Issue 137 Summer 2011 Irish Playwrights & Screenwriters Guild: Ciaran Creagh




Over the coming weeks Film Ireland will publish online the entire back catalogue of articles written by members of the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild that have appeared in Film Ireland magazine. These popular articles give an insight into the creative process used by each writer.  

Ciaran Creagh (Parked) on the learning curve he faced moving from writing for the stage to film.


Quentin Tarantino once said that ‘if I really considered myself a writer, I wouldn’t be writing screenplays. I’d be writing novels.’ These words do hold some resonance for me because I have always been somewhat uneasy with the label ‘writer’. Perhaps this discomfort stems from a lack of formal training or that I have never studied English at college. However, I suspect it might be a nervousness about proclaiming publicly that I am a writer without having the established credentials to back up this claim.


Initially, for a reason that now escapes me, I started writing about 10 years ago and concentrated exclusively on playwriting. Seldom were earnest thoughts of writing a screenplay entertained. In a way, I think the solitude or even the selfishness of writing a play is the real attraction where, until intensive rehearsals begin, the script is exclusively yours. When I did decide to seriously tackle a screenplay, I was somewhat unaware of what lay ahead.


Writing is writing, you might have thought, but that is clearly not the case. I suppose it is a normal progression for a playwright to move sideways into screenwriting and I happily set about this, unaware of the learning curve involved. Thanks to the internet, you can quickly find out the rules and methods, what you should and shouldn’t do, and deliver the American three-act masterpiece where the hero wins out against adversity. Maybe that is what a producer is looking for but you must be so careful not to lose your direction and creativity in order to conform.


Write long


My own particular style is to write long. This is how I wrote for theatre and perhaps I find comfort in lots of action and dialogue. The key for me in crafting a screenplay is the edit where I continually revise the script, cutting dialogue and action. A script that I am currently working on had 123 pages on the first draft, was cut to 58 on the second and is now at 79 with the aim of adding an additional 12 to 14 pages. Perhaps the pragmatic thing to do would be to plan, write the treatment and shorten this process. But that, to be honest, would not be me.


It should not be underestimated how difficult it is to change from writing for the stage to writing for film. In an average play you might have two to five scenes as compared to over one hundred in an average screenplay. This corresponds to a significant amount of turning points, linked scenes and tonal ambience to contend with. On the stage, given the constraints of a live performance space, dialogue drives to the core of conflict. I have always loved dialogue and this was probably the most difficult change for me to make. Less is just so much more in film.




To be in development is the manna for scriptwriters but I do wonder sometimes if this is the best place to be. For your career it certainly is, but for the creative process, I remain unconvinced because of the constraints imposed by the other interested parties during the process. The Irish Film Board’s concept of first-draft loans to writers is fantastic and allows writers the space to get an idea fully formed and ready for the onward march towards production. Once you have been though this process you soon realise that the script is no longer yours and you just have to let it go. Understanding this is perhaps the key from the writer’s perspective and gives the script the best chance of making it to the big screen.


Once the writer makes it through this psychological barrier and becomes immersed in the production, a whole new level of learning begins and the experience, while difficult, can be wonderful. You soon realise that the other players in the development and production cycle are not there to scupper the script but that the script has gained a new raft of parents, grandparents, uncles and cousins who want to protect, nurture and give the script its best chance at life. When you sit there in the darkened cinema as the film finishes and the credits roll, it is then you realise how vital and beneficial this process has been for the script.

This article originally appeared in Film Ireland summer 2011 issue 137, published 5th May 2011.


‘Parked’ success at Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival

Colm Meaney in Parked

Darragh Byrne’s Parked took the top prize at the Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival, a festival dedicated to up and coming new directors. The jury was ‘very much moved by the mastery of storytelling of a first time director about the unexpected friendship of two opposite characters. In a subtle way the narrative unfolds underestimated values of marginalized people in a bureaucratic society that increasingly fails to recover and maintain human dignity,’ according to festival organizers.


Colin Morgan attends NI premiere of ‘Parked’, which opens Takeover Film Weekend at QFT


Merlin star brings a touch of magic to Takeover Film Weekend at QFT

Star of BBC One’s Merlin series and Armagh born actor Colin Morgan will bringing his special brand of magic to QFT on Friday, 18 November to open the Takeover Film Weekend.

