Watch Irish Short Film: Pernicio

In Pernicio, a young man explores his attitude towards life and death when his suicide plans are interrupted. David Fox tells us how he made the film.

Pernicio is my grad film from my final year in the National Film School in IADT, Dun Laoghaire.

The idea for the white ‘execution room’ sprung to my mind some time in 2014. I think there had been a lot of debate surrounding assisted suicide at the time, and my mind began to wonder what it would look like if it was a walk-in clinic and you could kill yourself as easily as buying a Big Mac. The idea began to snowball and dragged capitalistic ideas with it with the multinational corporation that would make money off people’s desires to kill themselves, and lo and behold I had the basic idea for a film.

I sat on the idea for about two years before I put pen to paper, a process which I think worked in my favour on this project. It evolved and developed in my mind for those two years, and when it came to pitching for my final year project in college, this was the idea that was itching to get out.

I finally got on to developing the script in early September 2016. I knew the theme of suicide had been overused and almost trivialised in student films, so I wanted to stray away from those clichés as much as possible. I think I went through 11 drafts of the script in the end.

Dave Fox, Director

The way it works in the NFS is that you get allocated a week to shoot your Grad film at the start of the year, anytime between late January and late April. We were allocated February 6th – 12th. We had one week to shoot it and maybe a couple of days here or there to get pick-ups if we needed.

We held open auditions just before Christmas 2016 and my leads walked through the door and sat down in front of me, something which I genuinely did not expect to happen, but each one of them struck perfectly in-line with the characters. I met with Eoin O’Sullivan (Gary), Danielle Galligan (Sam), Mark Lawrence (Doctor) and Aidan J Collins (Receptionist) about half a dozen times before the shoot. We rehearsed scenes, explored different routes and found our favourite direction before began shooting. That was something that proved to be invaluable to me; I did most of my directing off-set. Two weeks before the shoot I locked the script – finally.

Cast & Crew

We shot 5 days over a week-long period. The big white ‘execution room’ took a full day to build and light properly and we had about 8 hours to shoot everything and tear it down again the following day, which was terrifying and exciting.

Alfie Hollingsworth was my cinematographer and we clicked really well on this shoot. I asked him about the room, how we would light it properly, how to not make it look like a student-film-looking set and how we’d avoid shadows in the jib shots. He came up with the idea of lighting the room through a 16X16 silk which we hung over the set, a brilliant idea. This, coupled with the brilliant production design of Fiona Mitchell gave us the ethereal white light in those scenes that I wanted.

We actually pimped out a super old sound editing hardware that we found in the film school and put some tubes and lights on it for the machine in the middle of the room. If you look closely at the close ups of the machine you can see ‘treble’ and ‘bass’, something which became a lot more apparent when we were screening in cinemas, but I’m hoping no one notices on their first watch.

Our other locations included my bedroom, The Dublin Dental School (the reception scenes), Dollymount Strand, the Dart, and the Lexicon in Dun Laoghaire, all secured by my producer Laura Gaynor. The Lexicon was a brand new building at the time and I thought it had a real retro-futuristic look to it. We VFX’d the Pernicio ‘P’ on the side of the building, with the help of Robert Gaynor. The shoot went very smoothly overall, except for leaving our Data Wrangler behind in the Golf Club on Bull Island, who we only remembered when we had gotten into town – sorry Robyn.

Dani during final scene

Conor Donoghue edited the piece, and did an excellent job doing so. I sat back from the project for about a week and let him do an assembly cut of his own accord. We knew soon after that we had a film. We got really lucky with the sound mix, as our mixer Janneke van Nijnanten was doing work experience down in Ardmore studios on the sound stage. She showed Steve Fanagan what she was working on and he said he would be help us out with a 5.1 sound mix, and generously he gave his time for free. Not many student films can claim to have a professional surround-sound mix so that really adds a whole other dimension to the film when it’s screened in the cinema. Darius McGann put together a brilliantly emotional and poignant original soundtrack too.

Everything came together well in the end. We were well organised, believed in ourselves but also, we got really lucky with a lot of things and a lot of people helped us out on this film, to whom I am extremely grateful.

Student films are hard, everyone is learning, people can be unsure of themselves, and other people can let you down. I’m happy to say no one let us down with this film, everyone outdid themselves. We set ourselves a goal to make a student film that didn’t feel like a student film, and I think, and hope, we achieved that.

 

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Watch Irish Short Film: Gustav

 

A young man wakes up with a tune stuck in his head. But what is it and how did it get there? Co-director Ken Williams tells Film Ireland how the short film Gustav got into his head.

 
“I’ve had Billy Joel stuck in my head all day”, said Lindsey, at the desk next to me. “Wouldn’t it be funny if he was actually stuck in your head”, I replied, before quickly following up with “that would make a cool film” as I am prone to do to. And so Gustav was born.

Or at least conceived. I tend to leave ideas gestate before attempting the first draft when I have a deadline for another project. This was the case with Gustav, or ‘Billy’ as it was originally called – but Mr Joel didn’t return our calls.

After a few passes at the script – I’m lucky to have a small network of people who read my work and give feedback –  we were ready to put together a team.

Crew on set

Steven Daly from Brainstorm joined as producer, James Mather, who shot our previous film, The Final Fairytale, came on board, and him and his team, who all generously gave up their weekend for a few bowls of Thai food, were again a pleasure to work with.

The central performance was absolutely key to the success of the film and we thought of Seán [T. Ó Meallaigh] really early on. Denis [Fitzpatrick, co-director] knows him well and I loved him in the Vincent Gallagher short, Love is a Sting, so knew he’d be great. Thankfully, he liked the script and was up for it. Charlene Gleeson is a great actor and naturally very funny so was perfect to play Dee.

Brian Lane from Dissolve Audio, a Corkman based in Manchester, came on board as music supervisor, an obviously important role for this project and his help was invaluable.

Although we’ve been friends since we were 5, Denis is a Liverpool fan and I’m a United fan. We shot on the day Liverpool played United and kept an eye on the score in between takes. Luckily it finished 1-1 so we could enjoy post-shoot pints – we gave the goalscorers Zlatan and James Milner a thank you credit in appreciation.

 

 

 

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Watch Irish Short Film: In Ribbons

In Ribbons has come to the end of its festival journey. Over the last three years, the film has been welcomed at almost forty festivals worldwide, the latest screening at the 2018 ‘Disappear Here Film Festival’ in Donegal.

 

 

Set in 1960s Ireland, In Ribbons begins with young Laurie excited and carefree as she goes for a walk with her Dad… until they reach the grounds of an ominous, grey building. As the door closes on the only world she knows, darkness envelops her and she is abandoned to a place of fear, an orphanage, where silence rules and identity is stripped away. Laurie however, holds firm to her sense of self, her spirit and resilience through the power of her dreams and her memories. The final scene shows Laurie, defiantly clutching a lock of her hair as she peers up at the moon.

Apart from a few ethereal words that echo from ‘Laurie’, the screenplay contains no dialogue, an essential exclusion from the beginning for the screenwriter. As the story moves from joy to fear, and light to dark, Caroline’s vision was to draw the viewer into a journey with the main character through her heightened, though childish, sensual experience. Therefore, a hugely important element of the story narrative was the sound, which was expertly engineered by Neil Horner.

The story is quite personal to Caroline, though she stresses that it is not a judgmental one and does not sensationalize what was a very profound experience – not just for ‘Laurie’, but for thousands of children like her, taken on that same journey, some unwittingly tricked, some kicking and screaming, some so damaged, so desensitized that it didn’t really matter what the destination was.

Written and co-produced by Caroline Farrell, the film was directed and edited by Marie-Valerie Jeantelot, who also co-produced. With the expert guidance from Tom Dowling, who came on board as Line Producer, the team gathered an incredibly talented and generous cast (Patrick O’Donnell, Geraldine McAlinden, Melissa Nolan and Rebecca Waldron), and being an Indie production, a crowd-funding campaign was organised, and raised one quarter of the budget through donations from some very generous friends. The team also applied for a bursary from Kildare County Arts Service, which was successful, and raised another quarter. Caroline and Marie-Valerie covered all remaining expenses.  

The film was shot over three days, at three separate locations, including the Grangegorman building (the former mental hospital, St Brendan’s) which replicated the ominous façade of Goldenbridge Orphanage.

In Ribbons  won the JURY PRIZE at the ‘Worcestershire Film Festival’ 2015, and BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM at both the ‘Los Angeles Cinefest’ and ‘The Seadance Film Festival’ in Spain, 2016. It was also awarded BEST DIRECTOR and BEST SOUND [Neil Horner] at the ‘Wolves Independent IFF’ 2016, in Lithuania, and was the only Irish film to screen at the ‘Arts & Cinema Corner, Women Deliver 4th Global Conference’ 2016, in Copenhagen. It received a MERIT AWARD for Best Drama at the ‘International New York Film Festival’ 2015, and has been nominated for many more, including Best Experimental Film at both the ‘London Film Festival’ and the ‘Lisbon International Film Festival’, 2016. In 2015 it was nominated for Best Connection of Sound and Image at the ‘Braunschweig International Film Festival’ Germany, Best Cinematography [Basil Al Rawi] at the ‘Underground Cinema Film Festival’ and for the European Fiction Award AND the Most Creative Short Film Award at the’ Corti Da Sogni International Film Festival’ in Ravenna, Italy.

 

 

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/inribbonsmovie/

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Short Film Review: Low Tide

Dakota Heveron gets on board Ian Hunt Duffy’s short horror Low Tide, which premiered at last year’s Cork Film Festival in November.

