Staccato centres around Thomas Croydon who is busy rehearsing for his debut piano recital. His attention, however, is divided elsewhere – to the young gardener out in the grounds, whom he so desperately wants to keep.
Director Eoghan McQuinn gives us the low-down on how the film came together.
When I get an idea for a film, it usually comes from a couple of practical sources. I think of the locations I could use, local places that could evoke an emotion on screen. I’ve always been drawn to period dramas. I’d not seen too many stories portraying gay relationships in a period context, and I wanted to use that subject to explore themes of repression, delusion, social expectation, and exploitation of the working class.
People responded to the emotion of the story and the potential for arresting imagery in pastoral and stately settings – particularly cinematographer Miguel Angel Viñas, he pushed to shoot on the Arri Alexa with an extensive lighting kit giving the film a grand and timeless look that would evoke the era we wanted to depict.
I also met with several potential producers who expressed an interest, and in January 2014 came to Caroline Kealy, who really understood what I was aiming for with the project, and the many components that would need to be coordinated to pull it off. She was also someone who I felt was capable of pulling together several strands of a relatively complicated production working with a restricted budget, so I felt very fortunate to get her on board.
Everyone was so professional and committed themselves to really putting in the time to collaborate and elevate what was on the page. We had some incredible actors. It was very important to me to have the cast as prepared as possible for their scenes – working with accents and getting the rhythm and timing of the scenes right, while also exploring the chemistry between Craig and Kevin – working hard to build up an intimacy and rapport between them. If I couldn’t sell the intensity of feeling between the two young men, the drama of the film would be non-existent.
Getting the locations was an interesting challenge. Luckily we did find three locations willing to open their doors to us, Ardgillan Castle in North Dublin (interiors), and Killruddery House (exteriors) and Tinakilly Hotel in Co. Wicklow.
Wardrobe was obviously another key component of this production and finding costumes that were both visually appealing and accurate for the period was a big hurdle. We then found out about a place called Nomac Productions in Co. Waterford,their beautiful intricate gowns and waistcoats that really took the audience into the world we were trying to evoke.
For a film centred around a young pianist, the actual piano he plays was a pretty vital prop. Caroline had the unenviable task of sourcing a Grand Piano on a budget of zero, with only weeks to go until the shoot. Having this as the centerpiece for the recital scene was absolutely essential, and I’m so grateful we managed to nab one against the odds.
Staccato stars Craig Grainger, Kevin O’Malley, Marian Rose, Sophie Merry, Pauline O’Driscoll, Sarah Gallagher, Elijah Egan, Muireann Toibin, Victor Feldman, George Bracebridge
It had Official Selection at the Washington DC Independent Film Festival, Kashish Mumbai International Film Festival, QFlix Philadelphia International Film Festival
Staccato is a self-financed short film written and directed by Eoghan McQuinn and produced by Caroline Kealy. Principal photography was completed in 2014 with cinematographer Miguel Ángel Viñas on the Arri Alexa, provided by Panavision Ireland and lights by Cine Electric and Con Dempsey. The film was shot on location in stately homes in North Co. Dublin and Co. Wicklow. Production & Costume Design by Sorcha Dianamh. The film features classical piano performed by pianist David O’Shea. The film was edited by Dylan Knapp.