The Unquiet is a psychological horror film about Ruth, a woman who wants a child more than anything—yet she’s unable to conceive. When her mother begins to suffer from dementia, Ruth becomes her full time carer. This adds extra strain to Ruth’s marriage, and her husband moves out. Desperate to have a child and save her relationship, she prays to her father’s spirit for guidance, but something else answers…
Rob Kennedy takes us behind the screams of his latest horror, which screens atthis year’s IFI Horrorthon (24 -28 October).
We shot The Unquiet with a skeleton crew: I directed and operated camera, Andrew Mahon did the lighting, and Billy Keane recorded sound. Vicki Walsh handled production management, recruiting her sister, Sophie, for the job of clapper loader and their mother, Susan, for make-up. We shot the film over the course of three nights in the winter of 2019.
My last film (Sit Beside Me) was more of a rollercoaster horror experience. This time I took a different approach—less camera movement and no jump scares. One of the big decisions I made was not to use any music, a challenge for horror. But it’s easy to jolt an audience with sudden bangs and musical stings. Instead I enhanced the natural atmosphere and let the unnerving silences stand out. This seemed to suit the tone of the film more.
Katie Doyle—a former child actor and veteran of TV adverts—recently returned to acting, appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the New Theatre. Katie took the role of Ruth above and beyond what was on the page. Beryl Phelan, a longtime collaborator of mine, played Ruth’s mother. Rounding out the cast, I’m thrilled to introduce young Robbie Hart in his first film role. We only hear Robbie’s voice, but he makes quite an impact.
The Unquiet will screen at this year’s IFI Horrorthon (24 – 28 October) in the IFI on Sunday, 27th October—along with Rob’s last short, Sit Beside Me. You can buy tickets here
The Unquiet will also be available to watch online from this Halloween. Check out @robkennedyfilm on Instagram for updates and behind the scenes shots.
In this podcast, Gemma Creagh chats to Shelly Love, the director of A Bump Along the Way which introduces us to Pamela, a boozy 44-year-old single mother whose teenage daughter Allegra disapproves of her care-free lifestyle. Their fragile relationship is further tested when Pamela becomes pregnant after a one-night stand.
her background in film
the choreography of directing
how A Bump Along the Way came together
prepping for the project
the production design on the film
working with Die Hexen on the soundtrack
working with 50 / 50 cast & crew + Abbey the dog
working on the edit with Helen Sheridan at Yellowmoon post-production facilities
A Bump Along the Way tells the story of fun-loving, 44-year-old single mum Pamela who becomes pregnant following a one night-stand, much to the shame of her buttoned-up teenage daughter Allegra. As Pamela deals with the prospect of becoming a mum for the second time and Allegra has problems fitting in with her peers, the challenges they face provide mother and daughter with a better understanding of themselves and each other.
Filmed entirely in Derry and led by an all-female creative team, A Bump Along the Way stars Bronagh Gallagher and Lola Petticrew and is directed by Shelly Love, written by Tess McGowan and produced by Louise Gallagher.
Gemma Creagh chats with Louise Gallagher about how the production came together.
How did the project come about?
For this project, myself, Shelly Love [director] and Tess McGowan [writer] were put together through Northern Ireland Screen’s New Talent Focusprogramme at the end of March 2018. It was fairly intense. We’d never met before. We had to get to know each other in a very short time, make this film and deliver it by March 2019. So we’ve done it all within a year.
That’s a fast turnaround considering how long projects normally take to develop.
Tess was writing this while she was pregnant with her second baby and she had sent it into Northern Ireland’s New talent Focus Call on spec. It got selected for the New Writers’ Focus. I was asked to come and interview for the job last March or early April last year and once I was on board I had to find a director. Then we hit the ground running. So the actual development that we did would have started from around May last year and then we went into production with the first day of principal photography on the 14th of October. Basically in less than a year we managed to get the film shot and out to festivals and picked up for distribution… completely and utterly mental!
Would you be a creative producer? Would you have worked on the script?
Yes, I worked across everything. I had to find the script editor and the director. Between myself, Shelley and Tess and our script editor, Liam Foley – we worked together remotely most of the time because Tess lives in Berlin, Liam lives in London, I live in Belfast and Shelly lives in Bangor. She had a very small baby at the time so wasn’t in the position to come up and down to Belfast all the time to meet me. A lot of the development happened via Skype and WhatsApp and the like – an international and remote way of making a film. This had its advantages and disadvantages at the same time. Nothing beats being in a room thrashing through ideas and seeing the whites of someone’s eyes. So it was difficult in those terms. But we had a deadline to meet and I think the blinkers were on for everyone. We just had to focus and crack on with it. While we were developing the script, at the same time I was up in Derry scouting locations, trying to get those locked down. At the same time, as the producer, I was trying to deal with the budget, and do the casting and all of that. Last year from about May through to October, it’s all a blur, I can hardly remember any of it. It’s just been insane!
