Linda Cullen: Co-Director of ‘The 34th’

In this podcast Sarah Cullen chats to Linda Cullen, co-director of The 34th (with Vanessa Gildea), which tells the story of the driven and dedicated people who formed Marriage Equality in Ireland, and developed it into a highly effective grassroots force with one clear goal in mind – the extension of Civil Marriage to same sex couples. Through revealing interviews and archive material, former board members and staff outline the strategising, fierce battles, sheer hard graft and personal cost of running such an all-consuming campaign.

From the KAL (Katherine Zappone & Ann Louise Gilligan) case to a YES vote on 22nd May 2015, this documentary spans a decade culminating in the 34th amendment to the Irish constitution, allowing same sex marriage.


Recorded by Tommy Cullen

The 34th screens at the Light House Cinema on Wednesday, 18th October at 6.30


Film Ireland Podcasts





From the Archive: Self Distribution

Pyjama Bus CMYK

Pyjama Girls

With self-distribution becoming more widespread, Film Ireland talks to three Irish filmmakers who made the decision to release their own film.

Competition for screens is at an all-time high with more films than ever before being released every week. Economic conditions put pressure on cinemas and films must perform on their first weekend if they hope to stick around. For distributors it makes it harder for them to take a punt on films that might not make an immediate impact. For filmmakers it makes it harder to find a distributor that will take on their film and at the right price. It makes sense then that more filmmakers are looking at the possibility of self-distribution with the advent of the Irish Film Board’s Direct Distribution scheme making it a more attractive proposition.Not every film can be released in this way and, if anything, it seems that documentary might be most suited to self-distribution. Documentary films can gather an audience from the outset of production, making partnerships with interested groups that can help when the time comes to release the film.

The Pipe and Pyjama Girls are two Irish documentaries that have done well having been self-released. So why did they choose to do it?

‘We looked at going with different distributors here but once we saw the terms and conditions we decided that we should do it ourselves as we felt that there was already a community of people interested in the film,’ says Rachel Lysaght, producer of The Pipe. ‘There were a lot of things to take into consideration including ownership of the film and how long the term was going to be. We just felt that rather than giving away all of the rights for a number of years it would be better to retain ownership of the film. We weren’t expecting it to be a huge box-office smash but we felt that a film that addresses these issues and is a David and Goliath story wouldn’t necessarily have a short lifespan and it could be a grower, so we didn’t want to tie up all of the rights with anyone.’

‘I always had that interest in distribution, stemming from a mobile short film channel that I ran for years on Vodafone called Wildlight,’ says Nicky Gogan of Still Films. ‘We went down traditional routes with Pyjama Girls and showed it to the distribution companies that are in Ireland. They liked it but they felt they would have to put too much into it to get a return because of the model they use. That was fine but I really knew there was an audience for the film, so the IFI agreed to put it on for a week and it sold out the whole week. They moved it from Cinema 3 to the much larger Cinema 1 early on in the week and it was a great success. That prompted us to act on the idea of doing something wider with it, so we spoke to access>CINEMA and the Irish Film Board and put together a list of contacts. We weren’t so concerned about rights but it certainly helped us to hold onto more of the profits from the cinema because there were fewer people involved. We try not to give anything away exclusively now. With a previous film we did an exclusive deal with a company for three years and they made a great sale near the beginning but they really have only made one sale, so that was disappointing.’

The Pipe Roadblock CMYK
The Pipe

For The Pipe, the timing of the release in December 2010 proved to be tricky. One of the biggest snowfalls in history covered the country and cinemas all over Ireland shut their doors.

