Women in Film & Television Ireland Podcast: In Conversation with Emer Reynolds & Lisa Mulcachy

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In Conversation with Emer Reynolds & Lisa Mulcahy

Film Ireland is delighted to be working with Women in Film and Television Ireland to record, archive and share the organisation’s monthly events.

Women in Film and Television Ireland‘s first monthly members’ event (21st October 2015) featured award-winning Irish film editor Emer Reynolds and award-winning film and TV director Lisa Mulcahy in conversation.

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In Conversation with Emer Reynolds and Lisa Mulcahy took place on Wednesday, October 21st at 6pm.

For membership details click here

 

Emer Reynolds – Editor and Director

Emer Reynolds, multiple award winning Film Editor, and Grierson-nominated Director, is based in Dublin, Ireland. Her feature editing credits include I Went Down, The Actors, The Eclipse, Patrick’s Day, My Name is Emily and the recently completed adaptation of the Carol Shields novel, Unless. Her documentary work includes One Million Dubliners, We went to War, Broken Tail and the multi-award winning series The Secret Life of the Shannon. TV Drama includes the opening two series of C4’s groundbreaking drama Shameless. Emer has written and directed four short films and directed the RTÉ drama series Trouble in Paradise. Her feature documentary on the Cuban Missile Crisis, Here Was Cuba, also her documentary directorial debut, was screened in festivals worldwide, on More4 and was nominated for a Grierson Award 2014. She is currently directing The Farthest, a feature documentary space opera, featuring the plucky Voyager spacecraft.

 

Lisa Mulcahy – Director

Lisa has recently been IFTA nominated for Best Director – Soap/Comedy for her work on Red Rock the critically acclaimed ensemble drama for TV3. She has completed 16 episodes (including the season 1 finale) and is about to shoot the first four episodes for Season 2. Her award winning feature film The Legend of Longwood which she directed and co-wrote will be in Cinemas in Ireland from October 23rd 2015 and was released in the US and Holland in June 2015 and Germany in September. Her first feature film Situations Vacant, a comedy shot in Dublin, was released nationwide in Ireland in December 2009. Her Hallmark Movie Gift of the Magi was broadcast over the 2010/2011 Christmas season in the US. Her short movie Coming Home has received thousands of hits on the internet. She was the lead director on the award winning RTÉ drama series The Clinic and directed twelve episodes in total over five seasons. She also directed episodes of On Home Ground, another RTÉ drama.

She has directed documentaries and short films as well as numerous commercials for Television and cinema. In a previous existence she was a first Assistant Director on many films and television dramas in Ireland and abroad and began her career in the industry as an assistant film editor in Dublin and then London.

 

Women in Film and Television Ireland

Women in Film and Television International is a voluntary foundation promoting greater representation of women on screen and behind the camera, with a membership of over thirteen thousand professionals worldwide.

Women in Film and Television Ireland is a branch of Women in Film and Television International. The Irish branch is a voluntary body run by film and TV professionals of international standing. Our committee members represent the creative, business and technical divisions of the Irish audiovisual sector. We are all internationally credited and the recipients of industry-recognized awards. Our intention in creating this organization is to ensure that the film and television industry functions as a meritocratic, sustainable and successful force into the future.

 

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Review: The Legend of Longwood

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DIR: Lisa Mulcahy • WRI: Nadadja Kemper, Lisa Mulcahy, Gwen Eckhaus • PRO: Michael Garland, Nadadja Kemper, Paul Myler, Rob Vermeulen • DOP: Richard Van Oosterhout • ED: Gráinne Gavigan • MUS: Patrick Neil Doyle • DES: Diana van de Vossenberg • CAST: Lucy Morton, Lorcan Bonner, Fiona Glascott, Thekla Reuten, Brendan Conroy, Lorcan Cranitch, Séan Mahon

 

Best known for directing critically acclaimed television dramas such as The Clinic and Red Rock, Irish director Lisa Mulcahy’s second full-length feature film is the children’s fantasy quest The Legend of Longwood. This coming-of-age adventure follows twelve-year old, horse-mad Mickey Miller, whose life is turned upside-down when her horse dies and her mother uproots the family from New York to an eerie backwater in Ireland. Struggling to adjust, Mickey begins to see sinister apparitions linked to the local legend of a mysterious Black Knight, who has been tormenting the village for three hundred years. She soon discovers the legend, a nasty witch called Caitlin and seven precious horses are all connected back to her and she holds the key to unlocking the secret, redeeming the knight and restoring harmony to the village.

Set amidst vast rolling landscapes seeped in majestic mountains, lush hillsides and mystical moors, the Legend of Longwood provides both a beguiling and foreboding platform from which to spring the magical fantasy and supernatural intrigue the mythical legend evokes. While the cinematography is suitably enchanting, lending well to the menace of ill-omened knights, blazing fires, unexplained deaths and imposing castles, the adventure quest narrative fails to commensurate with the tone and mood established by the film’s polychromatic portrait, largely owing to a transparent imbalance within the script. Fusing a mysterious mythological tale with a contemporary fable of greed and deception, to which a young, fearless heroine must overcome adversity to restore order, is always a good starting point in the fantasy quest genre. The problem within the narrative is that despite some impressive performances, the film is just a little too short on mystery or fantasy and stripped of these crucial narrative elements, very little else remains.

