Rebecca Daly, Director/Co-writer of ‘Good Favour’

In Rebecca Daly’s Good Favour, a wounded teenage stranger who stumbles into an isolated village of devout Christians gradually reveals his motives. David Prendeville met Rebecca to discover more about the film.

 

Can we talk about the inspirations behind the film?

There were a couple of ways that we were inspired to make this film. I’m not sure which came first, but one was when Glenn (Montgomery, co-writer) found an article online about this young guy who walked out of the woods into Berlin. He claimed to have been in a car accident with his parents and said that he had no memory of anything before that. We followed the story online for about a year and it ends in a bit of of a banal way. But we liked the set up. The idea of somebody arriving somewhere and not having a memory of where they came from. We were interested in what the possibilities of that were, especially in terms of what they could mean to the people they encountered. There were lots of theories online about this guy – who was he? They didn’t release a photo until quite late as they weren’t sure that that he was over 17. There was a lot of speculation about who he was. We thought that was quite interesting. What can someone be if they say they don’t know who they are?

 

And the religious aspect?

That was the other inspiration. My grandmother had this really strong faith, despite the fact that she understood that there had been various abuses in the church. But still, her faith was so strong that she could hold and contain all of this and still endure and persevere with it. So, I was interested in that – how much can people take an preserve their way of life and maintain the belief systems that they hold really dear. That was an interesting thing for us to explore, this microcosm of an organised religion really.

 

This film calls to mind European art house. Is there anything in particular that influences you formally? Are there other filmmakers you keep in mind?

No, not really. I watch a lot of films and I love a lot of different filmmakers’ work. But I wouldn’t say I have any conscious sense of being influenced. Of course, there are filmmakers I admire, like Haneke. I would be a big fan of his work. And Lynne Ramsay, or Paolo Sorrentino – who is completely different. These are all kind of filmmakers whose work I love. But I wouldn’t say I was influenced. I’m always trying to find the part of the film itself. Also, looking at my other films, I think you can see that they’re made by the same person yet still they are not the same necessarily in terms of tone and form. I think the story, and what we’re trying to get across in terms of theme, really influence how the film is made, the form of the film, the tone of the film – and this film needed to be a mystery for the central story to work; for this central character to be quite mysterious and for there to be lots of possibilities about him. That is the nature of faith itself.

 

There is a mystery at the heart of all your work. How important is it for you as an artist to challenge the audience? Your films are demanding in a very positive way.

I feel that audiences don’t always want to have a passive relationship with what they’re watching. I think they get that a lot in cinema and it’s satisfying to a point. But that’s not what people always want. Sometimes people do want to be challenged and they do want to see that the filmmaker is thinking about the world we live in. Maybe they’re considering our place in it. I want to have a relationship with the audience which, in a way, invites them to be the last piece of the meaning of the film. Of course, the film is itself. It’s a piece of work. It’s finished – but they are the last piece. Until the audience is in front of it, the film doesn’t have the full meaning.

Also, audiences differ. People talk about films as being different from theatre – that they are fixed and they are unchanging. But I think, depending on the audience, they can change quite a lot. I’m interested in the audience being the last piece of the puzzle and part of that dialogue. I found traveling with this film really interesting. People have based a reading of what they think is happening in the film quite often on their own belief systems and their own ideas about faith.  

 

There are very strong performances in the film. Can you talk a little bit about the casting process for this film and also your approach to directing that cast.

Quite a lot of the key cast are Danish actors. We have one German actress and several Belgium actors. We had a casting director, Dan Hopper, based in London working across all of it. And then we had a casting director in Belgium. She actually ended up finding Vincent [Romeo] who plays Tom. It was extensive. A lot of self tapes were sent before I would get in a room with people.I had a particular idea in my head that I wanted to work with Danish actors. They have such a fantastic reputation.

With Tom, he’s so extraordinary looking. We’d seen lot of tapes with a lot of young guys the right age. But there’s just something about him that was so striking, even though he didn’t have a lot of experience. I just knew this has to work. I did work with him quite intensely in prep and we did a lot of casting sessions with him that were about getting him to the place where he was would be ready for the role. We organised the filming schedule so that the most difficult scenes for him were at the end of the shoot. He really grew as an actor through the shoot, because the filming process often will give actors who aren’t experienced a lot of confidence. That really happened for him, which was a really interesting thing to watch.

 

I know on this film you had to build the village – what was that experience like for you?

It was such a pleasure to build a set. I’ve never had a film that had a built set before, for something like that to come out of your imagination really faithfully. When you shoot on location, as I have with other films, you get everything as close as you can to what you can imagine. Some locations will be really suitable and some may be better than you’d imagined. Others will fall short and you make the best of what you’ve got. But this was amazing. I could sit with the designer and the cinematographer, who came on early, and we would plan together. We designed and built this village together. Not only in terms of the aesthetics of it, but also how it would work for shooting and moving walls and things like that. That was an incredible pleasure. Of course, it puts a lot of pressure on a film that’s on a small budget because it’s expensive to build things. But the innovation of the designer was phenomenal, which really helped.

 

Sound is very important in your films. It’s very evocative always and seems like it’s a very important aspect to your style.

I remember when I was studying film, I had a lecturer who said that sound is nearly more important than picture so that it feels right. If the picture is a bit rough but the sound is good, the audience can still feel immersed in the world. Whereas if the sound is really bad and the picture’s great, it’s really jarring. I think it’s because we read visuals in a more conscious way. Whereas sound affects us subliminally. That’s why I think it’s so important as it taps onto our subconscious, into our dreaming states and all these areas of the mind that we’re not conscious of. I’ve been really lucky to work with really strong sound designers. There’s been different ones on each of the there films, which is part of the co-production model, that they come from different countries. I’ve been really lucky that they’ve been really responsive to a very creative approach to the sound and also a detailed approach because I am really particular about it. Or if I feel like that there’s not enough nuance in a moment, I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who go back to those moments and get it right.

 

Good Favour is currently in cinemas.

 

 

 

 

 

Irish Film Review: Good Favour

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Treasa O’Brien, Writer/Director of ‘Town of Strangers’ 

Writer/Director Treasa O’Brien takes us behind the story of Town of Strangers, a film about a stranger who comes to make a film in the small town of Gort in the West of Ireland, and the people she meets when she holds auditions. Together, they go on a cinematic journey to explore their waking and dreaming lives. Featuring a cast of migrant workers, hippies, Travellers, blow-ins and newly arrived refugees, we are ushered into the private worlds of people living between two cultures, sharing their desires of longing and belonging.

 

When I started making Town of Strangers, the town of Gort boasted two remarkable statistics: it was the town with the most nationalities in Ireland, relative to its small population; and it was the town ‘worst hit by austerity’. I had been visiting Gort with the idea to make a film there when the Goethe Institute, after seeing my film Eat Your Children, commissioned me to make a short film based on the theme of home.  The project Europoly matched filmmakers around Europe, and that is how I got to work with Catalan DoP Gina Ferrer.  It was a kind of blind date – she came and worked with me for a week-long shoot that became the short film called The Blow-in.  I used a day of the shooting schedule and budget for that film to shoot auditions for Town of Strangers, a film script I was developing. I did not yet know what form that film would take, but I knew it would not be a ‘straight’ documentary nor a fiction.  I was searching for a cinematic language that would transcend the binary of documentary and fiction and find a way to express the lived experiences of people with hybrid cultural identities.  I wanted to incorporate stories from the town and potentially cast first-time actors as themselves.

The auditions, however, irrevocably changed the course of the film, due to the particularity of the encounters that occurred. I was astonished and honoured by the stories divulged to me.  People showed me their strengths and vulnerabilities in a way that moved me. The more I got to know the people from the auditions, the more I adapted and improvised the film.  I soon left the script far behind and together with some of the people I met, we went on a cinematic journey to explore their waking and dreaming lives.

I asked people in the auditions to tell me ‘a dream, a lie, a memory, a story or a piece of gossip”. The resulting scenes are not re-enactments, but rather performative enactments improvised together. By inviting the participants to enact their dreams or memories, I was documenting the process of this imagining, rather than trying to create a product based on the content of the story itself.  Sometimes it is the making-of the scenes that were more interesting than the scenes themselves and these form part of the film’s story.

I was doing a PhD in Film Practice at the same time, with Joshua Oppenheimer, director of The Act of Killing, as my supervisor. Joshua has developed a way of working that has expanded the documentary genre that includes filming the process of making scenes with protagonists acting as themselves.  Joshua became my chief mentor and creative advisor on the process of making Town of Strangers over the three years of its making.  I made a first cut and a trailer with Julian Triandafyllou, a London filmmaker, mainly using the audition material and some extra material I had shot.  Martha O’Neill of Wildfire Films came on board as a co-producer based on that cut. We kept developing the film, even though we had no budget, and we invested our own funds and a lot of time.  Later, the Arts Council of Ireland came on board and supported the main production with a Project Award.  We also got some smaller funds from Clare County Council and Faroe Islands supported a sound designer to work on the post.  I worked on and off for over a year with editor Mirjam Strugalla, to build the narrative arc of the film, filming more material with people in between editing sessions.  Gina Ferrer came back for two more shoots and I shot a lot of the footage on my own, gaining confidence as a cinematographer as well as a director. The editing process was an intense collaboration as we tried out several different structures before we decided how the interlocking stories and characters could resonate and have the feeling of a developing narrative.

I constructed a character loosely based on myself, and performed by me, whom I call T, who appears alongside the other characters in the film. She is living in her van, and trying to find a place to live in the town.  She is seen in the van, parked up by a petrol station, sleeping, reading, making breakfast, doing yoga.  My own emplacement as director is semi-fictionalised within the film, inventing a poetic truth of my engagement with the people and place in the film, that is nevertheless based on my real lived experiences.

On another level, Town of Strangers is a human rights film about migration and identity in our times.  It is a cinematic and philosophical exploration of the lived experiences of ‘the other’, people who make their home in a small town in the west of Ireland, in the age of austerity politics, the refugee ‘crisis’, and the rise of nationalism and right-wing politics in Europe and the USA.  I spent time working in refugee camps in Greece while making this film, where I made several short films about the journeys people were making, working with them as co-makers. Town of Strangers explores the aftermath – the shifting sand between our shared human experiences of longing for home, and our search for belonging.

 

Town of Strangers screens at Cork Film Festival 2018 at 14:45 on Tuesday, 13th November 2018 at Triskel Arts Centre.

Tickets here

Town of Strangers premiered at Galway Film Fleadh in July 2018 and is nominated for Best Cinematic Documentary at Cork Film Festival. 

 

 

Town of Strangers – Official Website

Written and directed by Treasa O’Brien

Executive Producer: Joshua Oppenheimer

Producers: Martha O’Neill and Treasa O’Brien

Cinematography: Gina Ferrer & Treasa O’Brien

Editor: Mirjam Strugalla

 

Town of Strangers – Facebook Page

Director’s Website

 

 

http://filmireland.net/2018/10/18/irish-film-preview-2018-cork-film-festival/

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Watch Irish Short Film: Lee Cronin’s ‘Ghost Train’

 

Lee Cronin’s Ghost Train is now available to watch just in time to get you in the ghoulish mood. Written and directed by Cronin, the film tells the story of estranged brothers Michael and Peter. Once a year the brothers make a reluctant pilgrimage to the old fairground where their friend Sam went missing three decades ago. Things take a turn this year though as Michael has a secret to confess.

Ghost Train is a cleverly-crafted subtle chiller with a heart that has a team behind it – from the writing and  direction through to the visual construction , design and sound – that screams “feature”. The cast is made up of Owen McDonnell and Steve Wall as the two adult brothers who come together to deal with the trauma of their past youthful deeds, which are acted out in flashback by Sean Gormley, Matthew Dillon and Matthew Broe with strong natural performances.

 

 

Lee explains how the beginning of the project was “off the back of a really weird dream I had about my best mate when I was around 8 years old. We were wandering through an abandoned cottage and in one of the rooms there was a withered old woman on the wall, like those low quality effigies you would see inside Ghost Trains in the 1980s. She wasn’t so low quality when she suddenly came to life with a slow turn of her head and guttural cackle. She scared me awake and all I could think about was this childhood friend I hadn’t seen in so so long. I wondered how he was, what his life was like? Although the film we made is very different to this slice of REM, it holds onto some of those feelings and themes, so I guess that’s were it all began. I blame late night cheese and bad TV.

“Once I had a script, I was really lucky to get the opportunity to pitch the project to a bunch of European producers and funders at an event called Euro-Connection. The pitch went well and we ended up getting a Finnish producer and funding from the Finnish Film Foundation – It’s never that straight forward but that was the outcome! With this and the awesome support we were shown by The Irish Film Board from the very beginning it put us in a position to go out and make the film. We shot at Halloween in 2012 which somehow added to its atmosphere. From there it took about 7 months in post, there are quite a few VFX shots which were done in Finland, mainly over Skype, so the process was challenging but really rewarding in the end.”

 

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Alan Gilsenan, Writer / Director of ‘Unless’ & ‘The Meeting’

 

Stephen Porzio met up with filmmaker Alan Gilsenan to chat about his two films set for Irish cinemas this year.

