Review: The Canal


DIR/WRI: Ivan Kavanagh • PRO: AnneMarie Naughton • DOP: Piers McGrail • ED: Robin Hill • MUS: Ceiri Torjussen • DES: Stephanie Clerkin • CAST: Rupert Evans, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Hannah Hoekstra, Steve Oram

Following on from his bizarrely demented and macabre film Tin Can Man (2007), The Canal sees Irish writer, director and film festival favourite Ivan Kavanagh’s fifth feature entering the realm of horror once again. Less idiosyncratic and shadowing a more traditional narrative paradigm than Tin Can Man, The Canal is a self-conscious and unnerving supernatural horror and fully aware of its lineage within the genre, strategically appropriates from its cinematic predecessors and remains faithful to its cinematic form. Such self-awareness would therefore suggest a more accessible narrative to its audience and yet, it is as a result of this familiarity that Kavanagh is able to assemble a horror film that is instantly recognisable and formulaic, yet refreshingly contemporary, intelligent and immersive, which does not fail to startle, ruffle and hugely disconcert.

Placid film archivist David (Rupert Evans) and his pregnant wife, Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) move into a charming, old house and five years on, along with their son, appear to live a reasonably contented life. When David is asked to view some archive police footage from a 1902 murder, he fearfully recognises his house as the murder scene where a man brutally murdered his wife and deposited her body in the local canal. His angst is further heightened when he suspects Alice of having an affair and when she fails to return home one night and her body is pulled from the canal, David becomes prime suspect. As he sets about finding the true killer, supernatural forces impede his efforts, catapulting David into a hypnotic mindscape of psychological paranoia.

In a sort of Paranormal Activity meets The Shining and The Babadook vein, The Canal is elevated from becoming another lethargic, disposable horror film by Kavanagh’s intellectual investment into his narrative, whereby the plot unfolds through the eyes of a personable man, whose steady mental decline not only mirrors but also exceeds the impetus of the most horrific and supernatural elements of the film. By consciously evoking repetitive signifiers of horror and arousing a feeling of nostalgia through pastiche, Kavanagh artfully lures and provokes his audience into a sense of recognition and predictability before assaulting them with the psychological annihilation of the film’s protagonist. Such narrative scaremongering fuses the horrific with the psychological, melds the past with the present and unveiled through a traditional narrative structure, blurs the boundaries between reverie and reality, creating a pulsating platform for the prolonged mental erosion of both protagonist and audience.

Mirroring The Canal’s cinematic heritage within the horror genre, David’s obsession with connecting Alice’s death with the deaths of the past, leads him to conclude that he is merely the next link in a long lineage of supernatural events in the house, which have returned to wreak further havoc and may not necessarily end with him. Kavanagh elicits motifs from supernatural horror Paranormal Activity, whereby David uses an old film camera to not only gather supernatural evidence, but also to demonstrate an appeal from the director to look to the past and reinvest in the genre as it increasingly appears to being devoured by cinema itself.

Rupert Evans’ performance as David is alarming in the shift from unassuming and tender husband and father to demonic neurotic and delusional obsessive. His performance is excruciatingly palpable and prickly; his decent into a nightmarish madness jolts and jerks far more perturbingly than any of the blood-spattered apparitions haunting the house. Hannah Hoekstra, as David’s seductive Dutch wife, extends beyond the archetypal horror beauty and mirroring David’s schizophrenic tendencies, invests great emotional malleability, oscillating between attentive wife and mother to deceiving adulteress with chilling ease. The two supporting characters skilfully bolster and sedate David and Alice’s overwhelmingly burdened performances. Antonia Campbell-Hughes as Claire sobers the overall intensity, her understated pragmatism the perfect foil to the psychotic madness. Steve Oram, as the quintessential Cockney copper, brings an equally law-abiding practicality to the narrative and compliments Claire’s skepticism as he attempts to remain outside the psychopathic minefield and remain inside the realm of rationality.

Piers McGrail’s moody cinematography jerkily vacillates between David’s four core spaces of calm; the house, canal, film archive rooms and his own mind, to a shattering of such oases of tranquillity, which explode into tense and suffocating pockets of bloody carnage and gore. The murky, putrid, and suffocating ambience, underpinned by a knowing spine-chilling score, cuts through the stillness of perceived normality to become an ominously fluorescent and hauntingly shadowy milieu, as the architects of David’s malaise haunt and taunt him into further preternatural torment, leaving both David and the audience with nowhere to go but remain locked inside this psychotic mindscape.

