‘Misty Button’ Premiere @ San Luis Obispo International Film Festival

Misty Button, an Irish film shot in New York, is making its World Premiere at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival this St Patrick’s Day.

The film was written and directed by Kerryman Seanie Sugrue and co-produced with Bertie Brosnan. The two leads are portrayed by Corkmen Cillian O’Sullivan and Shaun Kennedy. The film also stars renowned New York City theatre actor John Keating. Also starring in the film is rising Broadway star, Julia Nightingale, who can now be seen in The Ferryman directed by Sam Mendes.

 

San Luis Obispo International Film Festival runs March 12-17, 2019

 

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‘Con’ a 7,000 Euro Irish Feature Film

 

 

In Con, we follow successful filmmaker and actor, Con Keogh, as he leaves rehab and prepares to reunite with his estranged father after 25 years. He agrees to participate in a documentary following his every move and with emotions running high the production takes a few twists and turns.

Below, Bertie Brosnan gives us the lowdown on his latest feature, which will premiere at the Kerry Film Festival on the 21st of October, 2018.

 

Development & Pre-Production

 One thing I want to make abundantly clear from the beginning is that producing a feature film for 7,000 euros in total (from idea all the way to screen) is not easy. You have to think outside the box. The point is this: you have to be prepared to do what it takes and be relentlessly resourceful.

First things first, you have to know your budget. In our case, I knew for a fact that I had 3,000 euros cash to work with for the production budget – this was an investors stake (I would pay him back when the project was starting to bring in money). I could put in around 1,000 euros of my own cash for extra production money. And, I had faith in an Indiegogo Campaign that I had planned to raise for the post-production money after the shoot. I am reasonably good at fundraising small amounts through crowdfunding campaigns, so I gambled on the few grand coming through once we had the film shot.

Secondly, you have to be utterly realistic as to what you can shoot and who your crew and cast will be with the money you have. Think of it this way, “What can you really do with 7,000 euros of a full production budget?”

Here’s how my mind worked: 1/3 on the Cinematography/Editing; 1/3 on the Sound Recording and Mixing and 1/3 on the rest of Post-Production and Production Expenses.

Simple as that, I had to find a way to complete every area of the production for the money we had, it helps that you develop your entrepreneurial spirit!

This brings us to what I could film for such little money: I had a few scripts in the works, but I knew that none of them were feasible on such a micro-budget, so I had to compromise. I knew that I would have no lights, no gaffer, no prominent actors, no special effects or anything that would cost a significant amount. I also knew that I wouldn’t have many shooting days, so the turnaround had to be very quick. What this did to my producer’s brain was quite weird actually, it began to take a story I was thinking about years previously where a local celebrity shoots a movie about himself and his name was Con Casey. I started to visualise a film that was breaking the third wall and a run-and-gun or guerrilla style film. What we ended up with was by definition a “Mockumentary” or “Fictional Documentary” – the latter term I prefer.

 

 

Writing the screenplay

After spending time in the film industry and working on the scene as a filmmaker and actor, I knew the independent biz and how it operated. I also knew about alcoholism or addiction through personal experiences and family members and friends. I also know about loss of loved ones to cancer and how that can affect the mind. So I wrote what I knew as the old saying goes and thus Con was born. The film is an interweaving of prominent social issues into one specific premise, i.e.

The story of a relatively successful filmmaker and actor, Con Keogh, who leaves rehab and takes part in a documentary to reunite him with his estranged father after 25 years.

I felt that shooting “mockumentary” style would be doable and cheap; but, I hate the term “mockumentary” and prefer fictional documentary or in our case a straight drama with some light humour. Our screenplay and ultimately the film came from what was necessary and feasible rather than the other way around where debut filmmakers put incredible amounts of pressure and strain on themselves financially. I will never do that to myself!

Lesson 101 – do not go into significant debt for your first film! There will be plenty time for that!

 

Filming a tiny micro-budget feature film

Shooting Con was a dream because I acquired some actor friends and new actors to come on board and help out. I didn’t have the money to pay actors. Having people on board that were supportive and wanting to create a film for themselves was key to keeping the costs down. Of course, there are huge arguments against “free” labour with artists, but I stress that everyone involved wanted to create this film and get the credit. I have myself been involved in many projects for free because I wanted the credit and understood that there was no money involved. In total there were only three people in the crew:a cinematographer, a sound recordist, and an assistant director.

I shot Con in my hometown of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland and regarding costs, this was vital because all the locations were free, and most of them were in the family. I have many contacts in Tralee, and I used local businesses and apartment complexes to house the actors and to support the film. Tralee is a small but commercial town, so it was a novelty for most people to know that a film was being shot here. Our footprint was so low we could manoeuvre all over the town and in and out of locations very quickly; all this helped with the style of Con, very naturalistic and “fly-on-the-wall”.

