‘Pilgrimage’ Writer Jamie Hannigan & Director Brendan Muldowney

 

In Brendan Muldowney’s latest film, Pilgrimage, a group of monks in 13th century Ireland must escort a sacred relic across an Irish landscape fraught with peril.

Paul Farren met up with Brendan and writer Jamie Hannigan in search of moral and spiritual significance.

Please note this interview contains spoilers

 

Paul Farren: Jamie, if I can start with you as the writer. What was the inspiration for this?

Jamie Hannigan: I wrote up this idea for the old Filmbase/RTÉ short film scheme Lasair. I got shortlisted but didn’t get in. So then I thought I could do it as a movie. I’d been watching a lot of Werner Herzog movies and I was chatting to Conor Barry [producer] about this idea of a bunch of monks dragging something of value to them, but not necessarily of a value – literally a rock. He got interested and told me to write it up. I did. Gave it to Brendan. He gave me feedback on the treatment and that became larger. Then we submitted it to the Irish Film Board, who liked it and agreed to get on board. And then Brendan came on officially to direct a draft or two after that… was it?

Brendan Muldowney: I can’t remember the exact stage. But I remember thinking that, at that early stage, it was too big a job for me to come on.  But I know I wanted to be a part.

Jamie: Unofficially, you were in the wings.

Paul: So what was it that held you to the script that you wanted to continue developing? I presume you were hooked from that first draft.

Brendan: I was hooked way before. I remember meeting in the IFI and Jamie pitched it to me and, at that stage, it was a very basic idea of monks dragging something across the country… and I think you mentioned an ambush. It was quite vague – well you probably had more than you were telling me.

Jamie Hannigan: No. It was quite vague!

Brendan: So it’s strange Paul, imagine someone pitched that to you – Right, I have Monks, 13th century, travelling through Ireland, dragging something, and you just imagine mud and trees and then there’s an ambush and there’s action. Obviously, it could have turned out bad, the story mightn’t have had legs… but it was that setting that got me.

After that it was about getting the story right, making sure that was working.  My memory is that it was a pleasant enough development process. There was a treatment that was good. We brought it into the Film Board and it went into development. I remember reading the first draft on a train with Conor Barry and I really thought it was brilliant and saying to him “this is the one”. I knew it was was going to be big. At that stage, we’d just made Savage. I knew it was bigger than we were. Our profile wasn’t big enough. But, you know, films take a long time to develop so we just kept going with it.

Tom Holland

Paul: Let’s talk about the film and its themes and ideas. To me, there’s definitely very overt political ideas running through it – it’s not just religiously themed. I wouldn’t say it’s anti-religious but it has an opinion. It doesn’t try and push an agenda, it just presents something. And, of course, we’re coming with our own contemporary attitudes. One thing I really liked was the sense of innocence of these Monks, who were suddenly being pulled into a political situation, where there’re lives being lost left, right and centre, because of other people’s agendas. And all down to this holy relic / rock that has got amazing political power.

Brendan: It’s not beating you over the head with it. Everyone can take their own interpretations. And I think we tried to do that – even in the script not just in the making of the film; that these people ascribe meaning to maybe natural events and to the rock. These are major spoilers now but what I really loved was that there was so much carnage created over what could be just a rock. That to me is what I loved about it to be honest. That appeals to me because that is the way I view the world and religion.

Paul: And the script Jamie…

Jamie: In general, with me anyway, it tends to be that you have an idea and you have lots of things float around. You need 5 or 6 ideas that all sort of work and seem interesting. It could be a character, a plot twist, a setting, a theme – at some point these ideas are bubbling around and they come together.

Paul: You shot the film in Ireland and Belgium. How did that work out for matching exteriors?

Brendan: It worked out well. You know there’s a rule that wherever your unit base is, there’s a radius then that you can’t shoot outside of.

Paul: Principle – that rule… you don’t have enough money!

Brendan: Yeh! – not even that though, it’s an agreement with the union so that people don’t have to travel too far.

Jamie: A 50 km radius.

Brendan: Exactly. So, when we found somewhere on the coast where we would shoot – in Leenane on the Mayo-Galway border – you take a radius out of there and our problem was that we only had mountains and coast. We were quite lucky because we did find this big green open area where the Norman camp is, Boycott’s Estate, so we were able to get just enough greenery. But there was no real forest that would suit. So it worked out really well that we had to shoot some of it in Belgium, which is really well known for its forests.

Jamie: In my head writing it, I was thinking of all these locations all around Ireland. That bit would be Killarney. That bit would be West Cork. That would be the Midlands, etc. But getting into the location scout plus this rule meant that Belgium worked out well for us.

Jon Bernthal

Paul: The performances all round were brilliant.You have Diarmuid played by some bloke called Tom Holland. He’s the linchpin of the whole story – we’re kind of sitting on his shoulders looking at the values of everybody else.

Jamie: He’s a blank slate.

Paul: And you’ve got Jon Bernthal, playing The Mute. He’s a really strong presence, an interesting actor. He’s kind of bubbling under the surface for the entire film. We never really get to know his full agenda. But he can look after himself… You had varying types of actors in there. Little bit of method and some not so. Tom wouldn’t be as much a method actor as Jon.

Brendan: Jon may have started off in a somewhat method manner by going silent for a week or so but then he came out of that.

Paul: You couldn’t shut him up!

Brendan: Yeh. That was his joke… “Then they wished I was silent!” It’s interesting because he had learned what he needed to do from that silence and when he needed to he would go back into that place. He had a big influence on everyone. And you say Holland is not coming from a method background but he took it very seriously and they all would get into the scenes and were willing to go to places that me and the AD would think was too dangerous. We were constantly pulling them back from things.

Paul: Which is important, coz you need them for the whole shoot! And Tom did a great stab at the old Irish.

