Mark Coffey, Co-producer of ‘Writing Home’

 

Producer Mark Coffey tells Film Ireland about romantic comedy Writing Home, made as part of the Filmbase Masters Course.

 

What can you tell us about Writing Home?
Writing Home is a romantic comedy and tells the story of Daniel Doran, the writer of a string of international bestsellers of dubious literary merit. He returns reluctantly to a small rural village in Ireland where he has to deal with family politics, the old flame he walked out on and the daughter he’s never met.

 

How does the Filmbase Masters programme prepare you for making a feature film?
The Masters programme sets you up well for making a feature film. In the first term the focus is on the academic side of filmmaking where we learned about each aspect of the filmmaking process with a few practical assignments. The second term concentrated much more on the practical side of things and the assignments allowed us to experience each department’s roles and responsibilities on set. Our final assignment was crewing the short film QED, which also premieres at Galway, and it allowed us to work alongside established cast and crew in the Irish film industry.

 

Cast & Crew

Did you enter the course knowing you wanted to be producer?
I entered the course knowing I wanted to be a filmmaker and was interested in writing, directing and producing. After graduating in science from Trinity, I moved to Los Angeles for a year and worked as a production assistant on a number of commercials and TV shows. It wasn’t in the Steven Spielberg league but I got a great variety of experience from reality TV to high-end drama. When I returned to Ireland, I worked on some films produced by Treasure Entertainment and believe the skills I picked up in the US and Ireland led me towards the producer role.

 

There were 3 directors on Writing Home – Nagham Abboud, Alekson L. Dall’Armellina and Miriam Velasco – how did that work?
It’s actually not as bad as it sounds. The toughest hurdle was between themselves in transforming three voices into one. Of course each of them brought their own skills and perspectives and they worked intensively as a team in pre-production to ensure a consistent vision for the film. I understood with having three directors that I needed to take a backseat in the creative process on this occasion.

 

What was it that attracted you to Conor Scott’s script?
It was a laugh reading through it and there’s plenty of funny moments that I hope the audience at Galway will enjoy. The main character, Daniel, has an interesting character arc and, although he is funny, he still has to face the consequences of his actions and learn from his experiences.

 

Can you tell us about some of the biggest challenges you faced and lessons you learned.
The first big challenge was finding a location for a rural Irish village. After unsuccessful scouts in Kildare and Wicklow, I hit upon the idea of setting the film in Carlingford, where I spent many happy childhood summers growing up. The locations were perfect and the people were very welcoming and generous but the only way we could have Carlingford as the setting was if I could find accommodation for about 20 members of cast and crew. The next problem was how to get everyone there when so few people could drive or had transport of their own – but we managed it and spent almost two weeks filming in the Cooley peninsula.

 

Another big challenge was the shoot in London. The crew of four, and the two actors that joined us, were fairly new to the city and, although we had done our research, we couldn’t be certain that our plans would go off without a hitch. Sadly, three days before we arrived, the London Bridge attack had taken place and the tension in the city was palpable. Despite that, we found people very helpful and we got most of the material we had been hoping for.

The most persistent challenge was the constant need to raise funds. We organised a crowdfunding page and I managed to get sponsorship from a number of businesses and Louth County Councillors but the budget was extremely tight and a constant worry.

Although the production was stressful at times, it was a great experience and the biggest lesson I learned is to be prepared for the unexpected.

 

 

Writing Home screens on Wednesday, 12th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 22:00 as part of the Galway Film Fleadh 2017
 

Writing Home screens on Wednesday, 15th November at The Gate Cinema at 18:45 as part of the Cork Film Festival
 
 

Masters Digital Feature Film Production

MSc at Filmbase

 

Dates: Starts September 2018

1 year full-time course

Filmbase offers a unique, industry-facing masters-level course aimed at preparing filmmakers for the reality of writing, developing, pitching, producing, shooting, editing, posting and distributing feature films in digital formats.

http://www.filmmasters.ie/

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Interview: Joe Lee, director of ‘Fortune’s Wheel’

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Joe Lee spoke to Film Ireland about his documentary Fortune’s Wheel, which tells the fascinating story of lion-tamer Bill Stephens in 1950s Dublin.

 

One Sunday afternoon in 1951 in Dublin’s Fairview Cinema, audiences were being transported to the exotic plains of the film Jungle Stampede, which featured a wild beast stalking its human prey – little did cinemagoers know that outside the cinema that same afternoon, Fairview was playing host to its very own beast roaming the streets as a lioness, owned by local man Bill Stephens, escaped from her pen menacing shocked locals.

Joe Lee’s documentary Fortune’s Wheel, which is currently screening at the IFI, introduces us to the events that occurred that day which ended when police were forced to shoot the lioness dead. From this point on we are led into the remarkable world of the lioness’ owner Bill Stephens, the Fairview lion tamer, whose act, ‘Jungle Capers with Bill Stephens and Lovely Partner’ (his wife, May) travelled around Ireland.

Joe gives a bit of background to Bill Stephens – “he was a welder by trade and something of a mechanic but he was also a drummer in The Billy Carter Swing Band. But he had always had an interest in animals. He bought a lion cub from Dublin zoo and he reared it alongside his own Alsatians. He soon began travelling with Fossetts and Duffys, two of Ireland’s biggest circus families. At the time of the escape in November 1951 Bill was keeping 3 or 4 lions at the back of Fairview cinema, which he used for his act.”

The escape, which is remembered in the film by a colourful cast of local people, turned Bill into a star as the story spread across the world. He became, as Joe describes, “that famous guy whose lioness escaped in Fairview” – but that fame was a doubled-edged sword as Bill had lost a very valuable animal which would prove very difficult to replace. But if he was to fulfill his ambition of taking his act to America, Bill knew he had to do it with his next lion.

The lion he replaced her with was a very difficult lion – a very aggressive one that would  ultimately lead to tragedy. Joe refers to Bill’s time with his newly acquired lion as his year of living dangerously. Seeking to emulate his hero Clyde Beatty, the famous American lion-tamer, Bill had raised the stakes, performing more and more dangerous acts with a more aggressive animal.  As Joe explains, “He was a guy in his 20s and like a racing car driver he always wants to drive that extra 5 miles per hour  to push the boundaries of what it was. All the time he would have been looking at Clyde Beatty with his 12 animals and mixing lions and tigers and wanting to do that himself. In Beatty’s book Jungle Performers it says Get an angry animal into your act. It makes it more exciting.” Unfortunately for Bill, seeking such excitement involved taking one risk too many.

Alongside his partner May, a lot of Stephens’ life has been clouded in myth, stories that had stayed untold and memories that had remained hidden for various reasons. Thankfully, Fortune’s Wheel provides a voice for those stories and a space for those memories culminating in moments of catharsis that are a testament to a remarkable man who truly dared to dream.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzUOQh99-nY

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From the Archives: Interview with Albert Maysles

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The great documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, best known for Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter, died last week aged 88. In 2005 Documentary Producer and Director Vanessa Gildea interviewed him for Film Ireland.

 

As a documentarian I happily place my fate and faith in reality. It is my caretaker, the provider of subjects, themes, experiences – all endowed with the power of truth and the romance of discovery. And the closer I adhere to reality the more honest and authentic my tales. After all, knowledge of the real world is exactly what we need to better understand and therefore possibly to love one another. It’s my way of making the world a better place.’ Al Maysles.

Albert & David Maysles (1932-1987) are credited with being the creators of ‘direct cinema,’ the distinctly American version of the French ‘cinema verité’. Al Maysles and Maysles Films count over three dozen films to their credit, including Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens and the landmark Salesman, a portrait of four Irish American door-to-door Bible salesmen from Boston regarded by many as the classic American documentary.

The last time Film Ireland spoke to Albert Maysles he told me about a dream he had to sell his family home in the famous Dakota building in New York, buy a whole building in a cheaper part of town, divide it up and install his children and close friends each in an apartment there. I ask him how his dream is coming along, he tells me that they have indeed purchased a building in Harlem, and that two of his children are already living there. With an enormous childlike smile he also tells me that in a couple of days he will know whether the sale has gone through on his Dakota building home. So, dreams do come true! You would be forgiven for thinking that as one of the most famous and celebrated documentarians of all time that Albert has made his fortune through films, but not so. Albert is still a struggling filmmaker; he has many projects in pre and post production that he is trying to get money to make or to finish. Albert was honoured with a retrospective of his work at the Belfast Film Festival in April; I had the opportunity to ask him about filmmaking and his current projects in between Masterclasses and screenings.

Vanessa: The first questions I want to ask you Albert is about the Direct Cinema movement that you and your brother David pioneered in America, is it still a relevant style of documentary filmmaking? And do you still make documentaries in that style?

Albert: I think it’s very important that make a documentary, in terms of filming people’s experiences as they’re happening. Still in America we rely too much on narration and music to dramatise and give what I would call a ‘non cinematic’ style.

And you are still making films in this way?

That’s right and now even more so because we have better equipment with which to do so…

I wanted to ask you a quite personal question about your brother David, who you were very close to and was your collaborator in film. He died prematurely in 1987 which I know had a profound effect on you, was there a point after his death where you thought I don’t want to make films without him?

