Interview: Lee Cronin, writer/director of ‘Ghost Train’

Kids 1 with Title

Film Ireland caught up with Lee Cronin, whose latest short film, Ghost Train, is set to screen at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, which takes place 31st January – 8th February, 2014.

Written and directed by Cronin, the film tells the story of estranged brothers Michael and Peter. Once a year the brothers make a reluctant pilgrimage to the old fairground where their friend Sam went missing three decades ago. Things take a turn this year though as Michael has a secret to confess.

Ghost Train is a cleverly-crafted subtle chiller with a heart that has a team behind it – from the writing and  direction through to the visual construction , design and sound – that screams “feature”. The cast is made up of Owen McDonnell and Steve Wall as the two adult brothers who come together to deal with the trauma of their past youthful deeds, which are acted out in flashback by Sean Gormley, Matthew Dillon and Matthew Broe with strong natural performances.

Lee explains how the beginning of the project was “off the back of a really weird dream I had about my best mate when I was around 8 years old. We were wandering through an abandoned cottage and in one of the rooms there was a withered old woman on the wall, like those low quality effigies you would see inside Ghost Trains in the 1980s. She wasn’t so low quality when she suddenly came to life with a slow turn of her head and guttural cackle. She scared me awake and all I could think about was this childhood friend I hadn’t seen in so so long. I wondered how he was, what his life was like? Although the film we made is very different to this slice of REM, it holds onto some of those feelings and themes, so I guess that’s were it all began. I blame late night cheese and bad TV.

“Once I had a script, I was really lucky to get the opportunity to pitch the project to a bunch of European producers and funders at an event called Euro-Connection. The pitch went well and we ended up getting a Finnish producer and funding from the Finnish Film Foundation – It’s never that straight forward but that was the outcome! With this and the awesome support we were shown by The Irish Film Board from the very beginning it put us in a position to go out and make the film. We shot at Halloween in 2012 which somehow added to its atmosphere. From there it took about 7 months in post, there are quite a few VFX shots which were done in Finland, mainly over Skype, so the process was challenging but really rewarding in the end.”

With the film set to screen at Clermont, Lee is delighted that Ghost Train is in the International Competition. “To me it means the film is been taken seriously for the human story at its centreas well as for the fantastical elements that are all part of its tapestry. Myself and the core team on the film knew from the start we didn’t just want a film with some cool visual effects and no substance and I think getting onto the programme in Clermont shows we made some decent decisions along the way.

“The thing that means most to me though is that the film will play in front of some big audiences, so it will be great to see how people respond to the film and will hopefully act as a launchpad for more festival screenings around the world.”


Lee Cronin’s ‘Ghost Train’ Pulls into Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival


Lee Cronin’s short film Ghost Train will be having its international premiere at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival (31st Jan – 8th Feb).

Written and Directed by Cronin, the film tells the story of estranged brothers Michael and Peter. Once a year the brothers make a reluctant pilgrimage to the old fairground where their friend Sam went missing three decades ago. Things take a turn this year though as Michael has a secret to confess.

Ghost Train is produced by John Keville and Ulla Simonen.


Culture Night at Filmbase


Yet again Filmbase will throw open its door late on Culture Night offering you a chance to ‘Get into Film’.

Throughout the night Filmbase will be screening a selection of Irish short films suitable for all ages in their ground-floor space. Filmbase will also host a special short film event with filmmakers Lee Cronin and John Keville. Lee and John will screen their latest short film, the excellent horror Ghost Train set in a delapidated fairground yard, and talk about the process of making this ambitious short film (which was an Irish/Finnish co-production). Lee and John received their first short film funding from Filmbase.

Finally, the night will round off with Filmbase’s ever popular late-night short film screening. Yet again we’ve selected just some of the newest short films to emerge from the ever talented film scene here in Ireland.