‘The cinemas at that time were taking in a week what they would usually do on a Saturday night. The weather was horrific. That really damaged us but relatively in terms of how all of the other films were doing we did quite well and we were featuring on the box-office charts. Harry Potter was out at the same time though and that’s something we learned along the way. We couldn’t afford a film print so we went with a DCP (digital cinema print) and DCPs can only show on digital screens and they were in some cases being taken up with 3D movies, so if it was a toss-up between playing Harry Potter or a small documentary about a Mayo community, guess which film gets the screen! We did loads of Q&As and we went everywhere. A lot of the people from Westport also came to screenings and I think the audience really appreciate that and if they know a director is coming it’s more of an event and it’s more likely that you’ll get an audience. If those people engage in it then they become your advertisers because it really gets out through word of mouth.’

For the team at Still Films, the networks built up from years of running the Darklight Film Festival was a huge advantage in marketing the film. ‘We went about things in a way that we have been doing for gigs and the Darklight Film Festival in the past, like posting A3 Posters around the place and getting on blogs and also just using the goodwill of our media contacts to help us get the word out,’ says Nicky Gogan. ‘We had essentially three goes at it with the festival release, the IFI release and then the wider release. We used the usuals like Facebook and Twitter and we approached friends who might have big mailing lists. It was a case of managing all of the networks that we’ve built up over the years with the Darklight festival. The cinemas themselves also do their own marketing, which helps as well.’

‘We were working with access>CINEMA so we did a lot of community screenings,’ says Rachel Lysaght. ‘The Pipe had 6000 friends on Facebook and we tapped into specific groups that already existed that we thought would be interested in the story we were telling – human rights, Irish interest, environmental groups, anti-corporate groups. This was our target audience and if it moved beyond that all the better. We did a lot of community screenings. We also set up an area on our website where people could request a screening in their town and people would email us and if there were enough calls for a screening in a certain area we would contact them and find a venue and in some cases we might project it on a wall. Then I negotiated with the cinema owners as to what percentage we would get at the box office and we did the same thing with access>CINEMA. In the case of access>CINEMA, we pretty much screened off DVD and we agreed a minimum or a percentage there. When it came to individual or community screenings we would mostly do a deal with the venue. You might have a screening in a university where there could be eight people there or there could be eighty-eight people there and you’re not going to know until the night of the screening. So we would agree a minimum amount or whatever percentage of the box office. It might be, purely for example, a minimum 100-euro for the screening and 50% of the box office over that. At least then you know you are getting a minimum for the screening and there’s also an incentive there for the person organising the screening to gather an audience and we would also help by providing posters and online marketing and we would do local press.’

Having a group of people already interested in the topic of your film or a film around which you can build an event is key to finding your audience. ‘Each film is different,’ says Gogan, and therefore the approach will differ each time.

‘I think there are certain films that suit self-distribution. I think with Pyjama Girls it suited a slightly more traditional route and we did screen it in quite big cinema chains. With Nightdancers, an upcoming film about dancers in Uganda going to London to take part in a big show, there could be a live dance element to it and we could tour the film with their live dance show. That could generate a bit of buzz for the film by playing to the audience for the film. That could be the core audience and then moving out from that there might be the documentary audience and the arthouse audience. We’ve talked about doing something like that in the UK and then maybe something similar here in Ireland. It would be an event-based release and we would be thinking of alternative venues as well as cinemas for the film. And the director, Emile Dineen, is really up for it too and since we started talking about making the film we’ve been talking about how fun it’s going to be to get it out into the world. We’ve also been thinking about the possibility of doing a day-in-date release because there might be a limited amount of events based around urban centres, so it would be great to have the film available to the audience through VOD. So it’s a matter of tying in the complementary options that are open to you rather than being completely independent.’

Lili Taylor Gerard Hurley CMYK
The Pier

When distributors didn’t go for his film The Pier, Gerard Hurley released his feature-length drama himself in thirteen cinemas in Ireland. ‘I know exactly what my film is. Distributors want big boobs and explosions, they want slick production values and big names. I really had none of the above. I felt a release in Ireland was a possibility and because I’d done it with my previous film in the States on six screens, I felt some confidence that I could release it myself in Ireland. I just got out there and hit the pavement. One of the things I did was make up 400 small film posters and put up those posters myself personally. I drove around from town to town and I met people and I would get into conversations a lot with people and I’d tell them about the film. In the independent world I found that very effective because overall for me the film was very well received.’

