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 Ribbonswon 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 FilmAward at the’ Corti Da Sogni International Film Festival’ in Ravenna, Italy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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 Scanlonand 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.
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.