Carmen Bryce attended the launch of Storyland to check out the five new original dramas, commissioned by RTÉ and the Irish Film Board.
Now in its fifth season, Storyland offers homegrown talent a platform to tell their story in bitesize portions to an audience hungry for new drama.
In the coming weeks, RTÉ and the Irish Film Board/Bórd Scannan na hEireann will release five new original online dramas for the Storyland series.
Kicking off on January 19, a new series will be released on RTÉ Player every Monday – each containing of four by six-minute episodes.
Close to 200 aspiring and experienced drama production teams who pitched their ideas to make a series for Storyland was whittled down to five – Black Sheep Productions, Blinder Films, Deadpan Pictures, Fantastic Films and Stirling Film and Television Productions.
From black comedy Burning Wishes to crime drama Farr – each series offers something very different in way of plot and pace, but all promise to hook us in with something fresh and compelling.
Aidan Largely, writer and director of Farr, released on January 26th, said one of the biggest and beneficial challenges of the Storyland project was to contain and develop such gripping drama within six-minute episodes.
“I had to be pretty strict with myself to keep the story sharp and compelling within a few minutes, which is a great thing to practice as a writer. Each episode of Farr is different from the other, has a different feel to it, a different pace – but has conflict of the heart hardwired into the whole story,” said Aidan.
According to David Crean, Drama Development Executive for RTÉ Television, there is a huge appetite in Ireland for “great drama” in whatever way it chooses to present itself.
He said, “One of the most crucial parts of my role is to spot creative talent, nurture it and give it a voice. If you have a talent and can get it seen, there is a huge appetite for it. Both Love/Hate and Amber show that there’s an enormous appetite in Ireland for great drama, and Storyland is a big part of that story
“These five commissions are a real chance for writers, directors and producers to make a drama that is wholly original and can engage and delight its audience. It’s a launch-pad for drama makers to grow and become the hit makers of tomorrow.”
James Hickey, Chief Executive, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board said, “Television drama plays a vital role in the continuing development of Irish writers, directors and producers in film.
“Storyland shows just how significant the crossover is between TV drama and feature film, and that if you have the talent to create one, you can do the same for the other.”
Storyland has been a springboard for past writers, actors, directors and producers, including Kevin McGahern (Republic of Telly, Hardy Bucks), Paul Duane, Rob Cawley and Gary Duggan (Happy Slapper) who went on to make Amber for RTÉ One and actress Charlie Murphy (Love/Hate) as well as Hardy Bucks who went on to have an RTÉ Two TV series and a feature film.
This may account for the high number of applicants to the new run of Storyland, and a testament to the creative talent chosen to tell us something about the world in a way we haven’t seen before.
The new Storyland dramas can be watched over the coming five weeks on the Storyland hub on RTÉ Player www.rte.ie/storyland
Burning Wishes / Deadpan Pictures
Release Date: Monday, 19th January
Ne’er-do-well brothers Seamus and Martin Geraghty promise to honour their friend Paudie’s deathbed request and scatter his ashes at their favourite childhood spot. After letting him down in the past, this is one promise to Paudie that Seamus is determined to keep even when Paudie winds up buried instead of being cremated. Burning Wishes is a black comedy about death, friendship and good ol’ fashioned grave-robbing.
FARR/ Stirling Film and TV Productions
Release Date: Monday, 26th January
Farr is a crime drama set in Belfast. It centres on Michael Gallagher, an ambitious young detective who has been promoted to a task force aimed at taking down the city’s most dangerous crime family, the Farrs. As his investigation deepens, a murder of one of the Farrs pushes Michael towards a reckoning with his own dark past. As the bodies and betrayals mount, Michael must choose between destroying the Farrs or saving himself.
Ctrl/ Black Sheep Productions
Release Date: Monday, 2nd February
Ctrl is a fast-paced thriller set in Dublin that follows Colin, a brilliant young hacker and his exploits in the world of online hacktivisim. In order to gain the trust of this hactivist group, Colin must jump through various hoops in order to prove himself as he struggles with the consequences of living a secret double life.
Rapt/ Blinder Films
Release Date: Monday, 9th February
Rapt is a sci-fi drama set in a Dublin where, in a single instant, everyone has vanished. Everyone, that is, but paramedic and single mum Ange Smith, who finds herself alone in an empty world and desperate to find her way home to her baby daughter. Except the world isn’t as empty as she might have thought – strange and dangerous forces are on the prowl…
(R)onanism / Fantastic Films
Release Date: Monday, 16th February
Set in Cork, (R)onanism is a comedy drama about Ronan, a guy who falls in love with himself, marries himself and plans to spend the rest of his life with himself! But little does Ronan know that Noddy, the first self-proclaimed ‘ronanist’, has been secretly filming him and posting the videos online. When the videos go viral, Ronan turns to his friend Laura for help as cash-obsessed talent manager McPhun tries to exploit Ronan’s new found popularity.