Jamie: He was coming from a shoot from somewhere in Northern Canada. He came 2 weeks in advance, to start prepping for Irish. I wrote his Irish dialogue out phonetically and he had a great dialogue coach working with him in Paedair Cox and later Diarmuid de Faoite, who also plays The Captain.

Richard Armitage

Paul: Was it a tough sell working in 3 languages?

Brendan: 4 if you take Latin in there as well, alongside French, Irish and English.

Paul: Was there a pressure ever put on to have it in English?

Brendan: Well, some scenes were changed so that there was a certain percentage of English – 70 per cent. I don’t think it ended up as that… but that’s what was asked for. And that was in the script. But with scenes being cut in the edit, I’m not sure of the final percentage.

Paul: And what were the biggest challenges on set.

Brendan: I’ll tell you that horses are really difficult to deal with.

Paul: They’re such premaddonas…

Brendan: Yeh. They don’t do what they are supposed to do. What else… working in the water – very slow. Working with mist.

Paul: I do love that scene though when they are chasing them into the fog.

Brendan: You see, when it’s written as “the fog is so thick that you cannot see”, you need a lot of mist and it’s quite hard, even with big machines.

Paul: Was there any post work done on that?

Brendan: No, we couldn’t afford it. I would have liked it a little thicker.

Paul: What’s it like for you Jamie? You’re the one writing all these things and causing Brendan all these headaches. What’s it like to see it all made into a film.

Jamie: Interesting… I’m thinking in terms of what they were written as and imagined as and then how the crashing realities of production kick in.

Brendan: A lot of small details get lost.

Jamie: Like the lightening-strike scene – originally, that was written as a storm scene, lots of rain, mountains paths, horses and mud… things getting stuck, guys wading through mud. It was very messy.

Brendan: And we were told it can’t be done – no mud! We couldn’t even get the tankers to do rain up the path or, if we could, getting them refilled was just impossible. There’s many examples of things of things like that. It was incredibly sunny that day as well. Anything we did there was grading – all the clouds in the sky, etc., so now we’re suggesting a coming storm rather than being in a storm.

We would have needed a huge budget to execute some of the things that were in the script. Like the bridge breaking and the wheel coming down, or the scene with the archer following them- that was written with quicksand.

Jamie: That was one of those location ideas where I was thinking of places in the Midlands – and like I said we weren’t able to shoot outside that 50 km radius. It was done with lake-land in the end.

Paul: Well, it looks great. Which brings us to the cinematography – Tom Comerford. You were saying before that you did multiple camera for this film.

Brendan: Tom is great. We had 2 cameras for all the action – at the end on the beach and the ambush. It’s obviously better to have control over the shots but it’s about the coverage. I’ve learned in the edit how more important it is to have the coverage than having it perfect. I don’t think in the time we had to shoot everything – 3 days for the ambush  – that we would have had enough coverage, without the second piece of footage. There was no other way.

Paul: How much prep goes into those scenes – so that no-one gets killed!

Brendan: A lot. I started months beforehand breaking down each beat in that ambush. I would have taken Jamie’s script and broken it into lines first; so at least I know beats. Then I would have isolated anything that I thought needed special attention, whether it was special effects, visual effects, stunt work, prosthetics, make up and other stuff. It’s a long process. You have to have big round-table meetings with the departments all at the table.

Even beforehand, the preparation and the planning of all this is intense. Also it’s in 2 different countries and the same things happen. Everyone sits round and I’d have broken down any piece of action and we’d discuss it and see who could do what. It was complicated. I would talk to Jamie the whole time as well and would rewrite and number every piece of action.

Jamie: That ambush scene was much bigger in the early stages. That sort of style you want to keep a rhythm going that you’re implying action, you want to tell a story through it. But it was a lot more vague – like ‘the men attack’ ‘blood in the air’. Then that got a little smaller and you were saying we don’t have enough of a budget to show wide scenes like the Braveheart thing where all the guys clash into each other, so lets focus on the small, nasty little details of a guy getting strangled or a guy getting his arm chopped off. There’s something very visceral about that – and with sound effects over that you can feel the story by seeing these smaller gruesome, intimate details.

Paul: And it’s probably closer to the reality. I don’t think they were hanging around in their thousands and kicking each others’ arses back then anyway.

Brendan: And we felt it would be a bit messier – chopping an arm off might take a while rather than it coming clean off.

Paul: And on that image we’ll leave it. Thanks for coming in to talk to us.

 

Pilgrimage is currently in cinemas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoilers

 

Paul farren: Jamie if I can start with you as the writer. What was the inspiration for this?

 

Jamie Hannigan: I wrote this idea up for the old RTE short film scheme Lasair – got shortlisted but didn’t get in. So then I thought I could do it as a movie. I’d been watching a lot of Werner Herzog movies and I was charring to Conor Barry about this idea of a bunch of monks dragging something of value to them, but not necessarily of a value – literally a rock – I’m chatting to Conor and making stuff up as I go along hoping to interest him. And he did get interested and told me to write it up. I did. Gave it to Brendan he gave me feedback on the treatment and that became larger and then we submitted it to the Irish Film Board who liked it and agreed to get on board. And then Brendan came on officially to direct a draft or two after that… was it?

 

Brendan Muldowney: I can’t remember the exact stage. But I remember thinking that, at that stage, for me it was too big a job for me to come on.  I wanted to be a part.

 

 

So what was it that held you to the script that you wanted to continue developing?

 

I was hooked way before. I remember meeting in the IFI and Jamie pitched it to me and at that stage it was  a  very basic idea of monks dragging something across the country and I think you mentioned an ambush… it was quite vague – well you probably had more than you ere telling me.

 

No. It was quite vague!