Ian Hunt Duffy’s chilling short horror film Low Tide centres on a fishing trip taken by a father (Steve Wall) and his son Jack (Luke Lally). But what seems on the surface to be an enjoyable day out on the water soon devolves into something far more sinister.

The film is driven by the compelling, naturalistic performances of its two leads, and Wall is especially haunting in the role of a brusque, impenitent father who soon reveals himself to be anything but paternalistic. Through the cinematography of Narayan Van Maele, the water itself becomes a character of its own, revealed through shots of its glassy expanse and black depths to be cold, dark, and unforgiving. Only adding to the film’s ominous aesthetics are scenes filled with shadow and moments of visceral imagery, including a shot of a fish being indifferently gutted.

The film’s score lends itself well to the precarity of the situation, where Jack’s fate at his father’s side is deeply unsure. Swells of triumphant music as the fishing boat glides across the water suggest an adventurous voyage, an age-old tradition between father and son. When the swells drop into silence, the characters are left alone against the backdrop of dark water and a slate sky, stark and foreboding. This sense of foreboding only grows when an eerie underscore creeps into being as the figure of the father becomes increasingly darker.

The narrative is filled with uncertainty, but only to the film’s advantage. While the final outcome for Jack may not be precisely clear, it doesn’t need to be. Instead of closure, the viewer is left with an appropriate sense of dread as Duffy explores and subverts the relationship between father and son, as well as themes of familial legacy and inherited violence.

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Film In Cork 2018 Short Film Award

Film In Cork have announced a winner of the 2018 Short Film Award, valued at €8,000.

The winning project is The Shift written by Mairéad Kiernan, directed by Megan K.Fox, and produced by Bankhouse Productions.

There were 90 scripts submitted for the April deadline, which was whittled down to 16 for a one-day development session on May 5th as part of Film In Cork’s on-going commitment to training. This day was delivered by the script judges, Oonagh Kearney & Pierce Ryan.

The interview panel comprised of Writer/Directors Oonagh Kearney & Rebecca Daly and Producer Deirdre Levin. Speaking on behalf of the panel, Oonagh Kearney commented that “The Shift brims with personality, wit and humour. It has a cracking lead character and well-defined story world. We feel this coming-of-age bilingual story will make for a powerful and memorable short film. We look forward to helping the team realize their vision for this project.”

The team will benefit from the experience and talent of the interview panel in terms of mentoring support as they begin the process of translating the script to the screen.

For further information on Film in Cork, please visit http://filmincork.com/

 

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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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Watch Irish Short Film: Staccato

Staccato centres around Thomas Croydon who is busy rehearsing for his debut piano recital. His attention, however, is divided elsewhere – to the young gardener out in the grounds, whom he so desperately wants to keep.

Director Eoghan McQuinn gives us the low-down on how the film came together.

 

When I get an idea for a film, it usually comes from a couple of practical sources. I think of the locations I could use, local places that could evoke an emotion on screen. I’ve always been drawn to period dramas. I’d not seen too many stories portraying gay relationships in a period context, and I wanted to use that subject to explore themes of repression, delusion, social expectation, and exploitation of the working class.

People responded to the emotion of the story and the potential for arresting imagery in pastoral and stately settings – particularly cinematographer Miguel Angel Viñas, he pushed to shoot on the Arri Alexa with an extensive lighting kit giving the film a grand and timeless look that would evoke the era we wanted to depict.

I also met with several potential producers who expressed an interest, and in January 2014 came to Caroline Kealy, who really understood what I was aiming for with the project, and the many components that would need to be coordinated to pull it off. She was also someone who I felt was capable of pulling together several strands of a relatively complicated production working with a restricted budget, so I felt very fortunate to get her on board.

Everyone was so professional and committed themselves to really putting in the time to collaborate and elevate what was on the page. We had some incredible actors. It was very important to me to have the cast as prepared as possible for their scenes – working with accents and getting the rhythm and timing of the scenes right, while also exploring the chemistry between Craig and Kevin – working hard to build up an intimacy and rapport between them. If I couldn’t sell the intensity of feeling between the two young men, the drama of the film would be non-existent.

Getting the locations was an interesting challenge. Luckily we did find three locations willing to open their doors to us, Ardgillan Castle in North Dublin (interiors), and Killruddery House (exteriors) and Tinakilly Hotel in Co. Wicklow.

Wardrobe was obviously another key component of this production and finding costumes that were both visually appealing and accurate for the period was a big hurdle. We then found out about a place called Nomac Productions in Co. Waterford,their beautiful intricate gowns and waistcoats that really took the audience into the world we were trying to evoke.

For a film centred around a young pianist, the actual piano he plays was a pretty vital prop. Caroline had the unenviable task of sourcing a Grand Piano on a budget of zero, with only weeks to go until the shoot. Having this as the centerpiece for the recital scene was absolutely essential, and I’m so grateful we managed to nab one against the odds.

 

Watch Staccato

 

 

Staccato stars Craig Grainger, Kevin O’Malley, Marian Rose, Sophie Merry, Pauline O’Driscoll, Sarah Gallagher, Elijah Egan, Muireann Toibin, Victor Feldman, George Bracebridge

It had Official Selection at the Washington DC Independent Film Festival, Kashish Mumbai International Film Festival, QFlix Philadelphia International Film Festival

Staccato is a self-financed short film written and directed by Eoghan McQuinn and produced by Caroline Kealy. Principal photography was completed in 2014 with cinematographer Miguel Ángel Viñas on the Arri Alexa, provided by Panavision Ireland and lights by Cine Electric and Con Dempsey. The film was shot on location in stately homes in North Co. Dublin and Co. Wicklow. Production & Costume Design by Sorcha Dianamh. The film features classical piano performed by pianist David O’Shea. The film was edited by Dylan Knapp.

 

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The Long Wet Grass

(L to R) Actors Paul and Anna Nugent, Composer Marketa Irglova and writer Seamus Scanlon at Irish Screen America Dublin launch

The Long Wet Grass film started as a prize-winning flash fiction piece (2011 Fish Anthology) written by Seamus Scanlon and then went on to become an award-winning one-act play (as part of The McGowan Trilogy). It is now a short film with original music composed by Academy Award winner Marketa Irglova (Once). The film is set in County Mayo and was shot there in late 2016.

The Long Wet Grass is based on the short story by Galway-born, New York-based writer Seamus Scanlon, and tells the story of a troubled paramilitary who kidnaps a woman who has broken the rules and has taken her to a remote lakeside for possible execution … only it is his childhood sweetheart, and the pull of their love and history wrestles with the push of violence.

Seamus is the co-producer with Anna Olson Nugent, who also stars in the film and was in the original US and UK stage productions. Paul Nugent stars opposite Anna in the play and the film. Seamus recruited Justin Davey as director and Galway-based Lakshika Serasinhe after he saw their work on Linda Bhreathnach’s Adulting in the 2016 Galway Film Fleadh. Fintan Geraghty came on board as sound engineer.
Marketa Irglova (Academy Award winner for best song in the film Once) wrote the music. After she read the original flash fiction piece, the play and the film script she came on board and as well as the score she wrote three new songs for the film.

The Irish premiere was in Mayo at The Clare Island Film Festival – the US premiere at The San Francisco Irish Film Festival and the New York premiere at NYU’s Cantor Film Center as part of Irish Screen America.

The most recent festival outings were 2017’s IndieCork Festival (Oct 14) and the Kerry Film Festival (Oct 20).

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Irish Short Film Review: Ours

Ours – Duration: 6.45 minutes

 

June Butler takes a look at Heather Grogan’s short film Ours, in which a young couple struggle to come to terms with an unexpected pregnancy and the impact it has on their relationship.

 

Ours is a short film written, produced and directed by Heather Grogan. Coming in at 6 minutes and 45 seconds, it has a tall order to fill yet does so unassumingly and with panache.

Before the characters are even seen, viewers are presented with an aural taste of what is to come as shrill voices argue and bicker while scenes come into focus. A young couple are expecting their first child. There is friction between the pair as stresses increase and tempers fray. Each accuses the other of various transgressions, adding to their fiery exchange with rash statements intended to inflict pain.

Mornings are set aside for effusive apologies, supplanted by evenings replete with rage. The cycle of bluster and irritation rolls on with inexorable frenzy as Tadhg Devery (Jason) and Susie Redmond (Melissa) deliver the finest and most arresting of performances along with some arresting images from Diarmuid Long as director of photography.

When the tale reaches its final moments, what was once alone comes together, as ‘mine’ evolves into ‘Ours’ – in the end, love is the only thing that matters.

 

 

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The Other Anne Frank House

An international day of remembrance for Holocaust Memorial Day was observed on 27th January 2018. Filmmaker Jonathan Victory released a short film to mark that day’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust.

The Other Anne Frank House visits the Frank family home in Merwedeplein, south of Amsterdam’s city centre. On the fateful morning they went into hiding, they walked for around an hour to reach the “Secret Annex” on Prinsengracht. This came to be known as the world-famous “Anne Frank House” for the two years she spent in hiding there.