I never doubted my instinct to go on making films despite the loss. Susan Froemke who was working with us at that time became a replacement for David and more recently Antonio Ferrera. I haven’t been at a loss for good filmmakers to collaborate with.

Despite the current obsession with so called reality style documentaries on TV, do you think there is a current resurgence for the creative documentary, what with quite a number of documentary features getting extensive theatrical releases?

I think people aren’t exposed enough to the purer form of documentary that I would advocate. I think any attempt to get at the real thing will help to move people more in that direction. I remember when the reality shows first began; it was reported on TV with the word reality having quotation marks around it, which meant something about how it had a special attitude towards documentary filming. With the word reality in quotation marks people think that they’re getting the real thing and they’re not, that’s a dangerous thing. Just as in literature there is a move from pulp fiction to non fiction and I think it’s going to happen in film as well, it’ll become more and more an important factor in our lives.

From the early days when you made Salesman, Gimme Shelter and say Grey Gardens you funded the films yourself and exercised complete creative control, so when you were commissioned by HBO to make a series of ‘Filmmakers in Profile’ films featuring Martin Scorsese and Jane Campion to name just two, are you still afforded that level of creative and editorial control?

Well there are few places in America where you make your film the way you want and they accept that, but one of those places is HBO, and so we’ve made three films with them and I’m making a fourth one, the Gates / Christo* project and I’m glad we’re doing it with HBO. It’s always been impossible for me to get films shown on the nationwide networks ABC, CBS, NBC & CNN. So you use your judgement to exercise freedom and anyway the films shown there are so stylized. Some of the theatre owners expect you to sacrifice your own expression, so you have to fight that a lot, but then there’s DVD too as a way of exhibiting but still maintaining the freedom that you want.

At festivals and documentary forums you hear a lot about the MTV generation audience and how certain demands are made on filmmakers by funders / TV channels for a cut every seven seconds or that the subject of the film is repeated every few minutes so that people can join in viewing at any time, have you come across those restrictions at all?

I’ve never had funding from any of those places or had any of my films screened on those channels you’re talking about. So I haven’t had that problem.

Now that you have received certain awards and recognition, like Lalee’s Kin getting an Oscar nomination in 2001, and your cinematography awards etc is it easier for you to get funding to make your films?

It’s hard for me to assess that, I know that maybe 20 years ago PBS wanted to make an American Masters film about me, but when I said well I will make it, they turned that down. But now I’ve put together and am selling the idea of an autobiographical film, I’m getting very good support for that so I’m going ahead with it.

You are publicly a great advocate of the Sony PD150 and subsequently the PD170, how has the DV camera changed the way that you make films from when you shot everything on 16mm cameras with separate sound?

Well firstly if someone wants to make a documentary on film, it’s going to cost you a lot of money compared with video. To buy a proper film camera set up it would cost you $100,000 compared to the PD170 which I think you can buy for $3,000. And you have the picture and sound all in one little package and all on the one tape. Other than that you throw a tape into the camera you can film for a whole hour before you change tape again compared to film where you re-load every ten minutes. People argue with ten minutes you have to be more careful but I don’t know I think tape is better; it seems to be you have more ability in a normal situation when you turn the camera on…

I recall you telling a story about a particular time in Cuba in the sixties with Fidel Castro when you wished you’d had a DV camera to record something that happened, can you tell that story?

In 1960 when I was in Cuba, I spent whole 24 hour periods with Fidel, I remember during one of those days Fidel said this evening ‘I’m going to a reception in the Cuban embassy’ and asked would I like to come along and so indeed I took him up on that. During the course of the reception, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with him when a telegram came to him, he tore it open read it and said ‘Would you like me to translate it for you?’ And I said please? ‘Your state department has just broken off relations with Cuba.’ Well it was a situation where I couldn’t have brought my big camera, but if I’d had a small video camera that precious moment would have been caught…

Have you ever transferred any of your films to 35mm from DV, if so what kind of results did you get?

To tell you the truth I’ve only made tests and they looked fine, but that’s expensive to transfer to 35mm

I read somewhere that you believe that the human urge to reveal itself is stronger than the urge to conceal or keep secrets is. With specific relation to your ongoing Train project In Transit where people have been know to tell you and allow you to film their life stories or intimate secrets between train stops, what is it about you or your approach that makes people want to do that?

I think that unlike some, and I hope they’re in the minority, documentary filmmakers who are out to get people to prove their point. My approach is quite different, I like people and they sense that right away, the way I approach them and look at them produces a kind of trust. And also I want to do a good job at representing their lives fairly and truthfully. I would say that when documentary filmmakers don’t have that faith that what they do then isn’t very true representation of what’s going on. It’s just the fact that everybody has a point of view and that they can control that for themselves. Editing itself no matter how careful you are is a kind of manipulation, I chose editors who are very faithful to the material and I shoot it in such a way so as to render a very truthful account of what’s going on. The whole relationship is based on the kindness of strangers…

A film like Salesman which says so much about America of a certain time, but is still a film that when it screens today 40 years later still resonates so powerfully with audiences, why is it still so relevant?

Well I think that certainly in America and it’s a growing trend all over the world, even in China, buying and selling, the capitalist dream to attempt to be rich. People lose their foundations with one another because everybody is buying and selling. So that theme which was so important in Salesman is still important today and even more so maybe…

There is such heart and such melancholy in the character of Paul Brennan to which I think people will always relate to…

He was a man who like my father was in the wrong job. Paul should have been a writer and my Father instead of being a postal clerk should have been a musician.

He played the trumpet?

Yes he played the trumpet but never as an occupation.

I know that you are currently working on quite a few projects, can you tell me a bit about them?

Well I’m still trying to raise money for my Train project, the Gates/Christo and my autobiography. I’m also making one about the Dalai Lama and his visit to New York in 2003 which I need to get money to finish the editing of. Other projects have diverted my attention away from the train film but as soon as I can I will return to it because I think it has potential to be one of my best.

You started shooting the Train film as early as the sixties when you were in Russia, is that right?

Yes when I was visiting mental hospitals (Albert is a qualified psychologist and went to Russia to make a film about the state of Mental Health care there) making a film and also when travelling on motorcycles with David…

That time reminds me of a wonderful moment we captured when we went to film my mother as she was about to become the president of a local chapter of a club she belonged to. When we came to Boston and knocked on her door with the camera running. My mother pulled her hand up over the camera and on to the top of my head and turned to me and said Albie you need a haircut (laughs). At this time I think that that may be the opening of the film…

What about your Jew on Trial Film, where are you with that?

Again I’ve been working on these other projects so it’s been put on hold somewhat. There is some urgency with that film because Anti-Semitism is on the rise. There is one significant piece in that film, where it was told that Jews killed Christian children to take their blood and mix it with matzos for the Passover celebration, totally ridiculous charges that no one would begin to believe except the Hezbollah’s who come out with such stuff on satellite television.

When you say Anti-Semitism is on the rise, do you mean in America primarily?

I think in other parts of the world primarily, in the Middle East and Muslim countries, but even certainly in France and Germany and probably this Country too.

What you’re talking about there is the demonisation of one race so as to justify abusive or prejudiced behaviour…

Yes exactly, so just as some use this propaganda to propagate Anti-Semitism, a good documentary can re tell the facts of this charge that was made against the subject of my documentary. We need information that we can rely on about the real world.

I want to ask you a bit more about Going on a Lark your autobiographical film, did that idea come out of being approached about the American Masters series?

Yes, that gave me the idea and with my 50th anniversary coming up of making movies, I thought this would be a good time to look back on my life and look forward too, and an opportunity to tell people what I’m engaged with now. One of the things I do all the time which I will show in the film is that I teach people how to make documentaries; people call me and say they have an idea for a documentary but they want some clarification on how to go at it. I say come on over we’ll talk about it, some of those sessions I will be filming, sometimes the idea is so good and they need that help from a professional I’ll just go ahead and help them.

I want to ask you about an old friend of yours and someone you collaborated with on a recent project and that’s Shivaun O’Casey, who made a film about her father Sean O’Casey and I know you shot quite a lot of that for her. We spoke before about possible difficulties of making a film in the Direct Cinema style about someone who is dead, can you tell me about working on that film?

It went very well, especially the scenes where she had conversations with her Mother. It was a work of love all the way through. I had never met him, we were about to film Sean O’Casey when he died but we had gotten all this other great material with Shivaun and her Mother so it just didn’t happen. The love that the daughter had for her Mother and Father is carried all the way that film and it makes for a film that represents him so beautifully. The archival footage is so strong even though we weren’t able to actually film him we had that material which was a direct representation of his thoughts and his philosophy.

With regard to all the projects you are currently involved with, you seem to be still struggling to get money to finish them?

That’s right but you know we had a harder time in the old days. We had to go ahead and make Salesman and Grey Gardens on our own, without any support from anybody.

So is it easier now to make films like Salesman?

I think it’s somewhat easier now. But subjects like the relationship between a Mother and daughter in Grey Gardens, who’s going to put up money to make that? It’s not about politics or violence or the usual kind of topics. So far nobody has sworn, there’s been no profanity in our films and so much of the trash on television is full of that kind of stuff which I find so unattractive and unnecessary.