 

So it’s strange Paul. Imagine someone pitched that to you – Right, I have Monks, 13th century, travelling through Ireland, dragging something, and you just imagine mud and trees and then there’s an ambush and action. Obviously It could have turned out bad, the story mightn’t have had legs… but it was that setting that got me.

After that it was about getting the story right. My memory is that it was a pleasant enough development process. There was a treatment that was good. We brought it into the Film Board and it went into development. I remember reading the first draft on a train with Conor Barry and thinking this is brilliant and saying to him “this is the one”. I knew it was was going to be big. At that stage we’d just made Savage. I knew at that stage it was bigger than we were. Our profile wasn’t big enough. But you know films take a long time to develop so we just kept going with it.

 

I wouldn’t say anti-religious but it has an opinion, but it doesn’t push an agenda, it just presents something. And of course we’re coming with our own contemporary attitudes. One thing I really liked was the sense of innocence of these Monks  – some fairly decent Monk types in Sligo! – and suddenly being pulled into a political situation. And all down to this holy relic / rock that has got amazing political power.

 

It tends to be – with me anyway – with scripts that you have an idea and you have lots of things float around. You need 5 or 6 ideas that all sort of work and seem interesting – it could be a character, a plot twist, a setting, a theme – at some point these ideas are bubbling around and they come together. I remember being on an airplane sitting with my notebook and the political end of how  when the Normans had invaded Ireland they did so by getting this permission from the Pope. Ireland was a Christian nation but for the Pope they were not the right kind of Christians so the Normans needed to get in there and reestablish

 

The Cistercian has his wonderful way of evolving the way  he philosophies depending what he needs all the way through the story.

Let’s talk about Diarmuid played by some bloke called Tom Holland. He’s the lynchpin of the whole story – we’re kind of sitting on his shoulders looking at the values of everybody else.

 

He’s a blank slate…

 

He believes… and he’s a little bit soiled as the story goes along. Would you agree Brendan?

 

I would yes. Going back to what you said about the themes of  religion and that it’s not beating you over the head with it. Everyone can take their own interpretations. And I think we tried to do that – even in the script not just in the making of the film – that these people ascribe meaning to maybe natural events and to the rock – these are major spoilers now but… what I really loved was that there was so much carnage created over what could be just a rock. That to me is what I loved about it to be honest. That appeals to me because that is the way I view the world and religion.

 

17 back story

 

You shot the film in Ireland and Belgium. How did that work out for matching exteriors?

 

It was all interior woodland.

 

Even more than that – you know that there’s this rule that wherever your unit base is there’s a radius then outside that that you can’t shoot out of.

 

Principle – that rule… or you don’t have enough money!

 

Yeh – but its an agreement with the union so that [eopel don’t have to travel too far.

 

A 50 km radius.

 

Exactky – so when we find somewhere on the coast where we shot near Loius burgh and our problem was you take a radius out of there and we only had mountains and coast… to get forest and greenery it’s not really there. So it worked out really well that we had to shoot some of it in Belgioum which is really well known for its forests.

 

In my head writing it I was thinking of all thetse locations all around Ireland – but getting into the location scout and this rule I was right we do it all on this beautiful but sparse  landscape.

 

You know we were quite lucky because we did find this big green open area where the Norman camp is – Boycott Estate where so we were able to get just enough greenery.

 

  • Days in Belgium. 7 6 weeks…4 weeeks on Ireland – less 2 4-day weeks in Belgium

Actors dynamic – they all bonded.

 

Did you actively aid that? No what aided it was putting them on a hotel in the middle of nowhere.

  • Performances all round were brilliant. You had veryng types of actors in there – bit of method in there…

John may have started off in asomewhat method manner by going silent for a week os so and then after that came out of that.

 

You couldn’t shut him up!

 

Yeh. That was his joke… “Then they wished I was silent!” It’s intetetsring because he had learned what he needed to do from that silence and when he needed to he would go back into that place. He had a big influence and yu say Holland is not coming from methody but he took it seriously and they all would get into the scenes and they were willing to go tp llaces that maybe me and the AD would think may be dangerous.

 

Sand did a great stab at the old Irish.

 

He was coming from a dhoot from somewhere in Norgthern Canada. Hecame 2 week sin advance – to start prepping for Irish. I wrote his dialogue out phonetically and he had a dialogue coach working with him. Paedair Cox and Diarmuid.

 

The chemistry was there on the screen, And you were well served by your Irish actors a as well, Hugh Ruiari John Locjhlainn Diarmuid

 

A tough sell – three languages…

 

Final Draft is crashing..

 

$ languages – Latin French, Irish & English – was there a pressure ever put on to  jave it in English.

 

Well some scenes were changed so that there was a certain percentage of E English – 70per cent – I don’t think it eneded up as that – but that is what was asked for. And that was in the script – but with scenes being cut in the edit I’m not sure of the final percentage.

 

and

 

So

 

Horses are really difficult to deal with

 

  • They’re such premaddonas…

Yeh – they don’t do what they are supposed to do. YThere was athe grey horse who I kep t hearing had tooth ache and that he was a biy young.

 

What eles  working in bthe water – very slow. Working with mist.

 

I do love that scene though when they are chasing them into the fog.

 

You see – when it’s written as the fgog is so thick that you cannot see “ , you need a lot of mist amdnd it’s hard e bven with big machines.

 

Was there any post work done on that.

 

No we couldn’t afford it. I wasa told we could fill in gaps but bythe time . I would have liked it a little thicker.

 

What’s it like for you Jamie – you’re the one writing all these things and causing headaches – what’ sit like to see Brendan’s headache in film.

 

Interetsing… I’m thinking in terms of what they were written as an imaging as and then how the crashing realities of production

 

  • A lot of small details get lost

Like the second lightening scene – originally that was written as a storm scene, lots of rain, mountaims paths and horse – things getting stuck in guys are wading through mud

And we were told it can’t be done – no mud!