Imagine being a director and getting trapped by snow at home, the day your new film will premiere. This happened to Irish filmmaker Alan Gilsenan, leading him to walk from the Wicklow Mountains all the way to Dublin’s Lighthouse Cinema.

“I kind of enjoyed it. It was like a strange pilgrimage”, he remarks. His story reminds me of fellow filmmaker Werner Herzog, who famously walked from Munich to Paris to visit a dying friend. Gilsenan jokes: “Jesus, I’d say that’s where the likeness ends but if we could even approach old Herzog that’d be fine for me”.

Following last year’s acclaimed documentary Meetings with Ivor, Gilsenan is here at the Filmbase office to promote the first of two dramas he directed being released this year. Out on the 16th March is the Canadian-set Unless, starring Catherine Keener as an author whose daughter (Hannah Gross, Netflix’s Mindhunter) decides to drop out of college and live on the streets.

Attending the press screening of Unless was the first time I left my house after the Beast from the East. What am I presented with but a cold, drippy, snowy Ontario setting.

“I’d always pride myself as someone who doesn’t really feel the cold. But I was in Toronto and thought ‘this is just unbearable’ … I heard some of the sparks and the grips talking about how it was the coldest Winter in Toronto in 150 years the March we shot,” Gilsenan laughs.

Continuing he says: “I’d go into the catering truck just to be warm for five minutes. The other thing is I envisaged a Toronto covered in snow but when it gets to those temperatures, the snow doesn’t fall. It’s just ice. We were putting in fake snow even though it was -35 degrees.”

Adapted from a novel from Pulitzer Prize-Winner Carol Shields, writer-director Gilsenan translates the stream-of-consciousness prose of the source to the screen. While the book is about a mother’s reaction to her child wanting to live on the street, the film centres on the mystery of why the heroine’s daughter, Norah, acts in such a manner.

On adapting the novel, Gilsenan says: “[The film] is a meditation. The source was Carol Shields’ book … Sometimes I’d go back to [it] to check something and think ‘what was I thinking’. It’s the most unlikely film. The book is like Virginia Woolf. It all happens in her head.”

Many of Shields’ themes remain, the cynicism of the modern world and a desire to subvert common depictions of the ‘dysfunctional’ middle-class family. However, a key aspect of the book was excised in the transition to the big screen.

“I think partly the book is a reflection about being a woman in the world. I probably didn’t emphasise it quite as much. I’m also aware that with an extraordinary female cast and Emer Reynolds editing the film and Celiana Cárdenas as the DOP, I’m the only weak link.” He adds thoughtfully: “Probably should have been a woman who made it”.

Unless provides a realistic depiction of homelessness. I ask Gilsenan if the rise of people living on the streets in Ireland led him to choose the subject matter: “Maybe at some subliminal level … It did really bring home the reality of homelessness. The bitter cold … We were in Toronto when quite a few homeless people froze to death. We’ve started to see that in Dublin.”

I note that the scenes where Norah is living on the street felt authentic. “Some of the stuff we shot with Hannah on long lenses is on active streets. In the scene where the frat boys are hassling her – a young woman – it’s actually in the film – got very upset. That was real,” Gilsenan replies.

Gilsenan’s second film in 2018 The Meeting also feels eerily topical, focusing on the true story of a young rape victim confronting her attacker. Scheduled for a September release, the drama premiered at ADIFF last month. Before this interview, I couldn’t find who starred in the movie.

“Alva Griffith, the woman [it is based on] plays herself. It was a deliberate decision by ADIFF not to put the cast in. We felt the film will always be talked about in terms of Alva playing herself. We thought it would be nice to have a screening where that isn’t the issue.” He adds: “A lot people said to me after, ‘Who’s the actress. She’s great.’”

Clint Eastwood made a similar casting decision in his 2018 film The 15:17 to Paris. “Clint copies me in everything. I keep saying to him ‘Clint, stop’”, Gilsenan laughs.

Playing the assailant in The Meeting is Terry O’Neill, an actor who recently appeared in IFTA-winner Michael Inside. Between this and Hannah Gross recently working with David Fincher on Mindhunter, Gilsenan has a knack for discovering great talent. “Well you hope … I think Hannah’s wonderful and Terry is a real star.”

Next, Gilsenan plans a ‘strange experimental film inspired by Joyce’s Ulysses’. He is elusive when I ask if he will return to documentaries: “I quite like the documentary area, I like the drama. I like the more experimental stuff too.” A bit like Werner Herzog.

 

Unless is in Irish cinemas from 16th March 2018

The Meeting will open in Irish cinemas later this year

 

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Garret Walsh, Director of ‘The Observer Effect’

 

Short film The Observer Effect is a dark thriller with a twist about a man and a woman inextricably linked whose paths, when crossed, are destined to end in bloodshed.

Anthony Assad caught up with director Garret Walsh ahead of the film’s Dublin premiere at the Silk Road Film Festival. 

 

AA: First of all congratulations, the film appears to be doing very well, gaining traction across Ireland and further afield in festival circuits. How long was the production process in all? How does it feel to see it travel?

GW: Thanks very much. Well it’s been a long process! I kicked off pre-production in February 2015 and we ended up shooting it in two blocks: one in November 2015 and one in February 2017 and by the time we finished post in August it was two and a half years, all told. In reality, it only took so long because I funded this 100% myself so a lot of the time, pretty much all of 2016 in fact, was spent working elsewhere to build up the funds to do it.

It’s really incredible to see where the film’s gone since then. Our first film festival selection out of the gate was the LA Shorts film festival: Hollywood of all places. I actually flew over for that one – to be in Hollywood for the first time and have it be to screen your first film – well, I couldn’t pass up that chance.

And the reception it’s had everywhere has been just amazing – it’s fascinating and really gratifying to hear how people have reacted to it and hear what they’ve taken from the story and the performances – beyond what I ever thought they might sometimes. We actually have our Dublin premiere in a couple of weeks too – March the 9th at Trinity College as part of the Silk Road Film festival – I’m really interested to see what the reaction will be to its first showing back in what’s effectively its home town.

 

AA: I understand it’s your first film writing and directing. It’s a very ambitious piece, were you nervous about pulling it off? How long did it take to drum up interest and gather your crew?

GW: Oh, terrified – but in a good way. I’d actually been writing feature screenplays for about 20 years – doing like most writers do, I guess, which is start off writing rubbish and then hone and hone until you not only get better scripts but hopefully become a better writer in the process. When those scripts got some positive interest from a couple producers in the UK and US I decided I’d bite the bullet and make a short of my own, sort of a calling-card for them and – as no-one was going to fund me – give myself my own shot at directing.

I think it took about three months to gather most of the crew. If I remember right, after Kathy came aboard as producer the first key creative was Lilla Nurie, our production designer – and her work was the key to getting it moving. She’s unbelievably talented and I found she shared a really similar idea for the look and feel of the thing as I had. When she showed me her concepts for the main set in the film, to which the story builds and that plays such a part in the ending – almost like another character in fact – I felt we had something really special and I think that was something that drew people in initially, a strong story with that unique execution and world-building.

I think a big relief came when I found my actors though – that had been a huge worry up to that point.  As soon as I met Vanessa Emme for the lead I knew she’d be perfect for it and both she and Patrick O’Brien, who plays against her in the film, they both just own the screen whenever they’re in front of camera. It was a huge learning curve for me too – to see how just much an actor can bring to a character with their performance, conveyed with just the subtlest of emotions – something it’s so hard to imagine on the page. Whatever trappings you put around them on the screen, film is always about character and all of them, Brendan Sheehan too – really brought the whole thing to life.

Garret Walsh on set

AA: The production values are quite exceptional. I imagine you spent a lot of time conceiving the look and feel of the film. How closely did you work with your cinematographer and the set designers to realise it? Were any other films used as reference points?

GW: Lilla and I must have spent two or three months at least working on the main set design; looking at images of crypts, ossuaries and religious architecture from all across Europe and surreal artworks from artists like Zdzisław Beksiński and Hieronymus Bosch as inspiration for the look and feel of the thing, getting it just right for the part it has to play in the film. She and Aaron O’Sullivan, our set construction specialist, actually spent nearly eight weeks building it in the end – it was a huge undertaking, they worked miracles with it.

My director of photography, Philip Blake, and I, who has an incredible eye, did something similar too. We spent a long time comparing notes on films we both loved the look of and whose aesthetic could inform what we were imagining. The films of Ridley Scott – like the feel of Tyrell’s office and bedroom sets in Blade Runner – and David Fincher were big reference points. I think we looked the washed-out brown-yellow colour palettes and the textures of ‘The Game’ in our final scenes and it worked great for it.

Another thing whose importance I hadn’t fully appreciated until we made this but which had a huge effect was post-production – colour-grading and effects. We were really lucky that Chriona and Bernard at Element Post here in Dublin liked the project and agreed to work on it. Their colourist Leandro really understood what we were going for and did a beautiful job of grading the image and accentuating and refining it and the work the FX guys, Stephen and Diarmuid, did really brought it to life – it’s hard to exaggerate how much difference that makes.

 

AA: Thematically, you’re treading quite dark territory. Were you relieved once the final cut was in place, exorcised perhaps? Or do you feel at home with all things mysterious and macabre?

GW: It feels amazing when you finally finish a film, especially one that’s taken so long, so in one respect it was a relief to be done but it only takes a day or two before the withdrawal sets in and you wish you were back on set again, there’s just nothing like it – the crew were all incredible to work with and every single person just gave so much to getting this made, you wish you could work with them, like that, every day.

I guess I am drawn to mysterious and macabre stuff – but more so for how it can capture the imagination and draw an audience in. I think that’s what I love to experience in a film and to shoot too, be it a chiller, a western or a sci-fi, all of which I’ve written – it’s always to create an immersive world and characters for the audience to get drawn into, transport them completely.

 

AA: There’s a history and lore hinted at in the film. Have you thought of exploring it further, perhaps in a serialised format?

GW: Absolutely. I love films that both tell their story fully but also hint something larger, which is exactly what I was aiming for with this script to begin with. Although I hadn’t actually planned to take it any further when I started this I became fascinated by it as we explored who these characters are and the mystery that lies at the heart of it – where it all came from and where it could all go afterwards.

So yeah, as soon as I finished post-production I started developing it into a TV show and I now have a series bible/treatment written for a ten-episode first season run of The Observer Effect and the ending of it already has me excited to get started on Season 2 – I should probably just take a couple of days off or something or maybe write another feature but it’s perhaps a good sign that the possibilities of the story won’t let me go until I explore where it all goes next.

 

The Observer Effect will screen in the Silk Road Film Festival on Friday, March 9th at the Edmund Burke Theatre, TCD in a selection of Irish & international short films. Entrance is free.

 

 

 

Irish Short Film Review: The Observer Effect

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Sean Clancy. Writer / Director of ‘Locus of Control’

 

Locus of Control introduces us to Andrew Egan, who reluctantly accepts a teaching job to support his floundering, stand-up comedy career. As an increasingly anxious Andrew grows accustomed to the droll institution and its occupants he suspects that one of the students may be his downfall and that the previous teacher may not have left of his own accord. His life slowly unraveling, Andrew’s lessons fall on deaf ears and he soon becomes part of a larger cosmic joke. 

 

Ahead of its screening at Filmbase, Sean Clancy tells us about his dark comedy about decision and control.

 

 

For the last few years I’ve made all sorts of short films and sketches, all of which were experiments or challenges in some way. These pieces were as much about becoming familiar with the ins and outs of filmmaking as they were a reason to get people together and just have fun creating something. Locus of Control was born of the same attitude and feels like the culmination of all the various styles and ideas I’ve thrown around in the past.

The story centres on Andrew Egan, played by John Morton, a struggling stand-up comedian on the dole whose life becomes a slightly surreal descent after taking a job to help the unemployed re-enter the workforce. John described it as “The Shining on a Jobridge” which is a pretty accurate description. It’s got elements of a character with self-absorbed, creative frustrations in an ominous building and a world that gets more sinister as things progress. But the horror and the comedy elements of the film are inseparable, they both play off a sense of tension that run throughout. Peter McGann who plays Chris called it ‘Barton Fink on the dole’ so it’s a story that starts off more comedic and little by little becomes more like a psychological horror.

The idea for the film came when, a few years ago, I was on a course as part of social welfare and we were given a personality test called locus of control. Based on your answers, the test would tell you if you had an ‘internal locus’ or an ‘external locus’, basically whether you felt you had any power over your own life or if it was something that was all dictated by chance, luck and other outside forces. I had been working on an idea for a story about a comedian and when I started the script I introduced elements of a slightly absurd and frustrating bureaucracy but I was more interested in making a story about behaviour and how much control you really have over your life. Andrew’s teaching job is used as a starting point to explore the effects of anxiety, depression, decisions and choice. A kind of domino effect of helplessness and feeling worthless. The film is told from Andrew’s point of view so we see the world how he sees it, not necessarily how it is. As the story builds, the world becomes increasingly threatening and the reality of what’s actually happening becomes more and more questionable.