Filmmaker and south Dublin local Jonathan Victory was filming in Amsterdam for his upcoming documentary “Why Do We Forget?” This film is still in production, exploring the preservation of historical buildings in Ireland. The Netherlands was visited to provide a contrast to Irish policy. Even in Merwedeplein, there is now a statue to Anne Frank in the square where she played as a child. Jonathan Victory explains the inspiration for his visit:

“After the moving experience of visiting the Anne Frank House, I was curious to see the home she was driven from. The statue in Merwedeplein is itself a touching tribute and the buildings have been preserved much as they were when the Franks lived there. I had seen a wedding film that briefly captured Anne Frank looking out at the celebrations from her apartment’s window. This is the only known footage of Anne Frank. On location, I was looking at screenshots of this footage, trying to match the original framing. The effect is quite eerie, not just for showing the community still living in this neighbourhood. It hits home how the Frank family were living a normal life in their community until persecution drove them into hiding. Holocaust Memorial Day is worth observing because it highlights how open societies could turn barbaric. This must never happen again.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=9mRQZ_Old9g
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Watch Irish Short Film: Radha

Radha is a 22-minute drama with horror elements. Director Nicolas Courdouan spoke to Film Ireland about the story behind the film.

 

Radha is an abridged version of a feature film project I have been working on for a couple of years. I really wanted to commit a shorter version to the screen not only as a promotional piece for the project but also to see if, and how well, I could translate my somewhat abstract ideas into a working narrative.

 

The story is primarily about the relationship between our memories and identity. I find that much of who we think we are is informed by our past, but more precisely by what we remember of our past, and it seems natural to think that a person who spent years misremembering a tragedy would have a pretty distorted sense of self as a result. The main character, Saoirse, spent her entire adolescence trying to come to terms with a past tragedy in the worst possible way: By running away from it. She is poisoned from the inside, uprooted and fragile, unable to face her true self. But she can only run away so far and her past is still haunting her. That is when she has a chance encounter with Radha, a mysterious and magnetic dancer who seems to soothe the soul of her audience through ritualistic performances. Saoirse falls for her and attempts to use Radha’s influence over her to heal from her trauma. But of course, there is a price to be paid.

 

 

The film has been described as belonging to the fantasy or supernatural horror genres but I find it more accurate to think of it in terms of cosmicism, or cosmic horror, which is a genre that pits humans against entities or forces that exceed their ability to make sense of the world, and remind them of how insignificant and helpless we all are in the grand scheme of things. Ultimately, Radha embodies the true nature of the cosmos: ever-changing, fluctuating between state, impermanent, while Saoirse is someone who seeks to arrive at a final state, to become an imago, an ultimate version of herself. As such she is a corruption, and the only peace she can ever hope to find resides in the complete annihilation of herself.

 

I’m really happy to be able to share Radha with the rest of the world now, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire cast and crew one more time for their work.

 

” evokes the feel of a J-Horror”

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Irish Short Film Review: Lily

Sarah Cullen takes a look at Lily, Graham Cantwell’s short film about a girl with a secret, who is faced with the greatest challenge of her young life. 

“I’m not homophobic. I have lots of gay friends,” scoffs a character in Graham Cantwell’s Filmbase-produced short film Lily. Indeed, it is claims such as this that seem to ring out, almost like a refrain, across our so-called tolerant society: a society in which bigoted actions are often cloaked in liberal speech. The character who speaks these words is here is a secondary school teacher (Lynette Callaghan), something that shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, in our post-referendum society, many Irish schools are still unwilling or unable to address the requirements of its gay, lesbian and transgender students. Lily deftly illustrates this failure, taking as its focus the lack of adequate LGBT information provided in a sexual education class. It’s just too early for Ireland as a nation to start patting itself on the back in relation to LGBT rights: if we continue to fail some of our most vulnerable members of society – children – how can we claim to be inclusive?

This is what the eponymous protagonist discovers when she attempts to come out in school. After confiding in her friend, Violet (Leah McNamara), about her sexuality, Lily (Clara Harte) becomes the target of bullying from fellow students. As a result, she suffers a violent encounter in which a group of girls corner her in the bathroom and leave her with some serious injuries. Lily discovers that her parents are of little help and turns instead to her close friend Simon (Dean Quinn). Simon is already known around the school for being out and “in-your-face,” and brings Lily to meet Oonagh (Amy-Joyce Hastings), a young woman who takes Lily under her wing. Oonagh advises Lily to adopt a new persona, and to tough it out: things get better after school, we learn.

Director and writer Cantwell should be lauded for his light touch which addresses so many current issues regarding LGBT experiences in Irish society. It’s important to recognise that marriage equality is not the be-all and end-all for many gay and lesbian individuals in Ireland, and indeed this is alluded to in Lily’s portrayal of Oonagh’s decision to choose her own path. To this end, director of photography Eimear Ennis Graham successfully illustrates the confining nature of its school in comparison with the wider potential of Dublin city. The film also examines Simon’s performativity as a young gay man in a heteronormative environment, highlighting how such personas can be used as a defence against the hostility of straight society.

The film’s denouement, in which Lily confronts her bullies, is similarly commendable in the way it handles the complexities of its issues. The film does hint at better days to come, and while Lily should of course be celebrated for her bravery (and Harte gives an admirably spirited performance), a sense of pathos and loss remains: that no LGBT child should be forced to endure their school days, and their survival should not be dependent upon the thickness of their skin. Lily’s recent success testifies to its resonances with audiences around Ireland and abroad: it was both nominated for an IFTA and won the 2017 Iris Prize Youth Award. I’d argue that Lily should be added to the school curriculum: although I suspect it may hit too close to home for those who would like to ignore the continuing failures of the Irish education system. After all, how could they be homophobic? They probably have gay friends…

 

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Lily has screened at over 50 international festivals worldwide, including the prestigious Savannah Film Festival and the Rhode Island International Film Festival. It won the Youth Award at the Iris Prize Festival, the Blue Riband event on the LGBT festival circuit, known as the LGBT Oscars. It was nominated for Best Irish Short at the 2017 Irish Film and Television Academy Awards, was nominated for an Irish Writers’ Guild Award and won the Best Irish Short Award at the two biggest festivals in Ireland, The Galway Film Fleadh and the Audi Dublin International Film Festival, qualifying for Academy Award consideration in the process. At the Santa Fe Film Festival Lily was awarded the Best International Short Film award and Director Graham Cantwell was honoured with the Courage in Cinema Award. The film also won awards at the Underground Cinema Film Festival in Dublin and in San Diego, North Carolina, Barcelona and Durban in South Africa. Lead actress Clara Harte was voted Best Female Actor at the Pune International Queer Film Festival in India and at the Underground Cinema Awards, where Amy-Joyce Hastings also won the Best Supporting Actress award.

www.lilyfilm.net
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Watch Short Film: ‘Last Service’ & ‘Forgotten Paradise’

Bertie Brosnan’s new short art-films Last Service and Forgotten Paradise funded by the Cork City Arts are available online for free

 

Forgotten Paradise is a short film following a silent homeless man as he quietly ponders his last day. Forgotten Paradise stars Charlie Ruxton (Into The West, Titanic: Blood & Steel)

 

Last Service is a short documentary following a Gravedigger as he goes about his day at home and in work and like Forgotten Paradise, there is more to this man than meets the eye. Featuring Stephen O’ Connor (The Young Offenders)

Director, Bertie says: “It was a wonderful experience creating these films, the budget was only 3,000 euros but I was able to harness the creative powers of small crews and the wonderfully talented Charlie Ruxton and Stephen O’ Connor. As a writer, I am always interested in characters that have a depth to them that isn’t always apparent. As a society, we judge and marginalize ‘types’ of people in a matter of seconds, as we never take the time to understand a little about them. With these two shorts films, I am hoping to shed some light on two characters that our society has preconceived judgement.”

Bertie Brosnan (Con, Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel) produced, directed and edited Last Service & Forgotten Paradise. Brian O’ Connor (Con, Message) shot both films. And, both were coloured by Phillip Morozov (Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel, Con). Sound Design by Brian Lane (Date Night, Disappear, Receptive. Totally Receptive), Music by Bensound www.bensound.com & Jason and Cori Fernandez (Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel) Posters design by Ray Foley.

Bertie Brosnan’s films have been critically acclaimed and selected at international film festivals and markets such as ‘Cork Film Festival’, ‘Fastnet Film Festival’, ‘Kerry Film Festival’, ‘Cannes Short Film Corner’, ‘Hollywood North Film Festival’, and much more. His films received many nominations including winning a Cinematography Award for his last short film: Sineater.

Both his previous short films are currently being distributed worldwide by Shorts TV

 

 

Interview – Bertie Brosnan, writer and director of Sineater

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten Paradise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsMEMSNq5Wc

 

Last Serive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XMiVbRqrq4

 

Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/bertiebrosnanfilms/

 

Film is supported by Cork City Arts: http://www.corkcity.ie/services/corporateandexternalaffairs/arts

 

Link to Bertie’s and Escape Thru Film’s other works: https://www.bertiebrosnan.com

 

 

 

 

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Diarmuid Doran, Director of ‘Boomerang’

 

 

Boomerang (2017) is a debut short film produced, filmed and directed by Diarmuid Doran. The film, which stars stars Mike Timms and Sofia Nilsson, takes the viewer into an unknown crisis which darkens the heart of a mysterious wreck.

Diarmuid Doran guides Film Ireland through his hypnotic trip.

 

What can you tell us about Boomerang?

It’s difficult to talk about the film without giving the story away so I don’t really discuss it with people until they have seen it, I just tell them it’s a love story, but a weird love story.

People need to draw their own conclusions and establish their own viewpoint, a film can mean different things to different people.

 

The trailer is quite mysterious…

I find film trailers give away too much of the story and you know whats going to happen before you see the film. It should be a mystery when you sit down to watch.

https://vimeo.com/238800226

 

Where did the idea for the film come from?