Structured upon two narrative strands, whereby a plucky heroine attempts to thwart the dastardly deeds of the wicked witch while attempting to solve a supernatural riddle, should interweave to consolidate a coherent core narrative driven by the heroine’s transformation as she faces many adversities. The script however, fails to affect such a balance and the narrative takes a wild detour away from the mysterious paranormal quest into the realms of comedy and farce as the witch’s sneaky shenanigans gain momentum, engulfing the entire narrative. As such, the story now meanders from the spellbinding promise of mythological adventure to hoodwinking an incompetent castle lord, devaluing the film’s fantastical elements and losing much of the mystical weight the quest should be seeped in. The real adventure now lies with Caitlin’s cunning strategies, Mickey’s fantastical exploits becoming mere afterthoughts, peppered at random around the witch’s sadistic schemes.

Aside from the standout performances from Fiona Glascott as the calculating shrew (also currently starring in John Crowley’s Brooklyn) and Lorcan Cranitch as her partner in crime, the rest of the cast underwhelm and fail to penetrate the limitations of a script evidently burdened with too many screenwriters. Far too many characters, surplus to requirements, add to the uncertainty of the script’s direction and problematic storytelling, lacking any sense of cohesion between the cast. Seán Mahon as the hoodwinked lord, through no fault of his own, is wholly ineffectual, providing no foil to his fiancée’s plot and is representative of the many of the impotent supporting characters who dot the narrative but pose no serious threat to Mickey, depreciating her status as a heroine and situating her as a rather unidentifiable character.

With so many quest films oversaturating the market, The Legend of Longwood is unsuccessful in delivering a narrative that satisfies the crucial components of any fantasy adventure film. Without a high level of mystical intrigue and unnerving eeriness fuelling the story, the plot fails to ignite on a level that would allow for audience investment and identification. As such, the heroine’s anaemic transformation and spiritless adventures, devoid of emotional punch, merely trundle forward at a lackluster pace, lacking the robustness required to hold the attention of sophisticated audiences of the genre, both adults and children alike. Without a substantial heroine driving the narrative, in a plot that is too light on fantasy and mystery, The Legend of Longwood fails to make much impact, despite its captivating façade and unfortunately the film becomes just another forgettable adventure quest drama.

                                                                                                                                       Dee O’Donoghue

PG (See IFCO for details)

99 minutes

The Legend of Longwood is released 23rd October 2015

The Legend of Longwood Official Website

 

 

 

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Casting the Irish film ‘Situations Vacant’

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Photo: Situations Vacant

Gordon Gaffney talks to Lisa Mulcahy, the director of recent Irish release Situations Vacant, about her approach to casting and one of the film’s stars, Shaun Dunne, talks about how he got the part.

Situations Vacant is a new Irish comedy written by first-time writer Steven Murray and directed by Lisa Mulcahy, who has cut her teeth on several shorts and on the TV drama The Clinic. It follows the lives of Dave Bracken (Diarmuid Noyes), Vinny (Shaun Dunne) who are both loveless and jobless, and friend Tom (Sam Corry) who, although employed and in a relationship, is unhappy and bullied in both. Barstool sage Whack (Brendan Conroy) advises Dave and Vinny that they should lie in their interviews and, although initially their lies pay off, they soon start to unravel.

Shooting started in early 2008 and Grand Pictures’ budget of €200,000 meant that big-name actors were not an option. This meant the cast was mainly made up of actors aged 19–26 who, while not household names, had similar experience and training to many actors around the country.

Many have acted since they were children through the Abbey Children’s Programme, Ann Kavanagh’s Young Peoples’ Theatre, and the Talented Kids & Teens Performing Arts School & Agency. So, although in their late teens or early twenties they have had many years acting experience. All have gained some experience in theatre, including appearing in productions in the Gate, the Abbey, the Gaiety and in the West End. On-screen credits included short films, well known features such as The Magdalene Sisters, and the almost rite-of-passage acting jobs in Fair City and The Tudors.

With CVs not too dissimilar to so many actors in the country, how did these actors get their break in Situations Vacant?

Lisa Mulcahy takes up the story. ‘Louise Kiely [the casting director] had worked with a lot of unknown people, so she knew Shaun and other people that we cast. She cast 32A, so she knew all the girls involved with that.’ And how did you come to work with Louise? ‘She had worked with Grand Pictures before and was enthusiastic. I had phone conversations with her and we got on well – we met for coffee and hit it off. It was good to have a low budget, as I wasn’t forced to work with people I didn’t want to.

‘I love auditioning people,’ Lisa continues, ‘some directors don’t like working with actors but I do; the audition process is very cheap and I try and see as many actors as possible. Louise ended up organising about four hundred actors to audition’.

Normally the audition process (see Film Ireland magazine’s article ‘The Business of Acting’ in issue 131) would have a casting director, the director and sometimes the producer present, but the auditions in Situations Vacant were different. Lisa explains: ‘We hired a female actor to read with the guys at every audition and a male actor to read with the girls. Usually the casting director reads, but some casting directors mightn’t be natural actors. Louise is, but the casting director has another job to concentrate on during the audition and having the actor there for the day allows them to do that.’

Having a trained actor also allowed improvisation in the auditions which both Lisa and Shaun Dunne, who plays Vinny in the movie, found helpful.

‘It took the pressure off me as I wasn’t looking directly at the casting director. I could focus on my performance – it’s different when the person you are performing against is actually critiquing you. Only 1 in 10 auditions would be this way, and an audition is an audition. As long as you go in with the right mind set, whether you’re reading with the casting director or an actor, if you’re right for it you’re right for it.’

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_41ZG-wIM8[/youtube]

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