So you had no money in place when making Grey Gardens?

No, in fact we had a hard time distributing the film; it took twenty years before any television station would show it, it got very well shown in England. Salesman took over thirty years to be shown and these are films that are not one political persuasion or the other which could be used as a reason not to show them.

A filmmaker once remarked that to make documentaries is to take a vow of poverty (Albert laughs), that even if you have received critical acclaim or success or indeed at your level Al it doesn’t seem to make it any easier?

That’s totally true. Doesn’t make it easier in terms of sales, but it is an extremely satisfying profession. I’m so pleased with the films that we’ve made and the good things we’ve done for the people represented, who would otherwise be totally unknown. And for the public who learn so much about life around them through experiencing the things that go on in the films.

You don’t seem to ever get disillusioned Albert?

Not about that, I feel that there’s plenty out there to be represented in documentary and there’s a lot of good to be done that way. I just the got a call the other day from Yoko Ono asking me to do an essay on John as she’s been asking other people who knew him for a book. Then I thought well what about a film and so we’re going to do that too…

You made a film before with Yoko Ono when she was starting out as an artist?

That’s right one of her Happenings that I filmed. More recently just last year, she invited me to her birthday party and so I said maybe I’ll bring my video camera and that could be my gift, so she agreed to that, ended up with a 3 1/2 minute piece which was lovely.

Are you making a film about John Lennon solely?

A film of the people who knew him and who are contributing essays to the book…

The film will co-exist with the book almost?

That’s right; it should go with the book and exist as a film on its own.

Are you and Yoko Ono still good neighbours then?

Oh yes, oh yes but not for much longer… (Albert smiles).

 

Albert Maysles, documentary filmmaker, born 26th November 1926; died 5th March 2015

 

This interview originally appeared in Film Ireland Magazine, Issue 104, 2005

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Competition: Win ‘Jimmy’s Hall’ on DVD

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Ken Loach’s political period drama is available on DVD & Blu-ray 26th September, 2014.

Set in Ireland in 1921 when the country was on the brink of Civil War, the film follows Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward), who has opened a public hall on a rural crossroads where many of the locals hold dances and other community-centred events. However, with the hall’s increasing popularity comes the attention of local politicians and church leaders who force Jimmy to close it down and shortly afterwards he decides to flee the country. Ten years later, as the Great Depression takes its toll across the world, Jimmy returns to his home from the United States to care for his mother. When he sees the effects the Civil War and wider economic downturn are having on the community, he vows to open the hall once more to instill some good spirit into the people’s hearts. But will this decision only serve to exacerbate an already problematic situation?

Thanks to the good people at Limelight Communications, we have a copy of the DVD to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following question:

Who wrote Jimmy’s Hall?

Email your answer to filmireland@gmail.com by Friday, 3rd October when the Film Ireland Hat will select an answer in a rural dance hall.

 

Jimmy’s Hall is available on DVD & Blu-ray 26th September, 2014

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On The Reel on the Red Carpet at JDIFF Irish premiere of ‘Calvary’

Check out the video report from the Red Carpet at JDIFF’s Irish premiere of Calvary from our bestest buddies On The Reel in association with Film Ireland.

Lynn Larkin glammed up to meet the stars as they rocked into Dublin’s Savoy cinema for the Irish premiere of John Michael McDonagh’s new film, Calvary, which opened this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Lynn chats to the film’s star, Brendan Gleeson, about being a total legend, and director John Michael McDonagh about assembling such a great cast.

Lynn also gets the low-down on Gleeson from co-star Marie-Josée Croze, asks Dylan Moran about boozing and riding, and chats to Killian Scott and Aidan Gillen about their bromance.

And be sure to catch special guest John Hurt bust a move on the red carpet…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHM-0rTzs9E

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Podcast: Filmmakers Roundtable – Part II

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In Part II of this Film Ireland podcast Stephen Shields, Conor McMahon, Ciarán Foy, Conor Barry and Brendan Muldowney talk about the place of reviews, critics, bloggers and trolls in the age of social media. They also discuss how audiences consume film, pitching & marketing film, ‘Irish’ film and the Irish accent in film.

Stephen Shields is the screenwriter on RTE Storyland winner Zombie Bashers, Republic Of Telly, and Newsbag.

Conor McMahon is the director of Stitches, Dead Meat and The Braineater.

Ciarán Foy is the director and writer of Citadel.

Brendan Muldowney is the director of Savage and Love Eternal.

Conor Barry is the producer of Savage and Love Eternal and was selected as Ireland’s ‘Producer on the Move’ for this year’s Cannes International Film Festival.

 

You can listen to Part I of this podcast here, in which Stephen Shields, Conor McMahon, Ciarán Foy, Conor Barry and Brendan Muldowney talk about their paths into making films and discuss the crafts of writing, acting, editing, directing and producing.

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Anchorman 2 – Dublin Premiere: Will Ferrell Sings for Film Ireland

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Last night, Anchorman 2 left San Diego and came to Dublin for the film’s Irish premiere at the Savoy cinema. Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Steve Carell and director Adam McKay all entered the glass case of emotion on O’Connell Street to meet and greet their Irish fans.

Lynn Larkin was there for Film Ireland and On The Reel to present Will Ferrell with The Little Book of Moustaches. In return Will serenades Lynn with Ron Burgundy’s moving love song to a shark named Doby.
 

 
Keep an eye on On the Reel for full red carpet footage.
 
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues officially opens in Irish cinemas on 18th December.

 

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From the Archive: Paddy Breathnach Interview

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Shrooms director Paddy Breathnach talks to Sheena Sweeney about his influences, the mushrooming Irish film industry and the magic of a little encouragement.

 

Five American college students arrive in Ireland to go on a camping ‘trip’ with their old college buddy Jack.  According to Jack, Ireland has the best magic mushrooms in the world, but in the best horror-flick tradition, psychedelic hallucinations soon turn into premonitions of death and teens start dropping like flies…

 

Paddy, you say you were really keen to make a horror movie – why was that?

 

I think ever since I did Ailsa a long time back, one of the things I was very interested in, even though it’s a long way from horror, was creating an atmosphere and a sense of characters in isolation. Moving with characters on their own, tracking them and having a very close connection with them, that’s something that horrors do all the time and I suppose that’s what I was interested in. It’s one of the genres that the images are often very beautiful and provocative, in a way that you don’t always get in drama.  Sometimes drama can be beautiful in a more picturesque way, whereas horrors can have a melancholy about them or have tones that you might not get a chance to explore otherwise.

 

 

There hasn’t been a really successful horror movie here yet, although Isolation (Billy O’Brian) was one of the best. Why do you think that is?

 

I haven’t seen Isolation so I can’t really comment on that and whether it cracked it or not, but I suppose, you know, it’s not just horror it’s a wide range of things. In any movie industry anywhere, for any ten or fifteen films that get made, one of them cracks it, one of them is good.  And the reality is that still not that many films are made in Ireland – Irish filmmaking is still quite young.  In Hollywood you make a film – for better or worse – and you get all that received wisdom.  You can react to it and say, ‘I don’t agree with you, I’m going to subvert that and go a different way,’ or else you can accept it and use it, but either way it helps clarify things and it pushes you on. At home I think we’re still at the stage where there isn’t received wisdom – we’re still reaching for those sorts of things.  But I think all these things are gradually getting better and better.  But why there haven’t been that many successful horrors…I just don’t think there’ve been that many attempts.  You had Dead Meat a few years ago and then Isolation…

 

About the Irish film industry, what do you think about it now, do you think things have begun to change over the last while?

 

Well, I haven’t seen everything but I think maybe a few things, you know, Lenny Abrahamson’s stuff (Adam and Paul, Garage) and John Carney (Once) in a funny way maybe, because all those people have been around for a while, they’ve been part of doing stuff for seven, eight, nine years, and now they’ve done a few things, learnt a few things, they’re coming back with a bit of wisdom. There’s some experience being brought to things.  And maybe it’s a good time in that sense.  I hate the politics of these things…for me the film business is a collaborative thing between writers, directors, producers, actors, with everyone bringing something to the table. Possibly, at the moment directors are bringing a little more to the table or maybe there’s a confidence in the directors.

 

Do you think it has anything to do with changes in the Film Board or anything like that?

 

You know, I think…I think in the last couple of years it’s been a very positive thing, and maybe a couple of years ago it would have been quite different.  And I’d definitely say Simon Perry (the then Head of the Irish Film Board) has a sense of the filmmaker about him. One of the good things about being in Ireland is that we’re quite critical of ourselves, we’re hard on ourselves and we don’t suffer fools gladly.  But maybe the other side of that, and I’d be one of the worst culprits for this in some ways, is that positive energy and encouragement can have an amazing effect. When you actually try to stimulate someone and put your arm around their shoulder and say, ‘listen that’s great what you did.  Well done.  What are you thinking of doing next?’  It’s amazing how that can push somebody on, maybe someone who’s uncertain about where they’re going. I think there’s more of that now, there’s a nice energy at the moment.

 

Do you live in LA now?