We were blessed with the weather also as we shot during the most prolonged heat-wave in recent memories in May 2016. It lasted several weeks, and our shoot happened right in the middle of it. In Ireland, we experience a lot of rain, and this was always a concern for us. If anything it was probably a little too bright at times, but for the most part, our lighting consistency was good. Because it was a mockumentary, we could get away with a slightly edgy look or a rough and ready style. We shot 4k, and in hindsight, it wasn’t necessary, but hey, you live and learn. But, the images are insanely crisp so maybe it was a good thing. Shooting HD with a micro-budget is much more suitable and efficient in the editing room, timewise.

 

Equipment & locations

We used a Panasonic GH4 owned by the cinematographer, Brian O’ Connor. I highly recommend this camera for newbies to filmmaking because you can shoot beautiful images and it’s a very mobile camera. I shot another short film, Last Service with Brian on this camera too.

The key to filming on a tight budget is locations, and how far they are apart. I like to think of a “Nucleus of Locations” where you have Unit Base in the centre and every location within a few miles of that base. I learned this trick on my short film Sineaterwhich is currently distributed with Shorts TV and SoFY TV worldwide. The more moving you do, the more expensive everything is. Simple as that. We shot Sineater in one night and Con in eight days. Preparation is key. Visiting locations beforehand and nailing the shot composition for the most critical moments in a scene. Once you know what you are doing before you arrive on set, it makes life so much easier. I have worked on sets where the director is arguing with the DoP, and there is nothing worse than that.

 

Working with actors

Rehearsals with the actors are essential when possible. I am a great believer in playing to people’s strengths. I like knowing what actors are good at and feel comfortable doing and using that to save time and effort. Actors are beautiful beings – usually. I love actors as I am one. I enjoy the creative process of speaking about the character and working on the dissection of a scene. If you do not know what I am talking about – I urge you to take acting classes and understand how actors work. The most prominent skills I have is the ability to express myself to actors. One of the most influential elements to Con is the realness of the piece. People think it’s real at times. All I did was use what actors had already in their consciousness and exploited that – in a nice way. Everything I did was to save time, hassle and to make sure we got a quality story. The acting was very strong and  much of the feedback confirmed that.

 

Post-Producing Con

Brian O’ Connor and I edited the film right away after shooting. I don’t recommend that, but we had to do it. I made a deal with Brian for 20 days, so I had half of that for filming and half for the post. It worked out a treat. I hired an old colleague for Color Grading – Phillip Morozov who coloured all my pieces, and he did a fine job. I was able to get a bulk deal for Con and two short films. You have to be a lean entrepreneur if you are to create films on a budget.

People told me to spend two years on a screenplay, to wait until I get a 100,000 euros, wait for a certain actor, or find a shit hot producer – how long will I be waiting? Will I still be alive?

I get things done. That’s how I learn. This is my film school. I have never paid for film school. I produce my films as my experiments. Films should be experiments. Experiments in creativity.

To get back to the post-production, we finished the edit and colouring, and I hired a sound mixer and designer, Nikki Moss and we finished the mix in Gorrila Post Production in Dublin. I obtained a cool track Bright Stars from a band Exit:Pursued by a Bear. I know these guys well and was always a fan so they were delighted to be in the film.

I managed to get so much for free because most people are just awesome and the others gave me great deals. I am eternally grateful for the help and the people I met along the way.

 

Con will screen in the Killarney Cinema  at 7pm 21st Octobers as  part of the Kerry Film Festival

 


 

Bertie Brosnan (Brackenmore, Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel) wrote, produced, directed, starred and co-edited Con while Brian O’ Connor (Con, Message, The School) shot and edited the film. Con was coloured by Phillip Morozov (Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel, Con). Sound Design was by Nikki Moss (Patrick’s Day, Charlie Casanova), Music by Bensound www.bensound.com & Exit: Pursued by a Bear.

Starring in the film are Owen Barton (The Crown and the Dragon, Soulsmith, Lift), Jean Law (Fair City, The Guarantee), Michael O’ Sullivan (Jacob Wrestling With The Angel, Remembering Yesterday), Cristina Ryan (Red Room, Zenith Protocol), Tadhg Hickey (The School, Ronanism), Laura O’ Shea (Narcan), Aidan Jordan (Striking Out, The Clinic) and Bertie Brosnan.

 

Review # 1: http://lzlark.com/the-con-movie-gives-fresh-insight-into-life-after-rehab/

Review # 2: http://onefilmfan.com/indie-film-review-con/

Review # 3: http://www.themoviebuff.net/2017/09/con-nr/

Review # 4: http://www.scottsmovies.com/films_c.html#conbrosn

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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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‘Sineater’ & ‘Jacob Wrestling With The Angel’ get Distribution Deal with Shorts TV



Bertie Brosnan directing Sean McGillicuddy

Bertie Brosnan’s short films: Sineater and  Jacob Wrestling With The Angel have been picked up by internationally-owned shorts network Shorts TV in a non-exclusive deal via the US distribution outfit Bidslate.