The original story came from a stills narrative I shot as a student photographer in 1999. I revisited the idea and adapted it for film, the story development took one full year and principal photography was a ten-month gestation on and off, kind of like childbirth, only more painful.

 

What was the budget?

There was no budget or funding, it was all paid for by the myself. Mike Timms, the principal actor, paid for his own flights to Paris though. Have you ever told your wife you’re flying to Paris without her, to make a film? She laughed, then I knew it was a good idea. In the end, the total spend on the film was two grand.

 

Where was Boomerang filmed?

As I wanted anyone to be able to relate to the story, I wanted the film to have an international context, I didn’t want location to get in the way. I achieved this by not using traditional establishing shots that, I find, detract from the viewers’ connection. Boomerang was shot in three amazingly special parts of the world Dublin, Paris and Bray.

But it’s more about an internal location.

 

Is it true there was no crew, you did everything yourself?

I did everything apart from acting, my cameo didn’t make the cut. It was written, filmed and directed entirely by myself with no other crew during shooting. I did everything –  lighting, camera, sound, organising locations, lunch, actors schedules, casting, carrying equipment, drying the tears, everything.

Shooting was way too heavy when I look back at it, I could have had more time to direct and get the best from the actors in relation to the story I had in my head. I had to remind myself not to neglect the actors, and they had to remind me to shoot stills. When I’d say that scene was finished Mike would shout “stills” stopping me in my tracks.

I even drew the storyboards myself which Sofia Nilsson thought were very funny. Though when I asked her did she understand them she said yes, so they worked. Sofia also laughed when recording the voices for the opening scene, I took that as a great sign because most people laugh when they come across something new, exciting or unique.

 

Where did you find the actors ?

I cast them myself, and it proved difficult, finding dedicated actors to commit to a project with zero budget is a hard sell, but in the end I found actors with dedication and unselfish commitment to the story. Again, I didn’t want distinctly looking ‘Irish’ actors, and I didn’t want to adhere to the norm. My mantra is always “cliches are the enemy”.

 

What was the strangest moment during filming?

By far carrying coffins downstairs in the local undertakers was strange and surreal. That scene didn’t end up in the film though because it seemed too much like spoon-feeding the audience.

 

Were there any major difficulties during the shoots?

Flight cancellations, lengthy battles with insurance companies, the stills photographer, Pierre, being caught up in the Paris terrorist attacks, soon followed by us witnessing a guy waving a gun on a Paris backstreet as we left a restaurant the night we shot the street scenes.

And I know without doubt the best shot in the film would never have happened if our first flights weren’t cancelled, we wouldn’t have been at the location at the right time.

 

Your background is photography, this is obvious in the cinematography.

Yes. I enjoyed this immensely, using light sources that would, by proper photographic norms, be called ‘wrong’.

I shot Boomerang on one camera I bought from Hong Kong for under 500 euro, one Nikon digital SLR and one lens. Lighting came by way of a DIY shop fluorescent light and a projector, but a lot of scenes made creative use of natural light and ambient environmental sources. The photography reflects the mood of each scene, going from natural ambient lighting to surreal dramatic intensity.

 

As a debut film, what was the biggest lesson you learned along the way?

The soundtrack. The soundtrack needs a lot more time than you think, months of work for sixteen minutes.

The soundtrack was written and recorded by myself during the principal photography and editing of the film. This was a a great lesson in being concise and minimalist by trying to let the pictures tell the story and not overpowering them, but also enhancing them at the same time. I’d been “almost finished the soundtrack” for months on end.

Also, film is a hard slog, it’s not red carpets and celebrity, it’s 6am on a cold beach, on your knees…

 

 

Boomerang screens in the Irish Shorts 3 Poetic Voices programme at 2pm on 15th November 2017 at the Cork Film Festival (10 – 19 November)

 

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Irish Shorts 3 Poetic Voices Full Programme

The Hidden People
Ronan Corrigan / Ireland, UK / 2017 / 7 mins
When a Yorkshire teenager discovers the potential remains of a fairy, his childlike beliefs clash with his older brother’s bleak reality.
Producer Lauren Bell

The Erlking
Christopher Whiteside, Madeline Graham / Ireland / 2017 / 16 mins
A young couple’s burgeoning love for each other grows into something darker when they face a malevolent entity.
Producers Christopher Whiteside, Madeline Graham

Boomerang
Diarmuid Doran / Ireland / 2016 / 16 mins
An unknown crisis darkens the heart of a mysterious wreck.
Producer Diarmuid Doran

Soil Engineers
Dominic Curran / Ireland / 5 / 2017 /
A Sisyphean fisherman is tied to the worms he fishes with, while carrying out his epilogue
Producer Bethany Sloan

Deposits
Trevor Courtney / Ireland / 2017 / 5 mins / Animation
Deposits concerns the connection of all the disappeared in Ireland.
Producer Michael Algar

Where is Eva Hipsey?
Orla Mc Hardy / Ireland / 2016 /9 mins / Animation
An intrepid, older women deals with the reality of aging in a poetically practical way.
Producer Nicky Gogan

Everything Alive is in Movement C
Linda Curtin / Ireland / 2017 / 10 mins
A film about the power of the female spirit to transcend and transform the human body.
Producer Paula Larkin

I’m Roger Casement
Dearbhla Walsh / Ireland / 2017 / 12 mins
A short film that dances with the queer bones of British knight, Irish rebel and international humanitarian, Roger Casement.
Producer Vanessa Gildea

Wave
Benjamin Cleary, T.J. O’Grady Peyton / Ireland / 14 mins
A man wakes from a coma speaking a fully formed but unrecognizable language, baffling linguistic experts from around the globe.
Best Short – Galway Film Fleadh, 2017
Producer Rebecca Bourke

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Kerry Film Festival – Orchestrate – Short Programme

Eleanor McSherry conducts a report from Orchestrate – Shorts Programme at the Kerry Film Festival.

Orchestrate, the first of the screenings I attended, straight off the bus from Limerick, was a real education. This selection of short films were chosen as they exemplified the mastery of the film score and, to be honest, they did not disappoint. It is surely one of the most difficult parts of making a film, selecting the most appropriate music to match your story. It is a very important skill that is usually way down the list of priorities when making the film, which is a big mistake.

There were seven short films selected for this screening, covering a very diverse set of themes from paramilitary shootings, faith, salvation, Irish Myths, expressive dance and tragedy.

The films screened were: The Visitor (Bel), The Long Wet Grass (Irl), The Yellow Room (USA), Pendulum (UK), Maeve and the Moon (Irl), Wrongheaded (Irl) and Milo’s Home (Swiss) .

Two of the films deserve special mention and these are: The Visitor and Wrongheaded.

The Visitor – Directed by Ali Baharlou

A priest faces an unexpected problem while preparing the church to welcome and help out some guests. It is holiday and a pipe has burst in the church. It seems that he cannot find any plumber, until a mysterious man shows up to help.

This film uses dialogue very cleverly. A fairly minor discussion on plumbing hides the real discussion about God, trust and faith. It is beautifully shot in a church and the music is fantastic. Not surprisingly it has won the Best Music Award at Frame by Sound Festival in Dominican Republic and screened all over Europe.  The immensely talented composer, Raf Keunen, best known for his work on the Oscar nominated film Bullhead composed the music for The Visitor. It was a magnificent collaboration, with hopefully more to come.


 

Wrongheaded – Directed by Mary Wycherley  

A dancing body’s response to the 8th amendment, bringing together spoken word poetry, film and dance.

Not surprisingly this film won best music score at the festival. It is a fantastic dance film beautifully choreographed by award-winning Liz Roche and Score by Ray Harman. I always feel so amazed by how dance films can give so much meaning through the merging of music, lighting, dance and film. Voice-over was by a new young political poet, Elaine Feeney, while dancers Sarah Cerneaux and Justine Cooper moved elegantly in the piece. It is a wonderful movement that stretched the very boundaries of film. I often wonder if I am qualified enough to even comment on these kind of films. It was a very moving and beautiful piece!

 

 

ORCHESTRATE – Shorts Programme took place on Friday, 20th October 2017 at Cinema Killarney as part of the Kerry Film Festival (19 – 22 October 2017)

 

Full Screening Details: 

Orchestrate

1. The Visitor (BEL)

A broken pipe in a church triggers the meeting of a priest and a mysterious man.

2. The Long Wet Grass (IRL)

In a remote lakeside location, a strong-willed woman and a dedicated paramilitary are at an existential impasse. Can their interwoven past save her?

3. The Yellow Room (USA)

Through a series of lush encounters, two dancers are forced to confront their inherent dualities

4. Pendulum (UK)

Two friends seek spiritual salvation in India before the collapse of the Cosmos.

5. Maeve and the Moon (IRL)

After hearing her mother is ‘asking for the moon’, a young Irish girl takes the expression literally – setting off to find the moon and bring it home.

6. Wrongheaded (IRL)

Intense physicality in confined spaces and abstract poetic narratives portray a deep sense of desperation, struggle, loss and unrest.

7. Milo’s Home (SWISS)

A tragic event causes Dagmar to face her own loneliness.

 

 

 

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Irish Short Film Review: Gone

 

June Butler takes a long look at Patrick Maxwell’s short Gone.

Coming in at a little over 15 minutes in length, this short is well worth viewing. Paul (Ryan Andrews) returns to his childhood home following a bereavement. Atmospherically bleak from the onset, opening shots show Paul passing through the yard of a block of flats as he trudges past clothes lines and graffiti daubed walls. Along the way he is greeted by an old friend who empathises with his loss. Paul’s arrival is marked with sadness, becoming further highlighted as he empties the old flat he once lived in.