 

We couldn’t eve get tankards to do te rain up the path or if eq could yto getthen refilled was just impoosiible .- and there’s many examples of things like that. It was incredibly sunny that day – everything we did there was grading all the clouds in the sky, etc so noe we’re suggesting a coming storm rather than being in a storm . I even the archer following that was written as quicksand – we would have needed a huge budget to execute some of te h things  that were in the script. Breaking bridges quicksand and the like…

 

That was one of those location ideas where I was thinking of places in the Midlands – and like I said we weren’t able to shoot outsidethat 50 kn radius. – so you compromise y’know.

 

It looks great – which brings us to cinematography – Joe Comerford – I presume your difficulties are his – you were saying before that you did multiple camera for this film.

 

Yes we had 2 camera fo ral the action – the end on the beach and the ambush. I asked for 2 fo rthe Norman camp but unknownst to me I arrived on the second camera was off in a green screen – and it wasn’t even we were shooting on RED and it was a small Canon  that was shooting extras for duplication I the background. But we could have doen with a second canera on the Norman camp – we were running out time and there’a scene I had storyboarded 8 different ways but I only got the one shot at it…

 

But the multiple camera worked fgo ryou on the action scenes.

 

Oh yeh obviously it’s better  to have control over the shots but it’s about the coverage and I’ve learned in the edit how more important it is to have the coverage tahan having it perfect coz there’s been times where I’ve nbeen wishing evevn the camera had of been running longer after – so to have the second piece of footage – I don’t think in the time we had to shoot everything – 3 days f rthe ambush …w ewouldn;t have had enough coverage so yeh therwas no other way.

 

How much prep goes into those scenes – so tah tno-one gets killed!!

 

A lot. I starte months beforehand breaking down each beat in that ambush. I would have taken jamie’s script and broken it into lines first – so at least I know beats.. then I would have isolated anything that I think needed special attentaioon – whether it was special effect visual effects or stunt work or prosthietic make up and other stiff – yknow it’s a long process…you have to have big round table meetings with the departments all at the table.

 

Even beforehand the prep and te panning of all this is intense becaiuse also it’s in 2 different countries – the csame tings happen everyone sits round and  I’d have brokendown any piece of action and we’d discuss it and see who could do what. I would talk to Jamie the whole time as well and would rewrite and number every piece of avtion.

 

In preproduction. That scene was much bigger in the early stage vague the men attack blood in the air – then that got more smaller and you were saying we don’t have that much of a budget to show wide scenes like the Braveheart thing whwr all the guys clash into each other so lets focus on the small nasty little details of a guy getting starangled or a guy getting hos arm hacked off… there’s something very viscreral about that – and with sound effects iover that you can feel the story by seeing these small gruesome intimate details.

 

And it’s probably c;ose  to the realirty – I don’;t thonk they were hanging around in their thousands and kicking w=eachioters arses back then.

 

And we felt it would be a bit messier – chopping an arm off might take longer than it coming clean off – I was just going to give you an example there – at the start of the ambush there’s a slingshot.. so you would have the first scout who gets hit on the neck – so youu’d have to communicate this with all the departmnets costume would ne dot know that this character who’s going to get shot from wayback before from  Ireland can’t have chainmail on the neck .. there’s a lot of detail… and we had to think it through properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoilers

 

Paul farren: Jamie if I can start with you as the writer. What was the inspiration for this?

 

Jamie Hannigan: I wrote this idea up for the old RTE short film scheme Lasair – got shortlisted but didn’t get in. So then I thought I could do it as a movie. I’d been watching a lot of Werner Herzog movies and I was charring to Conor Barry about this idea of a bunch of monks dragging something of value to them, but not necessarily of a value – literally a rock – I’m chatting to Conor and making stuff up as I go along hoping to interest him. And he did get interested and told me to write it up. I did. Gave it to Brendan he gave me feedback on the treatment and that became larger and then we submitted it to the Irish Film Board who liked it and agreed to get on board. And then Brendan came on officially to direct a draft or two after that… was it?

 

Brendan Muldowney: I can’t remember the exact stage. But I remember thinking that, at that stage, for me it was too big a job for me to come on.  I wanted to be a part.

 

 

So what was it that held you to the script that you wanted to continue developing?

 

I was hooked way before. I remember meeting in the IFI and Jamie pitched it to me and at that stage it was  a  very basic idea of monks dragging something across the country and I think you mentioned an ambush… it was quite vague – well you probably had more than you ere telling me.

 

No. It was quite vague!

 

So it’s strange Paul. Imagine someone pitched that to you – Right, I have Monks, 13th century, travelling through Ireland, dragging something, and you just imagine mud and trees and then there’s an ambush and action. Obviously It could have turned out bad, the story mightn’t have had legs… but it was that setting that got me.

After that it was about getting the story right. My memory is that it was a pleasant enough development process. There was a treatment that was good. We brought it into the Film Board and it went into development. I remember reading the first draft on a train with Conor Barry and thinking this is brilliant and saying to him “this is the one”. I knew it was was going to be big. At that stage we’d just made Savage. I knew at that stage it was bigger than we were. Our profile wasn’t big enough. But you know films take a long time to develop so we just kept going with it.

 

I wouldn’t say anti-religious but it has an opinion, but it doesn’t push an agenda, it just presents something. And of course we’re coming with our own contemporary attitudes. One thing I really liked was the sense of innocence of these Monks  – some fairly decent Monk types in Sligo! – and suddenly being pulled into a political situation. And all down to this holy relic / rock that has got amazing political power.