Although horror may be conventionally located as a low-cultural genre, The Canal is an intelligent revision of familiar horror and supernatural formulas, which, by littering the narrative with recognisable signifiers, instils a sense of familiarity to its audience before perversely steering the narrative into an unknown realm. By flirting with conventional haunted-house tropes which distort the perceptions of both genres, the film engages, intimidates and strikes terror on a whole new level, demonstrating that the horror and supernatural genres are far from dead.

Dee O’Donoghue

16 (See IFCO for details)

93 minutes
The Canal is released 8th May 2015

The Canal – Official Website


‘The Other Side of Sleep’ on iTunes


Rebecca Daly’s Irish psychological thriller The Other Side of Sleep starring Screen International’s “Star of Tomorrow” Sam Keeley and Antonia Campbell Hughes is now available on iTunes in Ireland and the UK.

 Click here to view

The Other Side of Sleep is the debut feature of director Rebecca Daly. It premiered in the Cannes Directors Fortnight programme in 2011, followed by a great reception at the Galway Film Fleadh, the Toronto International Film Festival and many more as far reaching as India. The film was nominated for three IFTA awards including Best Director, Best Actress for Antonia Campbell Hughes and Best Cinematography for DoP Suzie Lavelle. Antonia was also  nominated as a shooting star at the Berlin International Film Festival 2012 for her performance in the film.

The Other Side of Sleep was produced by Irish company Fastnet Films (Colony, Kisses), and European co-producers Rinkel Film & TV Productions and KMH Film Productions. The film was funded by the IFB, the Netherlands Film Fund and Hungarian Motion Pictures Foundation.

 You can read an interview with the film’s director, Rebecca Daly, here



Cathal Black’s ‘Butterfly’ in Production

IMG_7941 copy

Butterfly is an independent, Irish short film from Cathal Black, director of Pigs, Korea and Learning Gravity, and producer of Sundance 2013 winning animated short Irish Folk Furniture. The script was written by Irish playwright Neil Donnelly, adapted from his own stage play. Denis Conway (The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Quirke, Alexander, Garage) and Antonia Campbell-Hughes (Kelly + Victor, 3096, The Canal, The Other Side of Sleep) star in the lead roles.

Butterfly is about Leonard, a lonely probation officer, estranged from his wife, who is faced with the difficult task of writing a report on Teri, a young, hot-tempered illustrator who has convictions for minor theft. A clash of personalities in their first meeting sets the tone for what’s to come, and, over the course of their series of meetings, Leonard’s need to help her brings about more conflict as Teri stubbornly rejects his methods and uses his personal failings to keep him at arms length. As Leonard’s patience runs out he steps beyond the boundaries of his role in hope of reaching Teri and making a breakthrough. Teri’s acceptance or rejection of his helping hand will ultimately see her released from the dark past she has lived with for years, or condemn her to continue in her downward spiral.

Butterfly will take the form of a ‘long-short’ and will have an expected run time of thirty minutes. The production team aim to create an engaging and immersive experience for the audience, and deliver a final product with very high production values which will compete at festivals around the world over the coming year, with the hope of ultimately screening on national and international television.

Butterfly is currently in production, and to date has been financed by Black with shooting taking place in Dublin. However, in order to cover post-production expenses, and build upon the excellent work of the stellar cast and crew, the creative team are currently in the process of raising a budget of €10,000 via a crowd-funding campaign on At the time of writing 36% of the budget sought has been raised with 15 days remaining to raise the outstanding ­­64% – €6,390.

The pitch video for the campaign, which features the stars and creative team, and gives a glimpse of the production, can be found on the funding homepage ­­­­­­­­­





On The Reel At The IFTAs

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Lynn Larkin (second left) closes in on Fassbender’s IFTA

On the Reel’s Lynn Larkin, in association with Film Ireland, hits the red carpet in her blue guna and and gets in among the celebs at the Irish Film and Television Awards ceremony, which took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton venue in Dublin 4 on Saturday, 5th April 2014.

Check out the video below and get the low-down on the night from Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell, Liam Cunningham, Will Forte, Mary Murray, Amy Huberman,  Andrew Scott, Fionnula Flanagan, Antonia Campbell-Hughes



Cinema Review: Kelly + Victor



DIR/WRI: Kieran Evans • PRO: Janine Marmot • DOP: Piers McGrail • ED: Tony Kearns • DES: Anthea Nelson • CAST: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Julian Morris, William Ruane, Stephen Walters.