 

Well I’ve spent the last six months here, but I’m actually coming back to Ireland in two weeks time.  I might come back over here next year, it depends on the strike that’s looming here, a writer’s strike. It’s amazing how it affects the whole town and the industry, suddenly a lot of discussions stop happening, studios are sort of preparing for a possible lock-out.  I mean none of these things might happen, but everything’s kind of moving on a daily basis. It’s quite an interesting time here but not a great for setting anything up.

 

Now, obviously your movie has quite an American focus. Would you say your idea of success is to do well in Hollywood? 

 

To be honest with you, I kind of like eclectic things. One of the next things I’m planning is an Irish language Western set in the 1690’s, so that certainly doesn’t fit the Hollywood model. Then one of the things I’ve been thinking about doing for quite a while, which I’m doing with Mark O’Halloran (writer of Adam and Paul and Garage), is a musical about transvestites set in Cuba. So I’ve quite a lot of different things that I do, but one thing I found  in particular after Man About Dog that did very well in Ireland but didn’t travel, was that good international sales are very important. You need to have some degree of commercial success so you can raise money to do another film later on and being able to trade on yourself as a director maybe lets you do things that aren’t as commercial. And particularly in the horror genre, I think the fact that this was an American cast, just opened up foreign sales.

 

I counted seven different Financial sources in the credits for the film. What was the budget?

 

The budget was about four million, but I couldn’t tell you all the sources.

 

The horror genre is often analysed as being about ‘Otherness.’ A monstrous figure can stand for things like sexual deviation in Silence of the Lambs or femininity in films like Cat People. Did you have anything like that in mind when you were working on this? 

 

Well I don’t want to start talking about it too much because I don’t want to give away the plot. I think in this the otherness is the projection of fears that are based on stories.  Then the question ‘are the sources of your fears real or not?’ is posed, and I think the horror and tension are caused by the uncertainty of that.

 

And the idea that genre films are about trying to resolve a  ‘Difference’ of one sort of another…

 

In a way the film deconstructs that idea of difference.  It’s like: what’s the horror in the end?  In a sense the Otherness is a reflection of you.  That’s really what’s happening in it, the horror is you…In some ways it’s not strictly a horror film – it’s actually a mystery. The language of it, and the icons are horror but its structure is more like a mystery suspense, you know what I mean?

 

I do know what you mean, but I don’t know if I would agree…and this leads me into another question. I read you looked to Asian films for your influences and that really did come through.  And I love that school of horror…

 

I think they’re very interesting, and while I don’t think that I completely tapped into it, I think did manage to get part of it. But I think they do two things really, which is that they create horror in a modern environment in terms of the textures and fabrics of a modern house, phones and modern communications where the ghost is literally in the machine, and I think that’s great…

 

Sorry to interrupt you, but just on what you were saying about it being a mystery, the reason I’m saying I don’t know if I would agree, is that I would see it much more in the vein of those Asian movies where it’s not really mystery as much as fear, it’s an attempt to create a sense of pure fear. I think it’s quite a Lynchian thing as well…like when Tara (played by Lindsey Haun) looks around from behind a tree down the pathway to see if she can see the Black Brother, yes, it’s mysterious but it’s more a sense of….

 

Dread

 

Exactly….

 

You sort of know you’re going to see this thing and this dread reaches you.  Yeah.  The other thing is – generally a lot of modern horrors do it, but the Asians do it very well – and that’s playing on female vulnerability by having female protagonists but then sometimes connecting that to rage. I think that’s an interesting thing.  It’s something that’s often been done in masculine films in the past and I’ve seen it in female roles in contemporary horrors, like The Exorcism of Emily Rose and stuff like that. Where you have that idea of physical rage and very intense fear, so you’re seeing female roles where they’re not controlled, you know what I mean?  Outside a very mannered, controlled social role, you’re able to lift the lid off the box. I think it’s interesting that in a lot of contemporary horrors women haven’t been afforded that kind of emotional rage…

 

Absolutely, because women are traditionally seen just as a function of the male lead….

 

Yeah, in the past, those going to see horrors would have been male and that’s not necessarily the case anymore. It might be the case in terms of the aficionados, the absolute anoraks of horror, but the female part of the audience has shot up a lot.

 

So that’s the reason you would explore the idea of female protagonists rather than you being a feminist?

 

[Laughs] No, no.  Not that, but it’s just an observation about the Asian films…

 

And what Asian films in particular would have resonated with you?

 

I think some of the main ones Dark Water, Ring, The Grudge, and Two Sisters as well, in terms of atmosphere and design.  And then Onibaba in terms of the visual side, and then there’s a whole series of ones like Whispering Stairs, and lots of the kind of B-movie, schlockier ones, that aren’t necessarily great films, but have lots of great sequences in them.  So I watched a lot of those for the atmosphere.

 

I noticed in the production notes that Lindsey Haun said when you were casting her you sent her I Went Down by way of familiarising her with your work.  Is that your favourite amongst your own films?

 

Well in different ways, but probably Ailsa and I Went Down. I have certain affection for them…

 

Were they good to you, those films?

 

I think different films have different strengths.  For example in Ireland, Man About Dog did critically badly, but for me I got a great kick out of it because people went to see it. Some people who’d never been to see an Irish film went to see it and it just gave them a laugh and they enjoyed it and that for me is an important thing. And by that I don’t mean that everything has to do hugely well at the box office, but if it has a resonance, if it finds an audience that’s a great thing. In terms of Man About Dog as an action comedy, I think it’s quite well put together.  But probably, the things you do earliest you develop an affection for.

 

You’ve mentioned Man About Dog a few times, did that hurt when it wasn’t received as well as you might have hoped?

 

Em. It annoys you sometimes, but because it did well at the box office it kind of mediates that a lot.

 

But do you not have the sense as a filmmaker, that you just want other people to like it? 

 

It’s not the approval, what I would say is that you want it to be treated fairly…

 

And you felt that that wasn’t the case?

 

I think at times it wasn’t, because I think sometimes it wasn’t reviewed for what it was.

 

Within its genre you mean?

 

Yeah. It was very specifically for a young male audience, like films like Road Trip and American Pie and all that kind of thing. I’m not saying it was the same as those films, but it was in that area and I don’t think it was treated quite in the same way.  And I think maybe there’s an expectation in Ireland for an Irish film that’s going out, that it will please everybody and that it will catch everybody in a certain way.  And I think maybe there was a disappointment that it wasn’t another I Went Down. By all means, I’m sure a lot of comments about it might be very true, but I think quite a few missed what the point of it was.  And I think also we were maybe a little bit unlucky, because I think some of the reviewers who’d seen it and liked it didn’t end up being the ones that reviewed it in the end.  So you know, it’s a numbers game. Out of five to ten significant reviews, two of those could’ve gone a different way. Then, you know, it wouldn’t have felt quite as harsh.  But you make your movie, you learn from it, and you move on.

 

Are you saying that if the Irish film community want the standard of Irish film to improve they have to stop viewing them as peculiarly Irish, and view them on an international scale where something like that would be compared to American Pie as opposed to I Went Down?

 

Or Intermission or another Irish film…

 

Right, yeah, something within the same genre as opposed to within the body of work of the filmmaker or Irish cinema in general.

 

I mean Jesus Christ, you know there’s a very wide range of films I might enjoy depending on what mood I’m in. Equally, in terms of the filmmaking community, Damien O’Donnell might make something brilliant in a way that I could never do.  Like I think Heartlands was a fantastic film…

 

And finally, you seemed very comfortable with the subject matter of Shrooms, did you ever have a period in your life where you did a lot of mushrooms?

 

No [laughs] I didn’t.  But there were other people involved in the project who definitely supplemented my knowledge…

 

This article originally appeared in Film Ireland Magazine, Issue 119 in 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

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Out Now: The Final Print Edition of Film Ireland Magazine

The latest edition of Film Ireland magazine is now available; sadly, however, this will be the final print edition of the magazine.

Film Ireland has a proud history of publication by Filmbase and over the last 25 years has enjoyed tremendous support from the film community in Ireland. We have always been delighted to have  published a magazine which could give a platform and voice to the various film communities in Ireland and to highlight, discuss and debate Irish films and shine a spotlight on the work of the emerging filmmaker.

Unfortunately, reductions in funding to Filmbase in recent years have made the continued publication of the magazine unsustainable. Through recent years Filmbase has tried hard to maintain the level of support to produce the magazine. Staff, contributors and well-wishers have all made enormous efforts to produce a quality magazine and have achieved impressive results at odds with the budgets they have had to work with. However, despite this commitment and dedication the cost of maintaining the print publication is simply not possible for Filmbase in the current economic climate.

The decision to cease publication was not taken lightly, and all of us here at Film Ireland and at Filmbase are sad to see a final issue. However, the decision was somewhat easier given existing opportunities to continue and expand the publication online. Electronic publication was not an option when Film Ireland first started, but today it offers opportunities to publish more frequently and to engage more interactively with readers. In recent years the Film Ireland website has been a companion to the magazine. From today it will become the magazine and we hope to see it grow and expand accordingly, allowing for faster and more comprehensive coverage of Irish film and film culture.