The story is imbued with meaningful glances between characters – they relate more to what is not spoken than to what is. Dialogue is limited but this only serves to ameliorate the narrative and give greater portend to what is being said.

One thing that sets Gone apart from other short films is its ability to allow viewers come to their own conclusions and audiences will thank director Patrick Maxwell for it. A short film needs to embrace the story and does not have the luxury of character development – rather delving quickly into the narrative is a key component. Maxwell does this deftly and with great skill – almost unnoticeably, audiences are placed centre stage, at the heart of unfolding drama and with careful timing, Maxwell drops small pieces of information into the story as it moves along – there is a sense of loss – betrayal comes to the fore and remains key as the narrative begins to quicken its pace.

In the final act, tragedy strikes with the story coming full circle. Remaining mysterious to the last, Gone elicits questions from viewers long after closing credits.

 

 

Gone is currently available to rent or buy on VOD through Amazon: http://amzn.eu/9mvmLTR and Vimeo On Demand: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/goneshortfilm

 

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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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Barbora Gajdošová, Writer/Director of ‘That Moment’

Blurred lines emerge while drifting through dreams and real time. Where do you find the divide between loss and pain? Peer through the keyhole at the intimate moment of a break up. How hard will it be to accept your reality and allow the other person their freedom?

Barbora Gajdošová tells us how a break-up and a dream inspired her film That Moment.

That Moment was inspired by a break-up I went through. It happened in a cafe and it was brief. “Sorry, I have feelings for another,” he said. So I went home, cried for a few hours, drank a bottle of wine and went to sleep with my broken heart. That night I dreamt about him, the other woman and me. I wrote a story combining that dream and the actual break up with a bit of a dramatic twist to it and I knew that I was going to make it into a film. I never felt like this before. I had a mission. I turned pain into creativity and I’m still surprised by what has happened. I was like a magnet for good news. I surrounded myself with people who are incredibly talented and kind. Everyone was up for doing it and I knew that we were going to make something special. “Hey, I’m shooting a short film! I’m very excited! It’s about a break-up!”

 
As an actor, I worked with Krzysiek Staniec (DOP) and Magdalena Wodzisz (editor) on their film projects. I knew what they could give me visually. They loved the script and understood what I needed to say with my story. We spent hours on pre-production and planning, which made the actual shoot a very smooth and enjoyable experience.

Miriam Kelleher, who plays the lead role, is a very good friend of mine and she was part of the project from the very start. “Are you shooting a film? I’m in it right?”… “Of course you are in it! You are so damn talented!” It took me a while to find a male actor that would energetically fit with Miriam. I was looking for someone confident, mature and strong. Eugene D’Arcy was perfect for that part.

The actual shoot took 3 days. We were all prepared, present and very excited. It was a very collaborative project as everyone involved brought their own artistic creativity to it. Eamon Ivri (Lighght) composed the soundtrack  in 4 days. He was very productive and fast at getting the music done as there were deadlines for festival submissions that we didn’t want to miss.

It took two months from writing the script to shooting the film to editing it. The entire project was self-funded. Obviously, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the emotional support of my friends and the trust and belief from all the crew.

The hardest part of this project was to create something so intimate and share it with world.

 

That Moment screens at IndieCork in Programme 2 of the Creative Cork selection @ 9.15pm on Wednesday, 11th October 2017.

IndieCork runs from 8 – 15 October 2017

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Leticia Agudo: Director/Co-Writer of ‘Refuge’

Image: Jaro Waldeck

 

Leticia Agudo talks to Film Ireland about her film Refuge, which tells the story of a young Irish man in an unfamiliar European city who gets help and refuge from an illegal immigrant, a young man like himself. For one night, they’re equals.

 

The realities of the current refugee struggle are documented and fictionalised in different ways. The normal view is: THEY want something/everything from the US – help, food, asylum, money, protection, jobs. It is a one-sided relationship, normally “they” are not considered to have anything to offer.

In a very simple and mundane way, even, I wanted to turn this idea on its head; what if the “European” needed help from “the refugee”? What if the resources and facilities we take for granted as we move through the world with ease – backpacking in Thailand, long weekend in Marrakesh, getaway in Barcelona – are stripped away and we haven’t bothered to learn the language, the ways, the place, even in a country within our own “safe zone”? That shift in perspective is what Refuge explores.

 

Directing approach

Given my experience directing documentary, I wanted to enrich the film with the actors’ real-life experiences over a given dramatic scenario, using the background of Seville, passersby and everyday life to insert our little “drama” into. Bobby [Moloney, co-writer] and I wrote a scenario with a brief description of each scene, to work the build-up and structure in the story. I then worked with the actors on location so they would improvise the lines, approaching every situation through their own perspectives. I had the idea to cast the “refugee” from someone who had lived through a similar experience. The South of Spain has had a constant stream of people coming from North Africa for decades, and so I enlisted the help of the refugee integration society Fundación Sevilla Acoge to find someone who would like to take part.

 

Casting

For the Irish cast, we held two casting workshops where I gave the actors parallel scenarios to those in the script to improvise on. I never use the actual script or ask for prepared monologues for casting, as I’m looking for how an actor interprets character and situation, how they react to other actors and take direction. From the first audition, Cork native Tommy Harris reacted with the energy and the innocence I was looking for in the character. For the character of the illegal immigrant, I gave Sevilla Acoge a profile (age, English speaking, similar experience). Cletus Fonony had a great contrast between a very strong presence and a delicate manner, which would flip audiences’ expectations. He liked the idea of embodying the character; he wouldn’t have wanted to take part in a documentary about his exact story, but he liked the idea of drawing from his experience as someone else.

 

Beg-borrow-and-steal production

Going back to film in my native city of Seville, we had my family and friends’ support and resources for this no-budget short, sleeping in their spare rooms and getting the occasional home-cooked meal. We were a tiny crew of 4: producer Paul McGrath (also sound recordist and extra), co-writer and associate producer Bobby Moloney (+ camera assistant and extra), DOP Jaro Waldeck and myself (also playing a cameo). We walked every inch of Seville, scouting out locations and testing shots. We basically test shot 80% of the film in the three days prior to Tommy’s arrival, as sequences like the robbery and chase were tricky and finding the perfect location for the first encounter between the characters and the “refuge” took some time. We put poor Tommy to work as soon as he got off the plane, running through busy Seville streets and even getting stopped by locals reacting to what they thought were real-life situations! We never disguised the fact that we were filming, but Jaro’s discreet DSLR rig and Paul’s clip mics, meant we could be fast and unobtrusive in our environment. On the other hand, Seville people are very reactive towards crime and they’re very fast on their feet stopping and chasing culprits!

Actors Cletus and Tommy didn’t meet until the evening before they had to work together, so in the process of making the film, they got to know each other and their backgrounds, and explore those first awkward moments of nascent friendships in and around the film. They were both extremely adaptable and intelligent, reacting naturally to situations and filming conditions. I’m happy to say it was a great collaborative production, an intense and very enjoyable experience.

 

Seville

Because of its history, Seville’s architecture is a mixture between East and West, with strong Arabic influence in the buildings and the culture. This added to the layers and the relativity of cultural and national identity, which is one of the themes that interest me as a writer and director. In relation to visuals, the autumn and early spring are the best times in the city light-wise, when the pinks and the oranges highlight the buildings’ own reds and oranges. It’s a city of visual contrasts, where the streets are always full of people strolling, eating, drinking, as in the rest of the Mediterranean.

 

Post-production

It was dis-proportionally long for a fiction, in relation to the amount shot and the intended length of the film. Bobby and I edited the film, dividing in two and it took a while for Paul and us to be happy with the structure and, for me, with the rhythm, which is crucial for a short film. This was slow moving but it had to work, like any short, like a piece of music. Paul did a incredible job with After Effects in things as radical as removing one of the actors from a shot because we were flagging his presence too much. Bobby also did an incredible job of editing and sweetening the sound, and for the grading, we returned to our favourite, Eugene McCrystal, with whom we had worked before.

Finding the right music was also more challenging than I expected. At pre-production, I really wanted to use a song that Antonio López was making for Sevilla Acoge about immigrants, and after talking to him, he had the idea to compose a new song based on the themes of the film, which he sang in Spanish. I decided to go with very little music in the end, to counterpoint certain moments, which we sourced from the West One Music group.

Even after I thought we were picture locked, after sage advice from a shorts programmer, we cut another 3 minutes off the film, including two beautiful shots of the Irish character enjoying the city of Seville, which were two of my darlings, but they didn’t do anything else to the film.

I’m interested to see how an Irish audience reacts to the subject matter and to the style of the film. Roll on IndieCork and Kerry!

 

Refuge screens at IndieCork in Programme 3 of the Irish shorts programme @ 12.00pm on Saturday, 14th October.

 

Refuge will also screen at the Kerry Film Festival in the RECALL short programme @ 4pm on 20th October and at the Brest European Short Film Festival, where it is the sole Irish representative screening in competition, on the 8th and 9th of November.

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Poppi + Gonzo to Premiere in Donegal

 

Amanda Doherty’s short film Poppi + Gonzo has wrapped. Shot on location in Belfast, the cast comprises of Amanda Doherty and Luke Bannon,  two young people who live on the streets of Belfast, one of whom has just undergone a medical abortion.

According to directior Amanda Doherty, “The release of the work coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the U.K. Abortion Act, which still doesn’t apply to N.I. and highlights how only women of a certain financial freedom can avail of services overseas.