Director, Bertie says: “It’s been a long journey from the production of Jacob Wrestling With The Angel and Sineater to this moment to finally see my first short films distributed through a legitimate network. I am delighted for all involved because we have a chance to showcase all our work to the world. Being a non-exclusive deal I am open to shopping the films around to other networks and through pay-per-view sites. Thanks to everyone involved especially Roland of Bidslate for making sure we got the deal done.”

Sineater and Jacob Wrestling With The Angel had critical acclaim with both reaching ‘Cannes Short Film Corner’ in consecutive years and receiving many ‘Official Selections’ at international film festivals, with lots of other regular screenings at filmmaking events. Both those films earned nominations for directing, acting, editing; and Sineater won a Cinematography award at ‘Limerick Film Festival’.

Bertie also won the Cork City Arts Bursary for films in 2016 with which he produced two more short films titled Last Service and Forgotten Paradise.

Currently, Bertie Brosnan has a feature film Con awaiting online distribution towards the end of the year. For more information, go to http://www.conthefilm.com/

 

 

Sineater 

 

 

 

Jacob Wrestling With The Angel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Last Services’ Screens @ Fastnet

last-service5

Bertie Brosnan’s new short art-documentary Last Service, funded by the Cork City Arts, will screen at this year’s Fastnet Film Festival.

Last Service is a short documentary that follows a gravedigger on a typical day at work as he imparts a wonderfully beautiful and simple philosophy on life and death.

Bertie Brosnan (Con, Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel) produced, directed and edited Last Service. Brian O’ Connor (Con, Message) shot it. It was coloured by Phillip Morozov (Sineater, Jacob Wrestling With The Angel, Con). Sound Design by Brian Lane (Date Night, Disappear, Receptive. Totally Receptive) Poster design by Ray Foley.

Bertie Brosnan, who received a film bursary last year for the production of two artistic short films, will see his film screened at this years Fastnet Film Festival as a part of the DC Program. It will screen four times, once each day in different venues around the town of Schull where the festival is taking place.

Screenings are as follows: May 24th 1 pm in The Odeon, May 25th 3 pm in The Metropole, May 26th 1 pm in The Odeon, May 27th 2 pm in The Royal.

 

Currently, Bertie Brosnan has another short film that is funded by Cork City Arts Council that will be released online with the backing of some local organisations who are tackling homelessness. He is also waiting to hear back from festivals about his feature film titled Con and is in the process of attaining distribution for the same film.

The teaser trailer can be viewed here on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/100007049265978/videos/1924205764491047/

 

 

Interview – Bertie Brosnan, writer and director of Sineater

 

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‘Forgotten Paradise’ in Production

BertieBrosnan

Bertie Brosnan (pictured) has received funding from Cork City Arts for his new project, Forgotten Paradise, and is currently in pre-production, with a shoot date set for 12th August  2016.

Actor Charlie Ruxton (Titanic: Blood & Steel, Rest My Bones, Into the West) will feature. Epic Productions’ cinematographer Justin MacCarthy will shoot the piece,

According to Bertie, “The film is about a very unwell man who is dying from living rough and alcoholism but it’s not a stereotypical view on the matter, the man comes from a distinguished background of high-regard but noone knows as he cannot speak but has an internal dialogue playing out in his mind. As an audience we listen in to what is being said and ultimately to the destiny that he is choosing. I guess it’s a reality check on the ‘Forgotten people of Ireland’. “

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‘Sineater’ Screens in Listowel

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Sineater, directed by Tralee filmmaker Bertie Brosnan will be screening in Listowel along with four other films from the director on 3rd March  at 8pm in St. John’s Theatre

 

Sineater has screened at ten festivals, including Cannes Short Film Corner, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Dublin International festivals along with a UK and Canadian festival.

 

All the films on the night are from different stages of Bertie’s career from his time in the USA, Dublin and then Kerry with a mix of genre from drama to comedy to horror.

 

There will be a Q&A along with after-event drinks in John B. Keane’s pub.

 

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Interview – Bertie Brosnan, writer and director of Sineater

Bertie Brosnan - 2015 Villain

David Smyth sat down with writer/director Bertie Brosnan to talk about his work, influences and his experiences in the Irish film industry.

 

Bertie Brosnan and I sit down in a small room on the top floor of the Film Base building. He has waited patiently for me. I am half an hour late. If my rudeness has soured his appetite to talk about his work, it doesn’t show. His second film short, Sineater, has been officially selected for show at seven festivals and was also accepted as a part of the Short Film Corner at Cannes 2015. It is a brooding meditation on the nature of forgiveness, and it is a film that Bertie is justifiably proud of.

I have my questions ready, but Bertie Brosnan is passion personified. From the moment you meet him, his love for movies and the process of film making is instantly apparent. It’s a powerful force that threatens to derail any interview, no matter how well planned. What started out as a simple conversation about his work, turned into a run-away discussion about anything and everything. The interview became an entity, an energetic fractal conversation about the Irish movie business. There is an old saying about best laid plans, and I was about to experience its real life manifestation.

