An App to Usher You Back Inside the Cinema

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Co-founders Oliver Fegan, Catherine Downes & Andres Macias 

Joy Redmond spoke to Oliver Fegan and Catherine Downes about their app, usherU, which encourages people into the cinema by connecting audiences with the films they love. usherU launches on 14th March


usherU, the brainchild of Oliver Fegan and Catherine Downes, will be launching shortly in Ireland after much beta testing in London, and hopes to get people offline and back inside the cinema. Brother of Alex Fegan, the filmmaker behind The Irish Pub and Older Than Ireland, Oliver’s first start-up Tempster which helped restaurants fill empty tables was ranked in Europe’s Top 12 and he’s hoping to bring the same magic to the cinema industry.

Few would argue that the cinema is the superior movie viewing experience, yet life has that knack of getting in the way. Too often when we’re just about to book those tickets we get deflated to learn the movie has moved on or we hear about one-off events and festivals after their run. Not anymore because usherU will be the pocket PA for the movie buff.

Oliver and Catherine promise usherU will be so much more than your common or garden cinema app because it has the geeky weird science element that basic push apps lack. Currently working with UCD insights centre on a data mining algorithm, your smart usherU app will learn about your preference and notify you about films it thinks you might like in your area, remind you when their run is coming to a close and tell you about one-off screenings, documentaries and niche film festivals before it’s too late.

Their extensive research in the UK with the three elements of the movie business – the filmmakers, the cinemas and the audiences – revealed the biggest problem: the best intentions don’t always convert into ticket sales so usherU are hoping that their app will improve conversions by nudging the passive consumer to get out more.

Established in October/November 2014, winning the UK innovation agency’s IC Tomorrow / British Film Institute competition gave them the funds to bring their ideas into fruition and now with 20,000 downloads and an even busier website with Point-of-Sale integration with varied cinema partners, it seems their perseverance is starting to pay off.

The great news of course is that usherU will be launching in Ireland very soon when the final POS integration tests and checks have been done with enough cinemas locally. The even better news is that is not all just for their own selfish gains with initiatives such as FilmHack where they brought the money people such as Creative England in to talk to film makers to tell them about micro funding and how to sell internationally. Following on from its success, they regularly run free Friday morning sessions for anyone in the film industry wanting to share tips and/or war stories.

Free events for the film industry in Ireland is something they would like to get off the ground here to help build the community and also to get them to think more about audiences. “We have the big picture view – one of the most motivating parts of what we’re trying to do is to help get better films made, have a better industry. Firsthand, I have seen how the film business is very hard, very top heavy. We want to help get more exposure for more niche audiences, it’s mainly for them in the end,” concludes Fegan.





Also available to download.









Review: Joy



DIR/WRI: David O. Russell • PRO: John Davis, Megan Ellison, Jonathan Gordon, Ken Mok, David O. Russell • DOP: Linus Sandgren • ED: Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Tom Cross, Christopher Tellefsen • DES: Yohei Taneda • MUS: David Campbell, West Dylan Thordson • CAST: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro

When an award-winning writer/director and an A-List cast work together on a good old rags-to-riches tale inspired by self-made millionaire Joy Mangano’s life, what could possibly go wrong? What indeed?

Alas, there was no joy in David O. Russell’s Joy for me.

The movie centres around Joy (Jennifer Lawrence), a washed-out separated Mom struggling to keep on top of her job and take care of three generations of her family in a very unattractive home.

So downstairs we have Tony (Édgar Ramírez) the Venezuelan crooner of an ex-husband below in the basement who, within minutes, is engaged in an acrimonious turf war with his ex-father-in-law Rudy (Robert de Niro) also in the basement having being returned as ‘damaged goods’ by his third wife.

On the ground floor, we have Joy’s dysfunctional mother Terry (Virginia Madsen), whose lifelong addiction to a particular daytime soap along with a bad case of agoraphobia prevents her from getting off the bed or engaging in conversations outside the comings and goings of the show.

Upstairs, we have her two children and Grandma Mimi (Dianne Ladd), the only person that both supports and believes in her potential having noticed what a dab hand Joy was at Origami as a child. Next door we have the nasty half sister Peggy (Elisabeth Röhm) and soon enough we meet Trudy (Isabella Rossellini) – Rudy’s latest squeeze who is instantly absorbed into this Italian American family.

For fear the audience don’t do nuance, we’re presented with way too many examples of just how harried poor Joy’s life is, which include flashbacks to her glory days of childhood origami, a very nasty divorce (during which some Origami gets damaged) and some dream sequences involving both her family and the cast on the set of mother’s favourite daytime show.

And that’s all before Joy starts her own business with and taking some particularly poor business advice from the very same circle of people that have been running her ragged for seventeen years. The blow-by-blow product design, inner mechanics and 300 feet of continuous loop cotton of her miracle mop were lost on me but was soon awoken by the hard knocks of zero sales. Enter snake oil salesman and QVC executive Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper), who promises to raise her back to life but not before a few more knocks and a second mortgage on the house.

I must have been taking off my coat at the beginning of the movie and missed the timeline but it was only in this first scene at the QVC shopping channel set was I given an indication of the era. Neil the futurologist made some predictions about the future of retail and home computing whilst giving Joy a tour of their very shabby premises.

You have to be tough for business is a key theme of the movie but you too join the club with a bad hairdo, a raised voice and some finger pointing.