“Stylistically the work falls into the genre of neorealism; the lines between fiction and documentary are intentionally thin, with great inspiration coming from the work of Ken Loach.

“Our failure to support working class women in this way is unacceptable. Irish women’s bodies are governed, as an Irish woman this is a key issue in society which demands attention. Poppi + Gonzo holds an uncompromising magnifying glass over this injustice, inciting the audience to create social change with urgency.

Poppi + Gonzo will premiere at the Disappear Here Film Festival in Donegal 22-24 September 2017 

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Nathan Fagan, Director of ‘Hum’

 

Director Nathan Fagan talks to Film Ireland about his film Hum, an intimate portrait of artist and singer-songwriter, Kevin Nolan, which recently won the inaugural Guth Gafa Short Lens competition.

 

How did the project come about for you?

I first learned about Kevin Nolan from an article he wrote in The Irish Times. He discussed the challenges he has faced as a result of his diagnosis with schizo-affective disorder and how writing and performing music has helped him through some seriously dark times. I just remember being fascinated by his story and music and so I got in touch with him shortly after.

Initially, I’d been considering trying to do a radio documentary on Kevin and his music. After our first meeting, he invited me along to a performance he was giving as part of the ‘First Fortnight’ festival, at St. Patrick’s hospital, where he’s been a service user in the past. I remember watching him walk on stage, quietly sit down in front of a keyboard, and launch into this unbelievably powerful and theatrical performance of one of his songs, ‘Drowning’. By the end of the song, I’d pretty much decided to try and make a film about him.

 

Can you describe your relationship with Kevin over the filming period?

Before we started shooting anything, Kevin and myself spent quite a bit of time together just having conversations about anything and everything. We actually share a lot of the same interests in books, art and music. So, by the time we actually introduced a camera into the situation, we were both fairly used to each other’s company.

Although the film is only 19 minutes, we actually shot it over the course of about a year, with considerable breaks in between shoot days. Initially, I think Kevin was probably surprised at how much time it takes to get enough material for a documentary. I think there were definitely times where he wanted to get back to making music without having us hanging around filming him. It was worth it in the end, however.

 

How was it for you to witness Kevin’s creative process at work?

His creative process is fascinating. He works unbelievably hard at his art – treating it like a 9 to 5 essentially – but his productivity is often interrupted by his illness.

During the writing of his debut album,’Fredrick and the Golden Dawn’, he developed this routine for himself. He would wake up around 4 or 5 am, put on a full suit, and then sit down at his desk for the entire day creating songs. This went on for close to eight years – with breaks in between where his illness might become problematic or unmanageable and he might need to spend some time in the hospital.

If you listen to the album, there’s everything on there: piano, bass, electric guitar, drums, saxophone, xlyophone, organ, cello – even the musical saw. He taught himself – over the years – how to play many of these instruments himself, so as to be able to write and record the kinds of songs he wanted to make.

He also appears to draw on very eclectic sources for inspiration: poetry philosophy, folk tales, cowboy novels, dreams.

 

What was it like filming the live performances?

Shooting these performances was definitely a bit of a challenge. Before making this documentary, I knew next to nothing about capturing audio for live music. Foolishly, I think I just assumed it was similar to capturing regular location sound. I didn’t realise the level of expertise and experience necessary to capture high-quality audio like this. Luckily, however, we had the help of two people: Caimin Agnew, who did an unbelievable job capturing sound for the performances, and Christopher Barry, who allowed us to raid equipment from his recording studio for the day and provided some extra guidance during the shoot.

As always, Kevin delivered some incredibly powerful performances that day. Experiencing him live really is something to behold. It’s amazing to watch how Kevin transforms from this bookish, somewhat soft-spoken man into this amazingly theatrical, almost bombastic persona when he gets on stage.

I was also very lucky to get our DoP, Simon O’Neill, on-board at this stage. He really went above and beyond to help us capture the energy and uniqueness of Kevin’s performances on the day.

 

Did making the film have any impact on your understanding of mental illness?

Making the film has definitely changed my understanding of mental illness. Before making it, I only had a basic understanding of conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizo-affective disorder. Not only that, but my understanding of these conditions would have been largely gleaned from the media or popular culture.

I think there’s a tendency to sensationalise people living with these conditions in Hollywood movies, the media and popular culture. There’s a tendency to reduce individuals to their conditions and to ‘other’ them. The reality, of course, is much more complex and differs greatly from person to person. Individuals living with these conditions have full, rounded lives just like anyone else – with careers, families and relationships – but simply have the added challenge of maintaining their mental health.

I think Kevin – by being so open and honest about his experiences – can help shatter some of these misconceptions and offer a more nuanced understanding of what it’s like to live with a condition like this. That’s certainly one of the main goals of the film.

 

What was Kevin’s reaction to the film?

It’s been entirely positive – which is a massive relief. You never really know how people are going to react to seeing themselves on screen for the first time (I’m not sure how I’d react, to be honest) so that’s always an anxious experience.

We had our first official screening at the Guth Gafa festival just this month. I think Kevin was fairly nervous just before the screening – I certainly was, anyway – but it all went well. In fact, when they announced we had won the Short Lens competition and they wanted me to come up and answer a few questions, it was Kevin reassuring me, as I’m not really a fan of public speaking.

 

What are the plans for the film – screenings, etc…

We have another screening coming up at the end of this month, at the Still Voices film festival, in Longford. It’s also been selected for the Barcelona Short Film Festival and the Au Contraire Film Festival, in Montreal, who have kindly offered to fly myself and Kevin over to Montreal for the screening and provide us with accommodation. I also just received some exciting news from another festival abroad – which I’m not allowed to share just yet!

Other than that, we’re hoping some more festivals will screen it and really just to get it in front of as many people as possible.

 

You can find Kevin Nolan’s website here: https://www.kevinnolan.info/

Plus his critically-acclaimed first album can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/mrkevinnolan/sets/fredrick-the-golden-dawn-by

 

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh • New Irish Shorts 7: IFB World Premiere Shorts

Deirdre de Grae finds a lot to admire at the Irish Film Board World Premiere Short Films programme at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

 

The Galway Film Fleadh is an important platform for Irish short film. Hundreds of short filmmaking crews and cast attend the festival each year, helping to create the unique Fleadh buzz. There is a symbiotic relationship between festival and short film, if one portion is removed, the other will not thrive. The Irish Film Board had the Fleadh shorts equivalent of a ‘prime time’ slot – 12 noon on Saturday – and the atmosphere was phenomenal. The world premieres screened to a full house, including excited cast and crew of the short films. Although the IFB shorts premiere is always busy, this year seemed more popular than ever, with tickets selling out weeks before the screening date. Potential audience members crowded the steps and foyer of the Town Hall Theatre, hoping to acquire last-minute cancellation tickets for the sold-out programme. Those of us who were lucky enough to have a ticket were kept entertained for the packed programme: eleven shorts were shown, comprising six animations and five live-actions films. The short films screened were funded from three Irish Film Board schemes: Short Stories (live action or animation, max. budget of €20,000), Frameworks (animation only, max. budget of €46,000), and Focus Shorts (replacing the Signatures fund, max. budget of €50,000). This year, the theme given for the ‘Short Stories’ fund was ‘Tribes’ – filmmakers were asked to create films exploring the type of tribe that fascinated them the most. The short films were introduced by James Hickey, Chief Executive of the IFB, who later announced their commitment to supporting female writers and directors in the film industry – read more here

 

Although the shorts in this programme were impressive overall, two films stood out and lingered long after the screenings were over:  Time Traveller, written and directed by Steve Kenny, and Late Afternoon, written and directed by Louise Bagnall, which was awarded ‘Best Animated Sequence in a Short Film’.

Late Afternoon, written and directed by Louise Bagnall (an animator on Song of the Sea), captures some very honest moments and emotions that are familiar to anyone who has an elderly relative. In this way, although located in Ireland, the film is absolutely universal. In her film, Louise allows us an insight into the memories of an elderly lady, ‘Emily’, acted wonderfully by Fionnula Flanagan. She shows us those moments when an elderly person may forget their age and once again relive their younger days, which often happens in the days before passing away. The memories represented are the gleeful moments Emily spent as a young girl, playing on the shore, falling in love – and the audience is swept into this joy with her. These memories are counteracted by the sadness of her current relationship with her daughter, who she no longer recognises. Louise’s film is definitely a ‘tear-jerker’ – possibly the most moving film I had seen all week, and I regretted wearing mascara that day!

Late Afternoon was produced by Nuala González Blanco at Cartoon Saloon.

 

 

Time Traveller, the first film funded under the new ‘Focus Shorts’ Irish Film Board scheme, was written and directed by Steve Kenny.

This was the best acting performance of the festival so far, that I had seen, by Tom Doran playing ‘Martin’, a young traveller boy.  Although billed as starring the excellent and convincing Barry Ward, newcomer Tom Doran as Martin steals the show. Martin is obsessed with Back to the Future and has built an impressive DeLorean replica (for a small boy) using scraps and an old banger. There are some hilarious moments when Martin, armed with a hammer, whacks the car gleefully and very convincingly – I suspect young Tom enjoyed shooting those scenes. The comedic timing and visuals are excellent in Time Traveller, there seems to be the happy mixture of a good script, great cast and fantastic editing, all coming together to make a great short film.  A lot of praise is due to the editor, Colin Campbell, who also edited Michael Inside and The Young Offenders (for which he was nominated for an IFTA) as well as many short films. The film has some more serious moments, involving an eviction, and touching on the inevitability of change and leaving things behind in life.  In this way, the film is both heartbreaking and heart warming.