John Morton was the only person I wanted to play Andrew. We’ve worked together before so I knew what he could bring to a role like this and just as importantly, we get along. That goes a long way when you’re halfway through the shoot, sleep deprived, standing in a rainy car park at three in the morning and asking for another take. John is so well versed in writing and directing his own projects that I can’t imagine making the film without having his insight and experience.

Seamus O’Rourke plays John Lance D’Arcy, a long-standing teacher at Andrew’s new workplace who, like Andrew, is at odds with the world around him.  Before making Locus of Control a friend of mine asked me in passing if I’d seen any of Seamus’ videos online, I hadn’t but as soon as I did I was hooked. A collection of acutely observed monologues that are as sincere as they are funny. I got in touch with Seamus and crossed my fingers. After seeing him perform one of his own one-man plays live I was finding it hard to picture anyone else in the role. Luckily he said yes.

Everyone in the cast did a great job and I can’t thank them enough. We shot for fifteen days with a budget of about €800. People were so engaged and easy to work with that it made a schedule and budget like that much easier than it should be.

I knew the music was going to play a huge part in creating a certain kind of tension and mystery. I’ve been friends with Callum Condron since primary school and he’s an incredibly versatile musician. We hadn’t worked on anything quite like this before but Callum sent on a lot of different mixes as I was editing and he ended up making an album’s worth of brilliant music that fits the film perfectly. You can listen to some of the soundtrack here.

Looking back on the production, it seems like a bit of a blur but I enjoyed every minute of it. I’m incredibly grateful to all of the people who came together to get it made and now that it’s all over I can’t wait to do it again.

 

 

Locus of Control will screen in Filmbase, Dublin on March 7th at 8:15pm as part of the Silk Road International Film Festival 2018.

 

 

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/locusofcontrolfilm

 

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Aoife Nic Ardghail, Writer of ‘Casual’

 

Aoife Nic Ardghail gives us the insight into her film Casual and how a little poetry got it over the line.

Casual is my comment on modern dating and how those intimate but brief relationships can, when they end suddenly, leave at least one party feeling raw, powerless and unable to express themselves. This is all sown up in comedy though, because I wanted the film to be fun.

I wrote the script as far back as August 2014 when I was discovering my new love for screenwriting. I’d written a few stage pieces before, but Casual was among my first short film scripts and it was the one that other director and writer friends seemed to enjoy the most when I bounced it off them for feedback. It was also a film I felt I could make relatively easily, if I found someone with more directing experience who liked it enough to shoot for fun. I saw some of Kate Dolan’s IADT student films online and got in touch as I thought she would be a great fit as director.

Luckily for me, she clicked with the script and brought Philip Blake on board as DOP. We were
loosely going for a Broad City inspired vibe, with naturalistic improv dialogue elements like in the 2014 film Appropriate Behaviour. Between the three of us we sourced everyone, and almost everything, we needed to make the short – camera and sound assistants, actors and dancers. Locations and shoot dates, however, proved more difficult. I got Romano Morelli of Ristorante Romano to let us use his premises for a mention in the end credits, but my attempts at securing a convenience shop were unsuccessful. I had to rewrite a few scenes because of this and we captured the shop action we couldn’t write around by guerrilla shooting through a Spar window from across the road, while I went in in character and acted out the scene. But in the end we cut the shop and the rewritten stuff because there was enough in the scenes that had better production value.

I’m not sure if I can call the weather a glitch since the heavy, incessant rain the day of the park scenes may have been the very reason we didn’t get kicked out. There were no other members of the public around, apart from a man with sandwiches and a radio in one corner of the amphitheatre, so we didn’t encounter any patrolling rangers. Unfortunately, the dance choreography outside of our shelter didn’t make it into the final cut as there was no masking the fact everyone was being soaked.

I cast fellow Bow Street actors Fiona Lucia McGarry, Terry O’Neill and Mark Donaghy so I knew we’d have that end of the film on point. My friend Kate Finegan is a choreographer as well as actor and aerial hoopist and she sourced the wonderful dancers. Scheduling was another tricky one though. People were working around their professional gigs so that stretched the shoot out over several months.

From start to finish, it took about nine months to get everything in the can. Then it was another year before completion because I moved to Brighton for a time and it all stalled. But once I was Dublinbound again I decided I would get a crowd-funding campaign going to see the project through. I set the target at €2,000 for an editor, sound designer, composer and promotional material as neither me, Kate or Philip knew anyone who would come on board pro bono for post production. Both Kate and Phil by then were fully booked with their professional commitments. I wasn’t massively hopeful I’d raise the amount as Fundit is an all-or-nothing platform, and by the final week I was still way off my target. But after a little panic, I got a brainwave to record a short poem each day for the last seven days of the funding drive and get this on my Facebook page instead of the flatter written pleas I’d been previously posting. Casual has a poetry theme, so I thought this was fierce clever altogether. And amazingly, it worked.

With the magic funds I was able to get National Film and Television School past students Rob Szeliga and Filip Sijanic on board for sound design and music. They’d worked together while studying so that was a big plus. Then writer/director Daniel Butler agreed to edit, grade and do all of the technical business with DCPs and those final elements that I have little understanding of as first time producer and someone used to being in front of the camera.

It’s thanks to all the remarkably talented people who dedicated their time to this project that I now have a film. And of course I have to mention my friends, family and anonymous supporters who gave me a dig out through Fundit. I learned a whole rake and I’m looking forward to the next one.

 

 

Casual screens at IndieCork in Programme 2 of the Irish Shorts selection @ 4.30pm on Friday, 13th October 2017. 

IndieCork runs from 8 – 15 October 2017

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Sean Breathnach, Writer/Director ‘Beyond The Woods’

Sean Breathnach (Pic: Marcin Lewandowski)

 
Beyond The Woods is a supernatural horror film set in an isolated house in the middle of a forest, where a gathering of friends is thrown into chaos by the opening of a mysterious fiery sinkhole. Stephen Porzio braved the woods with writer/director Sean Breathnach ahead of his debut feature screening at this year’s Underground Cinema Film Festival.

 

The film feels uniquely Irish. For instance, characters give serious thought about leaving their house to get more drink while bad stuff is clearly happening. Was it fun to take the American brand of horror  – confined friends being terrorised by unknown force – and place it in a distinctly Irish setting?

 

You know, I never thought of it that way really, but you are right in your description. It was always going to be very Irish – you have to be true to what you know, and it is set here in Ireland after all. The cottage is very Irish, and the characters are all Irish. It plays to its strengths. We wanted to appeal to an international audience but the film was always going to be an Irish film. Though we do mention ‘Police’ instead of ‘Gardaí’ just to avoid confusion abroad!

 

 

The sulphur plot-point is a really good backdrop for the film. It serves as an ominous threat, as well as a symbol for the toxicity between the characters. Where did that idea originate from?

 

Like all good ideas this one has a solid base in reality, believe it or not. The idea actually came from an  article I read in a newspaper. It was about a sinkhole that had opened up in China and locals were holding branches of trees over the hole and watching as they burst into flames. Some of the dialogue in the film comes directly from that article – “Gateway to hell! Fiery sinkhole opens up on Chinese mountainside spewing fumes at 792C”. I read that article at just the right time. I had the idea of the friends in the isolated house in the woods, and the dramatic conflict, and the terror, but I wanted to do something new with the horror element. Reading that article was the lightbulb moment. That’s when everything really came together.

 

 

The characters and their interactions feel quite naturalistic. How did you go about choosing your cast and did you take any steps to make sure they felt more real… maybe using improv?

 

I’m glad that comes across, because that was exactly what I was going for. Independent films, in particular, rise or fall based on the quality of the acting. It was my number one priority with this film – getting the right people both in front of and behind the camera. I had worked with most of the cast before on short films. I knew what they were capable of. I also crafted the characters around them. I did encourage improv, and I think it worked really well. But there isn’t as much improv there as you’d think, and that’s a testament to the quality of the acting. That being said, we didn’t stick rigidly to the dialogue on the script all the time. I had a direction for the scenes, some plot points to be hit, but if the actors found a more natural way of getting there then that’s the way we went. We did the same with the camera – we shot a lot of handheld scenes so we could follow the actors and keep things flowing. Páraic and Kieran didn’t thank me for that – I should have had a masseuse on set to take care of their backs and shoulders at the end of those long days shooting, or at the very least a hot bath – but you don’t get that stuff on an independent shoot!

 

 

Two moments in the film evoked memories of John Carpenter movies  – the mirror scene in Prince of Darkness and the driving scene in In the Mouth of Madness. Was he a conscious influence and were there any other directors whose work you were channelling?

 

I am a huge fan of John Carpenter, and I love In the Mouth of Madness. When I wrote the film I wasn’t thinking of any films or directors in particular, but there’s no doubt that I am influenced by the films and books I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid. Particularly the mood of those movies and books, that sense of creeping dread. The build-up of tension. Showing the audience things before our characters see them so the audience knows the danger they’re in. There are little homages in there to a few of my favourite directors, and probably a few more homages that I amn’t even aware of. I’m sure I must channel the work of many of the directors I admire in some way – you can’t help but be influenced by the greats. But, yes, it was a conscious decision to keep the mood of the film Carpenter-esque.

 

There’s been a new wave of very solid Irish horror cinema – just this year there’s been A Dark Song, Without Name and Nails. Why do you think there’s been such a resurgence for the genre in the country?

 

I don’t know is the short answer! We’ve always been a nation of storytellers, right back to Celtic times. I recall my grandad terrifying me and my sister with tales of the Ban Sidhe, haunted houses and big dogs that would appear and disappear in the fog – so there’s no doubt we have a tradition of spooky dark storytelling.  I don’t know why horror cinema has been on the rise in Ireland at the current time. But there have been a lot of great horror movies coming out of Ireland recently. Personally, I’ve enjoyed Ivan Kavanagh’s and Brian O’Malley’s work to name but a few.

 

Beyond The Woods screens on Sunday, 3rd September as part of the Underground Cinema Film Festival 

 

Buy tickets here 

 

The 8th Underground Cinema Film Festival takes place in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire from August 31st to September 3rd.

 

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Paddy Murphy: How We Made ‘The Three Don’ts’

Two lads receive a simple job with a big payout. All is not as it seems and if they break The Three Don’ts, they could be in for a world of hurt.

Ahead of its screening at the Underground Cinema Film Festival, writer/director Paddy Murphy tells Film Ireland about his neo-noir, black comedy film set in Limerick. 

 

Back in April of 2015, I had shot three short films. These films had been plagued with a variety of issues and I was kind of losing my love of the industry and was thinking about packing it all in and going back to my day job. That was when I met Brian Russo Clancy; a musician and writer from Limerick. Brian and I had a coffee in mid-April and I was convinced to draft a script based on his concept for a short film called ‘The Three Don’ts’.

Two years later and many, many hours spent on set and in post-production, I can safely say that was one of the best decisions of my life. Through Brian, I was introduced to a cinematographer named Barry Fahy, who was Director of Photography on the original short. Barry and I had an immediate bond and since then we’ve gone on to shoot over a dozen shorts together and even set up our own production company – along with Brian Clancy and constant co-conspirator Aaron Walsh.

So what is The Three Don’ts? The film is a neo-noir, black comedy set in Limerick, Ireland. It tells the story of two young, naive lads named Jason McCarthy (Brian Russo Clancy) and Benson Yau (Nathan Wong) who want nothing more than to make a few bob. Benson finds out through his Uncle, that a group of lads led by an enigmatic and powerful character named Banger (Adam Moylan) are looking for someone to do a simple job, for a big payout.

What they don’t realise is that this “Simple Job” will bring them in contact with feuding families, a pair of assassins and a drug kingpin who has a hold over all involved. If they can follow ‘The Three Don’ts’ they might just make it through the night alive. But what are the chances of that…

After we had shot the original short film – which ran to 30 mins – we held a screening in our local Odeon Cinema. We filled the place out with over 400 people in attendance and we knew there had to be more to this story. Brian’s brother, Eric Clancy, who also plays Crunchie in the film, came on board and drafted concepts for two further long-form shorts. I then took these three arcs and worked to bring them into one feature-length screenplay with story input from Brian.

We originally had a 2 hour and 23 minute long cut of the film in May of 2016. While at the Cannes film festival, myself, Adam, Aaron and Barry met an Australian producer by the name of Judd Tilyard who came onboard the film as Executive Producer. He gave advice and insights on reshoots to try and bring the ridiculously long run-time down and to tighten up the plotline and arc.

Reshoots began in September of 2016 and lasted through to October. After two years, the film was finally in the bag thanks to an incredible cast and crew whose passion for the film seeps through in every frame. A huge thanks must be extended to every single person who helped make this film a reality. Without the help and support of them, this wouldn’t even exist.

Over two years, we’ve worked on this film and are so excited to be finally having the film premiere at the Underground Cinema Film Festival (UCFF). The film has already been screened for industry professionals like Nicholas Burman Vince [Hellraiser] – who also moderated the Q&A at the film’s test screening in Limerick, May 2017 – who said the film made him laugh until he cried… then started laughing again.