We hope you will enjoy the last issue of the magazine and celebrate with us a title which has had a remarkable place in supporting, encouraging and promoting Irish talent for the last quarter of a century. In particular we need to thank all our designers who have worked on the magazine over the years, including our current graphic designer Michelle Cunningham and all her predecessors; all of the previous editors: Johnny Gogan, John Doyle, Patrick Barrett, Frances Power, Hugh Linehan, Paul Power, Ted Sheehy, Tony Keily, Lir Mac CárthaighNerea Aymerich; our current commissioning editor Ross Whitaker; a host of guest editors, journalists and contributors too numerous to mention; our advertisers, supporters and friends in film. Of course, above all, the magazine was produced with the reader in mind and so we would most especially like to thank all of the loyal and supportive readers who enjoyed the read.

So now, please join us online for the next evolution of Film Ireland.

Film Ireland
Niamh Creely
Gordon Gaffney
Steven Galvin

 

 

In this edition, we feature:

The Summit

Steven Galvin met with Nick Ryan to discuss his award-winning documentary.

 

What Lenny Did

Ross Whitaker talks to director Lenny Abrahamson about his evolution as a filmmaker.

 

The Last Word

After 25 years, to mark the final print edition of Film Ireland Magazine, we bring together past editors to talk about where the magazine came from and what the future holds. 

 

You Shoot, He Scores.

Ross Whitaker talks to Oscar®-nominated film composer Brian Byrne about his approach to making film scores.

 

The Reel World

Niamh Creely talks to the three filmmakers behind this year’s Reel Art Documentaries.

 

 

Where I Am

Niamh Creely talks to Pamela Drynan about her documentary, which tells the remarkable story of an exceptional man.

 

Top Ten

David Neary speaks to IFTA CEO Áine Moriarty about ten years of the Irish answer to the Oscars®.

 

Animation Nation: The new dawn of Irish animation

David Neary talks to the movers and shakers making it happen.

 

Digital Biscuit

Ross Whitaker takes the biscuit at the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland’s event, which explores the future of film production in the digital world.

 

Jump

Carmen Bryce talks to Kieron J. Walsh about his Derry-based crime thriller that isn’t about the Troubles.

 

 

Moore, Moore, Moore!

Steven Galvin talks to the Irish director of  A Good Day to Die Hard, John Moore, who’s making a big bang on the action scene.

 

Layers Of Deception

James Phelan reports from STI’s and WGI’s TV writing seminar in Dublin.

 

Lens Flair

Steven Galvin caught up with PJ Dillon to discuss his craft and his work on Earthbound.

 

Sounding Off

Rachel Lysaght asks ‘Where my ladies at?’

 

Plus our Regulars:

 

Up Close – with Peter O’Toole, plus Kate McCullough on ‘My Inspiration’.

Your Updates – all the latest Irish film news.

BAI – the latest news from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

Spotlight – Sarah Griffin on The Hardy Bucks Movie.

On Set – David Neary on the set of Collider.

Reviews – Death of a Superhero, Dollhouse, Man on the Train, Men at Lunch.

Festivals – all the latest festival reports & previews.

Filmbase News – all the latest from Filmbase.

Equipment – Adobe Story.

MEDIA Desk – news & dates to keep in your MEDIA Diary.

 

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Call For: Marketing & Communications Assistant at IFI

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

The IFI has a vacancy to be filled under the FAS Jobbridge Internship Scheme. The vacancy is for a Marketing & Communications Assistant.

Description
The intern will gain practical experience in the efficient running of a busy IFI Marketing Department with a focus on database management, target marketing and media monitoring. The intern will receive formal/informal training in the following: Working on a database strategy for the IFI; Developing categories of interest for all entries for target marketing; Identifying specific target groups for IFI Events and activities; Building targeted interest group lists; Media monitoring and reporting; Assisting in a marketing research strategy for IFI; and inputting, analysing and reporting on statistics. On completion the intern will have attained skills in various aspects of the marketing and communications activities within one of Ireland s foremost cultural organisations.

Skills Requirements
An interest in Marketing and Communications would be beneficial. High level or organisation and attention to detail required and candidate must be computer literate. A passion for film and the arts also required.

Please Note:
This is an Internship. An allowance of €50 per week will be paid in addition to your current Social Welfare payment.See eligibility criteria above.

Department
Marketing & Communications

Mentor
The Organisation will assign a mentor to support you during the Internship.

Duration
9 Months

Deadline
February 22nd 2013

Application Process
To apply send CV and letter of interest to: slyons@irishfilm.ie

Please visit JobBridge.ie for more information and eligibility criteria.

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Interview: Tony Donoghue – ‘Irish Folk Furniture’

 

 

Steven Galvin catches up with director Tony Donoghue, whose short film Irish Folk Furniture is currently screening at Sundance. Irish Folk Furniture uses stop-motion animation to breathe life into the disregarded pieces of furniture that frequently lie rotting in Irish barns and sheds, showing the process of renovating them and returning them to the homes they once inhabited. The short is directed by Tony Donoghue and produced by Cathal Black under the IFB ‘Frameworks’ animated short film scheme.

This interview appears in the current Winter 2012 issue of Film Ireland magazine, which is available now.

 

Tony, you’ve created a beautiful film that is quite unique – can you tell us about its genesis.

 

Elsie Hogan owned a beautiful pub in my home village of Ballinderry, Tipperary. It had been in the family for about 150 years and it was one of those pubs where you had to walk through the family kitchen to go to the bathroom. In that kitchen was a big old painted dresser so laden with Willow pattern dishes that it always looked like it would collapse under the weight at any moment. When Elsie retired and sold the pub, she brought all the elegant Victorian furniture with her to her new house – but not the dresser.

 

That fine old dresser after 150 years in that one spot was relegated to the shed by the new pub owners. I was horrified so I immediately started photographing and recording the stories of the people of my parish with their traditional folk furniture.

 

As someone who had lived away for 20 years and had seen so little traceable furniture in either the UK or the USA I could see it was really important to try and increase the appreciation of this much undervalued cultural legacy.

 

Irish Folk Furniture was pitched as a Frameworks project to explore the history and integrity of Irish rural furniture. Like all documentary work the real structure came out through the process of making it. It has ended up being a propaganda type film – an absolute unapologetic celebration of the beauty, integrity and downright excellent honesty of Irish hand-made furniture.

 

The film looks beautiful, and there’s a particular stunning shot of a dresser and chairs in a frosted outdoor environment – can you tell us a bit about the shoot and the equipment you were using?

 

We are permanently surrounded by things that in themselves are interesting but sometimes those same things have to be isolated out for us to see them properly. That’s what this film has tried to do. We have tried to separate out items of old Irish folk furniture so we can have a good look at them as individual items and then again look at them in a modern domestic context.

 

When screening a film about inanimate objects it’s very easy to lose an audience’s attention so we did put a lot of time into compositions and lighting that an audience might find interesting. We didn’t use any artificial lighting at all just the crazy lighting that this mad climate of ours throws at us. The down side of that was that it did mean sitting around for days on end waiting for that right moment.

 

The film was shot on an old Nikon D70 stills camera that cost just €150 on eBay.

This camera isn’t particularly good in low light but one of the great advantages of shooting single frame is that you can choose very long exposures. A long exposure can bring in a lot of soft richness and small detail that wouldn’t be there with fast shutter speeds.

 

This film, like your previous short, A Film from My Parish 6 Farms, was made in a green and environmentally-friendly way – obviously this is something that is important to you.

 

At film school and afterwards I was horrified by the ridiculous waste I saw on film shoots and especially on TV commercials. This included everything from exotic locations to excessive lighting and equipment. I decided it was important to try and make this film with as small a carbon footprint as possible. This is the second Frameworks film we have shot in one parish. The hope here is to encourage local filmmaking about local subjects and in a way that is also feasible for a community. In this instance we used the €150 second-hand stills camera I mentioned before, a Minidisc recorder, a bicycle and a basic tripod.

 

David Kitt did the music – how did he get involved?

 

David had seen the previous film and liked it. I had heard a lot of his music and loved it. I really wanted to use David’s dreamy voice in the film, but for the film to work we ended up using an instrumental piece.

 

The film recently garnered the Special Mention at Galway, has screened in LA and is about to screen at Cork. And A Film from My Parish 6 Farms went down very well on the festival circuit.

 

VIMEO and YouTube are great and instant ways of distributing visual content. However, their success must not be allowed to take from the absolutely crucial place film festivals play in the exploration and development of film language. Just as good curation is essential to a good museum fine art show, so too is good curation at the heart of every great film festival. Festivals bring intellectual analysis to the curation and cross-referencing of film and film genres.

 

Were it not for experienced curators and programmers, such as Mick Hannigan and Una Feely at the Corona Cork Film Festival, Dan Brawley at Cucalorus Film Festival in North Carolina and Annegret Richter at DOK Leipzig in Germany this film and many others like it would sit at the bottom of the box indefinitely.

 

Can you tell us a bit about using animation as documentary?

 

Animation as documentary is really opening up and cross-fertilising now. The animation scene in Ireland has grown largely out of the commercial sector. This means that for most people animation is seen as either light entertainment or children’s programming. Animation is one more form of communication that can be used in any number of contexts. All documentary filmmakers know they can influence their audiences with their choice of shot, of lighting, of edit, of music. Single-frame filmmaking is just another option within that available filmic catalogue. Since 1957 the German documentary film festival DOK Leipzig has been a major venue for the exploration of documentary film language. Leipzig has for 16 of those years (since 1996) been running annually an exploration of animated documentaries called Animadoc.