With the casting, was it a case of holding auditions or did you have a list of people you wanted to get?.
A combination of both. Shelly is not originally from the North, even though her father and mother are. She was very much relying on me to guide her in who were the main players and the good people to speak to and audition here. I had, of course, spotted Lola Petticrew on the BBC TV series Come Home. I knew straight away she’s a really good actor and, like I always do, the minute I see someone I like, I Google them. You can see who they are and who they’re with. Coincidentally, Lola’s with Hamilton Hodell, an agency in London. That’s the same agency as my sister, Bronagh. Of course, it’s the director’s ultimate decision – I can always advise, but obviously they have the final say in casting.
I had directed her towards Lola and I had ideas in my head who we wanted to play some of the other roles like Finn, the good-looking boy, the heartthrob that Lola’s character, Allegra, falls in love with. His name is Dylan Reid and he’d been in the stage version of Good Vibrations. I spotted him at a promotional afternoon in a Belfast hotel and the cast were playing a few songs from the play and he was there. He came up to say hello afterwards and it turned out he was from Derry and I thought: ‘Here we go!’ I think I’ve found my Finn. Then there’s the baby’s daddy, Barry the plumber. He is also an actor from Derry who I’d had my eye on for a while after watching him in a few shorts. I thought he was a really good actor and had a lot of potential. I put him forward to Shelly. So I had about 3 or 4 people in mind for the main roles.
It was after this that Bronagh came on board as the lead. We were getting ready for a screening in London, and we were trying to put together a cast and going through who was available or not – and Bronagh was mentioned at one point. Shelly said, ’Why can’t we have Bronagh as the lead? She’s a mid-40s woman from Derry.’
I was very conscious of being accused of casting my sister in the lead role because it’s my first movie and, to be fair, so was Bronagh. It was the first time she was going to do a lead role and carry a movie. Her agents look at scripts on a case-by-case basis. Just because I’m producing it, doesn’t mean it was definitely going to happen – although they always wanted to help and they really liked the project. But, of course, it all had to be right for everyone and dates had to align.
Thankfully Bronagh really liked it and once herself and Lola were on board, we knew we had our two main characters. We had casting calls for the other characters. That all went really smoothly over the course of a weekend. The minute that Mary Moulds, who plays Bronagh’s best friend, Sinead, walked into the room, I just knew it was her. For me, the audition was already done. She just brought such energy and the three of them gelled. It was perfect. The three of them brought that great fun the whole time to what was a very intense situation. We had 18 days to shoot this It was a lot of work to do but Bronagh and Lola were incredible.
Did you do screen tests?
We didn’t have time for anything like that at all. Bronagh and Shelly did three days of rehearsals for the main scenes, the main emotional beats within the movie. We went into the Oh Yeah Centre in Belfast and practically locked them in there for the three days. They just went through their main scenes line-by-line, scene by scene getting into the characters, digging deep and bonding as mother and daughter characters. The rest we worked through on the day because we just didn’t have the time. A lot of the dialogue was obviously written by Tess but some was a wee bit improvised every now and again. We did different takes and let it go under the guidance of Shelly – just to make it real. Most people who’ve watched the movie so far have commented on the authenticity. That’s what we’ve been able to achieve… probably without even realising it.
I think that having good strong female leads behind and in front of the camera, can different atmosphere on set. Everybody really understands the subject and it’s a safe space.
That’s what I tried to create the whole time. It was a 50/50 balance in terms of crew.
It’s great to see Derry on the big screen!
I’m incredibly proud that I shot in town. Derry is 75 miles west of Belfast and over 100 miles north of Dublin. It’s doesn’t have a substantial film/television infrastructure. But for me the heart of this story lay in the city. I just thought: ‘I’m going to make it in Derry. It’s my one opportunity. I may never get another chance.’ And I just did it. Maybe there were a couple of eyebrows raised but I knew I could. I had the contacts there and I knew once I had my production manager Chrissie Gallagher – who’s no relation, but definitely shares my DNA – plus Mark McCauley, our DoP, on board, that it was going to work out. I just knew in my gut it was going to be okay because they know me and between us, we just cracked the whip and got what we needed. We got Shelly up to Derry as soon as possible. We wanted her to get a feel for the city. It actually went very quickly from there. We contacted everyone we knew who could help us out in whatever way possible, from facilities to trucks to locations, which were tricky but we got them. The goodwill was just overwhelming.