An intense, but at times, hollow endeavour, Kelly + Victor mixes the kinky with the clunky to middling effect. A story of damaged lovers and damaging sex it does have some stunning images and provocative themes but the sketchy arc framing these fleeting moments feels half earned.

The first encounter between the titular couple is an elegant visual dance, as they catch eyes in a nightclub, the prowling quality of intital attraction is conjured well. That silent flirtation is a place where private histories have yet to intrude, the hunt before the hurt. In fact when conveying story beats through images alone, the film largely succeeds, it is when words and mannerisms must carry the narrative is where the film falls short. While the elliptical nature of the two characters is admirable in certain respects, the film teases more than it ultimately delivers in terms of character.

Wandering accents delivering stilted dialogue wounds the central pairing and the worlds they belong to away from each other are drab and grim. Kelly joining a prostitute friend of hers and taking part in the sexual humiliation of a submissive banker continues the theme of sexual power games vital to the films arc but it never wholly convinces, while Victor flits between a sensitive art student demeanour and an amateur drug dealer subplot that feels jarring. There is certainly chemistry between the two but it only breaks the surface when the film is stripped back to lustful basics.

Much has been made of the violent sexual games here, Kelly’s desire to choke Victor and on some level his need for such treatment and it must be said the film judges these scenes quite well. The shots are never explicit, neither actor is being presented in some gratuitous light, it is the act itself which is shown most prominently. It is uncomfortable viewing when shorn of such Hollywoodisation, the glamour one usually finds attached to sex in Cinema is reduced to something this grimy and voyeuristic.

The extremes of Kelly and Victor’s dynamic almost feels like an act of rebellion against how banal their lives and the rest of the film is. We see that Victor can cherish the natural world as a respite and the sequences of him exploring woodlands and tall grass have a lo-fi Terence Malick flavour.  Kelly seems trapped in a lesser Andrea Arnold mould, more urban, dealing with the ramifications of a failed romance and an obsessive ex who is keeping tabs on her. This split is interesting to note as it gives vague context to the motivations for the characters but there is not enough of a hook outside of shock value to make you invest completely.  On a performance level both actors give good accounts, Campbell- Hughes imbuing Kelly with a brittle and compelling edge while Morris walks a fine line between endearing and laddish, but these virtues feel buried in a workmanlike script that outside the bedroom, feels sleepy.

As they circle each other in an on again off again fashion, one begins to feel anxious as to where such a desperate tale might take us and its conclusion has a faint air of inevitability about it, not because of anything in the film per se, but more because as a defiant indie work, such bleak results seem almost de rigueur.

It is an interesting choice of the filmmakers to only have them interact in a few key scenes while separating their domestic lives entirely. While innovative and realistic it hobbles matters in many ways because once they leave one another for their periphery stories, the film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do.

Essentially a compelling idea but with a love story that isn’t given enough room to breathe, and if you’ll allow me some black humour, that is a most ironic assessment of the piece as a whole. The movie should be admired for not playing it safe but it is material that could have used some more “safe” words.


Emmet O’Brien

18 (See IFCO for details)

94 mins
Kelly + Victor is released on 17th September 2013


Interview: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, star of Kelly + Victor

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Photograph by Hugh O’Connor

When Kelly (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) meets Victor on the dance floor of a Liverpool nightclub, the attraction is instant. After wandering through the night they find themselves at her flat, making love with a passion and urgency that neither had experienced before. Both Kelly and Victor are struggling to get by as best they can, while the people around them are choosing illegal lifestyles; she is escaping a brutish former lover, while he is being dragged into a world of drugs.  It’s when they make love that their darker instincts take over.

Kelly + Victor is a raw, compelling, passionate love story. Susan Leahy sat down with Antonia Campbell-Hughes to discuss her role in Kieran Evans’ film, which is released in cinemas 20th September 2013.


I saw the film on last week you come across as though the film is made for you. How did you come to play the role of Kelly? Oh, and your accent was brilliant.

Thanks. It’s funny, when I first read the script I was very drawn to the character. I read the book and was aware that I couldn’t do a Scouse accent and that Liverpool was such a part of these people and I thought that because of the following of the book and the integrity of the writer, Niall Griffith, who was so involved with the project, that I didn’t stand a chance of getting the role.

I’m a complete obsessive when it comes to being true. I’m an adopted Irish American person in the UK, not a true Brit, never mind Liverpudlian, but the second I walked in the room and I met Kieran Evans, the director, he felt I was the person for the job immediately. It furthered my interest in the role – that he was able to discard surface and could focus on the intensity and energy and soul of the character and hold that as key.