Even the most perfunctory questions illicit engrossing responses. I ask him about his introduction to the world of acting and film making, and his answer is a story of sacrifice. Having fallen into the scene while in college in Cork, he realised that only by giving himself entirely to his newly discovered craft, could he really get the most from, and give the most to it. He cut out everything from his life that could be considered an anathema to his vision, drink, partying and a social life in general. He did not need to tell me this, you know from the way he talks about movies that he has given much to get something back. He exudes dedication. Just like any movie, a lot of what we talked about is left on the cutting room floor. There is only so much space.

 

Growing up, what and who were your cinematic influences?

The film culture I had in my life growing up was very basic. One of my favourite films growing up was First Blood.

 

That’s a bloody good film.

I know, I watched it again recently. It’s a classic film. It deals with some hard themes, mental illness from Post-Traumatic Disorder, it wasn’t until I re-watched it did I see it was a very hard-hitting emotional film. My parents were fairly easy going, the house was fairly liberal. I watched a lot of horror like Childsplay and Poltergeist. And thrillers; the likes of Jaws and other commercial classics. I remember Jurassic Park in the cinema and just the awe-inspiring feeling from it, that and other films such as The Matrix that had such cinematic scope and amazing ideas truly changed me…

 

I won’t even watch Childsplay now

I think those types of films fed me, you know, I deal with a lot of the same dark themes.

 

And actors?

In my youth, I didn’t think of actors as a sole thing – only films and the stories being told, I guess that’s why my first love is film production and acting is a very close second. When I began to study acting and actors, I watched obsessively Pacino and Brando who were certainly my favourites, and James Dean. His aesthetic, his look. His presence. But Brando was a true actor, he just had it. They say that the minute he walked into the audition for Street Car Named Desire he immediately had the role. He couldn’t even speak properly as acting coaches would have you, but this man had such a presence, and had until the day he died. Some people just have it and its natural… nowadays I really respect Tom Hardy, Leo Di Caprio, Fassbender, Mel Gibson when acting/directing Braveheart, and Russell Crowe… these guys don’t mess about but I always think an actor can over expose themselves and that’s why Daniel Day Lewis is such a phenomenon, he chooses carefully and makes every performance memorable. Female-wise I love Penelope Cruz – her passion and feistiness is always something to be admired. Marion Cotillard is wonderful also. I think I find European women very watchable and have great depth. My favourite filmmakers are Nicolas Winding-Refn, Hitchcock, Mel Gibson, Nolan, Kubrick, Scorsese, David Lynch and Fincher… I couldn’t live without Refn or Kubrick though, tonally and thematically, they are my cup of tea.

 

Let’s talk about Sineater. It is getting a lot of very positive press. Can you tell me a little about it?

Sineater is essentially the story of a business man going home to see his mother, but his picked up by a dark, mysterious stranger. What happens after that is anything but normal.

 

We see the character reliving some of the more unpleasant moments of his life, do you feel that any of your own personal experiences influenced you when you wrote the short?

There are definitely some influences from my own life, but more heightened. In general, in today’s society, mistreatment of women is still a problem, and we see some of that. But for me, and it’s something that I have experienced, it’s a story of a man realising that his actions have profound effects on other people. It’s something that many of us don’t get to see, but in Sineater, the main character gets shown the consequences of his actions.

 

The main character is very dark, with some fairly nasty experiences under his belt. In some ways, the driver is absolving him of those misdemeanours. Do you feel that the main character is deserving of that forgiveness?

I’m going to give you an inside secret. When I was directing Sean, I told him that when you get out of the car, everything in your life is gone. The illusion about you, the ego you have constructed is gone. Everything that you have constructed is over.

That’s not necessarily a reward. It’s a new state for him. But it’s not a prize.

 

The film is seven minutes long, but you ask some very serious questions in it. It really does make you think that, although as you say the experiences are heightened, you may have some parts of your life that you really aren’t proud of.

I want people to ask questions, I want them to re watch the film and get a new meaning from it. This character has created a huge distance between him now, and the events of his past, and what is happening is that he is faced with his past. If you can draw parallels between that and your own experiences, that makes me very happy and who is proud of everything single action taken in their lives.

 

When the main character steps out of that car at the end he is clearly a very changed man. You spoke about the sacrifices and the demons you faced at the beginning of your career, so again it is very easy to draw comparisons to the character in the film, and your own experiences. Is the film very personal to you?

Look, I’ve hurt people in the past, and made a lot of mistakes. Everyone has. I try and rectify my mistakes when it doesn’t hurt the other person and I try to evolve and change for the better. And I believe strongly in forgiveness, especially the ability to forgive one’s self. Until you do that you can’t change your life, or who you are.

 

The film itself, while only seven minutes, flows seamlessly. The main character goes through a huge change, but it never feels uneven.

Thank you. We wanted to show a character going through hell, and I think we did that in the short time that we had.

 

It’s funny you should mention hell. In this film, and more so in your other short, Jacob Wrestling With the Angel, there is a religious subtext. Is that by design?