 

It tends to be – with me anyway – with scripts that you have an idea and you have lots of things float around. You need 5 or 6 ideas that all sort of work and seem interesting – it could be a character, a plot twist, a setting, a theme – at some point these ideas are bubbling around and they come together. I remember being on an airplane sitting with my notebook and the political end of how  when the Normans had invaded Ireland they did so by getting this permission from the Pope. Ireland was a Christian nation but for the Pope they were not the right kind of Christians so the Normans needed to get in there and reestablish

 

The Cistercian has his wonderful way of evolving the way  he philosophies depending what he needs all the way through the story.

Let’s talk about Diarmuid played by some bloke called Tom Holland. He’s the lynchpin of the whole story – we’re kind of sitting on his shoulders looking at the values of everybody else.

 

He’s a blank slate…

 

He believes… and he’s a little bit soiled as the story goes along. Would you agree Brendan?

 

I would yes. Going back to what you said about the themes of  religion and that it’s not beating you over the head with it. Everyone can take their own interpretations. And I think we tried to do that – even in the script not just in the making of the film – that these people ascribe meaning to maybe natural events and to the rock – these are major spoilers now but… what I really loved was that there was so much carnage created over what could be just a rock. That to me is what I loved about it to be honest. That appeals to me because that is the way I view the world and religion.

 

17 back story

 

You shot the film in Ireland and Belgium. How did that work out for matching exteriors?

 

It was all interior woodland.

 

Even more than that – you know that there’s this rule that wherever your unit base is there’s a radius then outside that that you can’t shoot out of.

 

Principle – that rule… or you don’t have enough money!

 

Yeh – but its an agreement with the union so that [eopel don’t have to travel too far.

 

A 50 km radius.

 

Exactky – so when we find somewhere on the coast where we shot near Loius burgh and our problem was you take a radius out of there and we only had mountains and coast… to get forest and greenery it’s not really there. So it worked out really well that we had to shoot some of it in Belgioum which is really well known for its forests.

 

In my head writing it I was thinking of all thetse locations all around Ireland – but getting into the location scout and this rule I was right we do it all on this beautiful but sparse  landscape.

 

You know we were quite lucky because we did find this big green open area where the Norman camp is – Boycott Estate where so we were able to get just enough greenery.

 

  • Days in Belgium. 7 6 weeks…4 weeeks on Ireland – less 2 4-day weeks in Belgium

Actors dynamic – they all bonded.

 

Did you actively aid that? No what aided it was putting them on a hotel in the middle of nowhere.

  • Performances all round were brilliant. You had veryng types of actors in there – bit of method in there…

John may have started off in asomewhat method manner by going silent for a week os so and then after that came out of that.

 

You couldn’t shut him up!

 

Yeh. That was his joke… “Then they wished I was silent!” It’s intetetsring because he had learned what he needed to do from that silence and when he needed to he would go back into that place. He had a big influence and yu say Holland is not coming from methody but he took it seriously and they all would get into the scenes and they were willing to go tp llaces that maybe me and the AD would think may be dangerous.

 

Sand did a great stab at the old Irish.

 

He was coming from a dhoot from somewhere in Norgthern Canada. Hecame 2 week sin advance – to start prepping for Irish. I wrote his dialogue out phonetically and he had a dialogue coach working with him. Paedair Cox and Diarmuid.

 

The chemistry was there on the screen, And you were well served by your Irish actors a as well, Hugh Ruiari John Locjhlainn Diarmuid

 

A tough sell – three languages…

 

Final Draft is crashing..

 

$ languages – Latin French, Irish & English – was there a pressure ever put on to  jave it in English.

 

Well some scenes were changed so that there was a certain percentage of E English – 70per cent – I don’t think it eneded up as that – but that is what was asked for. And that was in the script – but with scenes being cut in the edit I’m not sure of the final percentage.

 

and

 

So

 

Horses are really difficult to deal with

 

  • They’re such premaddonas…

Yeh – they don’t do what they are supposed to do. YThere was athe grey horse who I kep t hearing had tooth ache and that he was a biy young.

 

What eles  working in bthe water – very slow. Working with mist.

 

I do love that scene though when they are chasing them into the fog.

 

You see – when it’s written as the fgog is so thick that you cannot see “ , you need a lot of mist amdnd it’s hard e bven with big machines.

 

Was there any post work done on that.

 

No we couldn’t afford it. I wasa told we could fill in gaps but bythe time . I would have liked it a little thicker.

 

What’s it like for you Jamie – you’re the one writing all these things and causing headaches – what’ sit like to see Brendan’s headache in film.

 

Interetsing… I’m thinking in terms of what they were written as an imaging as and then how the crashing realities of production

 

  • A lot of small details get lost

Like the second lightening scene – originally that was written as a storm scene, lots of rain, mountaims paths and horse – things getting stuck in guys are wading through mud

And we were told it can’t be done – no mud!

 

We couldn’t eve get tankards to do te rain up the path or if eq could yto getthen refilled was just impoosiible .- and there’s many examples of things like that. It was incredibly sunny that day – everything we did there was grading all the clouds in the sky, etc so noe we’re suggesting a coming storm rather than being in a storm . I even the archer following that was written as quicksand – we would have needed a huge budget to execute some of te h things  that were in the script. Breaking bridges quicksand and the like…

 

That was one of those location ideas where I was thinking of places in the Midlands – and like I said we weren’t able to shoot outsidethat 50 kn radius. – so you compromise y’know.

 

It looks great – which brings us to cinematography – Joe Comerford – I presume your difficulties are his – you were saying before that you did multiple camera for this film.

 

Yes we had 2 camera fo ral the action – the end on the beach and the ambush. I asked for 2 fo rthe Norman camp but unknownst to me I arrived on the second camera was off in a green screen – and it wasn’t even we were shooting on RED and it was a small Canon  that was shooting extras for duplication I the background. But we could have doen with a second canera on the Norman camp – we were running out time and there’a scene I had storyboarded 8 different ways but I only got the one shot at it…

 

But the multiple camera worked fgo ryou on the action scenes.