The Soska Sisters, directors of the films Dead Hooker in a Trunk and American Mary, were huge inspirations to me. We were so lucky to have them take a look at the film as it was nearing completion and they gave us some incredible feedback and advice. They also said The Three Don’ts was “A really fun, batshit crazy film!”.

Getting to meet all these amazing professionals and even work with them has been amazing, but not as rewarding as the knowledge that a group of friends went out together and made this film happen. That is the thing that matters most to me about the last two years. Now we are looking to the future. After UCFF, the film has a few more festival acceptances to announce.

We also have some more work to do on our sound mix, so we might run a kickstarter to cover the costs of getting that done. Our aim is to release a limited run of Blu-Rays of the film that will only be available to about 100 people. We really want to get this film out there and into the hands of genre fans everywhere.

This experience has taken me from the brink of giving up and turned this into my career. It wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t taken thirty minutes to go have a coffee with a friend.

 

The Three Don’ts screens on Saturday, September 2nd at 3pm at the 8th Underground Cinema Film Festival.

Get tickets here

The 8th Underground Cinema Film Festival takes place in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire from August 31st to September 3rd.

 

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Len Collin, Director of ‘Sanctuary’

Gemma Creagh talks to Len Collin about Sanctuary, which introduces us to Larry and Sophie, two people with intellectual disabilities, who long to be together in a world that does everything to keep them apart.

Sanctuary is currently in the  following cinemas and will tour regionally nationwide

Eye Galway;

IMC Dun Laoghaire;

IMC Galway;

Irish Film Institute;

Light House;

Movies @ Dundrum

 

 

 

 

Podcasts

 

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Caoilfhionn Dunne, Actor, ‘In View’

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Gemma Creagh talks to actor Caoilfhionn Dunne about her role in Ciaran Creagh’s In View, which is released in cinemas from 19th May 2017.

Caoilfhionn plays Ruth, whose life is one of burgeoning guilt dominated by rage, alcoholism, depression and self-loathing which has its origins in a once-off drunken indiscretion with a work colleague some years previous. 

In View was awarded first prize for best screenplay at the 2016 Rhode Island International Film Festival and Caoilfhionn was nominated in the best actress category in the 2017 Irish Film and Television Awards.

 

What’s your background in acting?

I trained at the Gaiety School, a part-time, one-year course first of all and then a full-time, two-year course. I had been in the University of Limerick studying law, French and Sociology but dropped out about halfway through to do acting. 

 

Every parent’s dream… 

Yes, it really is. As you can imagine they were over the moon! At first, I was mainly working in theatre, but got into film when I did a short with Hugh O’Conor called Corduroy, and then Love/Hate came along, which was my big TV break. 

 

What’s different about working in theatre, film and television, and what is it you like about them?

Well, they all bleed into each other in some respects. I love live theatre. I love the feeling of being in the room with an audience and feeding off them. There’s a wonderful exchange that happens in that one moment. The next night it is you and an entirely different group of people. So, each night, everybody in the room together has a shared, unique experience. I love that about theatre.

I love film because you get to experiment with how little is required to express a huge amount. I love playing with that. And how much you can convey with as little as possible.

And with TV,  the great thing is you get to create a person and carry them through a longer storyline. And you become part of a family.

They all have their own things but do feed into each other a lot.

 

Turning to In View, Ruth is a very intense character to play. How did you get into the headspace for this?

I read it and just went on what Ciaran [Creagh, the writer/director] had written. I didn’t want to pay too much attention to her job or her identity as a guard, but just to focus on a human being who feels there is no other option. I wanted to explore that. It’s a subject that is very close to my heart, especially with what’s happening in Ireland at the moment and how we do not deal with mental health problems and the problems associated with them. So it was tough, to say the least, but it was worth it to get that character and these subjects on the screen.

They’re subjects that have affected every single Irish person on some level, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. Those things have been around us, if not in us then around. So it’s important to have look at that and acknowledge it.

 

As an actor, do you bring something of yourself to the characters you play?

I think they are all bits of me – when I approach something I try to find what I know of it. You have to look at yourself and ask, is there a bit of me like that? There’s four main states of being: happy, sad, afraid and angry and we’ve all been there in varying degrees. That’s where I start… what do I know? How can I access that? What part of me do I have? I think that is important for me to maintain a truth throughout what I’m playing, to ground it in something real.

 

Is there any role in particular you’d like to play?

Mmmmm. I would love to do a comic book movie… something with action.

 

You had a few action scenes in Love/Hate – did you get a taste for it?

I did, but I want to be green-screening this, jumping off stuff. Doing mad things. I’m a big comic book and fantasy fan so that’s the kind of stuff I love reading and it’s something that I’d love to do – and it’s big at the moment.

 

Who would be the person you love to play?

I’ve always had my eye on Jean Grey from the X-Men but they have their new Jean Grey now so that’s gone out the window. I suppose I’ll just have to write one myself!

 

And you can base it in Ireland. I think we’re due a good superhero movie.

Yeh. I think we need a good action movie in Ireland. The last one was Haywire with Gina Carano, jumping across  Dublin rooftops and kicking the life out of lads. So, I think we’ve nailed the comedy and the tragedy; it’s time for a big action movie in Ireland.

 

If you were starting out now and you could give yourself some advice, what would it be?

I would say, get  to do everything. Do stage, do screen, do dance, learn to juggle, learn to ride a horse. Learn as many skills as you possibly can because one day that there will always be dips and there will be times when one side of things isn’t going as well. And, also, just arm yourself with as many skills as you possibly can because they will always come in useful and you may open yourself up to jobs that otherwise would have been unavailable to you.

In View is in cinemas from 19th May 2017

 

 

Interview: Ciaran Creagh, writer/director of ‘In View’

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Interview with Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, producer of ‘Lady Macbeth’

Fodhla+Cronin+O+Reilly+Academy+Motion+Picture+G1-MLZoCHSUl

Grace Corry talks to Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, the producer of Lady Macbeth.

Set in rural England, 1865, Katherine (Florence Pugh) is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age, whose family are cold and unforgiving. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her, so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

 

What was it about this project that appealed to you?

 

It really started with Nikolai Leskov’s novella and Catrina, the protagonist in the book – she was just such an intriguing, complex female protagonist that I really wanted to explore her story. Plus there was the chance to work with William Oldroyd, the director, and Alice Birch, the writer, who adapted the book.

 

Both have had a remarkable couple of years, particularly in the theatre. How did the relationship come about between the 3 of you?

Somebody recommended I watch a short film called Best, which was the Winner of Best Short Film Competition at Sundance London in 2013. I watched it and fell in love with it. I thought it was incredibly original, brilliantly executed  and so clever. I wanted to meet him and when we met we got on like a house on fire. During that meeting he told me had just met Alice and that she had an idea to adapt this Russian novella. She hadn’t written anything yet but we both loved the novella and decided to join forces and started developing the project together and adapting it and setting it in 1865 rural England rather than the Russian setting of the novella.

 

What was the thinking behind that?

Isolation is such a huge theme in the book and we felt the time and the setting in Northumberland in rural England would reflect that theme. We did look at contemporising it but we just felt we wanted to protect the period element of the story and we were drawn to British period dramas and wanted to do something a little bit different with that. We felt this sort of story would be a way of doing that.

 

For a period drama you had a fairly small budget – how much of a challenge was that as a producer.

It was definitely a challenge making a period film on such a small budget but we figured it out and because of the way we made the film in terms of us being a team of equal partners in it together, which it made it easier in ways. Yes, it was a challenge – but it was fun figuring it out!

 

Lady Macbeth is in cinemas now

 

 

 

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Podcast: Ben Wheatley,’Free Fire’

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Paul Farren talks to Ben Wheatley about taking a procedural look at action with Free Fire, breaking it down to an atomic level, planning the shoot, the production design, the ’70s setting, scriptwriting and the inspirations behind Armie Hammer’s suave look.

 

 

Armnie Hammer
Armie Hammer, left, whose look was inspired by:

 

DanOBannon
Dan O’Bannon

 

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and Tony Roberts

 

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Podcast: Capital Irish Film Festival

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John Collins was at the 11th annual Capital Irish Film Festival in Washington, USA and met some of the attending filmmakers.

 

Henrietta Norton, director, and Dan Dennison, DOP, Born and Reared

2017 Capital Irish Film Festival_07

In this interview, John talks to director Henrietta Norton and DOP Dan Dennison about bringing their film, Born and Reared, to an American audience, the challenges for Dan as a photographer working with film, shooting in Belfast, and the overwhelming desire for peace in Northern Ireland.

Born and Reared tells the story of four men in Northern Ireland living in the aftermath of a conflict that ended 18 years ago.


Marie-Therese Garvey, producer of Atlantic

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John talks to producer Marie-Therese Garvey about working with Risteard O’Domhnaill on Atlantic , crowdfunding, the power of story, the impact the film is having, the value of film festivals and having Brendan Gleeson on board.

Atlantic focuses on the two biggest resources in the North Atlantic: fish and oil, following the fortunes of three small fishing communities struggling to maintain their way of life.


Kealan Ryan, actor and writer of Lift 

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John talks to Kealan Ryan, actor and writer of Lift about bringing his debut indie feature to the festival, getting the dialogue right, the dynamic of the characters, how the project came about, and the different challenges writing novels and scripts.

In Lift, a vicious attack by Sean leaves a man unconscious and him stranded in an elevator with five others.


Hilary Rose, actor in The Young Offenders

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John talks to Hilary Rose about celebrating Irish film abroad, what goes into making a good comedy, being a pregnant fishmonger, the success of The Young Offenders and The Sultans of Ping.


John Collins is a producer/director living in Kensington, Maryland. He has an affinity for all things Irish including cinema, literature, music (particularly anything circa 1978-1982) and whiskey. He once played soccer with Bono in Heathrow Airport. His company is called Happy Medium Productions because everybody is always looking for a happy medium.

 

The 11th annual Capital Irish Film Festival ran 2 – 5 March 2017.

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Interview: James Phelan, writer ‘Striking Out’

Striking-Out-Amy-Huberman

Sarah Cullen caught up with James Phelan, writer of the RTE drama Striking Out, which follows the tumultuous professional and personal life of Dublin-based solicitor, Tara Rafferty, and her fledgling legal firm.

Acorn TV is giving the Irish legal drama an exclusive U.S. premiere on its streaming service on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

I think one of the stars of Striking Out has got to be Dublin itself – the place looks fantastic! I wonder how important the location and setting was in the writing of the script?

Naturally enough, a huge amount of credit has to go to the director Lisa (James Larsson) and the DOP Frida (Wendel). I’m sure there’s an argument to be made for this being a case of an outside eye looking at the city afresh and while there’s an element of that, it was always envisaged that Dublin be the final character of the piece at script level too.

And I guess that’s what’s great about Dublin for drama. You can mould your vision for your drama around different and differing areas that are all legitimately and authentically Dublin. Even the juxtaposition of our beautiful historic districts bumping up against stunning new modern architecture really works well onscreen.

Overall, it was an upfront ambition to openly acknowledge that Dublin is an attractive city. I think I alluded to the connection between New York and Sex and the City in early style notes for the show. You want it to feel rooted and real as opposed to an affectation. But on a level deeper than optics, I did want to stock an attractive show about Dublin with attractive people without sacrificing depth. And without ever having to apologise for it. If Dublin gets a tourism boost out of how well the show looks, what a lovely upside.

 

There’s a lot of in-depth analysis of the Irish legal system going on in Striking Out. Did you feel the need to do any research for the court proceedings and the legal aspects of the storylines?

Oh yeah, I think you have to do due diligence and have the world sound and feel right. You don’t want to straitjacket the drama either by being overly zealous and overly exact but there is a balance to be struck. I have a slight grounding through studying law for a few years but really it’s the feel of the law in practice that has to feel right and real.

It’s not a show ‘about solicitors for solicitors’ but you want to evoke a recognisable world where the setting is a convincing crucible for drama. That said, adhering to the reality of the law would inherently kill so much drama if we had to truly acknowledge or account for every naturally occurring delay or adjournment that would crop up. So it’s definitely a balance between creating a case that would resonate with our main character Tara and then finding the entry point that cuts to the quick of drama. As in most screenwriting lessons – that entry point was generally as late as possible so Tara could be proactive, positive and effective.

 

Would it be fair to say that scriptwriting on Striking Out is a rather different affair to your historical comedy drama Wrecking the Rising? How did you manage to shift from one style to the other?

I’m definitely of the mind that any writer should have an adaptable style. The material is king and dictates so much. If a writer has a style that is so pronounced and particular and rigid –  I doubt it would always serve differing subject matters properly.

In my book, I think the language and style of writing is sculpted to extract the most and evoke the most from any premise. A period horror script should read so differently from say – a cyber thriller. Even from the same writer. Obvious, I know. But one style does not fit all. Or suit all.

Wrecking the Rising probably contained a couple of different styles in that it had fictional modern men alongside real historical figures. I guess the most delicate balance there was to embrace the fun and whimsy of a time-travelling plot while also striving to be weirdly respectful, insightful and even poignant.