I’m not very religious, but I definitely draw inspiration from religion. With Sineater, I took inspiration from an old Judeo-Christian tradition of a village sin eater. In days past, if someone died suddenly, and had no chance to absolve themselves, a Sineater would be employed to sit by the casket all night to devour the dead person’s sins. I do draw from religion, because for me religion is mythology. I love mythology. Bible scholars and/or fundamentalists take religious tradition so seriously, but when you take it as mythology, there is a lot to learn. For me, taking cues from the mythology of Christ, or taking them from the mythology of Cuchulain, it’s the same. In Sineater, it’s a death of the self, and a resurrection of a new person.

 

The film is garnering a lot of attention. Is that something you are surprised about?

We had gotten into three festivals with Jacob and the Cannes Short Film Corner, so I wanted to make something a little bit more commercial than Jacob. I had a feeling that if I tried something a little more main stream, because Jacob isn’t particularly commercial, I knew we would get more attention. But I didn’t think we would get into six festivals and Cannes Short Film Corner in successive years, and I didn’t think we would win an award. It’s great for everyone involved really. I work with the same people normally on each of my projects, and I want them to feel proud of their work.

 

Let’s talk about some of the people you are working with. Blaine Rennicks, is the cinematographer. He has won an award for the cinematography on Sineater. Tell me a little about him.

Blaine is one my best colleague in all honesty, and we have worked together on several projects. He is an amazing guy, very technically gifted. I have a vision for what I want to do, and he feeds of that. He gets excited by the scripts, and I get excited by that excitement. He also is a great counterpart to my personality. He’s very calm, composed, where I can be a little driven. I can get feisty. He’s living in London, really getting some new experiences, but he is moving back to Ireland soon. It’s very exciting.

 

Let’s talk briefly about Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. I found it a little harder to penetrate that story. Was that intentional? It’s almost enigmatic. It almost has a weird sci-fi feel to it.

I had written a script in America called Dream Girl, about a man who falls in love with a girl in his dream, and chooses to opt out of his life to be with this girl. He is a character suffering with depression. At the time I was concentrating on acting, so I wrote myself a lead role. So Cormac Daly, the man who put me on to the sineater tradition by the way, and I incorporated the script of Dream Girl into Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. Then I got together with Blaine and worked on that script. It references, subtly, how the American dream is a fantasy, and we did a lot of research into the idea of the American dream, and their culture of advertising. The Jennifer character in the film is almost the personification of that ideal, and the main character has fallen in love with her. Jacob is an artist struggling with his mental health, and she’s distracting him.

 

You acted the main role in Jacob, how did you find that, acting and directing?

It was a crazy ordeal. Ben Affleck has gotten some plaudits for his ability for acting/directing, but he probably has two hundred crew helping him out at any given time. When you are acting, directing writing and producing, on a low budget film, it’s insane. I won’t do it again.

 

That brings me nicely into my next question. As a small independent movie producer, who has had to investigate ways of self-funding, how do you feel the business has changed in your time, in relation to how you go about bringing your movie to the screen?

Well I can only talk about the independent movie scene. Making Jacob was a struggle, it was almost as if I became the main character but I love it because it was like film school for me. I winged parts of it, I executed detailed plans on other parts. We raised money for it through a Dublin event, and some through Indiegogo and GoFundit. In the independent scene now, everyone seems to be doing projects, everyone seems to be involved, because funding through the likes of Indiegogo and Gofundit makes the process of funding a little easier. It’s great that everyone is getting involved, but I think before people do, they should ask themselves am I really ready to sacrifice what I need to get my film made. I had to sacrifice a lot to get to where I am now.

 

Do you feel that there is a perception that following your dream, in the movie business at least, is a succession of red carpet premiers and Champagne receptions?

Exactly, I mean at the moment there is a lot of good press for Sineater and lots of festivals and pictures on social media – which people see and judge, that is only the tip of the mountain in which we had to climb for months and years, you only see us at the top for a brief moment of time. Then there’s the dark times, especially during Jacob: There was some good reviews, yes, but some people didn’t get it, and behind my back people called it a piece of crap, I think that’s a sign of jealousy or success. So I choose to take the positive that at least they are thinking about me and my work, even when I’m insulted or right out abused which I have been recently by an ignorant so and so, I take it as a sign that I am actually doing well. This road is tough and you will always get people who will criticise and try to pull you back, but not me, I already have won that battle in my mind, and I only compete with myself and use other’s success as an example of a map to success. When people hate, it’s because they are not fulfilling their own ambitions, I know this because many times I was one of them, not anymore. I guess that what I’m saying is there is a lot of sacrifice, a lot of negativity. But there are a lot of positives too.On a different topic, there are some great things happening in the south of Ireland right now, where people making movies are starting to cast appropriately. That’s another thing that has changed for the better. You don’t need to be in Dublin now to follow your dreams. It’s starting to change.

 

What are your plans now for future projects?