It really comes across that you trusted him, not just the sex scenes but because of the way he filmed it. There had to be a real trust there?

He kind of bowled me over all the time.  The thing is, I don’t think anything is black and white in any walk of life but I think there’s beauty and integrity and art in every arena and there’s saccharine in every walk of arts or the media, so when it comes to nudity and sex scenes in the vast majority of film and television it’s handled quite crassly and that’s because sex sells and money makes films and television and we all buy into a bit – I’m guilty of it too.  I don’t necessarily want to make it.  So when it came to nudity there was this, ‘oh, you can’t do that, it would be horrible’, but I knew Kieran was someone who would handle it well. For him, everything is valid; everything he does has purpose, and I kind of picked that up from him from our first meeting.  The way he spoke about it, there was a respect and trust there, and he’s truthful.  That’s how I like to approach my work; everything has to be 100% truth. If you don’t believe in it why would anyone else?

What is different and what was interesting about the sex scenes, and the reason I don’t find them shocking, is because it wasn’t very voyeuristic. You feel like you are in it with them, the two people, Kelly and Victor. They’re not role-playing; it’s not dubbed on S&M nonsense – not that it’s nonsense – but for them it would be, it would just be too glamorous almost. It’s a leap. It’s as though they are finding something that they don’t have labels for or names for. They are just existing very much in the moment in their encapsulated bubble. And when we were filming it Kieran was in that bubble.

Sequence-1-03433600 Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Julian Morris as Kelly and Victor

I felt  that the way he cuts between the sex and the conversation, that really, from the audience’s perspective, takes the voyeuristic element out of it. It becomes part of their conversation as opposed to their sex?

Exactly, myself and Kieran talked about it a lot and again what really resonated with me was the chemistry between everybody and it’s not like this glamorous fairytale thing. That’s the beauty of it – they are people whose lives maybe aren’t fantastic and they’ve had pasts littered with mess and awkwardness and maybe they have very simple jobs or not but it doesn’t really matter.  It’s when they come together that there is that kind of almost euphoric drug-like blindness where the world disappears and all that matters is what’s happening; the energy between them. It doesn’t really matter if it’s love or lust or friendship. It’s like a chemistry crackling. It’s like a time bubble, and so in order to get that across in the film you have to sort of disappear into that.

I don’t want to be all hippy about it but it was a really enjoyable shoot because it was kind of like participating in a magical moment in this person’s life. In terms of shooting the sex scenes we went into a room for a week and we had conversations about what was needed to be caught on camera for logistics because there is a certain way that they choreograph their own sexual  playout.  Like it’s only a game; it’s a thing but there is a rhythm to it that they discover. I don’t think it’s manicured or orchestrated. So we went into a room and just shot and shot and shot.  Kieran was just literally beside me, with a little monitor, and he would almost sometimes even move us physically apart and not break or interrupt something, like if there was a boom or something in the frame he would just push it out. There was an organic constant in that week of shooting.


The film also comes across as a contemplative criticism, if that’s the right word, of modern culture of modern society. How do you feel about the film’s portrayal of women?

It’s interesting, something I struggled with and we talked about it a lot… it’s like, how do you show Kelly’s strengths without making her too dominant? If she’s callous, if you show her weakness, then she’s just another revenge-seeking girl. Then there’s also that neurotic crazy girl stigma. This is something I was constantly questioning  – asking how do we find the balance?


The way I was watching it, she comes across as somebody who’s not that into sadomasochism. She couldn’t really hit the guy for money, stuff like that. It’s more as if she can’t receive, as if she has been so destroyed by life that she can’t receive physical love?

I know. It’s like if you kick a dog it’s going to bark and bite whenever a human comes near.  There is a comparison I suppose, people find hurt I guess. I think a lot about the work I do. I don’t just do it. Maybe I think too much? At the end of the day the film is a collaborative process of all kinds of factors. Your performance is only one thing and what I did love about Kieran is we talked about all these things a lot.


Sometimes great roles for women are horrible women. 

I kind of saw her and Victor as gender interchangeable, the tender heart-bearing soul one is Victor; he almost takes on the Eve role.


He’s the garden and nature, she’s the city?

I just saw them as two lost souls who are in want of closeness striving to connect, but can’t find away to tap into that.  Sometimes people say they have to feel pain to feel they have found something because there is this callous layer and it’s also like a self protection.