One of my ambitions setting out with Wrecking was not to have the historical characters converse in ‘patina-encrusted speech mode’. I loved how in JFK every minor character Jim Garrison interviews feels real and in the moment. And almost preoccupied in that moment by something personal. Hence, I had Connolly obsessing about his missing hat. Rather than fretting about masterplans or recounting all the events that lead to the occupation of the GPO. They all knew why they were there. Why on earth would they be reiterating it endlessly?

I’m delighted with Wrecking. And delighted it felt so different from Striking Out. And hopefully the next couple of planned dramas and features will feel very different too.

 

There’s some serious acting talent going on in Striking Out. When you were writing did you have any of the actors like Amy Huberman or Neil Morrissey in mind?

Well Neil was a bit of a bolt from the blue. Just in terms of a casting coup. The character of Vincent was created during the period of development that the show went through. He was always erudite and charming with a slight self destructive streak. Neil was inspired casting. He embodies Vincent so well. It looks effortless like all great acting.

It was the opposite situation with Amy because it’s a case of going from an actor I hadn’t thought of for Vincent to pretty much the only actor I suggested for Tara. And it was merely a suggestion. From a lowly writer with no power to swing these things. But back in the very early days when the producers asked who I saw in the role – I just thought instinctively Amy would be a great fit for Tara. On our lengthy journey to the screen, the show is never truly in casting mode until things get more concrete as it nears production. So there’s a lovely symmetry in Amy ending up in the role. And excelling in the role.

 

Were there any scenes or characters you particularly enjoyed writing?

I spent the most time on Episode 1. It’s an ultra dramatic start that kicks off the show and it has a propulsion that plunges Tara and the viewers into an engrossing chain of events. I always liked that Tara and Ray found each other and bonded on this most traumatic dramatic day. Seeing that connection blossom and the actors bringing it to life was very satisfying.

 

Did you spend any time in collaboration with Striking Out’s other writers, Rob Heyland and Mike O’Leary?

I hope I had lot of the groundwork in place by the time the boys came onboard. I had plans in place for the four episode arc but between us we divided it up and fleshed it out.

I guess I saw my job as show creator as equipping the other writers with compelling cases and a vivid cast of characters to play with. And through which they could explore and expand our world.

For example, when I came up with the bigamy case for Episode Three and the organ donor angle that underpinned it, I knew a writer as experienced as Rob would knock it out of the park, which he proceeded to do.

Overall, I’m most proud that of all the intellectual and storytelling rigour applied to Striking Out that the world and cast of characters I created really stood solid. You can tell that something is working when characters you conjured out of thin air are being instantly discussed as very rounded relatable characters. That occurred with so many characters from Tara’s mum to Eric’s father and everyone in between.

 

And finally, without giving too much away, the finale of Striking Out certainly left scope for a second season. Do you think Tara and the gang might return to our screens?

Striking Out was definitely designed to be a renewable and returnable series. I think there is plenty of mileage in the tank for it because I think an audience want to see more of Tara’s journey. It was my plan if we were lucky enough to get a second series that we see Tara returning to the dating scene and depict her enjoying her life again. Which she surely was before she discovered Eric’s cheating. An audience hasn’t seen that aspect of her yet.  I think Amy and the rest of the cast can grow even further into these roles and entertain the nation for a while yet.

 

Premieres March 17 at https://acorn.tv/strikigout.

 

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Interview: Hilary Rose, actor ‘The Young Offenders’

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With the release of The Young Offenders on DVD and online platforms, Gemma Creagh took advantage of a telecommunications device to chat to Hilary Rose about her experiences playing Mairead MacSweeney in the hit Cork comedy.

 

Can you tell us about working with Alex Murphy and Chris Walley. It’s obvious on screen that there was a great rapport between the three of you. 

It was great. We spent a lot of time together. I took them shopping for their costumes, had lunch and coffee, bought props with them, and just did loads of little activities together so that we would have that relationship when we went on set. It worked. We just all connected together as this oddball family unit. We still all hang out together. They’re really great guys.

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It’s so funny when you see the reaction to the two lads after they had been transformed into their characters. Obviously, I met them as they were but some of the cast and crew only met them in character when the transformations were done. They were really stand-offish with them – when they’re in character with the accents they’re quite intimidating. And then off screen they are just these lovely middle-class boys out of school doing their thing and people, were like oh my God… they just hadn’t realized how much of a transformation had gone on.

 

What was it like as an actor working with Peter Foott? 

Peter’s great. He’ll give you an idea and then shove you onto the path and you need to go and do the groundwork yourself, which is great as an actor because it gives you a certain amount of freedom. For me, I like observing people, looking for quirks and different things and characters kind of come out of that. A mish-mash of all these things and obviously what the writer has written as well. Peter gave us all a lot of rehearsal time so that if there was stuff he wasn’t happy with, stuff he felt that wasn’t in keeping with the character he had written, we were able to tweak that. So the characters grew organically in the rehearsal period.

 

You must have had a lot of fun on set – were many of the scenes improvised?

A lot of the scenes were improvised. For me, my experience on the hidden camera show The Fear was really helpful. Prank shows are all about improv. Peter was great to allow us to do that. We used to do our scripted take and then we would do what we called “the X take”, which was the improv take. We were allowed to do and say whatever we wanted within the boundaries of the scene. That was really fun stuff. And then of course with PJ on set, I think we spent 50 per cent of the time just laughing at him and it was often really hard to get through takes when he was around.

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I heard the hair was improvised!

When we were in rehearsal, we were doing a lot of character work. PJ turned around to me and said wouldn’t it be great if he had a bald spot. When we said it to Peter you could see PJ go… well I have to do it now. We shaved it on set. It turned out the caterer was also a hair dresser. She turned up one day with our lunch and then shaved PJ’s head.

 

You must be chuffed with the success of the film and the reactions it’s getting.

It’s been amazing. It’s really been an amazing year. We really didn’t expect to get the reaction that we did.  We just hoped that it might get into a couple of festivals, maybe win an award, put us on the map a little bit. But the way it snowballed is incredible. It’s still in cinemas in Cork and it’s done so well in the UK and is going world wide. It was number one on iTunes and got some great reviews. It’s been incredible.

 

The Young Offenders is available in all good DVD stores as well as on Amazon and the Wildcard Distribution website. The movie is available to view across online platforms in Ireland including iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and Eir.

 

 

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Interview: Ciaran Creagh, writer/director of ‘In View’

Ciaran Creagh Writer Director In View

Writer / director Ciaran Creagh talked to Film Ireland about his film In View, the story of the implosion of Ruth Donnelly, a thirty-something Garda officer, whose drunken indiscretion set off a chain of events which she never could have foretold. A couple of years have now passed and Ruth’s life is one of burdening guilt dominated by rage, alcoholism, depression and self-loathing. Ruth eventually concludes that there is only one way for her to make amends with the world.

 

The subject matter of In View is particularly challenging for a filmmaker – can you tell us how the project came about?

This was one of the challenges facing me when writing the screenplay. From the outset, this film is more than just about depression and suicide. I wanted it to touch on the larger, more universal story of human guilt, the way sometimes one can never move on with their lives and also the extreme and sometimes nonsensical measures people take to placate their guilt.

I had the central idea of the story and then came up with the characters and scenarios.  While writing the screenplay I carried out a lot of research into the area and spoke to organisations working in the sector.  They all welcomed the raising of these issues into the national debate on a topic which really needs to be talked about.  Of course, the more you get into a project the more you learn and discover. This can ultimately change the direction of the script, which of course it did.

Through this process the script went from being initially a chase movie to save Ruth to the telling of a story through the eyes of one character.  The art of writing a screenplay is very demanding but I don’t feel that any particular topic should increase that challenge unless it is so close to your heart that you, as a writer, can’t step away to be impartial.

 

From script to screen – you frame the world in a particular way in the film that informs us of the main character’s state of mind; obviously working with David Grennan as your DOP was crucial to achieve this. And then there’s getting the final project through the edit working with Tony Cranstoun. 

In every feature there are three films. The script is the first as to how the writer sees it. The second is the director of photography, with the third being the cutting room. Dave Grennan is a hugely experienced DOP who brings an awful lot to the table. What Dave did is to take what’s on the page and turn it into not just pictures but the visual experience for the audience. We worked together really well and understood each other. Trust is so important and as a writer/director you are exposing yourself on film and you need this sort of relationship with your DOP. I would give an idea of what I wanted and Dave just made it come to life. Simple as that. I think that is what you call talent!

The third part of the equation is the edit. On In View this was Tony Cranstoun. Tony has an amazing CV and the breadth of his experience really helped make this film what it is. He continually pushed me and came up with solutions when none seemed possible. The pacing of In View is pretty amazing considering that the assembly was 155 minutes and the completed film 93 minutes. I suppose the key to a good editor is to figure out what the director wants and then push it way past that point to a place where you watch the film over and over again and can’t think of any further changes. Tony got me there.

 

Can you tell us about the decision to have the main character as a garda?

When I came up with the main theme of the film I then needed to create the backstory and lead character.  I love character and especially making them in some way an anti-hero. Given the story sentimentality could have crept in very easily and there is nothing worse on screen for me than having the lead as a weak character. The police deal with and protect us from the very worst in society but this cannot but rub off. It gives this inner resilience to compartmentalise awful things they encounter and this is what the lead character in this film needed. She needed an inner strength and by making her a garda, the character could take on a persona which is both believable and real.

In View - Ruth (Caoilfhionn Dunne) listens from behind the door

Caoilfhionn Dunne as Ruth is immense in the film. What did she bring to the role as an actor.

Caoilfhionn was terrific in the role and has been praised by everybody that has seen the film and has been lauded by all of the reviewers for her stunning performance. Her character is in every scene and half of the scenes in the film have no dialogue. The actor who had to play the lead character was always going to have to be terrific to carry this film. If the audience didn’t believe her portrayal of Ruth, they wouldn’t believe the film either. I know I am biased but her performance is in my opinion unsurpassed in 2016 in Ireland.

 

You didn’t do too badly with the rest of the cast either.

How lucky were we! The cast was pretty amazing and reads like a who’s who of Irish talent. Stuart Graham, Ciaran McMenamin, Gerry McSorley, Maria McDermottroe… need I go on. So much talent and ability and all so generous and understanding of what we were trying to achieve with the film. When you work with experienced actors they will know what they must bring to the film and have a level of professionalism which gives great reassurance to any director.

The balance of the characters at script stage was a real challenge since you have to ensure that  the focus is on Ruth as this film is about her journey and how she interacts with the environment that she encounters. The spark between all the actors was instant with all having a very strong instinct for the characters and an immediate rapport with each other as actors.

 

I read that the script was originally written with a male lead in mind. Can you explain your decision to change that.

I worked on the script for about one year and one of the producers, Simon Doyle, was very involved in the process. We brought the script to a really good place and we felt that it was ready for production. Out of the blue, one evening while sitting at home, it came to me, what if the main male character and the supporting female character switched roles without changing the characteristics of their individual character.  I rewrote the script in the matter of 24 hours and knew straightaway this simple change would make this film something special – showing a female in a male dominated world.  I think women are generally a lot more complex and, as a writer, this gives you so many more places you can go when exploring a character.

 

What has been audiences’ reactions to the film?

It has been pretty amazing everywhere we have been. Whether it was the Ireland, the US, Germany, Poland or Estonia the reaction has been great from the reviewers but especially the audience.  I have had a number of audience members approach me who have been touched by depression and suicide in some way and all have been so positive about In View. When we were trying to fund the film the usual funders you would approach all said that the lead character would never hold an audience. This certainly was not my experience. She is the anti-hero and you are sucked into her world.

 

Recently there was Frank Berry’s film [I Used to Live Here] about suicide clusters and now your film, which both make an important contribution to public discourse around suicide.

In View is an original piece of filmmaking which directly relates to the on-going crisis of suicide in Ireland and in many other countries around the world. Its approach, by focusing on the character and how she develops throughout the feature, is a very distinctive voice and is challenging in how it shows an individual’s view of the world and the progression of her life to what she sees as its successful completion and atonement.

This is not a popular choice of topic for a film and I do understand that – but writers are supposed to challenge and I hope in some way that I have contributed in some meaningful way to the debate that needs to happen.  Frank’s film is great and while looking at similar themes shares something in common with In View, that is the terrific performance of the lead actor, Jordanne Jones.

I hope that the audience will find the film an accurate and true reflection of a person’s life who had found herself in a bad place through circumstances of choices made. This is not about judging the character of Ruth but is about trying to understand and have compassion for her. All that she can see is all that is now gone. How many people around the world feel this every single day?

 

 

 

Caoilfhionn Dunne, Actor, ‘In View’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview: Director Billy O’Brien and Actor Max Records, ‘I Am Not a Serial Killer’

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Gemma Creagh talks to director Billy O’Brien and actor Max Records about their film I Am Not a Serial Killer.

Billy discusses how 3 Irish filmmakers ended up making Dan Wells’ novel about Middle America into a film and Max reveals how he got into acting and Where the Wild Things Are. Along the way, Billy talks about Christopher Lloyd’s subtle acting technique and, of course, there’s chat about the weather and Trump.