 

Oh yeh obviously it’s better  to have control over the shots but it’s about the coverage and I’ve learned in the edit how more important it is to have the coverage tahan having it perfect coz there’s been times where I’ve nbeen wishing evevn the camera had of been running longer after – so to have the second piece of footage – I don’t think in the time we had to shoot everything – 3 days f rthe ambush …w ewouldn;t have had enough coverage so yeh therwas no other way.

 

How much prep goes into those scenes – so tah tno-one gets killed!!

 

A lot. I starte months beforehand breaking down each beat in that ambush. I would have taken jamie’s script and broken it into lines first – so at least I know beats.. then I would have isolated anything that I think needed special attentaioon – whether it was special effect visual effects or stunt work or prosthietic make up and other stiff – yknow it’s a long process…you have to have big round table meetings with the departments all at the table.

 

Even beforehand the prep and te panning of all this is intense becaiuse also it’s in 2 different countries – the csame tings happen everyone sits round and  I’d have brokendown any piece of action and we’d discuss it and see who could do what. I would talk to Jamie the whole time as well and would rewrite and number every piece of avtion.

 

In preproduction. That scene was much bigger in the early stage vague the men attack blood in the air – then that got more smaller and you were saying we don’t have that much of a budget to show wide scenes like the Braveheart thing whwr all the guys clash into each other so lets focus on the small nasty little details of a guy getting starangled or a guy getting hos arm hacked off… there’s something very viscreral about that – and with sound effects iover that you can feel the story by seeing these small gruesome intimate details.

 

And it’s probably c;ose  to the realirty – I don’;t thonk they were hanging around in their thousands and kicking w=eachioters arses back then.

 

And we felt it would be a bit messier – chopping an arm off might take longer than it coming clean off – I was just going to give you an example there – at the start of the ambush there’s a slingshot.. so you would have the first scout who gets hit on the neck – so youu’d have to communicate this with all the departmnets costume would ne dot know that this character who’s going to get shot from wayback before from  Ireland can’t have chainmail on the neck .. there’s a lot of detail… and we had to think it through properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Irish Film Review: Pilgrimage

DIR: Brendan Muldowney • WRI: Jamie Hannigan • PRO: Conor Barry • DOP: Tom Comerford • ED: Mairead McIvor • Production Desing: Owen Power • MUS: StephenMcKeown  CAST: Tom Holland, Jon Bernthal, Richard Armitage John Lynch|

 

I have long felt that our more distant history has too rarely been explored on screen. By ‘more distant’, I mean any period prior to the 1916 Easter Rising. I was thus eagerly looking forward to Brendan Muldowney’s latest project as director, written by Jamie Hannigan, which is set in 13th century rural Ireland.

There is a degree of risk in taking on unchartered territory and there is a particular challenge in creating a terrain from such a distant era. Muldowney’s ambition has been rewarded with distribution deals for the US rights and ten further territories.

There are themes in this film which have contemporary relevance. One of the principle themes is reliance on blind faith in challenging and dangerous situations. Such faith may not necessarily guarantee deliverance as we see several times in the course of this film. Another theme is the risk of betrayal in situations where there is a struggle for military and political power.

At its heart, the film is a road movie set in Norman times. It has visual and musical echoes of the journey depicted in Roland Joffé’s The Mission. The core plot centres on a cross country journey by a group of monks who are carrying a historic holy relic across Ireland. The relic is bound for Rome at the request of the Pope. But before Rome, they must reach the mecca of Waterford.

It is trip that is fraught with danger and uncertainty in a politically unstable and violent Ireland. Along the way we see some stunning scenery. The photography at times has a bleak and mournful quality in keeping with the physical and internal journeys of the pilgrims. There is a genuine feeling of being transported back to a different Ireland replete with warring tribes, some of whom are in league with the Norman conquerors.

Muldowney’s debut feature film in 2011 was as writer/director of Savage. The production company adopted the title and retained the name of Savage Productions for subsequent productions including this one. That title could equally have been applied to this film even though Pilgrimage is set eight centuries earlier.

Some scenes in Pilgrimage are not for the faint-hearted. The film opens with an execution by stoning. That is mild fare compared to what follows. There is an extended and brutal torture sequence later on. The film felt very authentic in terms of the period detail and it could be argued that such violence was an integral part of that era. But it made for uncomfortable viewing.

There were at least four languages featured in the film (at the last count), which also seemed authentic in the context of the plot.

The ensemble cast were collectively very well cast and credible. This included Tom Holland (who has since been cast as Spiderman) in the role of the Young Novice. Holland is clearly a very talented actor and the story might have benefitted from more development of his internal and external journey in parallel with the journey at the core of the story.

John Lynch and Hugh O’Connor were also well cast among the band of brothers who as the journey progressed seemed to have a growing sense of fear and foreboding.

I had some misgivings around the portrayal of the Monk from Rome who was acting as the Pope’s envoy. This character who was essentially a religious zealot, seemed a little stereotyped.

Jon Bernthal as a Mute, despite having no dialogue, nevertheless managed to convey a great deal.

The score, composed by Stephen McKeon, was impressive from the start. The religious and monastic themes in Pilgrimage were adroitly complemented throughout by the sound-track. The music had a plaintive quality which appeared to resonate especially with the emotional journey of the monks.

 

Brian O Tiomain

96 minutes
18 (See IFCO for details)

Pilgrimage is released 12th July 2017

Pilgrimage  – Official Website

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‘Pilgrimage’ in cinemas from 14th July

Brendan Muldowney’s Pilgrimage will be released in Irish cinemas on July 14th. The Irish action-thriller has wowed festival audiences, following its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2017 and its UK premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival on June 24th 2017.