Designed, programmed and run by a team of young people from different cultural backgrounds, the Takeover Film Weekend is a QFT Learning project that is supported by Belfast City Council Development and Outreach Initiative and the Community Relations Council, in partnership with the Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People.

The Takeover Film Weekend will open on Friday, 18th November with the Northern Ireland premiere of Parked, which stars guest Colin Morgan, who will introduce and discuss the film. A triumphant story of friendship, hope and perseverance, Parked tells the story of a proud man (Colm Meaney) living in his car is inspired by a young addict (Colin Morgan) to become a better person.


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


Interview: Writer Ciaran Creagh on Irish film ‘Parked’


A  triumphant story of friendship, hope, and perseverance, Parked tells the story of Fred Daly (Colm Meaney) as he returns to Ireland with nowhere to live but his car. Then dope-smoking 21-year-old Cathal (Colin Morgan) parks beside him, and brightens up his lonely world. Encouraged by Cathal, Fred meets attractive music teacher Jules (Milka Ahlroth). Growing closer, these three outsiders are set on a course that will change their lives forever.

The film’s writer, Ciaran Creagh, tells Film Ireland about Parked, which is released in cinemas this week.

Tell us a little bit about the ideas and issues behind Parked.
Parked tells the story of Fred, a returning emigrant, who has been living in the UK for some decades. On returning and having no home to go to, he has no option but to live in his car. A proud and honest man he finds it difficult to seek out help from the State. Cathal is an honest working-class lad who didn’t get the breaks in life. He too has also ended up living in his car in the same car park as Fred. Homelessness in the current recession can sneak up on anybody and definitely gone are the stereotypical notions. The rule book has been torn up and it is now getting easier to become part of an ever increasing marginalised Irish society.

How did Parked come about – were you approached to do it?
Like the main location in the film it all began in a car park. A chance phone call seeking a writer to hook up with a director for the Catalyst Project in 2007 and the journey commenced. Timing wise it could have been better as I was going on holidays to the Kingdom of Kerry. Holiday activity with the family were squeezed by late nights and early morning writing sessions, the first draft being produced prior to returning home. A very quick second draft was turned around and The Vanishing Point aka. Parked was submitted but the application proved unsuccessful.

How would you describe the relationship between Fred & Cathal?
It is like a father/son relationship with Fred trying to help and protect Cathal from the scourge of drugs while Cathal is pushing Fred to reconnect with the world. Cathal has serious issues with his own father and Fred has become his surrogate father in a way, one that listens but at the same time doesn’t judge. Maybe Fred sees himself in Cathal and that he lost his way when he was young and that drove him to emigrate. The overriding attribute of their relationship is that they are just good friends.

On a simple level I saw it that Cathal is trying to escape while Fred is trying to fit in.
Fred has been away from Ireland for most of his adult life and he has come to realise that he has failed to fit in the UK after all the decades he has lived there. Fred took the decision to return home hoping that he could slip back into his old life but he soon realises that Ireland is now a very changed country and from the start Fred is pushed to the margins of society. In contrast Cathal has disconnected from society due to his family circumstances and his constant drug use. In a way though both Fred and Cathal are very similar in that Fred never wants to draw attention to himself and Cathal just ignores society.

We learn quite a bit about Cathal & Juliana’s characters, but with Fred his story is never revealed – what was the thinking behind this?
Originally in the script we see Fred in London prior to coming home living in isolation and becoming more and more alienated from society. This was part of the reason he chose to come home. The scenes were shot but excluded from the final cut as it felt that it slowed the flow of the film. These type of decisions are difficult to make and does the shot of the ferry arriving and a disillusioned Fred parking up his car in the car park to sleep achieve the same effect? From my perspective I think it was the right decision. Also early on it was decided that we didn’t want Fred to be the typical ‘Paddy’ character, e.g. an uneducated alcoholic Irish builder living in Kilburn. Fred likes classical music, can fix clocks and has an orderly organised mind.

How close did you work with the film’s director, Darragh Byrne?
During the development process of Parked, the director and myself over a period of about six months dissected each character, scene and setting in turn to a stage where we felt that the film was working really well. The intense development really stood to the story and brought the script to a place where it deserved to be. There is no substitute for hard work. Even though the work associated with this process was significant, it proved to be the right choice, and when the Irish Film Board and Ripple World Pictures became involved the film moved quickly through their development process to the production stage very quickly indeed.