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Podcast: Interview with Johnny O’Reilly, writer/director of ‘Moscow Never Sleeps’

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Stephen Porzio talks to Johnny O’Reilly about his film Moscow Never Sleeps, a multi-story drama that weaves through Moscow’s choked cityscape as it celebrates its birthday with a massive fireworks display. Over the course of one day, many lives will change forever.

Capturing the kinetic energy of the Russian capital, Johnny O’Reilly’s Moscow Never Sleeps cleverly interweaves five compelling stories in a provocative statement on Putin’s Russia.

Moscow Never Sleeps is a drama about the hidden bonds that connects us all. The film dives headlong into the volatile intersections of contemporary Moscow and the intimate lives of five people: An entrepreneur whose business empire comes under siege by powerful bureaucrats, a teenage girl mired in the misery of a broken home, a young man forced to chose between his girlfriend and his grandmother; a beautiful singer torn apart by the pursuit of two men, and an ailing film star who gets embroiled in a bizarre kidnapping.

These stories weave through Moscow’s choked cityscape as it celebrates its birthday with a massive fireworks display. They reveal the unrestrained energy of Europe’s biggest city and the cruelty and beauty of the Russian spirit.

The film stars many of Russia’s best-known actors including Alexey Serebriakov (Leviathon). It was written and directed by Irish filmmaker, Johnny O’Reilly who has lived in Moscow for 12 years. The film aims to give audiences a unique view of Russian humanity, to present a true impression of a vibrant culture overshadowed by egregious policies of a corrupt government and to capture the pulsating spirit of Europe’s biggest city.

Moscow Never Sleeps is released in Irish cinemas on 11th November 2016

 

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Moscow Never Sleeps is released in Irish cinemas on 11th November 2016

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Video: Interview with Sennia Nanua, ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’

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The Girl With All The Gifts is the new thriller adapted from the award-winning novel of the same name by M.R Carey and directed by Colm McCarthy (Peaky Blinders & Ripper Street).

A scientist (played by Glenn Close) and a teacher (played by Gemma Arterton) are living in a dystopian future as they embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie played by newcomer Sennia Nanua.

In this video, Sennia Nanua takes us behind the scenes and answers a few questions.

 

 

The near future; humanity has been all but destroyed by a mutated fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating “hungries”.  Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects.

At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied, subjected to cruel experiments by biologist Dr. Caldwell.  Despite having been infected with the zombie pathogen that has decimated the world, these children retain normal thoughts and emotions.  And while still being subject to the craving for human flesh that marks the disease these second-generation “hungries” are able to think and feel making them a vital resource in the search for a cure.

The children attend school lessons daily, guarded by the ever watchful Sergeant Parks.  But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest.  Melanie is special.  She excels in the classroom, is inquisitive, imaginative and loves her favourite teacher Miss Justineau.

When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.

 

The film is released Friday, 23rd September 2016

 

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WFT.I Podcast: Julie Ryan, Producer of ‘The Young Offenders’

XXjob 21/07/2016 WEEKEND Julie Ryan, Producer The Young Offenders,Women in Film Feature.Picture: Denis Scannell

Brought to you by Women in Film and Television Ireland and Film Ireland, this podcast features producer Julie Ryan talking to Sarah Griffin about her career to date and her work on The Young Offenders.

Julie is an international producer having produced the short film Take a Seat (Official selection for the Hollywood Film Festival and Palm Springs International Shortfest), Blood and Water (Best narrative at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood & Official selection for the Action on Film International Film Festival at Los Angeles). She has worked on numerous TV shows in Ireland, Canada and the US including Showrunners the Documentary, which debuted No.1 on the iTunes documentary chart in the US.

The Young Offenders is out in cinemas from 16th September and has the widest release of any Irish film so far this year.

 

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Interview: Aoife Kelleher, director of ‘Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village’

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Stephen Porzio sat down with Aoife Kelleher to chat about her latest documentary, Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village, which explores the big question of faith, in the small Irish village of Knock.

Knock was declared a Marian Shrine after fifteen people in the village witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1879. Knock welcomes one million pilgrims annually.

 

There’s a been a wave of anti-Catholic films in recent memory, such as Doubt, Philomena, Mea Maxima Culpa and this year’s Oscar winning Spotlight. Although your film doesn’t shy away from the sex abuse scandals, it is, for the most part, a positive representation of Catholicism – would it be fair to say that?

I think it’s a complex film and I think multiple readings are there, depending on the viewer. Rather than it being a broad examination of Catholicism, it’s more an examination of Catholicism as a narrative by examining this one particular story that’s been handed from generation to generation and how it has influenced the village of Knock. In a sense, what it is looking at is what draws people to Catholicism and the solace that people find in a place like Knock. What brings them there – even if they have, as some of our contributors would, quite a complex relationship with the church itself. So, for me, it’s an observational film and my stance would be a neutral one. It’s about giving the people of Knock a chance to tell their story. And looking at what continues to draw people to the church even after the scandals of the 1990s. I wouldn’t necessarily agree that it’s positive, more so that it is looking at what people find positive there.

 

It is very observational in the fact that there is a vast array of opinions on Catholicism within the film, for example, there is the man who works in the giftshop who uses Old Testament language of burning in hell for all eternity. While almost immediately afterwards there is a scene with the younger priest who preaches love and opposes the notion that religion is all about guilt. Was it important for you to have these opposing opinions on your subject matter?

What was important is that we show the full spectrum of opinions that exist in Knock. Obviously, someone who is vehemently opposed to the Catholic Church and someone who has absolutely no belief in the apparition whatsoever is not going to be found at Knock Shrine. There is a limit to that spectrum of what you can show. But in showing all of the different shades of Catholicism, from the progressive to what some people might regard as more archaic, we are showing that faith and religion in Ireland is complex – and that people engage with it in different ways.  It was important to show the full spectrum of opinion there and to show that there isn’t one single form of Catholicism in Ireland.

 

The film address very complex themes such as faith, the commercialisation of religion and homophobia. Yet it still retains a certain lightness, was that difficult to achieve?

I think it’s very important that every documentary has moments of lightness. Where you have human beings going through their daily life, when you have human relationships, you’re always going to have moments of lightness and humour – that is the reality of Knock. You have people who are funny; people who are warm; people who are witty and people who are joyful. Of course it was important to reflect that in the film. Yes, the film tackles a topic as complex as religion, but there can still be a lightness to that examination.

 

A lot of that lightness comes from the talking heads in the documentary, who are so interesting. You could nearly make a movie about their lives. In particular, there is Father Richard Gibbons. Could you explain how he became involved and what it was like to work with him.

Father Gibbons is the parish priest and was one of the first people we approached when the possibility of making the documentary came up. He was involved in the film from day one essentially, as far as you can never gain access to a place like Knock unless you had the consent of the parish priest. He is central to the everyday life of the shrine. I’m sure he had some trepidation about it, as anyone would participating in a documentary but he was always so incredibly generous with his time. With any documentary, with any contributor, it’s an ongoing process of relationship-building and I think he understood what it was was I wanted to achieve.

 

I was struck by how cinematic the documentary looked, particularly the skyline shots of Knock and the basilica, which really give the documentary a sense of place

We were truly lucky to have an amazing drone cameraman, David Perry, who came on board with us and shot some really beautiful footage. I have worked with David before and it was a joy to spend time watching him on the monitor. What was extraordinary with the drone footage is you get to see how unique the landscape is on the West of Ireland. Sometimes it looks almost lunar.

 

2016 has yet again been a good year for Irish documentaries with the likes of Mom and Me, Atlantic and Bobby Sands released in cinemas. What do you think are the reasons behind this creative output?

I think Irish people are excellent storytellers and what is extraordinary about the majority of the films is that they are telling Irish stories to Irish audiences. There’s a greater interest in Irish documentary among Irish audiences. Also, I think the support of funders – in our case the BAI, RTE and the Film Board – is invaluable. It’s been an extraordinary few years for Irish documentary and what is brilliant is that there is a cinema-going audience that really anticipates the stories and will go and watch them.

 

Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village is currently in cinemas.

 

 

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Interview: Director Paddy Breathnach & Writer Mark O’Halloran of ‘Viva’

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Gemma Creagh chats to the director Paddy Breathnach and writer Mark O’Halloran of Viva which introduces us to Jesus, a young hairdresser working at a Havana nightclub that showcases drag performers. Jesus dreams of being a performer himself. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama, Jesus finally gets his chance to take the stage. But when his estranged father Angel abruptly reenters his life, his world is quickly turned upside down.

 


 
You can download/listen to an audio podcast of the interview here

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Interview: Emma Carlsson and Aisling O’Halloran, producers of ‘The Randomer’

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The Randomer premieres at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh. A modern Irish comedy about sex, love and procreation, The Randomer follows the fortunes of free-spirited Meg, who thinks she has everything she wants –  a great job and a vibrant city life full of trendy bars, cafés and social nightlife. But her life is suddenly turned upside-down when she finds herself needing the one thing that she least expected – a baby. With the clock running out before she hits the dreaded 40, it’s a race against time to find an uncomplicated man for the perfect baby.

With the help of her new lesbian neighbours and her ever pregnant sister Regina, Meg dives headlong into Dublin’s widest selection of cosmopolitan men, determined to find the perfect “Randomer” to fulfill her quest. 

Film Ireland spoke to producers Emma Carlsson and Aisling O’Halloran about the process of undertaking this project, which was produced by the Filmbase Masters in Digital Feature Film Production Programme.

Emma begins by explaining how the Filmbase Masters programme prepared the students for making a feature film. “Everyday you’d have a masterclass where professionals would come in and talk about their profession. Mix that in with a lot of practical assignments where you get to try different roles within the crew, and voilà – you’re as ready as you will be! With film you learn best by doing, so I’d say the best way to prepare yourself/teach yourself how to make a feature film is to make a feature film. Filmbase gave us that opportunity.”

Aisling adds that “there is no doubt at all that Filmbase is a practice-based course, with workshops taking place in lieu of traditional lecture-based masters. There are several practical shoots throughout the year so you are really thrown in the deep end. I was a producer on our first assignment – a three-day shoot, having never worked as a producer before. It was trial by fire, but this heavily influenced my decision to pursue producing on The Randomer.”

 

The film was directed by three of the students, Naji Bechara, Caoimhe Clancy and Iseult Imbert, and Aisling admits that it was a little daunting for everyone, both cast and crew, coming into the project. Fortunately, any nerves were soon calmed when they sat in a room with the three directors for the first time. “They presented a cohesive and singular vision from the get-go. Luckily this remained strong throughout the shoot, thanks to their extensive work in pre-production.” Emma seconds that approach: “Having a clear, cohesive idea from the beginning and working with one DoP who knew how the directors wanted the film to come out was key here.”

 

According to Aisling, “the process of dividing the script did not come until much later in the project, less than half a week before the shoot began. The directors worked as one the entirety of the shoot, with complete artistic cohesion across style, vision, etc. Any director could direct any scene, knowing the core of what was needed, falling into the shoot based on scheduling. Fairly enough, each director eventually directed a third of the film.”

 

The project was always on terra firme with a script from Gerard Stembridge, whose credits include Ordinary Decent Criminal and About Adam. “The script was a complete revelation,” says Aisling. “A feature film depicting a woman who is making her own choices about her life, and is unapologetic about them. That is totally refreshing in film. Dublin is portrayed as a vibrant, young city, which is rare in the gangland, grey landscape that has been the trend in the last few decades. Gerard made a script that was very easy for a young film crew to get behind, energy wise.”

 

On using Dublin as a location, Aisling recalls how one of the directors likened their vision to that of a French film: “you know that it’s set in Paris, yet you never see the Eiffel Tower. They wanted this for Dublin in The Randomer, and that was what sold their pitch to me personally and heavily influenced the project for me. We have a young, energetic team who have experienced Dublin in a different light to generations before – let’s try and get some of that energy to The Randomer. Where is the newest, best cafe? What are people listening to? Where are they drinking? That thread is something we hope shines through in the film.”

 

Looking back over the whole experience, Emma and Aisling talk about the challenges they faced and the lessons they learnt making a feature film. “When trying to get actor’s availability work with location’s availability you face a lot of scheduling difficulties,” Emma says. “I’m so proud of our crew for pushing through. While most of our crew were a part of our class, some of them did it just for the experience, and showed up everyday with a smile on their face! We were honestly so lucky to attract such an amazing group of people. Same goes for our actors, who did everything in their power to make sure we got the best film we possibly could. Something that I truly learnt throughout this project is to take one thing at a time, that problems will keep coming – but so will solutions.”

 

Aisling agrees on the challenges of scheduling. “Definitely with low-budget filming. You are at the mercy of people’s kind generosity with their time and availability, and working around this. This cafe can do this for free today, but this crew member has to work until 8pm. The make or break of a film is in pre-production. We had less than two months for pre-production and shot it, something I would definitely not recommend! Many lessons learned in such a short time period though.”

 

The Randomer screens at the Town Hall Theatre on Wednesday, 6th July at 22:00.

Directors Naji Bechara, Caoimhe Clancy, Iseult Imbert, and cast will attend.