There is a feature film in the works, that I can’t say too much about, but we have a prominent actress attached, and we are actively seeking a male lead and some real producers. Next step is financing, which is already underway.

 

True to the precedent I set on the day of the interview, I was late typing up the transcript. Due to a work induced upheaval of my life, I have only just been able to sit down and relive the hour I spent talking to Bertie. But the enthusiasm that he emits is not diminished even slightly by the lapsed four weeks.

The business Bertie Brosnan has chosen to make his business is notoriously cut throat. It is a business filled with occasional highs and all too frequent lows. But if the qualities for success are passion, ability and honest-to-goodness hard graft, then I can think of no-one more certain to succeed. If the Irish movie business going forward is lucky enough to enjoy the input of people with half as much enthusiasm and capacity as Bertie Brosnan, then the future is certainly bright.

 

 

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‘Sineater’ in Post-production

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Bertie Brosnan’s short film Sineater is currently in post-production. Sineater centres around a man, Jack (Sean McGillycuddy), as he returns home to visit his Mother and a mysterious driver (Joe Mullins) who awaits Jack, claiming to be a family friend.

Kerry-born Brosnan has had success with his last film Jacob Wrestling With The Angel after it reached ‘Cannes – Short Film Corner’ and several Irish Film Festivals, receiving a nomination at Limerick Film Festival for Best Cinematography in 2014.

The film is presently being colour graded by Philipp Morozov and Blaine Rennicks  in London and the original score is being composed by Jason Fernandez in Los Angeles.

The film is currently on Indiegogo for completion and distribution funds.

 

 

 

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Interview: producer, Craig Moore and director, Bertie Brosnan – Jacob Wrestling With The Angel

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Jacob Wrestling With The Angel is a visionary tale of a painter who is obsessed with a dream and finishing his masterpiece. He wrestles with his tenuous grip on reality but finds solace in a young lady who haunts the inner workings of his mind.

Ahead of the film’s screening at this year’s Cannes Fim Festival as part of the Short Film Corner, Film Ireland caught up with producer, Craig Moore and director, Bertie Brosnan.

 

Can you tell us about how the film came together and your involvement.

Craig: Well, the ball had been rolling with Jacob courtesy of Bertie and Cormac [Daly, co-writer] long before I came along. They had their script finalised and the pre-production process had already started. Bertie approached me during the fundraising to get involved and record behind-the-scenes images and videos for the crew. It was from there that I became involved further, helping him with PR and such while maintaining my duties as behind-the-scenes recorder. My role really became expanded afterwards as the film entered post-production, where I handled the organising of our screenings, constantly plugging the film to the public. It was great because doing these multiple roles allowed me to be on set a good deal of the time, and I was able to observe and learn plenty of things myself, especially from Bertie and Alan Markey, who is one of the best ADs I’ve seen. Everyone else is super too, all totally committed. I’m realy grateful that I was given the opportunity to move up and plug this film outside of a set – at the very least, it’s been a lot of fun.

You funded it yourselves – how difficult was that?

Bertie: Well it was difficult for sure – the pressure was on; but we got there in the end through using different methods of fundraising and crowdfunding, plus we hosted a ‘Filmmakers & Actors Speaker Event’, which raised us about a grand, which in today’s climate is a major success.

But we still didn’t have enough money especially for post-production and distribution, which was quite worrying to me personally but I never lost faith in the power of the project, and then John Turner literally came in and saved the day for us and the film. John is a close friend from Tralee also and I hadn’t really spoken to him in a long time and when I got a call out of the blue that he was going to basically fund the rest of the money I was pleasantly gob-smacked and over-awed by the generosity. John was supporting and watching us online unknown to myself and anyone else; so that really solidified our views on the power of social media and self-promotion. Someone is always watching!

John is now the executive producer and we did a deal that he will be involved in my first two features so it’s a great deal for John too. I’ll never forget that call when I received it, it showed me the project was, and is, special. John resides in Australia and will be back at some stage next year. I wouldn’t recommend doing what we did unless you are willing to work extremely hard and you love the project with all your heart plus you will have to fight for every cent!

How was casting – I heard you had a last minute re-cast?

Bertie: Well, casting is so vital and it was difficult. It’s extremely hard to really know what you’re looking for until you meet ‘The One’ and then you know. It’s kind of like dating in a sense, when you just click with one person. The casting process is like that – the minute I met Mike O’ Sullivan I knew we had our man. The qualities I was looking for was ‘presence’ and ‘depth’ and in another way ‘A King-Like Stature’ and Mike has all these. I knew the second I saw him on camera – he was ‘The One’ and he didn’t disappoint!

The downside though in casting Jacob was I felt that we cast way too early if I’m honest. Firstly, the project wasn’t fully developed and set in stone so it meant we actually had to let one actor go because the story changed to three characters instead of four.