Hurley’s plan was to get the film into as many cinemas as possible and he persuaded 13 cinemas to take the film on. ‘My plan was to release it in as many cinemas as possible around Ireland and try to get any media I could to support what I was trying to do. If you stagger the release too much, the national media you do can be lost. You might release the film in Dublin but people will have forgotten about it by the time you get to Cork. It’s really tough trying to get the film into cinemas. It’s a business for them and they want to know what the bottom line is. Some are more sympathetic than others but it’s all about rejection and you get kicked in the balls over and over again but you can’t take it personally.’

Making a connection with your audience on a limited budget is not easy and Hurley found it particularly so because his audience wasn’t the typical cinema-going target market.

‘I wasn’t making the film for the male 15–25 age bracket, the ‘golden horde’. My audience was a lot older. It’s hard to get to them but when you do, they talk to people and help to get the word out. The Irish Film Board were very helpful in supporting the film but you have to have a big budget to go out there and get people’s attention. You need an advertising budget or you need to come up with a creative online campaign. But even getting that right can be as rare as hen’s teeth. Every filmmaker bitches about not having enough money. Even filmmakers with a $10-million budget say, ‘we had very little money’ but I know that if I had another 25k I really could have kicked some ass in Ireland because strategically I worked out that I could have done a certain kind of radio campaign and I think radio is one of the most effective tools for hitting people in rural Ireland.’

All of the filmmakers agree that self-releasing your film is not to be taken lightly. ‘There is a huge learning curve. You can’t say strongly enough that this is a job usually done by someone on a full time basis, so nobody can wander into that territory and expect it to be easy. But I also think that if you really believe in your film, nobody will push it as much as you will. You might not have all the knowledge or connections when you start out but you’ll learn that along the way and hopefully people will see that passion in you and respond.’


This article originally appeared in Film Ireland Magazine, Issue 143 in 2012.


Out Now: Film Ireland: The Summer Issue 2012 – Issue 141

Yes it’s raining; yes it’s freezing – but that won’t stop us celebrating the fact that this year’s Summer Issue of Film Ireland magazine is out now. As you can tell from the grooviest of covers, this issue is a scorcher. So wrap up warm, bring an umbrella and celebrate the start of an Irish summer with our latest filmtabulous issue.

In this issue:

Irish Animators for Annecy

Anna Rodgers assesses the Irish animation scene.

In the Bronx

Niall McKay meets director Macdara Vallely to talk about his new feature, Babygirl.

It’s in the Post

Paul Webster takes a look at the Irish post-production scene.

In the Limelight

Gordon Gaffney shines a light on the JDIFF Irish Talent Spotlight.

Dublin’s Fair City

Niamh Creely talks to Irish location manager Peter Conway about shooting in Dublin.

 Grand Masters

Paul Callanan at the 23rd Cork French Film Festival on guests  Pierre Étaix and Jean-Claude Carrière.

The Making of Moon

Shane Perez  reports on the fascinating Galway Film Centre masterclass on the making of Duncan Jones’ Moon.

Demanding Audiences

Niall Kitson checks out a new wave of online services that are putting pressure on distribution models

Moore Please

Film Ireland catches up with the Oscar®-nominated director of  The Secret of Kells, Tomm Moore.

Moving Pitchers

Niamh Creely sharpens her pencil for the UNTITLED Screenwriting Competition and Story Campus.


Maeve Clancy explores the world of distribution in Film Ireland’s comic page.

Sounding Off

Nadine O’Regan investigates why Stella Days upset the residents of Borrisokane.


Plus all our regulars:

Up Close – with Anjelica Huston, plus Paul Rowley on ‘My Inspiration’.