Buy tickets here

 

More details on the Filmbase Masters programme can be found at www.filmmasters.ie

 
Take a look at our preview of all the Irish films ascreening at the 2016 Galway Film Fleadh

The 28th Galway Film Fleadh runs 5 – 10 July 2016

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Interview: Mary McGuckian, ‘The Price of Desire’

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“The stress test is truthfully most women’s experience”-  Seán Crosson In Conversation with Mary McGuckian

 

Mary McGuckian, whose most recent film The Price of Desire is currently screening in Irish cinemas, has directed 12 films to date, an impressive figure when one considers the challenges female directors in particular have faced in the male-dominated world of cinema.

She was interviewed by Seán Crosson in the Irish Pavillion at EXPO Milano 2015, as part of a seminar on Irish cinema organised by the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS) and following the screening of The Price of Desire at the Milano Design Film festival in October 2015.

 

Seán Crosson: Could I begin by asking you what it is that draws you to the films that you direct?

Mary McGuckian: You need to feel it… it’s a very organic holistic thing. You need to feel that the perspective or the point of view, the subject matter, the underlying thesis of it, and the kind of zeitgeist or the l’air du temps are all meeting. When you find that, you know it and you know that you can make that… every artist is always looking for that. And that was my kind of discovery.

The things that impressed me most about Eileen Gray were her work ethic, her disregard for the results of her work. Above all, she was very authentic and had great integrity about the act or the craft, and was very conscious of being on the forefront and constantly studying and keeping up to date, and very spiritually true to what she was doing. I found that phenomenally impressive and something of an inspiration. Filmmakers are odd people, we’re not kind of brilliant at anything, we’re just okay at a lot of things. We just sort of manage everybody else. The trick is to collaborate in a way that brings the best of the people you are working with.

 

Could you talk a little about your own background as an Irish filmmaker?

Growing up, we had a paucity of film, we didn’t really have a film culture. I mean, the likes of Pat Murphy was just a one-off that wasn’t part of a movement. She was just a phenomenally tenacious young woman. There wasn’t a film culture, there wasn’t a film style, there wasn’t an interest in film. But there was this great literary and theatre culture that is our strength as a nation. One funny thing that nobody ever mentions is that there was a theatre for those of us that came through the theatre  – but again there wasn’t even a theatre school when I started. But we did have strong university groups and there was an alternative theatre. If you didn’t work in the Gate, and that was the snobby theatre, or the Abbey, which was the national theatre, there was the Project. There was another little theatre company called Focus Theatre and that was the nearest we had in Ireland to some form of international training theatre.

We had a slowly emerging film culture that came out of theatre. If you notice, our actors who have travelled were all male and have a certain style. We had a very specific and separate theatre culture. So those of us who were women grew up in a theatre culture in Ireland, which is a very strong culture of theatre for women but it wasn’t a performance-style that translated to cinema or translated internationally. In my mid-twenties I remember Joan O’Hara in the Abbey saying the guys travel… and she was right. There was one swarthy fabulous looking Irish fella after another, starting with Pierce [Brosnan] and Liam [Neeson], Daniel [Day Lewis] and Stephen [Rea]. They all had a quality that there was a place for in international cinema. There were no women since Maureen O’Hara until Saoirse Ronan. British cinema culture is quite established. It’s very sure about what it’s about. And we’ve depended on that to a great extent and for a period when the Irish Film Board began and European co-production, European media foundation started, we struggled as to whether we should be part of the posh filmmakers of Europe or leaning towards America and interestingly the films that have leaned towards America have tended to be more successful. Inevitably, I suspect because of the English language.

 

Things have changed greatly since the 1980s and the period you describe…

It’s phenomenal what has happened in a very short period of time. I was away for a long time. Like a lot of people, I had to leave the country and recently have come back. When I first started making films, we didn’t have a film culture, we didn’t have film support, we didn’t have any sort of industry, which was kind of good for us in that we could go anywhere basically. But now it’s great to come back and find post-production set up. When we used to shoot something we’d have to send it to London. We’d get our rushes back four days later.

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Robert De Niro in The Bridge of San Luis Rey

You’ve worked with an extraordinary array of actors including Donald Sutherland, F. Murray Abraham, Robert De Niro, Samantha Morton, to name but a few as well as many leading Irish actors from Richard Harris to Gabriel Byrne and in your current feature Orla Brady. How do you approach working with actors in your work?

I’ve been very lucky with actors, very lucky. And I think that comes from those who came through theatre culture, and Jim Sheridan, he’s brilliant with actors. And Neil [Jordan] is too, though Neil is probably more visual. And he’s more of a literary storyteller. But we did all emerge out of theatre and as actors, to some degree or another. So storytelling is a character-driven process for most Irish filmmakers, I believe it comes from that background. So, inevitably we write for actors. If the material is good enough, when we approach actors they agree to work with us, they respond to the material, they respond to the process.

I’ve played a lot with the acting processes, I’m very interested in how actors emerge, and how characters develop and all of those things. I’ve made a lot of films, quite a few films that are quite experimental in terms of their approach to the responsibility of the artist or the actor as an interpretative but also as an editorial participant in the making of the film.

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The Making of Plus One

One of those experimental films was The Making of Plus One (2010), set during the Cannes Film Festival. How did that film come about?

It came about as a bit of a joke in a way, after The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2004), which was a tough experience, having such an extraordinary cast, and, funnily enough, I’m about to spend the winter in Ireland recutting that film and doing a director’s cut, because it was taken away from me and recut in a way that had very little to do with the original script  – and that was a horrendous experience. I discovered the bigger the budgets got and the bigger the crews got, the further away the actor was from what you were trying to achieve and this linear process that had been in place since 1910 was still operational and nobody had done anything to improve or change it.

Around that time, in about 2005, right at the beginning of digital filmmaking, I went on a crazy experiment over a trilogy of three films, to bring together a company of actors and crew; not to improvise films in a Curb Your Enthusiasm kind of way but to reinvent the process for bringing a story to the screen, partly using the digital processes but also – they weren’t necessarily any cheaper, they were just different – to give actors more responsibility for their participation. We had a very structured storyline, like a traditional script, but the actors improvised – I did a workshop with them for weeks on-end prior. They developed their character and then they were able to perform as characters without dialogue. We did three of those – Rag Tale (2005), Intervention (2007) and Inconceivable (2008). It was only ever meant to be a trilogy but by the end the lunatics had taken over the asylum, and they were going ‘well what’s next’? So eventually after each one of those films being on the short list for Cannes but never selected, we decided to go to Cannes and make The Making of Plus One, which we did as a group. It was quite fun and it was funny and it was an obvious statement about the nature of what the whole festival scenario and what the role of an actor in the making of a film has become.

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Inconceivable

The improvisational style you describe is quite reminiscent of the work of John Cassavetes. What directors have influenced your approach?

I did go to drama school in the UK and France subsequently and one of my teachers was Mike Leigh. Mike was very good to me. He has his way of improvising – he uses improvisation to create material, whereas I try to use improvisation to drive character to take the material to the screen. So, in a funny way, what I came up with doing, thanks to him, was almost the exact opposite or reverse of what he does, which is a fantastic process, and one I still apply to material even if its scripted or partly scripted. I think actors like it, which is why they seem to want to come and do movies with me because I work in a different way.

 

So how did the Eileen Gray project develop?

Filmmaking has changed a lot. It changed very very quickly over a ten-year period where I was very fortunate. I think I got to make 5 or 6 movies over ten years, during that period. I guess there were contemporary issues again… I was always trying to drive female issues but I was having to mask them constantly in something else.

For a long time I wanted to make a film about Eileen Gray but I couldn’t. I suppose for three main reasons: I was struggling to find what the essence of the story was – a biopic lends itself more to a documentary. and secondly, I really needed to feel passionately that the world would want to see this movie, and what might it be about, the underlying thesis. And thirdly, it needed to be an Irish film and how could I get back to Ireland and make the film that could call itself Irish.

I had known about Eileen Gray as an Irish artist. I always thought of her as the founder of – I don’t know where I got this idea – as the founder of minimalism. I’m a bit of a minimalist myself and I’ve always been very interested in the turn of the century, those displaced independent Irish women who found themselves in politics, in literature and in the arts. It’s an interesting thing, because out of periods like that – and they are very rare – emerge women of impact. And then suddenly post-1922, the country closed down and there were no more women of impact – what happened? What seemed to happen was what led to Virgina Woolfe’s A Room with a View. There were a small group of women who were neither Irish in England nor English in Ireland who were educated, of means, and they had all of that going for them and able to decide to follow their path which was not a liberty or a privilege that most Irish women had. But they did do that with some integrity, some of them, including Countess Markievicz and, in particular, Eileen Gray. She followed her path that brought her as an artist through her own journey, emerging very autodidactically.

It’s just a fascinating story that she achieved so much and I wanted to understand more about what she’s about but I knew that a film as a biopic wouldn’t be that interesting. So then you wait until you find the kernel of what’s important. And I guess that was the controversy that emerged around the house e.1027 [the modernist villa in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin which Eileen Gray designed and built from 1926-29], which is kind of the centrepiece of the film and is very much the apotheosis of her life’s work. It’s very interesting that a lot of women who have an impact in whatever field they are in, it seems to me, tend to reach that later in life than their male counterparts, often in their fifties. At the age of 52 she designed and built the first modernist house – and what makes it a great female story, not necessarily a male story, is that she was not recognised, she lost the right to be recognised as the author of her work. In a French environment where the droit morale is in your DNA, you can’t give away your droit morale. To have a house which she actually lost ownership of is a great visual metaphor. So it seemed to me I had found a key to that story.

Telling it from Eileen Gray’s point of view was very hard to finance, so it had to become a dialogue between herself and Le Corbusier [the Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of modern architecture].

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Alanis Morissette and Orla Brady in The Price of Desire

There are two levels of outcome to The Price of Desire, the film as a piece of art and the film as the story of Eileen Gray – when you view the film now, how do you judge it? Are you satisfied with it as a work of art or are you satisfied as having successfully told a story?

I am pleased with it. It never set out to be a traditional narrative film or a particularly commercial film. It was clearly a prestige piece. So how it looked was very important to me as an art piece. I think it looks very beautiful. As a story, it’s innately flawed in its own right when you tell it truthfully, so we were always going to struggle with that. But in terms of driving it through character and having Le Corbusier telling the story – that kind of odd device that is used in it – I’m quite pleased that with the dialogue, Eileen Gray has the first word and the last word, Le Corbusier gets to say his piece, and then the cinematic licence is taken when we allow him to forgive himself.

 

Are there any parallels between the experience of Eileen Gray as a female artist and your own experiences as a female director? What kind of changes have you seen in the film industry since you first started making films, particularly in such a male dominated industry?

Ireland has emerged not only with a film business and a film industry but with a cultural voice – there are young filmmakers emerging and this year in particular there have been a couple – Room, etc. – of voices emerging, very strong pieces of Irish cinema, that are culturally Irish. And it’s not just the odd film. Every year there are a few important films coming out, but there are very few women emerging. But that isn’t particular to Ireland, this problem is deeply disappointing to me that every year I am contacted as one of the 7% of directors/writers that are women – ‘did you notice that only 7% of films over the last year were made by women’, and that number, I don’t know why it’s 7%, it has stayed 7% for twenty years. It’s very very disturbing.

This in a way is what really spoke to me from the Eileen Gray film… it wasn’t that she suffered, it was never going to be Erin Brokovich story, it wasn’t one big legislative event, but it was a lifetime – and she had a long life – and this is, I would have to say, most women’s experience – a lifetime of tiny omissions, forgetfulness, odd remarks, and slights, whatever you want to call them. None of which are evil, none of which you can legislate against. I used to use an analogy, because I came from engineering, mechanical/civil engineering and my final thesis experimentation was a thing called Shot peening – it’s a way of measuring force which is, when you’re trying to experiment on the strength of materials, you’re trying to just measure the force of the material as in what it would take to break it, you just thump it until you get a combination of the speed and weight at which you’d thump something to make it break. That’s force. But what’s much more interesting and much more – and they do a lot of it now with trains and runways and things – is the fatigue or the stress level of the material, what does it take to break a material if you’re just doing tiny little taps, and over what period of time and at what frequency does it take. In a way, Eileen Gray’s life started to remind me of shot peening as distinct from force – if Erin Brokovich is the force test, then Eileen Gray is the stress test, and the stress test is truthfully most women’s experience. It is the universal female experience that over the lifetime of a career you just have these constant little put-downs, not quite included, sort of omitted – nothing you could ever complain about but as a combination in aggregate there’s a moment where the stress test breaks the material, causes the crack. She was Victorian so she wasn’t a self-promoter in the way that Le Corbusier was, but that was part of her integrity as an artist. She survived as an artist because she wasn’t looking for acclaim but at the same time the lack of recognition sadly had a great negative influence on a century of architecture and design. She had some very important things to say about the way in which we live in the world and how we construct, and the habitats that we inhabit.

 

Given the continuing low percentage of women directors involved in film, what initiatives do you think could be taken to address this?