Pilgrimage will have its Irish premiere at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh on July 13th  and Irish audiences will have the chance to catch it in cinemas the following day. Pilgrimage’s cast includesing Tom Holland, Jon Bernthal and Richard Armitage.

Pilgrimage follows a small group of monks as they undertake a treacherous pilgrimage to escort their monastery’s holiest relic to Rome. But, as the true material, political and religious significance of the relic is revealed, the group’s journey becomes increasingly fraught with danger. Ultimately, the faith that binds the men together threatens to be the very same thing that will tear them apart.

The film was written by Jamie Hannigan and was produced by Conor Barry and John Keville of Dublin-based production outfit Savage Productions and Benoit Roland of Wrong Men. XYZ Films executive produced the film, with RLJ Entertainment taking domestic rights.

The film was shot on location for over seven weeks on the West Coast of Ireland and the Ardennes Region of Belgium, and was developed with the assistance of the Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board and Creative Europe and was financed by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and Wallimage, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles and BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance.

 

http://filmireland.net/2017/06/05/irish-films-in-cinema-2017/

 

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‘Pilgrimage’ to Commence Production

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Irish director Brendan Muldowney’s latest film Pilgrimage is scheduled to commence production in April 2015 and shoot for over seven weeks on the West Coast of Ireland and the Ardennes Region of Belgium.

 

Written by Jamie Hannigan, the film is set in 13th century Ireland and follows a small group of monks as they undertake a treacherous pilgrimage to escort their monastery’s holiest relic to Rome. But, as the true material, political and religious significance of the relic is revealed; the group’s journey becomes increasingly fraught with danger. Ultimately, the faith that binds the men together threatens to be the very same thing that will tear them apart.

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Love Eternal

1176242_Love-Eternal-1

DIR/WRI: Brendan Muldowney  PRO: Conor Barry, Manami Fukawa DOP: Tom Comerford  ED: Mairead McIvor   DES: Owen Power  MUS: Bart Westerlaken CAST: Robert de Hoog, Naomi Clarke, Tina Shaw, Cathy Malone

Asperger Syndrome is a fun plot device. From Hannibal‘s forensic genius Will Graham to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo‘s computer genius Lisbeth Salander, it’s become shorthand for cinema’s “troubled genius” characters. High IQ mixed with asocial personalities make for exciting drama. Rarely, though, is the Syndrome explored outside of high octane scenarios. Rarely do we see a portrayal of just a lonely young person who struggles to connect with others.

So here we are. Love Eternal’s Ian Harding is on the spectrum. Only it’s not stated. Perhaps it’s not even intentional. The only explicit reference is a shell Ian picks up from the beach; a shell which is distinctly reminiscent of the Fibonacci numbers – a design frequently referenced with regard to autism. Ian is obsessed with death, and has been ever since witnessing his father’s at the age of six. This has produced in him an odd intimacy with corpses, and one gets the impression that he is a sort of merchant of death. Nobody gets closer to the dead than Ian. It’s a story of a lonely man who seeks out others with whom to share a suicide. If he’s alone in life, he reasons, he might as well enjoy a bit of company before his death.

Adapted from Kei Oishi’s novel In Love With the Dead, Brendan Muldowney’s film is another in a line of Irish films to reject the Priest+Field narrative ordinarily so prevalent in Irish cinema. The Scandi-Noir aesthetic recalls Lenny Abrahamson’s What Richard Did and, although this film has lower production values (which are in some places obvious), its depth and intensity of focus make it a flawed but energetic effort. There are many things I could criticise in this film, but its ingenuity and freshness is something that must be applauded.

Ian spends his youth browsing suicide websites, and I imagine this is common practice for real world teenagers. Its deftness at dealing with mental health issues marks it out from any sensationalist “message films”. Away from the hustle and partying of the Skins teenagers, here’s a character people on the spectrum can relate to. Ian sits by himself and chats to his online friends for “ten years”. When he begins searching for a partner in suicide, he begins to develop real world relationships.

I had one reservation about the narrative. The moments during which Ian comes alive are always the moments when he is dancing, or singing, or performing a Neurotypical (non-Aspergic) activity. This is when he is happy. But this narrative device perpetuates the idea that Ian is, as he states, defective, and that in order to be happy he has to become more Neurotypical; more normal. Anyone with Asperger’s will tell you that this couldn’t be further from the truth. This process is called “mainstreaming”. It’s the idea that rather than accept difference we must strain it out and transform people like Ian into “normal” people in order for them to be happy. I think all this does is help “normal” people to become more comfortable with those who are different, rather than affecting those with Asperger’s in any positive way.

It’s nice to see a low-budget film that doesn’t make a show of its low-budget. There’s an element in Irish cinema that wants to turn everything into Republic of Telly, so it’s good to see some genuine artistic endeavour here. Although its production values can ocasionally be distracting, the story plays out with such earnestness that one forgives it its flaws. The fact that it was adapted from a Japanese novel also brings hope, and perhaps coincides with Anglophonic consumers’ growing taste for translated fiction.

This is one of those films that isn’t for everybody. But for those who like the sound of what I’ve described above, it’s really worth watching. To paraphrase the late Roger Ebert: I’m tired of films that are for everybody, which really means they’re for nobody. This film is for me, and for me it works very well indeed.

Stephen Totterdell

18 (See IFCO for details)
97 mins

Love Eternal is released on 4th July 2014

Love Eternal – Official Website

 

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Competition: Win Tickets to ‘Love Eternal’

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Love Eternal, winner of the Best Irish Feature Award at this year’s JDIFF and the new feature film from Brendan Muldowney, will be released in Irish cinemas on July 4th.  A special preview screening will take place in the IFI on Thursday, July 3rd at 20.30 with a Q&A with Brendan and star of the film Pollyanna McIntosh (Filth, The Woman).