So, anyway, Joy does make it, there’s no spoiler as it’s a biopic of a self-made millionaire but not before encountering more stress and disappointment.

So what’s not to like?  I’m not quite sure what went wrong. Any-rags-to-riches journey to the top is always a good yarn, the acting solid, the characters and their side stories quirky and fun yet together it hung uncomfortably accentuated by the inane voiceover from Grandma Mimi with platitudes like ‘that day Joy was not to know that in ten years …’

The closing scene sort of sealed the deal for me with the present day successful Joy now ‘arrived’ in her mock tudor mansion replete with very bad hairdo, dressed and behaving like Princess Diana offering alms to peasant inventors that had been waiting their turn for an audience with Joy. The happy ending was the silent reappearance of her son who must have been abducted as a toddler only to be returned as a teenager in the final scene, having been cut out and upstaged by his big sister throughout the movie.

Watching interviews with the real Joy Mangano about the movie, she hopes it will be an inspiration to other women and people out there with ideas to just do it. As a Joy myself and self employed, I couldn’t agree more and first on my not to-do list is to spend 124 minutes watching inferior quality movies. From the crew and cast behind classics such as The Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, we’d expect a little more joy,

Joy Redmond

167 minutes (See IFCO for details)

Joy is released 1st January 2016

Joy – Official Website



Feminist Film Festival: Equality in Filmmaking Is Not So Frightening This Halloween


Joy Redmond previews the second Feminist Film Festival, which takes place 30th October – 1st November at Dublin’s The New Theatre.


The origin of Ireland’s only Feminist Film Festival reads like a Hollywood script – Karla Healion, a graduate traveling through Asia meets and is “blown away by a group of amazing former female victims of human trafficking” in Nepal. Back home and embarking on a Masters in Film Studies, Karla wants to raise money for their charity – SASANE which they established in 2008 by to train, educate and support other women who need help.

Noticing the many one-off events, premieres and talks but the absence of a full festival/weekend and just so the Feminist Film Festival is born.

Running from Friday to Sunday over the Halloween weekend in The New Theatre in Temple Bar, Karla maintains “it’s all about raising a few quid for these women while celebrating and supporting women in film. While we might get some great representation of women on screen, the vast majority of principal roles (director, editor, producer) are men so it’s good to support women behind the camera. It creates more of an equal industry. Having said that, it’s not a whinge fest – our first screening will be followed by a free talk on the ‘Achievements of Women in Film’ with Dr. Jennifer O’Meara (Maynooth University) because we have much to celebrate.”

Now in its second year, the programme has something for everyone, including the Irish premiere of Mary Dore’s She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, a documentary charting the U.S. women’s movement between 1966-1971.

“This year, all films are directed by women so it’s really important to make sure they get the exposure they deserve if we consider that only 5% of big budget films are from female directors or even closer to home, that 13% of films funded by the Irish Film Board are written by women so it’s all about trying to get more parity. The upside to the lack of blockbusters headed up by women is that when you approach the companies regarding the licence or the possibility of a premiere, we end up talking to actual filmmakers themselves, it’s interesting like that and makes it kind of intimate.”

The programme is eclectic to say the least and is the result of the work of a group of volunteers over the last few months.

“Instead of an overt theme, we wanted to be representational, e.g. a film that represented the non-western experience (Shinjuku Boys), something Irish (Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey), an Irish premiere (She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry), which is a real coup for us considering it sold out in the London Feminist Film Festival – it’s really inspiring and shines a bit of light on the journey since the early ’70s and, indeed, what hasn’t changed. We were delighted to include the 1962 classic Cléo from 5 to 7 by Agnès Varda and because of the weekend that’s in it, we had to include a Halloween Horror special with Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook.”

One learning from last year was the lack of appropriate material for younger girls so Whip It should prove popular: “It’s a coming-of-age movie which should resonate with 12 year olds and up. It’s a really powerful message to younger audiences that the filmmaker behind the character is a woman and we want them to walk out and think ‘that was made by women, i could do that’. The festival is about empowering people of any age and getting the point across that women can be cultural producers and not just consumers of art or being objectified.”

It’s not all moving pictures either with a fair smattering of talks and panel discussions chaired by academics and film makers. Karla’s personal favourite of the weekend’s line-up, the closing panel discussion chaired by Professor Maria Pramaggiore (Head of Media Studies, Maynooth University): ‘Forms of Feminist Film: Fiction, Non-fiction, Experimental’ with Lelia Doolan (filmmaker; director of Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey), Dr. Maeve Connolly (Co-director ARC programme, IADT), Jesse Jones (filmmaker and visual artist), and Tess Motherway (documentary filmmaker and festival director at Dublin Doc Fest).

So put the Halloween weekend in your diary for Dublin’s second feminist film festival in the New Theatre in Temple Bar.

“We’re really happy to be back in this intimate environment – the layout is friendly/close knit, everyone is on the same level so the venue is very appropriate venue to our ethos, no podiums and mics just everyone sitting together and chatting.”

With intimacy comes a limited capacity of just 66 seats, so audiences are advised to book in advance to avoid disappointment. Tickets can be bought online or free talks booked here

Just like the 2014 festival, ALL profits from the Feminist Film Festival will once again go to Sasane and the Sasane SOS/Sisterhood of Survivors, Nepal. No money will be taken for admin, handling or processing from the profits, the event is run voluntarily.


If you can’t make the festival, you can DONATE DIRECTLY HERE:

Further details and information about the Feminist Film Festival is available on their Website:

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