I don’t know how to break it. It has to be from both ends, international distribution has something to do with it, but practically, women often need an invitation, they are not good at bashing through doors so maybe we need to start inviting young women into the film industry in a more positive way. I ended up studying engineering, being one of three girls in a class of 120, but I remember why. The University did a kind of an outreach, they went round all the girls schools to say don’t limit yourself. Why can’t you do engineering? Think about doing architecture? So maybe we need to do that, I think it might just take an invitation.

 

The Price of Desire is currently in cinemas

 

Dr. Seán Crosson is the Programme Director of the MA in Film Studies: Theory and Practice at the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway. His publications include Sport and Film (Routledge, 2013) and several co-edited volumes, including Contemporary Irish Film: New Perspectives on a National Cinema (Braumüller, 2011) and The Quiet Man … and Beyond: Reflections on a Classic Film, John Ford and Ireland (Liffey Press, 2009). He is currently President of the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS).

 

 

 

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Interview: Bob Gallagher, Director of Le Galaxie’s ‘Le Club’ Music Video

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 Photo: Ellius Grace

Out last year, the video for Le Galaxie’s ‘Le Club’ features gimp masks, kinky cling film bondage and dominatrices. Directed by Bob Gallagher, ‘Le Club’ opens its doors into the underground world of BDSM – and once you’re in, it’s hard getting out.

Sebastian Stephenson slipped into his best leather and hooked up with Bob to discuss working with Le Galaxie and whipping the video into shape. Wonder what wild antics Bob will be getting up to 2nd – 5th June 2016? You can ask hims yourself as he’ll be here in Filmbase teaching the art of the Music Video!

 

Did you find Le Galaxie or did Le Galaxie find you?

In this case they found me. I’d just released a music video I made with Girl Band at the time. Le Galaxie’s manager Joe Clarke got in touch saying he really liked that video, and asked me if I’d be interested in coming up up with an idea for ‘Le Club’. I think they’d received a few treatments at that stage already, but nearly all of them were literally set in ‘the club’ and they were looking for something a bit more interpretive.

 

How did the idea for the video come about?

I was in Manchester killing time before a gig and had the option of seeing two films that I’d never heard of. The Duke of Burgundy sounded sexier than whatever the other film was so I went to see that. It turned out to be Peter Strickland’s new film and it’s a really genius study of a relationship between two women in a dominant / submissive relationship. The thing that struck me about it was that, after a period of time, the dynamic starts to bore them, much the same as any relationship begins to feel worn out when you get into a routine. From the outside you might look at that relationship and think ‘how exciting!’ but from within, it must become repetitive and tedious at times. I was really interested in that idea then of a dominatrix as somebody with a seemingly unusual or exciting job who is basically just clocking in and clocking out like anyone else.

A dominatrix was perfect because there’s a dynamic there of her being bored of the routine nature of her work but not being allowed to show her boredom. She’s giving a performance every time she interacts with a customer. For them they’re at the height of their excitement and she has to keep up a facade and play along, even though she’s more than likely incredibly bored. I had seen Nick Broomfield’s Fetishes documentary before but I re-watched that for some ideas. In it he interviews a dominatrix called Mistress Raven who’s stopped seeing clients, and when he asks her the reason why she responds by saying ‘Do you have any idea how exhausting it is?’ I think as a job it’s comparable to being a therapist but as well as taking on other people’s psychological baggage it’s very physical work. I don’t envy it.

 

What was it like sourcing talent for this video, considering the BSDM nature of the music video?

I was a bit worried about it as first, because you’re asking a little more of the cast than your normal drama. For the most part they’re playing characters who are being willingly humiliated or tortured. When casting the clients I put an add online and hoped for the best. I was actually surprised at the level of interest in it. I wanted to try and get a good range of people so had to filter through everyone who had applied. Typically, the stereotype would be business men in their 40s or 50s who visit a dominatrix, but the BDSM scene is pretty varied in reality and I wanted to reflect that. Everyone who came on board really went for it with their role, and had fun with it so we were fortunate with the cast we had in the end. I think it was an eye-opener for a lot of us!

For casting Veronica, the dominatrix, I had to do quite a bit of looking because it’s a role that not every actor would love to be approached for – ‘oh you look like you’d make a good dom, do you want to be in a music video?’. I took the approach of contacting a few agencies and asking the agents if the actors I had in mind would be up for it first, and if it would suit their sense of humour. Kathy (who appears in the video) got back in touch, and we met for a coffee and she was perfect. We got really lucky with her I think. She had the right sense of humour and a friendly attitude on set, but she also brought a lot of depth to that character and she has so much presence on screen. She really nailed that character. We were joking that she could probably go into business as a dominatrix now. She has the showreel.

 

What sort of research did you undertake to prepare?

The lead-up to making the video was quite short so I didn’t get to do as much as I would have liked. I did try to research by talking to some dominatrices, but I was shut down across the board. There seemed to be a universal policy of not talking to the ‘media’, which is understandable, given that a lot of them want to protect their identities. It’s the first time anyone referred to me as the media, which I found funny. I should have just spent some of the budget on booking myself in for a session but I’d blown my cover already.

I re-watched that Nick Broomfield’s documentary as a refresher because it’s a really good insight into that world, from the point of view of both client and dominatrix. A friend of mine also put me onto a great book called Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Berring. The teller in the book shop made sure to loudly run the title by me a few times for maximum discomfort. I think he was a sadist.

The book is a good thesis on ‘perversions’ as existing on a spectrum of sexuality where everyone has their place. Berring basically says that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ and that some behaviours that are deemed as perverse change over time with trends and societal attitudes. I was chatting to a guy who worked in a sex shop and I asked him if 50 Shades had made a difference to his business. He said now he’s noticed a lot more couples coming into the shop, and that there’s less of an air of shame about S&M because it’s at least opened up as a topic of conversation now. The discourse is improving but Ireland’s relationship with sexuality in general seems to still be approaching a state of maturation. I think there’s a lot of Catholic baggage to be shrugged off in that regard.

 

What were the technical challenges and surpasses to making this video?

Technically it wasn’t very complex. There were no special effects as such, everything happened in the room in real time, and was lit very practically. Getting to grips with the BDSM props was a bit of a challenge. Allegedly no one on set had experience putting on a gimp mask before… We also learned that it’s tough to operate cling film while wearing pleather gloves [plastic fabric made to look like leather]. Sourcing the props and costume cheaply was a bit of a challenge because all that gear is really expensive. I went into a sex shop at one stage and foolishly asked if any of it could be rented. The guy on the counter took a sharp intake of breath before telling me ‘Leather is like skin, it absorbs… everything’.

The biggest technical challenge was probably working with the Black Magic Ursa, which we’d never used before. Deirdre O’Toole [the DOP] had shot the Girl Band music video with me just before this on the Black Magic pocket and with the Samyang primes, which we both really liked the results of. In this case we needed to shoot some high frame rate stuff, and the Ursa had just arrived in Filmbase so we went with that to try it out.

We had the option of shooting 4K RAW, or PRORES 444 but we found it was actually surplus to what we needed in terms of quality. We started shooting 444 but we switched to 4K PRORES 422 HQ after the first few shots. The image quality was still more than what we needed for presenting in an online HD format. Even with the 422 we still had plenty of room with the 4K image to crop in if needed, and to do little push-ins. It graded really beautifully too.

For what we were doing the Ursa was perfect. I think it’s a great studio camera. It’s got three monitors, and the main flip out screen is huge so everyone can see what’s happening without going to an external monitor. The Samyangs are great too, they’re quite fast lenses and allowed us to do very practical lighting, which meant that we could work quickly and get through all the different clients without too much re arranging of the lighting setup.

We shot a lot of 80 frames per second stuff for the video, which was fun. Just afterwards I believe there was a firmware update that allows for 150 frames per second. It’s a pity, but then maybe that would have been too much ass jiggle.

 

This was your first time doing a music video for a major label act, was Universal Music Ireland sensible enough to let you do your own thing?

After working with Rough Trade I expected that working with Universal might be a little more controlled or stifling but it really wasn’t. The treatment I wrote is basically what transpired on screen. You have an idea in your head of how a major label will be, but actually everyone I interacted with there was really helpful and enthusiastic, and they just trusted me to get on with it.

I think possibly the positive response to the Girl Band video gained me a certain amount of credibility or leeway creatively. Maybe it’s unusual for a first time working with a major label, but I very much got to make the video I set out to make. I think in this particular case the band had the final say on the outcome but I didn’t come up against any resistance with the band or the label, and the process was very straight forward. I was a bit anxious sending the rough cut to the folks at Universal, thinking they might ask me to cut a few shots here or there. The response I got was ‘you’re fairly pushing it, but we like it’. I think that’s an ideal position to be in.

 

Further information on cameras and hire rates from Filmbase can be found here

If you’re interested in learning more, Bob Gallagher will be teaching Make a Music Video 2nd June 2016 here in Filmbase .

 

Check out more from Bob Gallagher at Bobfilmsthings

 

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Sydney’s Second Annual Irish Film Festival Wraps With ‘Lost In The Living’

 

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Glen Falkenstein interviews Lost in the Living director Robert Manson at Sydney’s Irish Film Festival.

Sydney’s second annual Irish Film Festival concluded  at The Chauvel Cinema in Sydney’s Paddington following four days of screenings, closing with the Australian premiere of Lost In The Living, which chronicles an Irish musician’s (Tadgh Murphy from Vikings and Black Sails) weekend in Berlin, a whirlwind romance, and an introduction to the city’s unique nightlife. The film’s director, Robert Manson, flew out from Dublin for the Australian premiere, and sat down with Glen Falkenstein to discuss the film and the growth of Irish cinema. “This is a love letter to Berlin,” says Manson. “I created this project from memories, from experiences, from friends and other people that I met, from observations, chance happenings, things I read, and things that I overheard on trains. I wanted to put it all together in one constructed piece so that I could take it out of my brain and then maybe go to another city and do something else or just go and explore another culture, but Berlin just didn’t let me go.”

A low-budget production, Manson sometimes had to adopt guerrilla filmmaking tactics to get the film made at the authentic Berlin locations that he wanted, shooting quickly and completing principal photography in a matter of weeks. “There’s a lot of space, and great big city streets and parks that aren’t crowded, so you can find a little corner to shoot in,” the director says. “Small independent films don’t really get shot there. I was told to just go and shoot it, and just do it. I was told to just get this one permission slip which is a general permit for having a camera in the city. It’s 100 euros, and then you just go and do it. No one will even notice; so we did, and nobody did. They have a no camera policy in clubs, so we shot in one of the dirtiest little clubs called The Golden Gate. When we were asking for permission, everyone said that there was no chance in hell that we could get to film there, but we told them what we were doing, and they liked the idea and they liked the project, so they invited us to come and shoot it. Authenticity is a big thing in Berlin, so choosing locations for clubs and pubs and things like that is very important.”

With Irish filmmakers expanding their projects to a number of countries including Australia, Manson also shared his thoughts on the development of Irish cinema and the prospects for follow-ups to Lost In The Living. “The diaspora of Ireland is so gigantic,” he says. “People are moving around and sharing their stories. They’re working on songs or projects, and they’re writing theatre, dance, film, and everything together. There are those little Irish communities in places like Sydney and in Berlin, where there’s a huge community now. Those old notions of what Ireland used to be are changing. When I fly into Sydney, I get a very fresh opinion of Ireland, because it’s from people who’ve been here for a long time, and it’s a twist on what I would recognise from being there or living there; it’s a new perspective, with new ideas. It always helps something resonate or grow, and it’s exciting to film in Ireland at the minute or in many of the cities that Irish people inhabit.

“I want to do a trilogy of Irish perspectives from and in Berlin, so Dublin and Berlin – for the first one, Lost in The Living, it’s a newcomer’s touristic perspective with fresh eyes in a new place and culture, there’s alienation, new ideas and possibilities, there’s a freshness of a new city. The second film is about living in the city a number of years, getting into the culture, bedding down and finding a new home and then how that is reflected in being away from Ireland for a long period of time, and then the third part would be returning to Ireland after being in Berlin for a long time.”

Supported by The Irish Film Board and the Consulate-General of Ireland in Sydney, this year’s festival featured a special focus on the centenary of the 1916 revolution and its continuing effects, including 2016: The Irish Rebellion, a documentary narrated by Liam Neeson. Opening with Glassland, focused on the world of human trafficking and starring Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age Of Extinction) and Toni Collette, the festival also featured a showing of the Irish animation, Song Of The Sea, which screened at last year’s Sydney Film Festival.

 

A version of this article originally appeared on FilmInk

Glen writes film reviews, features, commentary and covers local festivals and events. Glen lives in Sydney. He tweets @GlenFalkenstein

The Irish Film Festival took place in Sydney 7  – 10 April 2016

You can read Ruth Hogan’s report from the festival here

 

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Podcast Interview: Garret Daly, Director of ‘Who is Dervla Murphy?’

Who is Dervla Murphy

Who is Dervla Murphy? profiles Ireland’s most prolific travel writer, through rare and exclusive access to Dervla, her family and friends.

Grace Corry met with director Garret Daly to find out more about his documentary and the elusive figure it reveals.

 

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Who is Dervla Murphy? is released on April 23rd at Movies@Dundrum and SGC Dungarvan.

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