Time Traveller was produced by Forty Foot Pictures

Short films screened in this programme:

Macarooned (dir. Alan Short & Seamus Malone), Neon (dir. Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair), Where is Eva Hipsey (dir. Orla McHardy), An Island (dir. Rory Byrne), Nice Night for It (dir. Rachel Carey), Late Afternoon (dir. Louise Bagnall), A Different Kind of Day (dir. Maria Doyle Kennedy), Bellwether (dir. Caroline Campbell), Departure (dir. Aoife Doyle), Deposits (dir. Trevor Courtney), and Time Traveller (dir. Steve Kenny).

 

 

Awards:

Late Afternoon (dir. Louise Bagnall) won Best Animated Sequence in a Short Film. An Island (dir. Rory Byrne) won the James Horgan Award for Best Animation

 

 

 

New Irish Shorts 7: IFB World Premiere Shorts screened on Saturday, 15th July 2017, as part of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh (11–16 July 2017).

 

 

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh • New Irish Shorts 3

Deirdre de Grae picks out her highlights from the New Irish Shorts 3 programme at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

 

The shorts programme was introduced by Eibh Collins, the Galway Film Fleadh shorts programmer, an enthusiastic supporter of short film in Ireland. The seven short films in this programme shared the theme of relationships and included films by established and debut filmmakers. This selection of shorts all had very high production values, demonstrating the impressive standard of new Irish filmmaking. Two of these stood out in terms of character, story, and professionalism: For You, directed by Brendan Canty, and Gustav, directed by Ken Williams and Denis Fitzpatrick.

For You (Brendan Canty)

Canty shows a clear filmmaking style and For You is a very mature short film, surprisingly his first of the format. He has extensive experience directing commercials and music videos, and was nominated for two MTV VMA awards in 2015, for Hozier’s Take me to Church. For You offers an intimate window into the life of a young woman living in high-rise Dublin flats, and her relationships with both her mother and boyfriend. The portrayal seems very realistic, with a mature, gentle performance from Gabby Murphy, balanced with Barry Keoghan’s undeniable, innate screen presence. Keoghan was shooting Dunkirk during the same time period, and For You was shot around his schedule. The shooting and editing style is reminiscent of Andrea Arnold’s work, notably Fish Tank (which screened at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2009), and Red Road, also set in high-rise flats. But more than the technical decisions, the depth of character and honest performance of the young female lead is testament to Canty’s directorial instincts and skill. Perhaps due to Canty’s music video background, I found myself mentally re-playing (the accomplished) ‘Get Out’ video by Frightened Rabbit (dir. Greg Davenport), which is similarly focused on the emotional turmoil of young women in an urban landscape. This is a very professional production, using highly talented and experienced crew. I would hope that Brendan Canty will devote more of his time to filmmaking alongside his commercial work, and look forward to his future feature films, hopefully in the Fleadh in the next few years!

For You was produced by Hinterland films.

 

Gustav (Ken Williams)

Directed by Ken Williams and Denis Fitzpatrick, Gustav is a short comedy starring Seán T. O’Meallaigh, the premise of which centres around the notion of an ‘ear worm’-that phenomenon when a tune or song ‘gets stuck in your head’. The filmmakers have taken this notion literally, and in this short film, we realise that the composer Gustav Mahler has taken up residence in the lead character’s head. I had recently heard that an earworm is caused by not fully remembering the entire song and it can be ‘cured’ by listening to the whole song. The filmmakers played with the audience here and never played the end of the piece of music, even in the credits. I found this to be a very funny film, I am a music-earworm sufferer and could relate to the main character’s frustration. This is a laugh-out-loud, cleverly edited short. O’Meallaigh is perfectly cast and he is in his element playing this comedic role. As with all successful comedies, this film juggled the essentials of good editing and comedic timing with a sharp script.

Gustav was written by Ken Williams,  James Mather was DOP, Shane Callan was Editor. It was produced by Steven Daly of Brainstorm Productions.

Short films screened in this programme:

For You (dir. Brendan Canty), Gustav (dir. Ken Williams), Beside Himself (dir. Nick Rutter), Leap of Faith (dir. Mark Smyth), Peel (dir. Annika Cassidy), Seedling (dir. Stevie Russell), and Mum (dir. Anne-Marie O’Connor)

 

 

New Irish Shorts 3 screened on Thursday, 13th July 2017, as part of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh (11–16 July 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘The Observer Effect’ Premiering in LA

The Observer Effect, written, produced and directed by Garret Walsh, which completed post production at the end of June – has made the official selection of the LA Shorts International Film Festival.

The film, a dark and visually ambitious mystery shot in county Kildare over the past two years, will have its world premiere at this prestigious Oscar and BAFTA recognised festival at the Laemmle NoHo 7 Theatre in North Hollywood on Monday Aug 7th at 1pm.

Starring Venessa Emme, Patrick O’Brien and Brendan Sheehan, photographed by Philip Blake with production design by Lilla S. Nurie, the film was produced with Kathy Horgan and Michael Parle of Dark Window Media and the assistance of the Kildare Arts service. It will play in competition at the festival that’s expected to draw around 8000 visitors before its closing night ceremony on Aug 10th.

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Irish Short Film Review: ‘January Hymn’

 

Richard Drumm sings the praises of January Hymn, Katherine Canty’s short film exploring grief.

Written and directed by Katherine Canty, January Hymn is a short film exploring grief. Specifically an examination of the intangibility of grief and how one experiences it. We are shown this through the subjective visuals of Clara (Niamh Algar) as she returns home for the anniversary of her father’s death. Arranged semi-linearly, the film offers us fragmentary moments and memories as Clara processes her situation. Numerous lingering shots, occasionally of abstract visuals, keep the viewer slightly detached from Clara’s experience. The often symmetrical, quite clean framing, further reinforces this separation of viewer and subject.

While it can be a slightly over-used term, it rarely feels as appropriate to call something quasi-Lynchian as it does here. The powerfully evocative visuals are strikingly stark, especially in their construction of simple images with a distinctly heightened sense of reality. Adding to the Lynch-like nature of the piece – aside from a penchant for ambiguously menacing shots of trees – is the sensation of watching it is akin to having someone attempt to explain their dream to you.

The sparse dialogue means we have to rely on Algar’s subtly expressive face as a guide for the emotional weight of the imagery. The combined effect of all of these deliberately distancing techniques is a powerful viewing experience and what feels like an authentic interpretation of grief, or rather an admirable attempt to abstract such a deeply personal experience into something more broadly emotionally relatable.

It’s undeniably a piece carried by mood, a mood anchored by Kate McCullough’s arresting cinematography. The atmosphere of ambiguity and uncertainty, while highlighting the emotional vulnerability of the protagonist, lends the film an almost horror-like quality. Unease permeates every shot and the loose temporal/spatial zone the film occupies means you’re never quite sure where it’s going. Haunting and memorable shots such as Clara and her aunt sitting at a table at the centre of a void of total blackness give proceedings a heightened and unnerving quality.

January Hymn is a bold and confident statement of intent from Katherine Canty. A highly engaging and opaque journey through grief, peppered with unsettling moments and imagery which genuinely linger long after the credits have rolled. Additionally, it’s another fine example of why Niamh Algar continues to be a formidable screen presence and absolutely a talent to keep a close eye on.

January Hymn is presently touring festivals with three upcoming showings at Still Voices in August and an appearance on 4th September at The Bleeding Pig Short Film Festival. Check out their online programmes for more details and follow @katherine_canty for updates.

 

 

http://filmireland.net/2017/06/09/film-festivals-2017-here-abroad/

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Irish Short Film Review: Mum

 

Stephen Porzio takes a look at Mum, Anne Marie O’Connor’s film with a trans character at the heart of it, telling a universal story.

Mum, a short film which played at the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh, is a tender meditation on both transgender issues and the process of aging. Co-written and directed by Anne Marie O’Connor (the creator of Sky 1’s Trollied), it stars Kate O’Donnell as Kate, a transgendered woman – estranged from her family – returning home after a four-year absence.

Upon arriving, she is shocked to see that the health of her mother (Margot Leiceister) has declined. Despite an underlying air of tension still remaining within the family – mainly from her father (Peaky Blinders’ Kenneth Colley) – Kate attempts to reconcile with her mum.

The short is handsomely mounted. The suburban setting provides the film with a surprising amount of beautiful imagery over the thirteen minute running time. Plus, O’Connor stages scenes in which the past briefly mingles with the present in a way which evokes the work of Terrence Malick on Tree of Life.

The performances are also impressive. Most of what we learn about the characters isn’t in the language but the way they speak and their body movements. Each actor manages to feel lived-in in their role, communicating information to the viewer subtly and effectively.

The message of Mum is a warm one – the idea that when people begin to process their mortality, they learn to put petty differences and feuds aside. Eventually, they come to understand what is truly important – family and love.

 

 

Mum screened on 13th July  2017as part of New Irish Shorts 3 at the Galway Film Fleadh.

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Review of Irish Film @ Galway Film Fleadh • New Irish Shorts: Animation

Deirdre de Grae found a lot to love in the animated shorts programme at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

 

The animated shorts programme is always a personal festival highlight of the Galway Film Fleadh, for me. It’s the ideal Sunday morning cure following a hectic week of film screenings and post-film partying – nerves are calmed and eyes are soothed during this perfectly-timetabled programme of Irish short animations. As usual, there was a large audience attendance, including cast and crew.