You put so much preparation into really getting inside a character . I know you’re an actress but how do you come back to your self afterwards? Is there something that you do? Do you have a ritual after you make a film?

The thing is its not like I have a way or a method of doing things, it’s certain roles that demand a level of responsibility, or require you to be in a quiet place, Kelly + Victor was very different.  It was such a short amount of time on screen. It was done at a much faster pace so it’s just down to the material – it’s not like I have my method.

It’s a performance and I want to constantly learn, to change.  I’m not the type of person who  does an amazing performance and then goes home. I want to keep learning and changing and developing.


Check out our interview with the film’s director Kieran Evans here


Cinema Review: Storage 24


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DIR: Johannes Roberts • WRI: Noel Clarke, Davie Fairbanks, Marc Small • PRO: Noel Clarke, Manu Kumaran • DOP: Tim Sidell • ED: Martin Brinkler • DES: Malin Lindholm • Cast: Noel Clarke, Colin O’Donoghue, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Laura Haddock

Storage 24 tells the story of four Londoners who find themselves trapped inside a storage facility during the beginning of an alien invasion. What starts off as efforts to get out after the alien attack triggered a lockdown soon turns into a fight for survival against one of the aliens which has – inextricably – managed to make its way in. The four Londoners, consisting of Noel Clarke, Colin O’Donoghue, Laura Haddock and Irish actress Antonia Campbell-Hughes, find themselves battling to stay alive inside the storage facility.

The plot of Storage 24 is threadbare, to say the least. A very weak subplot is forced in concerning Noel Clarke’s failing relationship with his girlfriend, Laura Haddock, that has absolutely no consequence on the film whatsoever. The set design is limited at best and, as the film is set entirely in a few rooms, not much happens throughout. The film moves from room to room, although it never truly takes off in any real sense. The alien design is laughable and truly resembles B-movie creatures from the 1950s – complete with tentacles and rubber eyes.
The film may be an independent film that’s working with a limited budget. However, other films have dealt with with similar constraints and have managed to create better films than this. Storage 24 suffers from poor direction and a real lack of tension. The shock value is lacking tremendously and relies on overly loud noises to gain a response from the audience – instead of creating real dread and horror. Storage 24 looks incredibly cheap and is very much that. The film’s stunted dialogue, cliché-ridden plot, low-production values and poor acting makes this a film to definitely avoid.
Brian Lloyd

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
89m 56s
Storage 24 is released on 29th June 2012

Storage 24 – Official Website


Film Ireland 137 Summer 2011: Interview with Rebecca Daly

With The Other Side of Sleep going on release from March 15th, Film Ireland’s Amanda Spencer caught up with director Rebecca Daly before her debut feature screened at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2011.  This interview originally appeared in Film Ireland 137 Summer 2011.



Sensitively directed and stunningly photographed, The Other Side of Sleep is on its way to Cannes. The film, which is Daly’s feature directorial debut, follows the success of her short films, Joyriders and Hum and is produced by Morgan Bushe and Macdara Kelleher of Fastnet Films.


Co-written with Daly’s writing partner Glenn Montgomery, the film follows Arlene, a young woman who struggles to decipher between the real and the imagined after a local murder stirs up old grief. Her sense of reality is challenged as sleep deprivation and raw emotion compete and draw her into further disarray. In the telling of a big story, Daly hasn’t forgotten small touches. It’s this light hand that makes The Other Side of Sleep a really superb debut feature and as the film wings its way to Cannes, I caught up with Rebecca.


What inspired the story for The Other Side of Sleep?


It started with a newspaper article about a young woman whose body was discovered wrapped in a duvet in a shopping centre car park in Northern Ireland. What struck me about the article was the way in which the journalist had accumulated lots of different anecdotes about the dead woman from various sources – and how these stories contradicted each other, making it impossible to establish the truth about this girl’s life.


In the earliest treatments the film’s protagonist was the dead girl but as it evolved we became interested in exploring the situation through a person unconnected to the victim. Arlene became our focus and we were looking at the various experiences of shock and grief within the story through her very particular viewpoint. I can’t remember when the sleepwalking element entered the story but this really fascinated us: that a person could be active or acted upon but not conscious – throwing up complications of responsibility – and have no memory of what happened once awake again.


Where did you meet Glenn, your writing partner? Had you written a feature together before? If not, was it a very different process?