If you love bawdy humour, heart warming plots and strong females leads then don’t miss A Bump Along the Way – in cinemas now.
A Bump Along the Way is in cinemas nationwide from 11th October 2019.
James Bartlett explains why Canada is one of the most popular locations for Hollywood and the important role The X-Files played.
It’s not Chicago, New Orleans or Boston that gets the bronze medal behind Los Angeles and New York. No, the third largest film centre in North America is Vancouver, an area that’s so popular with the studios that it’s often called “Hollywood North.”
Like Ireland, Canada has benefited greatly from offering generous tax breaks, and the often-low Canadian dollar (and Euro) exchange rates can make shooting there a simple matter of economics.
More than that though, both have seen an upswing in new jobs, crew skills, production and studio facilities, and of course all that money that’s being spent there instead of somewhere else.
The so-called “Game of Thrones” effect has famously been almost life-changing for Belfast and Northern Ireland, and the global reach of Irish filmmaking took a symbiotic step last year when the inaugural Vancouver Irish Film Festival was held in late November.
Perhaps surprisingly, it was nearly 110 years ago when the Edison Manufacturing Company first took their cumbersome cameras to British Columbia and filmed The Cowpuncher’s Glove and The Ship’s Husband. Since then, Vancouver and its surrounding areas have stood in for almost everywhere in the world.
Like Dublin and Belfast, celebrities also find Vancouver more relaxed and low-stress, and there’s a long list of Canadian natives who have hit the big time (Ryan Reynolds, Seth Rogen, Jim Carrey, Ryan Gosling, Mike Myers, Rachel McAdams, Michael J. Fox, Keanu Reeves, Sandra Oh, Ellen Page, Christopher Plummer and many more).
For years the coastal seaport of Vancouver flew under the radar until, like “Game of Thrones” did for Belfast, the worldwide success of “The X-Files” changed everything. Starring Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, “The X-Files” filmed five of its original six seasons and the 2008 movie The X-Files: I Want to Believe in Vancouver, and then returned again for the six-episode revival a few years ago.
Even with the show’s freaky monsters and strange aliens, Vancouver was probably the most versatile cast member, doubling for everywhere from Kazakhstan to Virginia as they filmed at countless locations around the city and beyond.
On a recent visit I recognized the distinctive “Angel of Stone” statue in Gastown, which featured in the 13th episode of season 1 (“Beyond the Sea”), but one of the most memorable locations was the lonely Britannia Mine Museum.
After gazing at the endless forests, snow-capped mountains and waterfalls and fjords during the drive along the Sea-to-Sky highway out of Vancouver, it appeared through the mist.
Its grounds are scattered with old mining equipment, a Godzilla-sized yellow truck and a scary boxy “Man Car” that used to take the miners deep underground, but it’s the bizarre, 20-story office building cut into the side of a mountain that grabs your attention.
From 1900 – 1974 it was one of the biggest copper mines in the British Empire, and at one end of its cavernous interior 300-plus precarious wooden steps seem to go up into the heavens.
These rickety steps featured in “Paper Clip”, the second episode of the third “X-Files” season, which saw Mulder and Scully finding their names in some mysterious filing cabinets, chasing down some of the tunnels, and seeing a brightly-lit UFO.
The facility looked much spookier then than it does now, as it was given a multi-million-dollar renovation before it opened as a museum. Those steps too are part of a new, multi-media sensory experience called “Boom!”.
The X-Files – Paper Clip
Back outside in the sunlight, we were told about other films that were shot here at the mine or right nearby, and that included Intersection (1994), Double Jeopardy (1999), Insomnia (2002), Walking Tall (2004), Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed and Underworld: Evolution (2006), Star Trek Beyond (2016) and Okja (2017).
Of course, there are plenty of apps and maps if you want to take a tour of movie locations in Vancouver, Dublin and Belfast (or both countries for that matter), and while some of the movies might fade from memory, their influence will last much longer.
Currently based in Los Angeles, James Bartlett is a story analyst for the Sundance Institute, the Nicholl Fellowships, the UCLA Professional Screenwriting Program, the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards and National Geographic Films. He also reads for several UK regions, is the US consultant for Euroscript, and lectures across the UK and Ireland.
He’s available for private consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org
In this Film Ireland podcast, ahead of the this year’s IndieCork (6 – 13 October), Gemma Creagh sat down with 2 filmmakers whose films are screening at the festival. Rachel Smyth’s film Pit Stop tells the story of one woman’s attempt to flee an abusive relationship. Kerrie Costello’s film Nina introduces us to Sarah as she returns to a house to pack up.