Secondly, I feel casting several months before the shoot is risky because actors could literally be doing different projects and/or life circumstances change. In our case, our female actor got sick and had to pull out, which was so unfortunate because we really liked her and we were really deep into pre-production and we only had a week to go until the principal photography was about to start; so needless to say the pressure was on. But, I had to have faith and after the ‘John Turner’ incident I felt like anything was possible and that this was the right thing because everything else worked out right so far – the pressure was on for a few days, but thankfully actors aren’t too hard to find in Dublin so I put it out there online that we needed a female actor fast and lo and behold we got about 7 auditions out of about 100 applicants. And like what I said about MJ [Mike], when I met Amy Hughes, I just knew! She was the girl. And she had a great voice too, which actually enhanced the role for me. She was beautiful but not just that she had a grip on the dialogue and the context of the piece and it was so effortless to her. And like MJ, Amy didn’t disappoint.

As for casting myself well I just looked in the mirror and said “You got the role Bert!” – you can’t wait around for auditions and casting directors/agents forever!

I did okay in the end!

Craig: Yeah, in the end it worked out pretty well for us. Amy’s got such a great presence and voice on the screen, as does Michael, and as does Bertie himself. It didn’t run as smoothly as I’m sure Bertie had hoped, but in the end the product and the strength of the script ironed out any of the kinks that we had. The dedication to bringing the story to life drove everyone forward.

The interior and exterior locations are vital to the film’s feel.

Bertie: For sure, ‘Vital’ is the word. This film isn’t the usual run of the mill film – it’s mainly arthouse so it’s more about the ‘feel’ rather than a through line in my opinion even though there is a through line running underneath everything.

Craig: The locations are as much of a character in the film as the actual characters are. They’re perfectly reflective of the story’s different stages, and the feel, as you say.

Bertie: Yeah, in my opinion it’s like a moving painting in lots of ways so that coincides with Jacob being an Artist. So the locations were vital to demonstrate the look and feel of the film. Getting the locations like everything else almost worked out despite ourselves. We did a lot of running around Dublin, Drogheda, Dundalk and North County Dublin and we ended up getting all the locations in North County Dublin pretty much except for the ‘Interview Scene’ which was shot in my apartment at the time.

The word ‘contrast’ was high on my list when writing it, so what really floats my boat is expansive and intriguing locations so when we found the ‘forest’ and the ‘beach’ we wanted we were quite happy. We found ‘St. Ita’s, Portrane’ first, which actually had several other films and TV shows filmed there, which was great because they were used to dealing with film people and were so accommodating! Finding St. Ita’s was a godsend because the forest location was on there land too. St. Ita’s provided the corridor that we needed and this corridor couldn’t have been more perfect for the most important scenes of the film. These locations were so perfect it was like ‘The One’ moment in casting, location scouting is like dating too! [Laughs] I need to find a real date! The lines between film and my real life and getting too blurred.

Then we found the beach that we really liked which was Rush Beach, which was looking out towards Lambay Island. We were a bit worried though, at how expansive the shot could be without having civilisation interfering with our opening scene; but we found a good spot and then by another stroke of good-luck ‘Rush Golf-Club’ was just over the sand-dunes and they really helped us as a base of operations when shooting on the beach.

And lastly the ‘Waterside House Hotel, Donabate’ provided another location which was amazing and again they were so nice and friendly – so “A Big Shout Out” to Rush, Donabate and Portrane for being great areas to film in!

In the film the artist struggles with obsession, but beyond that theme the film tackles the wider issue of mental health.

Bertie: Martin Luther King Jr. said “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” This quote really signifies something deep routed for me and to follow up on what you stated, I believe so, and this was definitely brought to light after some screenings and reviews. I’m not going to lie and say I purposefully wrote the script to tackle any issue but when writing this script it was ultimately most prevalent in my mind: How a young Irish/European man deals with certain traumas; and relationship struggles; and his art!

For me personally art and the expression of it, can be a burden as well as a wonderful gift. I have personally struggled with separating my art from my own personally life and my relationships. I believe that in lots of ways artists struggle with mental health issues and of course as a nation Irish people are very creative and artistic so naturally from the point I’m making we struggle with our mental health; but I’m not saying it’s the reason why we struggle with our mental health, it could be just a factor.

I think in today’s generation ‘Mental Health’ is not such a huge taboo subject like it used to be just like other topical issues because of Media and Awareness; but still it’s definitely not a usual conversational piece and it is hard for people to live in the World with mental health issues.

I think our film looks at mental health through a different lense and for sure raises one or two questions. I think it’s great when everyone has a different interpretation of the film – not any two people have said the same thing to me after watching it, which is truly a dream come true for me and that’s what I set out to do.

Craig: Yeah, I’d agree with a lot of that. I’ve screened the film a number of times at this stage – including to three different groups of transition year students in Rochfortbridge Secondary School, who had a lot of different things to say. Being so young, there’s a number in that group who are constantly exposed to the single type of blockbuster film and hadn’t a clue what to make of Jacob, and as such wrote it off as nonsense. But there’s something there that spoke to a number of others, who recognised certain themes and elements working together to create a particular effect. The mental illness theme is one that you wouldn’t speak of openly and as such ironically tends to disappear to the back of your mind, until its awoken by something. I think that Jacob definitely is that something to a lot of the people we’ve shown it to. There’s definitely recognition there, and I think Bertie succeeded in bringing something different to the screen.

