cleverly suggested they produce it through Filmbase and use it as a training exercise for the Digital Masters, prior to going out to shoot their own feature. They hired in professional Heads of Departments and each HOD supervised a team of students who made up the crew. I sent Alan the QED script in January and he really responded to it and suggested we do it the same way as we had with Lily, provided we could shoot early February! It was a very quick pre-production period but we took that great momentum into the shoot. Filmbase also provided some of the resources and film equipment for us. It really helped us achieve high production values so we could best utilise our budget.
You must be excited to screen at Galway…
I’m thrilled to premiere the film at Galway. It’s an exceptional year for shorts programming with some big names in the category. It’s always a great launching pad for films in Ireland. I had to press very hard to get the film ready in time but it was worth it now it’s in!
The 29th Galway Film Fleadh runs 11 – 16 July 2017