The competition for entry into the programme is typically tough, resulting in an excellent showcase of Irish animation. This year’s hopeful entrants were up against some well-funded and seasoned filmmakers, so to be selected for this programme is a prize in itself. Not as many student films were included as in previous years, and I missed their creativity and energy. The films curated included animated shorts from a current student and new graduate, as well as established industry professionals. Further animations were screened as part of the Irish Film Board’s showcase on Saturday 15th July 2017, and are reviewed as part of that programme.

The stand-out animated shorts from this programme are An Béal Bocht/The Poor Mouth (winner of Best First Short Animation and The Don Quijote Award for Best Animated Short Film), directed by Tom Collins, and ‘Sorry I Drowned‘, directed by David Habchy and Hussein Nakhal.

An Béal Bocht / The Poor Mouth (dir. Tom Collins), is an adaptation of the novel by Flann O’Brien (A.K.A. Myles na gCopaleen/Brian O’ Nolan), of whom I am a huge fan. The absurdist, satirical comedy is realised incredibly well by the director, Tom Collins, and talented principal animator, John McCloskey. As with any favourite book adaptation, I was nervous to see if it matched my imagined world. However, I had no need for fear, and was delighted to see some hilarious elements retained, such as the never-ending rain, which sometimes seems an accurate portrayal of life in the west of Ireland. And I am happy to report that the pig fart jokes went down very well with the kids in the audience. The casting is particularly on-point, and I can imagine there was some fun in the sound recording booth with, for example, Bob Quinn as ‘The President’, Tommy Tiernan as ‘Ó Bánasa’, and Mícheál Ó Meallaigh as ‘the Drunken Pig’. The animated film was realised using the original Irish version of the novel and cleverly used Flann O’Brien’s own English translations for the subtitles, thus retaining the original wit.

The animation was a co-production of Raw Nerve Productions (Pearse Moore) and De Facto Films, and was animated at the Nerve Centre in Derry. It was funded by Northern Irish Screen (Irish Language Broadcast Fund), TG4 and the BAI.  The cast includes: Owen McDonnell ,Tommy Tiernan, Donncha Crowley, Bob Quinn, Seán Mistéal and Mícheál Ó Meallaigh.

Sorry I Drowned

Sorry I Drowned‘ (dir. David Habchy and Hussein Nakhal) is a monochrome animation, using Arabic voice recordings, inspired by a letter purportedly found on a drowned person fleeing war. The animation was commissioned by Medicins Sans Frontiers and produced by Studio Kawakeb, Lebanon.

The style and content are reminiscent of both Persepolis (black and white / female voice) and Waltz with Bashir (video footage / war themes). Visuals of pixellated, 1980’s computer-graphics delivered in stark monochrome, serve as the foreground to the Arabic words, spoken by a woman. Ideally, the eyes and mind could rest on the images while the words are spoken, but due to my lack of Arabic, I had to rely on the (too-small) subtitles, which distracted from the fast-moving visual images. It is a fantastic, moving animation, but was screened out of competition as it is not an Irish production.

Blackout

Dylan Nevin’s Blackout was the only student animation shown, and the team deserve kudos for that. This is a dystopian, futuristic, short animation from the perspective of an art student, who rebels. Dylan Nevin is studying animation with the Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE). His work can be seen at www.bcfe.ie

The Line

Dillon Brannick, A recent graduate of Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT),  directed ‘The Line’, which explores the dynamics between parent and child, during mourning. In his animation, the baby and father switch places, with the large adult-sized baby taking care of the tiny father.  The result is a gentle portrait of loss and grief. Dillon’s work can be seen at dillonbrannick.com

Wooden Child

Wooden Child, directed by Joe Loftus, is a disturbing examination of death, to a Country and Western soundtrack. Joe works as an animator at Boulder Media and is a graduate of the IADT animation degree programme. His work can be seen at  vimeo.com/joeloftus

 

Animated short films screened in this programme:

Wooden Child (dir. Joe Loftus), Coranna (dir. Steve Woods), The Line (dir. Dillon Brannick), Dreaming of Sleep (dir. Leon Butler), Blackout (dir. Dylan Nevin), Sorry I Drowned (dir. David Habchy & Hussein Nakhal), Cyber (dir. Diarmuid Hayes & Sarah Whicker), Tete a Tete (dir. Natasha Tonkin), An Béal Bocht/The Poor Mouth (dir. Tom Collins).

 

 

New Irish Shorts: Animation were screened on Sunday 16th July 2017, as part of the 29th Galway Film Fleadh (11–16 July 2017).

 

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Kevin de la Isla O’Neill, Director of ‘Acorn’

Kevin de la Isla O’Neill tells us about the seed that became the Acorn.

 

What can you tell us about the film?
It’s a sweet and fun story about a mum who gets called into the Principal’s office at her son Gregg’s school during nativity play rehearsals. She assumes it’s because he’s in trouble again and is ready to defend his actions, however the principal has something rather different to tell her about Gregg​ which leaves her completely gobsmacked.

How did you become involved in the project?
I entered the Filmbase Short-Shots scheme as a director back in Feb 2016. It’s where directors, writers and producers come together to create one of 4 films offered by RTÉ/Filmbase.

As a director in the scheme, I had to first find a script I liked through various methods. Among them, a Facebook group where people send and request scripts and also a few speed-dating events for writers and directors. So after an extensive selection process I came across Jonathan’s [Hughes] script and I found his sense of humour to be very in tune with my own. I contacted him and we got on great, so pitching the idea came naturally. After that, we had to find a producer that would serve the project best. So we approached Sharon Cronin [producer] with our ideas on the project and she happily came on board to make the perfect team complete.

Can you tell us a little about putting the cast together?
Casting Gregg was the most important at the beginning and we saw some boys who had a lot to offer. But we all thought Luke [Kerins] brought that something extra, a kind of ’knowing’ look in his eye. He was also​ a bit​ older than what​ we were looking for but looked young enough for the part, which I think worked in his favour as he did a fantastic job! For Barbara we always had Norma Sheahan in mind, and when approached, she happily came on board.

We went through many ideas for the mother and principal and we all had suggestions that would make the characters very different, but in the end we decided on Aideen Wylde and Aidan O’Hare, who were both comfortable with comedy and they worked incredibly well together, and really made the characters their own; a very unique take on the roles that we were thrilled with.

How involved was Jonathan in the filming process?
Jonathan was very involved from the beginning and whenever we had questions about the script or characters he was always on hand to help or advise, and to make changes where we needed to if things weren’t working. He travelled over from London where he was residing at the time and was on set for the filming days,​ so I think it was all really exciting to see his script come to life. It also helped when we needed to rejig things very quickly on set, to get his opinion on how the changes might make the characters react, etc.

Any particular challenges you faced on this production?
There were various types of challenges as there are with any production, whether it’s a short or a feature, working with a big crew or small, and then working with children and animals, etc. So sometimes it comes down to trying to get the most out of the budget and dealing with time restrictions or location limitations, etc. scheduling picks-ups with actors and crew.

Sharon is an extremely competent producer and organized everything with acute efficiency, which meant we had a more than capable team throughout production, so challenges were quickly addressed when faced with them.

Working with Director of Photography Richard Donnelly was also a great asset, as I had worked with him once before and we seem to speak a common language, so when faced with any challenges we would quickly find a creative solution to the problem at hand.

No matter the budget or scale of production, you always wish you had more time and budget. In this case we were fortunate to have Natasha Waugh as our 1stAD, so thanks to her shoot management we were able to get the most off our time on location.Some locations kept changing and, as the story takes place on a school, we had to wait for a holiday break from the school to be used in order to shoot there, as weekends would be too restrictive. Also due to location access, some scenes were cut and replaced by others.

As the film takes place during nativity play rehearsals, the costume and production design are hugely important as the costumes are very specific, specially for the children, but Ciara Coleman-Geany did a fantastic job creating these and then the set design was very prop heavy, but Jill Beecher, our set designer, looked after that extremely well too, from finding bits and pieces everywhere​,​ to creating​ a very​ Christmassy look​,​ to​ even​ building a full stage for the nativity play rehearsals​, as there was none at the location​.

At some stage we had a very visual scene in a swimming pool, but that proved too burdensome due to the time allowed at the location and the amount of time we had for the shoot as a whole.

There were​ a lot of VFX required, which​ were done in After Effects, that you probably wouldn’t even notice​ (and shouldn’t)​, which is a great thing if it doesn’t stand out of course. But it takes an incredible amount of time and patience to do those types of things especially when working to a deadline on a small budget​, etc. But it’s all part of the process and we want to make sure that the best possible version of this film is the one you see on screen at the end of the day. So all the challenges make it worth it.

You must be excited about Galway…
I am very excited about Galway as I feel we have a lovely little film with a lot of heart. I’m really looking forward to seeing the film on the big screen and hearing its 5.1 mix, which was done and designed by Mutiny post, ans the score, composed by Sarah Lynch, was performed by the RTE concert orchestra, thanks to the IMRO | RTÉ Scoring for Film Program, so it should be an amazing experience to see and to listen to.

It also has been a while since I’ve been in Galway as part of a film project in the programme, instead of in the market pitching, etc. So I’m really looking forward to getting to showcase our film, network and talk about the next projects in order​ to develop further and enjoy all that the Fleadh has to offer.

 

Acorn screens at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh as part of New Irish Shorts 4 on Friday, 14th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 12.00.

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The 29th Galway Film Fleadh runs 11 – 16 July 2017.

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