Ghost Train: A Case Study and Q&A with filmmakers Lee Cronin and John Keville
Filmbase Basement 6.30 – 7.45pm

About the event
Lee and John will talk about their impressive new short film Ghost Train. Premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh earlier this year, this event will offer you a chance to not only see this new short film but to hear from the creatives involved in making this ambitious short film. Not only is this an atmospheric horror film but the production values and design would rival many of the big budget productions we see on our cinema screens. Lee and John run Rank Outsider Productions and are no strangers to Filmbase having produced the Filmbase/RTE Short Film Billy & Chuck a few years ago.

This event is perfect for anyone interested in making short films and is suited for ages 16+. It’s a free event but advance bookings are being taken, so if you’d like to book a place (or two) at this event make sure to email with your full name and contact number. Please note if you do book in advance you must arrive at Filmbase by 6.20pm at the latest to secure your place. Any tickets not collected at this stage will be given to those on the door.

Ghost Train
Written and Directed by Lee Cronin
Produced by John Keville and Ulla Simonen for Rank Outsider and MADE

Once a year, estranged brothers Michael and Peter make a reluctant pilgrimage to the old fairground yard where their friend Sam went missing when they were boys. Both mens’ lives are coloured by what happened the day their friend was sucked inside the Ghost Train, never to return. This year, Michael has something to tell Peter that will cast fresh light on the incident, something that will change their lives even more than that fateful day 30 years ago…

Ghost Train Trailer

Short Film Screenings
Ground Floor – free, open to all, continuous throughout the evening

As always Filmbase selects the best of Irish short films to screen throughout the night. This free screening is open to all and offers a selection of the best of Irish filmmaking talent. So pop by anytime during the night for a taste of Irish film including animation, dance film, comedy and more.

Late Night Shorts
Basement Space – free, ticketed
Screening time: 9 – 10pm
NB this screening is not suitable for kids

The late night shorts programme has proved to be a popular event over the last few years and yet again Filmbase have gone with a selection of light-hearted (and even downright hilarious) shorts for your entertainment! Culture Night revellers can check out a selection of fantastic Irish short films including some of the latest films to hit the festival circuit and a couple of old favourites as well. Read on for more details on what to expect and make sure to book your seat as this event usually fills up fast!


14 mins | Live Action | Irish Language subtitled in English | 2012
Written and directed by Tomás Seoighe
Produced by David Clarke

Cian is constantly bullied at school and his home life isn’t much better. Suddenly an opportunity arises to gain the respect of those around him by going head to head with a bull…Matador style!


12 mins | Live Action | Irish Language subtitled in English | 2013
Screenplay by Eoin Rogers
Story & Directed by Vittoria Colonna
Produced by Cathleen Dore

4 Bhanríon (4 Queens) is a black comedy about four elderly sisters who play a game of poker to decide who will take care of their elderly mother…


11 mins | Live Action | English Language | 2009
Written and directed by Gavin Keane
Produced by Ruth Coady

Cold Turkey concerns the misadventures of a frustrated Foley artist, curious children and petrified poultry. It stars Wuzza Conlon (Headrush, Perrier’s Bounty) and Angeline Ball (The Commitments, Dead Long Enough) and was shot by Darran Tiernan (Belonging to Laura), edited by Roisin O’Donnell (Deep End Dance), with Karl Merren (Eamon) as sound recordist. Post was handled by Ardmore Sound. The film, written and directed by Gavin Keane and produced by Ruth Coady for Parallel Films, won the Audience Award at the 2010 Sapporo International Short Film Festival in Japan, over 2,700 shorts from 87 countries were submitted to the festival.


10 mins | Live Action | Irish Language subtitled in English | 2013
Written by Antoin Beag O’Colla
Directed by Louise Ní Fhiannachta
Produced by Gemma O’Shaughnessy

Agus an rang á ullmhú don Chéad Comaoineach, dhiúltaíonn Rúbaí é a dhéanamh, ag maíomh gur atheist í.

While the class are preparing for their First Holy Communion Rúbaí refuses to do it, claiming she is an atheist.

To secure your place at this screening just email Filmbase reception on<> or call 01 679 6716 (dial 0 for reception). Don’t forget to give your full name and a contact number.