Your Updates – all the latest Irish film news.

On Set – Rory Cashin on the set of Mark O’ Connor’s latest, King of the Travellers

Spotlight – Steven Galvin takes in the sounds of the Casbah with Safinez Bousbia, director of El Gusto.

ReviewsAlbert Nobbs, The Other Side of Sleep, The Pier, Stella Days, This Must Be the Place

Festivals – all the latest festival reports & previews

ShortSpace – the latest ShortSpace short film news, plus Mark Noonan on ‘How I Short’.

Filmbase News – all the latest from Filmbase

Equipment – we get our hands on the RED Scarlet camera.

MEDIA Desk – news & dates to keep in your MEDIA Diary.











JDIFF: 'Tim Robinson: Connemara' Review

Tim Robinson


Wednesday, 23rd February

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Tim Robinson: Connemara, a Reel Art documentary directed by Pat Collins, was eagerly anticipated and played to a packed auditorium as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. In simple terms, the film is about mapmaker Tim Robinson, the books he wrote about mapping Connemara, and Connemara itself.

Robinson is a powerful presence in the film – readings from his books act as a voiceover and his rhythmic, reverent pacing as he walks the landscape forms much of what we see. And yet, in the Q&A after the film, it became clear that Robinson is anything but fond of the limelight; it was only after a concerted effort that Collins was able to convince Robinson to participate at all. There was perhaps some recognition of a kindred spirit, as Collins seems as self-effacing as his reluctant subject and actually, this self-effacement seems to add to the film’s greatness. There are shots that are unusual and that must have presented technical challenges. Yet throughout there is the sense that Collins acknowledges his camera as a tiny aperture gazing upon a vast beauty. He also acknowledges that half of the impact of the film is due to the penetrating soundscape that immerses the viewer. Sue Stenger composed music for the film by using the contours of Connemara to create the sound. There is generous space given for this sound to submerge the viewer and for the viewer to respond to both image and sound.

I had wondered if, conceptually, there would be elements of Brian Friel’s Translations. And, indeed, in a single phrase Robinson communicates the kernel of that extraordinary play. An Irish place name, translated into English, dries out and dies, like a branch snapped off a tree. An image that is poetic but communicates a real truth, that is informative but also powerful and emotive. Throughout the film, the simplicity of Collins’ approach adds to Robinsons’ already potent prose.

Here is a work that could only exist as a film, that speaks its loudest in a darkened cinema space filled with people. It is a response to a book, an interaction with a place and a skilled depiction of a human being who does exactly what we wish all our artists could have the time, space and capacity to do – bring us to an extraordinary place and allow us to really see. See it at all costs.

Niamh Creely


Issue 133 – Film Ireland – The Summer Issue

Film Ireland

This year’s Summer issue Film Ireland is the first of which with filmmaker and writer Ross Whitaker (Saviours, Bye Bye Now) as commissioning editor.

My Brothers
Paul Fraser talks to AMANDA SPENCER about his feature directorial debut, which opens this year’s Fleadh.
Read more here

The Producers
What do they do? VANESSA GILDEA talks to Macdara Kelleher, Martina Niland, Cathal Gaffney and John Murray to find out.
Read more here

Him and Him
Ken Wardrop and Andrew Freedman talk to JAMIE HANNIGAN about their film ‘His and Hers’, one year on from it’s premiere.
Read more here

Opening the door
Juanita Wilson talks to NIAMH CREELY about her Oscar®-nominated short ‘The Door’ and her debut feature ‘As If I’m Not There’.
Read more here

Five Ways Two Kill You’re Script
Film Ireland gets some not-to-be-ignored script writing advice from leading story analyst James Bartlett.
Read more here

Get Into Film
In our Education Special, Charlene Lydon talks to some up-and-coming Irish talent about where they went to college and what they learned there.
Read more here

Documentary Longinotto Style
Kim Longinotto tells Ross Whitaker about her unique approach and the difficult decisions she’s made whilst making her films.
Read more here

You can buy Film Ireland magazine online or at any of these locations:


Issue 132 – Film Ireland – The Spring Issue 2010

Issue 132

Conor McMahon, creator of zombie flick Dead Meat and the hilarious and devious The Disturbed, gives his guide to the world of low budget. With a few detours via Hollywood, this is Film Ireland, ‘grindhouse’ style.