Emmy-nominated Dutch actor, Robert de Hoog (Skin) features alongside McIntosh in the film which is based on the Japanese novel In Love With The Dead, from acclaimed author Kei Oishi (Apartment 1303, The Last Supper).

Love Eternal is a dark, tender romance that centres on an isolated and death-fixated young man (de Hoog) who tries to make sense of the world, and his existence, in the only way he knows how…by getting closer to death.   Chance encounters however, send him on a different path and he begins to experience the world first through interactions with the dead and later through an uneasy friendship with the alive but anguished Naomi (McIntosh).

Since premiering at the Galway Film Fleadh last year the film has screened at over sixty festivals worldwide, including the prestigious Sitges, Busan and Black Bear Film Festival in Warsaw where it picked up the inaugural Fresh Blood Award.

Thanks to the eternally lovely people at Wildcard Distribution we have a pair of tickets to give away.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following question:

What was the title of Brendan Muldowney’s debut feature?

Email your answer to filmireland.net before lunchtime on wEDNESDAY July 2ND when the Film Ireland Hat will select a winner. The winner will be contacted by email.

To book tickets for the preview screening, visit the IFI website

To find out more about the film, see the Love Eternal page on the Wildcard Distribution website

Love Eternal is being released on 4th July

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‘Love Eternal’ Screens at Twisted Celluloid Film Festival

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Love Eternal, which was partially shot in Cobh, County Cork, will have its Cork premiere as opening film of the Twisted Celluloid Film Festival in the Triskel Arts Centre on Thursday 15th May. Actress Emma Eliza Regan will introduce this special screening of Love Eternal.

Love Eternal, directed by Brendan Muldowney (Savage), recently won the Dublin Film Critics Circle Best Irish Feature Award at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, and will be released in Irish cinemas by Wildcard Distribution on July 4th.

Featuring the Emmy-nominated Dutch actor, Robert de Hoog, and Scottish actress Pollyanna McIntosh, and based on the Japanese novel In Love With The Dead, from acclaimed author Kei Oishi (Apartment 1303, The Last Supper), the film centres on an isolated and death-fixated young man who tries to make sense of the world, and his existence, in the only way he knows how…by getting closer to death.

Love Eternal was produced by Conor Barry, Morgan Bushe and Macdara Kelleher at Fastnet Films, with Luxembourg co-producers Red Lion, Dutch co-producers Rinkel Film, TO Entertainment from Japan, with support from the Irish Film Board / Bord Scannán na hÉireann, the Film Fund Luxembourg, the Netherlands Film Fund and Atlantic Screen Music.

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JDIFF Irish Film Review: Love Eternal

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Anthony Assad takes a look at Brendan Muldowney’s second feature, which screened at the 2014 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Ian (Robert de Hoog) is an enigma trapped in a defective human shell. As a child he witnesses his father’s last breath, his bereavement stalls in isolation and he descends into a morbid fascination with his own mortality. Life goes on but death seems to follow him everywhere so that when his mother kills herself he decides it’s about time to end his own life. Just as he has narrowed down the means and the smoke from his car’s exhaust pipe begins to enter his lungs he’s interrupted by a van of individuals that pull over to prep their own suicide. Curiosity leads him towards them and finding the ethereal corpse of a teenage girl sparks a dangerous love affair with the dying and the dead.

If this all sounds a tad grim so far that’s because it is, one would expect no less from an adaptation of Kei Oishi’s necrophilia-laden novel Loving the Dead but the real surprises shine through writer/director Brendan Muldowney’s spirited treatment of the material. A sense of unease pervades through much of these early scenes however and when Ian begins to routinely scope out women on the verge of suicide, so that he can acquire their corpses for company, you could be forgiven for thinking there’s no hope nor humanity to be had.

He props them up around his seaside abode, arranges meals for them, bathes them and even engages in conversation but when they begin to decompose Ian is forced to engage with the real world again to find fresh company. It is in the means to this end, however, that he begins to slowly come out of his self-imposed shell most notably with Tina played tenderly by Amanda Ryan. Her spritely demeanour offsets Ian’s sombre stoicism and their odd couple pairing adds some comedic relief which Muldowney proffers with commendable discretion. They listen to songs on the radio, dine together and drown their sorrows in champagne so that when the time comes, brutal as it is, you get a sense that Tina has imparted some life into Ian and that he has perhaps lost more than he’s gained when only her body remains.

Nature takes its course and Tina is duly discarded when Ian sets his sights on Naomi (Pollyanna McIntosh) who’s struggling to cling to life after her son dies in an accident. Ian is drawn to her energy and her sense of living life on the edge ramps up the size and scope of their scenes adding a welcome change of pace and atmosphere as we wonder to what their pairing will lead.

The fact that Ian pursues women exclusively raises cause for concern initially and the intimate behaviour that follows could easily be construed as sexual objectification.  Thankfully, however, the liberties Muldowney and co. take avoid the pitfalls of the book so that the women in Love Eternal emerge as the real stars and savours of the piece. Their lives and personalities are infinitely more intricate than the patterns of snowflakes or leafs Ian is mystified by and despite their absence they continue to echo through each scene that follows colouring de Hoog’s performance as the narrative unfolds.

With his second feature in the bag, Muldowney continues to breath new life into dark material presenting, from what could easily have become another body horror B movie, a twisted and tender fairy tale about loneliness that is as much concerned with life as it is with death. The whole affair warrants repeat viewings and Tom Comerford’s cinematography and Bart Westerlaken’s elegiac score combine and compliment Ian’s evolution beautifully.

It may upset the squeamish but brave the initial bleakness and you’ll be pleasantly surprised and perhaps even revitalised.

Click here for further coverage from the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Love Eternal screened on Sunday, 23rd February 2014 as part of the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (13 – 23 February 2014).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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