What’s it like to see the characters from your imagination come alive on screen?
I have lived with these guys for years now, rattling around my head through all the various drafts and on all the journeys that they took. Through the development process we put Fred and Cathal, the two main characters, in all sorts of scenarios and locations but funnily enough my first thought when I think of them is visualising the two of them leaving the car park in Fairview and walking down towards the Bull Wall having a laugh. I can’t see any other faces now but Colm and Colin probably because they are Fred and Cathal.

What are you currently working on – any more screenplays in the pipeline?
Presently I am working on two screenplays, a Northside Dublin comedy and a period piece and have about five treatments on the go. I am also writing a play about the famine which hopefully will be premiered in 2013.

Steven Galvin


'Knuckle', 'Parked' and 'The Runway' to screen at Irish Film New York


Irish Film New York

A new Irish Contemporary Screening Series at NYU

The very best in contemporary Irish cinema comes to New York with a special three-day screening series running from Friday, 30th September to Sunday, 2nd October featuring filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions, and filmmaker receptions.

Films include Knuckle, a visceral look at bare knuckle boxing among the Irish Traveller community, the Galway Film Fleadh-winning feature Parked, a story of friendship, hope, and perseverance between two ‘neighbours’ living in their cars, starring Colm Meaney, and The Runway, where the citizens of County Cork come to the aid of a South American pilot who has crash landed in their town.

All three films are up for limited release in the United States in the forthcoming months. Other films screening include Marian Quinn’s 32A, Maya Derringtons’ documentary Pyjama Girls, and Tom Hall’s Sensation.

The event is co-presented by NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House and funded by Culture Ireland’s Imagine Ireland Program.

The main events include:

  • Seven screenings hosted by Glucksman Ireland House NYU at NYU’s Cantor Film Center.
  • A ‘Meet the Filmmakers’ panel discussion co-presented by Tisch School of Arts and Irish Film New York.
  • An Irish documentary showcase presentation at POV’s offices in Brooklyn.
  • Industry brunch with film producers, distributors, and agents hosted by the Irish Consul General in New York.

Tickets: $10-$12

Venue: NYU’s Cantor Film Center, 36 East 8th Street

To find out more and to view a trailer of the festival visit:


Issue 132 – On set report – 'Parked' in Ireland’s Coldest Winter

Sound mixer Dan Birch at Pigeon Hse carpark, photo by Stefan Godskesen

Alessandro Molatore reports from the set of ‘Parked’, a new feature starring Colm Meaney.

During Ireland’s coldest January for 25 years the last sight local walkers expected to see was a film crew shooting in an exposed Dublin Bay car park. The four-week shoot for Parked kicked off with six days in the coastal car park in the centre of Dublin’s expansive, semicircular bay. The area is essentially industrial, dominated by the two tall chimneys of the electrical power station that are a distinctive landmark of the nation’s capital. Exposed to all of the elements – gale force onshore winds, rain and snow, sand and sleet – it makes for an inhospitable shooting environment, but one that suits the story perfectly.

Acting legend
The fiction debut of documentary director Darragh Byrne, Parked centres on Fred Daly, a man who returns to his hometown after spending many years away and has nowhere to live but the car he arrives in. Fred is played by Irish acting legend Colm Meaney. ‘Fred doesn’t like to be an outsider,’ comments Meaney. ‘He very much wants to blend in. He wants to be part of something but he is not quite sure how to do it.’ A proud man, whose life has shrunk to a series of mundane routines, Fred’s world is opened up by the arrival of Cathal, a chaotic, dope-smoking 21-year-old who also pulls up in the car park and makes it his home.

Producer Dominic Wright explains, ‘Parked reflects a very real way of life for many people. The global economic crisis means there are lot of people out there in a similar situation to Fred who find themselves suddenly with no job and no real home to speak of, looking for a way back into society. The “mobile homeless” is a very real phenomenon. Parked could be anyone’s story.’ Colm Meaney agrees, ‘This could take place anywhere. It’s a universal story. There are people living like this all over the world. I don’t think this is particularly an Irish reality.’

The full article is printed in Film Ireland 132.