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’

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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.

 

 

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Armie Hammer, left, whose look was inspired by:

 

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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

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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’

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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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