Breaking (Down) the Budget

Brian O’Toole, Paul Ward, Eoin Macken and Conor McMahon on the smartest way to spend your low budget. Read more here

Production Design

Conor McMahon talks to big-budget production designer Ray Ball and to Graham Williams about production design on a budget. Read more here

Making it up: how to get a(decapitated)head in special effects

Tom McInerney, Terri Pinnell and Conor McMahon share some of their low-budget tips and tricks in our gory guide to special effects make-up. Read more here

The Dark Arts

Concept artist Olwen Foy shares the journey from creature conception to film.
Read more here

His Cup Runneth Over…

Conor McMahon interviews Gary Shore, whose trailer earned him an invitation to Hollywood.
Read more

What do you do with actors?

Actor/director Vinny Murphy talks about directing actors. Read more here

Sparkling Perrier

Niamh Creely talks to Cillian Murphy about the art of acting and coming home to film Perrier’s Bounty. Read more here

Jimmy Murakami: Non Alien

Dermod Moore speaks to Murakami and the makers of a new documentary on this famous animator. Read more here

Equipment Review

Filmbase sound engineer, Alan Coleman, reviews the SQN-5SB Series II, a high-end audio mixer. Read more here


Ross Whitaker talks to Conor Horgan about his award-winning debut feature, One Hundred Mornings. Read more here

Film Ireland On Set

Alessandro Molatore reports from the set of Parked, a new feature starring Colm Meaney. Read more here


Filmbase’s Clare Creely introduces Shortspace, the new screening space that’s about giving your shorts legs. Read more here

Endboard: Film Critics and the Feel-good Genre

Andrew Legge tells us how the critcs are failing us. Read more here

You can buy Film Ireland magazine online or at these locations.


Issue 131 – Film Ireland – The Winter Issue 2009/2010


Beyond the Cutting Room
Mary Sweeney, long-time editor and collaborator with David Lynch, talks about the transition to directing with her first feature Baraboo. Read more here

Happily Ever After?
RTÉ’s Storyland competition was no fairytale: success required a huge amount of hard graft. However, for those willing to put in the effort, Storyland did grant some filmmaker wishes: recognition, networking opportunities and the golden egg – funding. Angela Nagle reports. Read more here

A Haunted Look
Hugh O’Conor talks to actor Ciarán Hinds and writer/director Conor McPherson about their supernatural feature, The Eclipse. Read more here

Business of Acting
How to get ahead in acting? Gordon Gaffney talks to the Gaiety School of Acting, actor’s agent Maureen McGlynn and casting directors Thyrza Ging and Maureen Hughes. Read more here

London Calling
Alright. You’ve had your big breaks: you were the back-end of the orange caterpillar in the latest Meteor ad and second punter from the left in the pub on Fair City. Nonetheless, it looks like the emerald isle will all too easily contain your talents. But what about our real rising stars? Does a talented actor have to leave Ireland in order to make it? Niamh Creely investigates. Read more here

Absolutely Critical
The professional film reviewer is critical of film but are they critical to film? David O Mahony talks to The Irish Times‘ Donald Clarke. Read more here

Work You Can Bank On?
Adam Lacey chats to Voicebank, an Irish agency for talented talkers. Read more here

Not Just Another Bee Movie
Ross Whitaker puts the spotlight on Colony. Read more here

The Irish New Wave
Guest editor Hugh O’Conor revels in the current abundance of excellent Irish film. Read more here

You can buy Film Ireland magazine online or in here.