 

You say that in the course of making the film, 16 pieces of rural furniture were restored and returned back into daily use. So the film extends beyond its telling and back into the lives of the people involved.

 

It was very important to me that the filmmaking process didn’t just go in and take something from the community; I wanted to be sure that it gave something back. The original film commission was for the documentation of the restoration and return of two pieces of folk furniture. Those two pieces of 19th century furniture were viewed by locals as exceptional pieces of furniture, rather than the norm, and the local people just didn’t get the message that all their old folk furniture, given a bit of love and attention, still had a potential life back in the family home. That was why we ended up restoring and returning home 16 pieces of furniture in total. I hope now the message is clear that all old Irish folk furniture is indeed restorable and loveable.

 

It is also very important that Irish people realise that there are very few countries left in the world where the whole 100-year history of a piece of furniture is totally interwoven with and associated with only one family. Seldom will even the finest pieces of Victorian or Georgian furniture have the family-specific history that individual pieces of Irish hand-crafted furniture have.

 

Hopefully the long-term legacy of the film will be that people will see it and realise that their old dresser, flour bin or settle bed is a fine thing and worth repairing.

 

What were the locals’ responses to being asked about their furniture?

 

At first people were surprised to be asked about their Irish furniture. Patrick Cahalan, the third narrator in the film, is pretty much representative of what I encountered. Patrick was a farmer and a carpenter. Yet, when I asked to see his furniture he took me through his front door, turned right and into the parlour to see his mass-produced brown English furniture. I wanted to turn left into the kitchen and talk about his hand-made red dresser, matching red bread bin, matching red table and matching red cupboard and red mug rack. He just couldn’t see how furniture so simple and functional could be held in higher esteem than Victorian furniture with ostentatious decoration.

Steven Galvin

This interview appears in the current Winter 2012 issue of Film Ireland magazine, which is available now.

Irish Folk Furniture is available to view online for the duration of the Sundance Film Festival

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrfDAIqn6KE

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‘Django Unchained’ Could do with an Operation Transformation

 

The Western gets the Tarantino treatment has been the vainglorious gist of the media campaign for this unassuming little fragile film. Well, the good news is that it’s a far superior piece of revisionist history than Inglorious Basterds. The bewildering critical and commercial success of that film continues to baffle me. It was a war film without any real war. Despite its epic running time, it was sketchy and incoherent. Despite its ‘men on a mission’ premise it was barely an ensemble piece. It seemed the goodwill glow engendered by that rightly revered opening farmhouse scene convinced cinemagoers that the uneven mess that followed was of a similar calibre.

Thankfully, the first hour of Django is a different beast entirely. For a while, Tarantino seems intent on curbing his own predilection for indulgently long scenes. Initially, this film has short connective scenes that move the story on with pace and addictive momentum. Genuinely, the opening half of this film as Christoph Waltz’s bounty hunter Doctor King Schultz frees Django (Jamie Foxx) in order to track down the fugitive Brittle brothers is as good as Tarantino has been in decades. Perhaps since his career opening salvo.

To Quentin’s immense credit, Waltz has been handed a peach of a role as the charmingly verbose German who plies his retrieval trade under the guise of a travelling dentist. His eloquent use of English habitually confounds his cow poke adversaries giving him a lethal advantage in any duel. His originally self-serving liberation of Django softens slowly into mutual respect and friendship – a relationship endearingly accelerated by the mere coincidence that Django’s beloved wife goes by the Germanic name Broomhilda. Schultz’s simple desire to speak his native language with someone is a brilliant insight into his character’s loneliness and alienation within America of that era.

With all the verbal fireworks handed to Waltz, it’s a deceptively tough spot for the ostensible star Foxx to be in. By necessity, he is forced to be the stoic, hardened and taciturn hero at the heart of a quest to find and free his enslaved wife. Some occasional humour emanates from Django but the spotlight is constantly dragged elsewhere with Waltz at first and later Leonardo De Caprio and Samuel L Jackson dominating the screen. Foxx excels as the strong, silent type but it’s a losing battle for the film to keep the focus on his character especially once the action transplants to Calvin Candie’s plantation – the incongruously titled Candyland.

Beyond his blackened teeth, Leo’s Calvin Candie is not that vivid a creation. He is all costume, accent and affectation but there’s no real insight into his heart of darkness. True, there are instances of extreme cruelty that emanate from his character but he hardly registers on the baddie scale and is utterly usurped by Jackson’s indelible etching of the house slave Stephen who is so outraged by Django’s open flouting of freedom.  Seemingly brainwashed by generations of slavery, Stephen is bitterly committed to the enforcement and maintenance of the supremacist status quo. In fleeting screen time, Jackson easily eclipses fellow villains Di Caprio and the mute moustachioed gunslinger Kurt Russell with insouciant ease.

The main crux that infects the film is that it slows to a snail’s pace upon arrival at Candyland. Tarantino’s fondness for longwinded rhetoric re-emerges at the worst possible time as it all goes a bit ‘Downton Abbey’ with everyone sitting down to supper. In doing so, Tarantino allows the audience too much thinking time. One is allowed to consider that isn’t this just a reprise of that kitchen table scene from ‘Inglorious’ albeit at the opposite end of this movie.  And isn’t he just remaking the same revenge film constantly and just changing the milieu? And then finally when the speechifying is done, the self referential aspect goes haywire as we are treated to a cowboy variation on the Crazy 88. The slaughter is all masterfully handled and some will love the bullet fest but I was left pining for something different and more. Considering the setting, the climax could have been leaner, darker and derived from character instead of dependent on scale and blood squibs.

And then the audience discovers that even this violent crescendo is not actually the end. The film goes on again with an ill fitting epilogue featuring a lazy escape where Tarantino abdicates his writing duties for an incredibly easy option.  More violence follows but mentally, everyone is already in the car park.

In fairness, this film is an entertainment behemoth. It gives major bang for your buck but I can’t shake the feeling that the two-hour version of this film is a stone cold classic Western. What emerges here is big and bloated. To over-extend a metaphor, in this film Tarantino allows himself plenty of rope resulting in large stretches of slack. When snapped taut, Django Unchained is superb. How much the various languors diminish your enjoyment is probably a matter of personal taste. It may be a Western but there’s no reason why everyone has to end up feeling saddle sore!!!

James Phelan

 

 

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Out Now: Film Ireland: The Winter Issue 2012 – Issue 143

Cover image: Woody Harrelson and Colin Farrell in Seven Psychopaths

A beautiful sight. We’re happy tonight.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland.

The latest issue of Film Ireland is out now and it’s packed tighter than Santa’s Bag. We’ve got more Oscar® material than Katharine Hepburn. So make sure there’s a copy is under your tree this Christmas…

Seven Psychopaths
Scott Townsend talks to writer/director Martin McDonagh about his upcoming film, Seven Psychopaths.

Saoirse
Jason O’Mahony meets the talented Saoirse Ronan to chat about her already impressive list of acting credits, and her upcoming film, Byzantium.

The Good Man
Steven Galvin catches up with filmmaker Phil Harrison to find out more about his thought-provoking debut feature.

Folk Tale
Steven Galvin chats to director Tony Donoghue, whose breathtaking new short Irish Folk Furniture is an animated documentary about repairing and recycling old hand-painted furniture in rural Ireland.

Talking TV Drama 2012
Shane Perez reports from the Galway Film Centre’s two-day TV writing industry event.

Production Values
Barbara Galavan, chief executive of Screen Producers Ireland (SPI), talks to Film Ireland about the challenges facing the Irish film industry

In Stitches
A killer clown returns from the dead to exact revenge. Where does a director like Conor McMahon get his inspiration? Gordon Gaffney gets all the gory details.

Great Dane
This November, the SUBTITLE European Film Festival is casting a spotlight on Simon Staho, so Niamh Creely took the opportunity to ask this extraordinary filmmaker a few burning questions

Doing It for Themselves
With self-distribution becoming more widespread, Film Ireland talks to three Irish filmmakers who made the decision to release their own film.

Stuffing the Tiger
Donald Taylor Black tells Film Ireland about the process of making his latest documentary, Skin in the Game.

In Camera
Darklight Festival 2012 welcomed celebrated Oscar®-nominated cinematographer Seamus McGarvey as their special guest. McGarvey took part in an in-depth discussion with filmmaker Kieron J. Walsh (Jump) and Film Ireland’s Steven Galvin brings us highlights from that fascinating and entertaining talk

In the DollHouse
Kirsten Sheridan talks to Steven Galvin about her approach to writing and her feature Dollhouse, which is screening at the Cork film fest.