We met studying Drama in Trinity years ago. We wrote my first short Joyriders together and had developed another very low-budget feature idea but ultimately both of us felt stronger about The Other Side of Sleep. Glenn and I have different strengths as writers, which seems to work well. Also, we have a bit of a laugh together, which can be really helpful in an intensive writing process, I think.

As the project was selected for the Cannes Résidence du Festival programme, I got to do a chunk of the writing there and then we would get together talk about structure etc., and redraft. It wasn’t often that the two of us would sit in front of the computer and try and write together, we would rather discuss and then I’d do a draft or he would – or sometimes we’d take sections. The script went through many drafts. It was a constant filtration process as we had so many ideas that we wanted to explore in the beginning that we kept having to select from or cut down – this continued to be the process through the making of the film; keeping a handle on the themes and ideas and deciding what was essential and trying to make sure I kept the audience focused on what was important.



Why was the Midlands chosen to locate the story?


My family is from the Midlands so it’s a region I am really familiar with. It has a particular atmosphere that I thought would work for the film – visually also I wanted a pretty worn look and so it was great to be able to shoot it in a region that hadn’t been too affected by the Celtic Tiger.



Thinking back, how did you view the opportunity to direct your first feature – all guns blazing or were you a little apprehensive? Did the Cannes residence programme better equip you, do you think?


I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to make this film. Of course making a feature is a pretty big leap in terms of the demands it puts on the director. It can be daunting at times, but it’s such a great opportunity. Mainly, I was really excited to be able to do it. The Résidence was a brilliant space to write the film in – really this is the main purpose of it. And I was living with five other directors, some of whom had already made their first feature, so this was inspiring in itself.


Shooting your first feature, did you feel your role as director was better supported, coming from shorts where often there isn’t as strict a division of labour?


I think that, like in shorts, in low-budget feature filmmaking the division of labour still isn’t that strict. Maybe it’s the job of the director to delineate this at times when it’s not clear. Honestly, for me one of the most difficult aspects was establishing these lines, for myself as much as anyone else – I learned a lot from this experience.


Had you worked with the key crew before?


No, actually. When I met potential crew obviously I wanted to see how they ‘got’ the script – especially how they responded to and picked up on the detail within it – as that for me is a very important aspect in the maintaining the style and also building the narrative of the film, from small textural details. I had worked with my editor, Halina Daugird, on my last short so this gave us a great shorthand when it came to the edit.


The casting for the film is really perfect. Did you get to spend ample time with the actors before shooting?


For me the actors are my key focus in making the film. The casting was pretty complicated in that the cast is a combination of five professional actors with the rest being non-professionals that we found through open castings in the area. It was important to find the right balance with them; that the acting level and pitch of the non-professional and professional actors would fit. I wanted to create a tone, a kind of naturalism and to keep in mind that in the course of the film some of the key characters are in shock. I wanted to capture that sense of helplessness, paralysis and desperation, a kind of unbearable powerlessness in their means of expression.

I made sure to have as much time with them as possible in advance of the shoot where we explored the key characters as real people with history and context and tried to find ways, particularly for the non-professional actors, to access and identify with the experience of the characters. We looked at the details of specific moments in their pasts as I thought if they could have a vivid picture of certain incidents – it could build up a kind of imagined memory for the character that they could tap in to. Antonia came down to the Midlands two weeks before the shoot – we decided that it was important for her to immerse herself in the world, so she effectively lived as Arlene for the two weeks prior to the shoot. With Arlene it was important to find her way of expressing herself as a product of her past and her lack of understanding of it.


The film is funded from a few different sources, which is increasingly common. What was your experience of that?


I’m not sure how it would be possible to fund this budget level without the mechanism of co-production. It seems to work really well. Also, it meant we worked with some key personnel from the co-production countries which I think was a great experience for everyone.


Is there a scene that is particularly special for you? Why?


My favourite scenes are towards the end of the film – so I probably shouldn’t spoil them… One that stands out for me is the scene in which Arlene works late in the factory and she is disturbed by Bill. I really like what her laughter does here in terms of contrast within her character and also what it does to the tension of the film. People watching the film usually laugh at this point, which is kind of strange in the context of the whole film. I like that.


Are you working on other scripts? What’s next for you?


I’m researching a couple of books that I am interested in adapting for the screen plus Glenn and I have a few ideas that we are discussing. I really want to find something that hooks me like The Other Side of Sleep did – it takes so long to make a film that the challenge is to still be interested in it by the end of the process.

Amanda Spencer

This interview originally appeared in Film Ireland 137 Summer 2011.