Nina follows Sarah as she returns to a house to pack up. But the house reveals some dark memories, and they quickly begin to force their way into her mind…
Rachel Smyth is a recent graduate of TU Dublin’s film and broadcasting. With a love of telling stories and everything visual she has been DOP on four short films since 2018 with Pit Stop being her directing debut.’
Kerrie Costello & Julien Celin are Dublin based writer-directors working together under the moniker Colo Pictures. They met in the post-production team of Brown Bag Films, and initially set out as writing partners, but that soon developed into directing together too. Their first film ‘Pins and Needles’ was an animated short for children, commissioned by RTE, and which aired on Christmas Eve 2018. Live action is their main focus however, and Nina is their second film together and their first foray into live action. They are currently developing their second third short film.
In this podcast, Paul Farren talks to Tom Burke, the director of Losing Alaska, which tells the story of a small community in Alaska called Newtok who are dealing with a slow-moving disaster. The 375 inhabitants of Newtok feel the winter storms grow more fierce each year and steal their coastline, they watch their homes disappear into rolling seas as the melting permafrost erodes the edges of their town. The plan is to abandon the town and start again 9 miles up the river on higher, more solid ground. The community is divided between those determined to stay, and those equally determined to move. They are fighting the weather, the indifference of state agencies and now, finally, each other.
As well as discussing the intricacies of the ways of life of the people of Newtok and the challenges they face, Tom talks about how the project came to be, telling a big story through the prism of a small situation, people trying to survive in a changing world, the nature of documentary, telling people’s stories, not taking sides, the joy of seagull eggs, screening the film in Newtok, the practicalities of filmmaking in such an environment, cameras and lenses, discovering a frozen-tripod-head panning technique, working with Gerry Horan on the soundtrack, creating a cinematic documentary and the onset of frostbite.
Losing Alaska is released in cinemas 4th October 2019.
Tom Burke will participate in a post-screening Q&A at the IFI on Thursday, 3rd October & the Light House cinema on Sunday, 6th October.
Writer / Director Greg Corcoran takes us behind the camera and tells us how he made The Flight to Memmingen. The short is now available to watch online and below.
The brilliant Peter Jackson once said “The most honest form of filmmaking is to make a film for yourself”. And that’s as good a starting point as any when it comes to why and how I made this, my latest short film, The Flight to Memmingen. I had been working on lots of live TV at RTÉ and making music videos and promos on the side. I missed drama and pure filmmaking, ie working with talented, dedicated actors to tell a story. I wanted to make a film. Not just any film, not a film for festivals or broadcast, nor a film for funders, but a film for myself.
I had previously adapted a short story by the fine Icelandic writer Gyrðir Elíasson for a music video and was a big fan of his work. He sent me a collection of short stories called Stone Tree and I was immediately inspired by one of his strikingly dark yet charming stories about one man, his rise and his subsequent tragic demise. From there the spark was lit and this film, The Flight to Memmingen, was born. I set about adapting it with an Irish slant and based it on a fictional standup comedian called Dave Murphy – he just wants some peace to write his famine sitcom, but at what price?
14 minutes long, the film stars two of Ireland’s finest comedians: the brilliant Ger Staunton in the lead role and Martin Angolo as a comedy club MC, both fresh from their hugely successful shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. Shot in 4K on the Sony F5 by the very talented DoP Shane Caffrey, The Flight to Memmingen also features the superb Aoife Moore, Micheál Ó’Gruagáin and music from Ireland’s finest folk act Ye Vagabonds.
Story wise, The Flight to Memmingen is, at its heart, a naturalistic slice of domestic life. I really wanted to make it as a dark, challenging, character-driven film, a relationship drama that veered from comedy to tragedy, and that had strong characters and a spiralling arc, all in a mere 14 minutes. As a film, a narrative, it is quite unorthodox. It doesn’t have a conventional structure or a neatly resolved ending. It has played at festivals from Miami to Moscow but it’s a very Irish film and not necessarily an archetypal festival film. I’m fully aware that it mightn’t be for everybody but I knew that from the very first moment I read the short story it’s based on.
It’s worth noting that no comedians were harmed in the making of this film. One got very, very wet and extremely cold in the wintery Irish sea for a scene that was cut out but he’s not bitter, much. Ger, I owe ya pint.
All told, I was blown away by the generosity and dedication of everyone who got involved with the project and we had a blast making it. People went above and beyond to get it in the can and I’m truly grateful for that. So far, thankfully, it has received a very positive response and I’m just glad it’s now out there in the world for all to see.