Sounding Off
Eilis Mernagh argues that low-budget, high-concept is the way to go to make successful movies in a recession

 

Plus all the usual Regulars, including:

Up Close – with Gabriel Byrne plus Magnus Martin (Jackpot) on ‘My Inspiration’.
Your Updates – all the latest Irish film news.
Spotlight – Men at Lunch. Seán Ó Cualáin’s documentary.
On Set – a report from the set of the latest Die Hard film.
ShortSpace – the latest ShortSpace short film news,
Reviews Grabbers, My Brothers, Dreamtime Revisited, Shadow Dancer, What Richard Did, Seven Psychopaths
Festival – all the latest festival reports & previews.
Filmbase News – all the latest from Filmbase.
Equipment – the Canon EOS C300
MEDIA Desk – MEDIA Diary

 

Get into Film! – Get into Film Ireland!

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Celebrating 25 years of Film Ireland magazine, Exhibition Piece 8 – Issue 95 Nov/Dec 2003 ‘Being Jim Sheridan’

 

Séamus Duggan, who was managing director of Filmbase at the time, spoke with Jim Sheridan ahead of the release of In America.

Séamus also co-incidentally found a portal leading into Jim’s brain and brought back some of what he found there for our attention.

This article appeared in issue 95 November December 2003 which was edited by Tony Kiely.

To view a high res 150 DPI image of the article above click here

To view high res 150 DPI image of the article above click here

 

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Celebrating 25 years of Film Ireland Magazine Exhibition

 

Celebrating 25 years of Film Ireland magazine, an exhibition of articles looking back over 25 years of Ireland’s only cultural magazine dedicated to film has now closed.  However we will continue to put all exhibition pieces online this summer.

 

The first issue of Film Ireland – then known as Filmbase News – was published in May 1987. With the publication of the current issue, no. 142, for autumn 2012, we looked back over 25 years of the magazine by exhibiting a selection of articles in full in the gallery space in Filmbase.

 

The articles ranged from Nell McCafferty writing on pornography in issue Feb/Mar1990, to Cillian Murphy telling us ‘I mean it’s Batman for fuck’s sake – it’s not a difficult decision!’ in Mar/Apr 2004.

 

The 10 pieces include issue 1 of Filmbase news of May/June 1987 printed in full.
The exhibition ran from Tuesday 31st July until Sunday 19th August.

 

Check back here for links to full articles of each piece.

Piece 1 –  Issue 142 Autumn 2012 ’25 Years of Film Ireland’.

Piece 2 – Issue 1 of Filmbase news May/June 1987.

Piece 3 – Issue 16 Feb/Mar 1990 Nell McCafferty‘Cyanide and Snuff’.

Piece 4 – Issue 36 Aug/Sep 1993 Interview with Lelia Doolan, chair of The Irish Film Board, ‘On the Board’.

Piece 5 – Issue 39 Feb/Mar 1994 ‘Low Fat Filmmaking’ interview with ‘Ailsa’ producer Ed Guiney, now of Element Pictures and director Paddy Breathnach.

Piece 6 – Issue  65 June/July 1998  ‘General Boorman’

Piece 7 – Issue 69 Feb/Mar 1999 ‘Actor’s Life’ David Kelly Interview

Piece 8 –  Issue 95 Nov/Dec 2003 ‘Being Jim Sheridan’ Interview

Piece 9 – Issue 97 Mar/Apr 2004 ‘International Playboy’ Cillian Murphy Interview

Piece 10 – Issue 103 Mar/Apr 2005 ‘Irish Eyes’  Seamus McGarvey Interview

 

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Handy Tips for Sending in a Press Release to Film Ireland

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Here is a quick guide for sending in press releases to the Film Ireland team.

We encourage you to send us in details of film events, film festivals you are organising, awards your film receives, production news, or anything else film related you think would be of interest.

If you have an article or interview idea for the web, then by all means contact us BEFORE conducting the interview or writing the piece to see if it is something we are interested in. Do not send in the finished piece without us knowing about it first.

If you have any questions or suggestions on these tips please email web@filmireland.net as we would like to have as comprehensive a guide as possible before posting it in our ‘about’ section online.

So what is a press release?

A press release is the information you send into a media outlet(website, newspaper, magazine, radio show) about your event/film etc.

If it is a screening you want people to come along, so date and time are very important.  If a film has won an award at a festival give all the key details of the festival- dates, times, award name, a photograph of you receiving the award, a little about the film, since this is Film Ireland an interesting line or two about the production of the film would also be good.

When sending in a press release to us on web@filmireland.net, or to other websites, your aim is to get it put onto the site as quickly as possible.  This means making things as easy as possible for the people on the other side posting it.

 

So here are some tips:

 

  • Your press release should sound ‘newsy’ and give the who, what, where, when, and how.  Don’t explicitly state the  who, what, where, when, and how, this should all be contained in a few paragraphs of well written, interesting-to-read text.

 

  • It should be written in the 3rd person.  So for instance ‘The screening will take place at 7pm’ and not ‘Our screening will take place’ or ‘We will screen at..’.

 

  • Promote your film/event through facts where possible rather than language.  For example instead of using ‘featuring a towering performance from the amazing Jack Ham’, use ‘featuring Jack Ham, winner of Best Actor at Short Film Festival’.

 

  • Do not send in “Hi, my film just won a prize at the Random Film Festival, thought Film Ireland should know’.

 

  • Also please prooffread your pres releases and check out all your facts,, spelling of names of cast members, production names such as ‘Fare City’, spacing, punctuation   etc before sending it in.

 

  • It should NOT be sent as a PDF, but as a word document or as text in an email.  The text can’t be copied and pasted as easy from a PDF and leads to frustrating formatting issues.  Well it does with our website anyway.

 

  • It should be accompanied by at least one image. For the Film Ireland website landscape is preferable as on our home page the featured image that goes along with each post is landscape.

 

  • The images should be 72dpi which is low res for the web and under 1 megabyte each.  For print, i.e. for Film Ireland magazine itself, images must be high res 300dpi and thus are large files.  The file straight off your camera phone or camera will usually be high res by default and over 1 megabyte.

 

  • Our email server is not the best in the world so when sending in press releases keep each email under 5 megabytes including images.

 

  • Each image should be named correctly e.g. ‘Joe Bloggs and Jane Doe in Love Story’, ‘Cast of Love Story with director Meg Alomaniac centre’ and not ‘IMG349.jpeg’.

 

  • Give us as much notice as possible when sending in information.  When we put up your item we will email you back with a link.  We also post all news items on Facebook and Twitter.

 

  • Please like us and share away on Facebook or retweet on Twitter.  We want as much traffic as possible going to the site.

 

  • Do give us any links you want to include and we will put them at the bottom of your post.

 

  • If you have a relevant trailer on YouTube or Vimeo send us that too and we will embed it.

 

  • Put a contact phone number in your email in case we have a query.

 

  • On extremely rare occasions we may miss a press release so if you haven’t heard anything in couple of days feel free to email a friendly reminder.

 

Film Ireland magazine is published quarterly to coincide with major film festivals at home and abroad.
Our busiest times are before we go to print on the magazine, then the website is a lower priority but we do our best to keep everything updated.

 

Spring Issue comes out before the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in February, so we would be at our busiest from approximately 3 weeks to 1 week before JDIFF.

 

Summer Issue comes out around the end of April before Cannes/Annecy so we would be at our busiest for approximately the first 3 weeks of April.

 

Autumn Issue comes out before the Galway Film Fleadh in July, so we would be at our busiest for the last 3 weeks of June.

 

Winter Issue comes out before the Corona Cork Film Festival, so we would be at our busiest from approximately 3 weeks to 1 week before it.

 

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Celebrating 25 years of Film Ireland magazine, Exhibition Piece 4 – Issue 36 Aug/Sep 1993 Interview with Lelia Doolan, chair of The Irish Film Board ‘On The Board’.

 

Film Ireland’s first editor Johnny Gogan interviews Lelia Doolan who at the time was the chair of The Irish Film Board.  This four page article appeared in issue 36 August/September 1993 of Film Ireland which was edited by Frances Power.

To view high res 150 DPI jpeg of part one click here

 

To view high res 150 DPI jpeg of part two click here

 

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Celebrating 25 years of Film Ireland magazine, Exhibition Piece 2 – Issue 1 of Filmbase news May/June 1987

 

Exhibition Piece 2 –  Issue 1 of Filmbase news May/June 1987.

Johnny Gogan was the first editor of Filmbase news, he went on to edit the first 17 issues from May 1987 to June 1990.

Johnny founded Bandit Films and is currently on post production on the feature Black Ice.  He is also a current board member of the Irish Film Board.

Click here for 150DPI  res of outside cover of issue 1 of Filmbase News.

 

 

Click here for 150DPI  res of inside text of issue 1 of Filmbase News

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Out Now: Film Ireland: The Summer Issue 2012 – Issue 141

Yes it’s raining; yes it’s freezing – but that won’t stop us celebrating the fact that this year’s Summer Issue of Film Ireland magazine is out now. As you can tell from the grooviest of covers, this issue is a scorcher. So wrap up warm, bring an umbrella and celebrate the start of an Irish summer with our latest filmtabulous issue.

In this issue:

Irish Animators for Annecy

Anna Rodgers assesses the Irish animation scene.

In the Bronx

Niall McKay meets director Macdara Vallely to talk about his new feature, Babygirl.

It’s in the Post

Paul Webster takes a look at the Irish post-production scene.