The film is beautifully shot; you had Blaine Rennicks on board, who’s building quite a reputation for himself these days. How did that relationship work for you?

Bertie: Blaine was more than on board, Blaine was my partner the whole way through right until today and we have plans for a feature in the works. So, to answer your question our working relationship is extremely solid and I have the greatest respect for his work and Blaine as a person. His attention to detail and his hard-working nature suits me perfectly as I’m also a very hard worker and I will not let things go and I like to get things moving and working – Blaine is exactly like this and that’s why I love working with him. To be honest, I see us making a lot of films together because I believe we suit each others style – I’m not going to lie I’ve wrecked his head because I’m very particular and can be quite strong-minded but we have an understanding and a patience to know that the right thing comes out in the end through discussion and respecting each other. Blaine was a huge creative influence in lots of small ways also in developing the project and the script, also he has helped me tremendously with the technicality of filmmaking, which I lack but I am learning.

I heard Quentin Tarantino say that before making Reservoir Dogs he was being tutored by Terry Gilliam and he was asking Terry about making films and how to do it properly. Terry simply stated that as a director your job is to ‘Articulate your vision of how the script should look and then you hire the technical crew to carry out that vision’ – this is why Blaine was the perfect cinematographer to work with, I articulated my vision and he shot it.

Jason Fernandez’ jazzy score really enhances the dreamlike quality of the film.

Bertie: Couldn’t agree more – Jason is awesome! Simple as that. He is an American living in California and although I’ve never met Jason face to face our working relationship is also very good and dynamic, Chris Kato introduced me to Jason’s work. We have worked together on three projects to date and we have already gotten to work on ideas for my feature film which is in development. What we tried to do was run themes through the film along with the different layers of subconscious – I basically had ideas of what I wanted and with a lot of tireless work and phone-calls, emails and file transfers we got exactly what we wanted. Again, it was a lot of feeling the ideas out and seeing what felt right and ultimately we ended up with one of the most powerful aspects of the film plus there are some hidden gems in the music score, which if you really listen you will hear. I think Craig has a lot to say about the music also…

Craig: Well, to me, music and sound is possibly the most important thing about films such as this. Even more simply, look at all the great films that have ever existed, and one of the great things about them is the music. I still remember the first time I sat down and viewed the final cut of the film and Jason’s music overpowered me, especially in the hallway sequence where he absolutely hits all the emotional buttons out of the park. But that’s just one moment where it’s more obvious that we have a musical score, and the most impressive thing is that overall, Jason’s music is always there. It’s never overshadowing the visuals, it’s always working with them  and still manages to be a good listen on its own. And to me, that’s what makes a good score.

You both must be thrilled to be selected to play Cannes. What’s next for you?

Bertie: Well thanks we are super excited by the whole Cannes acceptance. Being a part of the Short Film Corner provides us with the opportunity to move up to the next level as regarding as careers with this film and the next projects.Going to Cannes and attending the festival, the talks, the meetings and the parties will provide us with some brilliant opportunities to network and possibly sell our film. Also it gives us the platform to pitch our next projects and ideas, which is very exciting. For me, personally, Cannes is the stepping stone to starting my actual career as a filmmaker because all along I was an actor who wrote films also but now my main aim is to be a film director and this is a great start as far as I’m concerned.

After Cannes, I will be writing my feature-length screenplay for my first feature film to direct. The treatment I’ll use as a sales pitch is pretty much down and I’m happy with that. I have the second in the trilogy of shorts that I want to make written also, it’s called Kingdom Come and it’s the follow on film from Jacob Wrestling With The Angel. I will definitely go to the Irish Film Board for funding on both projects. I will seek funds from the funding authorities on everything I do from here on in; not expecting anything but welcoming anything especially the experience of making applications. I believe this is the next step also, to make my career official,  to get funding as this really helps in the submission phase for the bigger festivals in Ireland and sometimes abroad. I’m focusing on bringing film to my local area also,  Tralee, Co. Kerry as I have loads of interest here from people who want to be involved in the film scene, plus FAS have a great facility down here with top end equipment that is available for usage.

Craig: I would be at a similar stage, although Bertie has a bit more experience than I have. I’ve just wrapped up my college degree and I’ve done a number of things over the past year, such as music videos and promotional videos. I also write a lot, and we’ve just got the ball rolling on a short that I’m directing and will hopefully be shot on location in the Westmeath countryside before the end of the year. Hopefully Bertie has enjoyed working with me enough to warrant another collaboration at some point. It’s all about persistence and taking things one step at a time for me, so Cannes will definitely help raise the bar on those terms – and at the very least it’ll be quite an experience to get over there and absorb the atmosphere, something I think I’ve proved to be quite good at.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80-8BlokRoU

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