In the Limelight

Gordon Gaffney shines a light on the JDIFF Irish Talent Spotlight.

Dublin’s Fair City

Niamh Creely talks to Irish location manager Peter Conway about shooting in Dublin.

 Grand Masters

Paul Callanan at the 23rd Cork French Film Festival on guests  Pierre Étaix and Jean-Claude Carrière.

The Making of Moon

Shane Perez  reports on the fascinating Galway Film Centre masterclass on the making of Duncan Jones’ Moon.

Demanding Audiences

Niall Kitson checks out a new wave of online services that are putting pressure on distribution models

Moore Please

Film Ireland catches up with the Oscar®-nominated director of  The Secret of Kells, Tomm Moore.

Moving Pitchers

Niamh Creely sharpens her pencil for the UNTITLED Screenwriting Competition and Story Campus.

Distribution

Maeve Clancy explores the world of distribution in Film Ireland’s comic page.

Sounding Off

Nadine O’Regan investigates why Stella Days upset the residents of Borrisokane.

 

Plus all our regulars:

Up Close – with Anjelica Huston, plus Paul Rowley on ‘My Inspiration’.

Your Updates – all the latest Irish film news.

On Set – Rory Cashin on the set of Mark O’ Connor’s latest, King of the Travellers

Spotlight – Steven Galvin takes in the sounds of the Casbah with Safinez Bousbia, director of El Gusto.

ReviewsAlbert Nobbs, The Other Side of Sleep, The Pier, Stella Days, This Must Be the Place

Festivals – all the latest festival reports & previews

ShortSpace – the latest ShortSpace short film news, plus Mark Noonan on ‘How I Short’.

Filmbase News – all the latest from Filmbase

Equipment – we get our hands on the RED Scarlet camera.

MEDIA Desk – news & dates to keep in your MEDIA Diary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Film Ireland – The Spring Issue 2012 – Issue 140… Out Now!

All aboard the skylark. The new issue of Film Ireland is out now and is jam-packed with all the latest from the world of Irish film!

This issue focuses on this year’s wonderful Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and highlights the finest current Irish films on offer.

We also bring you the best of German-Irish co-production and the Irish Film board have shipped over 200 copies to give out at their stand at Berlinale The Berlin International Film Festival.

We talk to James Hickey of the IFB and continue our guild features on directors, writers and cinematographer. And much, much more… What else could any lover of Irish film want?

Ross Whitaker talks to James Hickey, the new CEO of the Irish Film Board, about funding, film and finding an audience.

Festival director Gráinne Humphreys looks forward to, and back on, the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival with Brogen Hayes.

Paul Webster talks to Michael Garland, one of the producers of Death of a Superhero, a new German-Irish co-produced feature and Ian Fitzgibbon, its director.

Paul Lynch talks to the filmmakers behind a new German-Irish co-production, Saving the Titanic.

Niamh Creely takes a look at the Arts Council’s art documentary scheme Reel Art and talks to Oonagh Kearney, director of one of this year’s three features.

Steven Galvin catches up with Emile Dinneen in the editing room as he put the final touches to Nightdancers in time for JDIFF.

Shane Kennedy talks to actor and this year’s presenter of the IFTAs, Simon Delaney

Shane Perez reports on the Galway Film Centre’s interview with celebrated American TV-writer Vince Gilligan.

Niamh Creely talks to filmmaker Michael Lavelle about his experiences shooting a short film in Germany.

Film Ireland talks to Marc-Ivan O’Gorman, filmmaker and director of the first Irish film Festival of India.

Director Shimmy Marcus on making films in The Factory.

DOP Robbie Ryan discusses his approach to film work.

Writer Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde tells us about his experiences as a co-writer on the screenplay for this new Irish film.

Maeve Clancy explores the world of Post-Production in Film Ireland’s comic page.

Paul Lynch explores why superheroes movies are no longer films for our times.

And our Regulars include:

Up Close with Brendan Gleeson & My Inspiration with Ivan Kavanagh

Your Updates for all the latest news, awards and screenings.

Spotlight on Frank Berry, director of Ballyman Lullaby

On Set – a report from the set of the BBC’s Being Human

ShortSpace

Reviews: Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey, Dreams of a Life, Ballymun Lullaby

Festivals – all the latest reports & previews

Filmbase News

Equipment

MEDIA Desk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Winter Issue of Film Ireland is Out Next Week

 

The Winter Issue of Film Ireland will be with Filmbase members, subscribers and on the shelves of newsagents across the country next week.

Jamie Hannigan talks to Colm Meaney about his role in Parked, Anna Rodgers catches up with legendary documentary filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams), Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan TD outlines his plans for office to Niamh CreelyRoss Whitaker chats with Asif Kapadia about the making of Senna, and we preview the 2012 DCNYF Chinese Film Festival.

 

With the Corona Cork Film Festival taking place in November we feature Gerard Hurley’s The Pier, Ben River’s Slow Action and Steve Sanguedolce’s Blinding.

 

We are delighted to announce a new regular piece from a member of the Irish Society of Cinematographers plus we have all our regular news, On Set reports, reviews, directors and writers guild pages, equipment reviews and more.

 

To find out which retailers stock Film Ireland click here

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New Look FilmIreland.Net Coming Soon!

Film Ireland will launch a new look www.filmireland.net this September.

FilmIreland.net has gone from strength to strength over the past 18 months and as traffic and online content increases this new layout will make navigation easier for all our readers seeking the latest film news, festival details, exclusive interviews and more.

Keep an eye on the website for this exciting new look!

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'The Guard' is in hot pursuit of €1.5mill at the Irish Box Office

Darkly comic Irish thriller The Guard continues to storm the Irish box office with takings of €397,000 this past weekend taking its total past €1.42 million.

In a weekend that saw the final installment of  the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, break all time weekend records in North America this represents an extremely strong showing for an independent Irish feature.

The €410,000 showing earned it second place in Ireland behind the bespectacled wizard and it took in €94,000 yesterday Monday July 18th alone suggesting strong word of mouth.  It also came in at number 5 in the combined UK and Ireland box office totals.

Click here for full list of cinemas showing The Guard.

The Guard is released in the US on July 29th & in the UK on August 19th

Read our review of The Guard here

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Out Now! Issue 137 – The Summer Issue

Summer’s here and the time is right for reading Film Ireland in the streets. Our cover features Gabriel Byrne, who talks to us about his role as first Cultural Ambassador for Ireland. There’s a gallic flavour to this issue as Cannes is upon us once again. We have an exclusive interview with Agnès Varda, and Rebecca Daly talks about her debut feature, The Other Side of Sleep, which is screening as part of the Directors Fortnight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. There’s also a survival guide to Cannes for those fortunate enough to be attending. We investigate the thriving co-production industry between Ireland & France. We also focus on Ireland in two special articles – featuring some of our emerging creative talent and a selection of the wonderful locations we have to offer film. Also in this issue we remember Michael Dwyer and Peter Lennon. And as Filmbase celebrates 25 years supporting Irish film, we take a look back over its history. Plus lots, lots more…

Get into Film – Get into Film Ireland

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DARE2BDRINKAWARE.ie competition Shortlist announced

The shortlist has been announced for the DARE2BDRINKAWARE.ie competition. Now in its fourth year, the competition challenges students to explore the relationship between Irish culture and drinking through a film or multimedia project.

There are five shortlisted projects in the multimedia category, including an online game, website, social media jigsaw, interactive installations and comic book, as well as seven shortlisted films, covering topics such as broken dreams, domestic accidents, alcohol-fueled violence and the dark side of drinking games:

1 A Different Perspective
2 drinkaware Comic
3 Do you know
4 Night To Remember
5 memoryGamble
6 Through The Mirror
7 Babes in Bits
8 The Ignorant Truth
9 U-Booze
10 The Conversation

The shortlisted entries in the DARE2BDRINKAWARE.ie competition will be assessed by panel of judges, including RTÉ and Lyric FM presenter John Kelly; SiliconRepublic.com editor John Kennedy; Ross Whitaker, Editor of Film Ireland; and Alicia McGivern, Head of Education at the IFI. The judges will award €1,000 prizes to the best film and multimedia entries, as well as an additional €1,000 prize for the best overall entry.

The winners in this year’s competition will be announced at an awards ceremony next week, and award-winning director Juanita Wilson is the keynote speaker for this event.

Also one film and one multimedia entry will win special ‘public vote’ prizes: starting today. All shortlisted entries are available to view online, and members of the public can vote for their favorite entries up until 6pm on 6th April.

For further information – and to view and vote for entries visit www.DARE2BDRINKAWARE.ie.

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Film Ireland's New Year Offer

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A subscription for Film Ireland magazine is the perfect way to start off the New Year. This January we have a special offer price of €20 for four issues posted anywhere in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland plus you will also receive a voucher for 2 for 1 tickets for Light House Cinema, Smithfield and 1 months free DVD or game rental when you sign up to www. screenclick.com!!

Film Ireland makes the ideal gift for secondary school and third level students or anyone interested in film with its comprehensive coverage of festivals, news, industry events, and feature articles on all aspects of film.

You can sign up for this special offer online here –  or by calling Gordon on (01) 8815106 or by email on gordon@filmbase.ie

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