Interview: Richard Bolger, producer of ‘Cardboard Gangsters’



Stalker Films and Five Knight Films in association with Filmbase present Mark O’Connor’s latest feature Cardboard Gangsters. The film introduces us to a group of young men who attempt to gain control of the drug trade in Darndale, chasing the glorified lifestyle of money, power and sex.

Film Ireland caught up with producer Richard Bolger ahead of the film’s premiere at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.


Described in the Galway Film Fleadh programme as “an intoxicating blend of high-octane violence and crime and a sobering condemnation of the circumstances that trap people in the lifestyle with no hope of escape”, Richard Bolger, the producer of Cardboard Gangsters, explains that the film is “the story of four best friends who form a gang in Darndale. They start off selling marijuana before things start to get a bit more serious and the main character Jay, who has a kid, has to get out as the situation becomes more dangerous when they start stealing heroin.”

Jay is played by John Connors, who was involved in the script with writer/director Mark O’Connor. The pair had originally worked together on Stalker and King of the Travellers. “The original idea for Cardboard Gangsters was John’s,” Richard explains. “Mark came on board and the two of them co-wrote the script. John was thinking that maybe he would do it himself and then the idea got bigger and bigger and he brought the project to Mark. Both of them have a huge love of the gangster genre. John started writing it around King of the Travellers in 2012 and we started shooting  in September 2015 for just over 3 weeks.”

The film boasts an impressive cast alongside John. Fionn Walton (What Richard Did) plays fellow gang member Dano. Irish rappers Lethal Dialect and Ryan Lincoln complete the gang. Kiersten Warren (Fishtank) is joined by Damien Dempsey and Jimmy Smallhorne who plays Derra – Jay’s nemesis. The cast also includes Stephen Clinch (Love/Hate), plus Gemma-Leah Devereux, Corey McKinley Lydia McGuinnessand Graham Earley amongst others.

“It’s a huge and talented cast, “Richard says. “The first AD, Craig Kenny, said to me that we probably had more in the movie than you’d have in a season of Game of Thrones. That’s down to the story and the different characters the guys meet along the way, be it opposite rival gangs, friends, and the like. Obviously, the guys are dealing drugs so through that there’s a lot of people that they meet for small periods in the film.”

The title of the film is a Dublin phrase for wannabe gangsters. Richard explains that the gang “are not really gangsters; they just want the lifestyle. They are not the most organised professional outfit. They are not like the Joker’s gang at the beginning of the The Dark Knight. These guys couldn’t come up with a plan like that!”

The look of the film was created with the assistance of Irish cinematographer Michael Lavelle, who Richard is quick to praise. “He’s done such amazing stuff. He worked with Terry McMahon on Patricks Day and that’s how Mark got to work with him. Terry just said you’ve got to work with this guy. The visuals were a huge concern for Mark on this project. Gangster films look a certain way. They need to look slick and we knew these characters wanted to be like them so they had to be shot and had to be framed in a certain way. Getting Michael on board was a huge step to achieve that. He knows what is going on and the dynamic of a scene and he can figure how to work it. Mark and him watched an awful lot of films together discussing things that they felt would work for this film.”

Talking about the music, Richard says, “we were blessed on this film. We have Darklands Audio. There’s a real talented guy there called Daniel Doherty who composed the original score for the film which uses a huge amount of rap music. There’s a really interesting scene in Dublin at the minute and some of these musician are in the film and they’ve been working with Mark making tracks for the film. What these guys are coming up with and with Dan producing is amazing. He’s engineering a whole feel to the film. Mark wanted the music to reflect the realism and grittiness of the film and show what life is like for these cardboard gangsters in Dublin.”

And for Richard himself working with Mark O’Connor, “I’d always admired Mark’s work and it was great to get a chance to work with him. He has a special voice and is a real talent in the industry. He makes films that nobody else does.”


Cardboard Gangsters screens at the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday, 9th July at 22.00.

Director Mark O’Connor and cast will attend.

Buy tickets here

Take a look at our preview of all the Irish films ascreening at the 2016 Galway Film Fleadh

The 28th Galway Film Fleadh runs 5 – 10 July 2016








Interview: Richard Bolger, producer of ‘How to Be Happy’



Film Ireland caught up with Richard Bolger, one of the producers of How to Be Happy, which has its world premiere on Sunday at the 25th Galway Film Fleadh.

The comedy feature film How to Be Happy stars Brian Gleeson as Cormac, a marriage guidance counsellor who starts sleeping with his clients, and Gemma-Leah Devereux as Flor, a private detective hired to investigate his antics. The film is set to premiere at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh on Sunday, 14th July. Due to demand a second screening has been organised. Both screenings are now sold-out.

Written by award winning writer/director, Conor Horgan (One Hundred Mornings), How to Be Happy is directed by Michael Rob Costine, Mark Gaster and Brian O’Neill. The development of the script was a collaborative effort between Conor and the students of the Filmbase/Staffordshire University MSc Digital Feature Film Production Course, which prepares filmmakers for the reality of writing, developing, pitching, producing, shooting, editing, posting and distributing feature films in digital formats.

Richard Bolger, one of the producers of the film, relished the experience of working on his first feature film. Cutting his teeth as a producer on the short film Death Can Wait, the course provided him with a great opportunity to step up to the world of features, embracing the challenges such a venture brings with it. “For me as a producer, moving from shorts to features means more complications, such as casting – you need people for longer; you need to get contracts sorted; you need locations and equipment for longer; so there’s all these obstacles. We were doing our film at the lower end of the budget and that makes things harder. I love it though. I like all the phone calls, the paperwork and the stress – I get an energy of that!”

Reflecting on the challenges he faced producing his first feature Richard points out that  “whereas a short film is like a sprint; a feature is very much a marathon. For most people in the class it was their first feature film and it’s trying to get across to everyone that every day is really, really important. When you can only shoot for 17 days everyone’s got to be giving it 110 per cent every day. And that’s hard when you’re working long hours, 6 days a week. It’s trying to keep everyone’s energy up. That’s tough; but the guys were fantastic – and I was lucky in that sense.”

Richard stresses how important teamwork is when coping with the complexities of putting a feature film together. “The dream is that everything runs like a Swiss clock – but that’s never gonna happen. And it’s like putting out fires to keep things running as smoothly as they can. But with everyone rowing in the same direction, everyone with the same vision, everyone with the same drive, it’s a lot easier to deal with obstacles as they present themselves and get the job done.”

The film benefits from some great casting and as well as having Gleeson on board also features the likes of Carrie Crowley, Gemma-Leah Devereux (below), Brian Fortune and Rebekah Wainwright.


“We had 3 directors working on the film [Mark Gaster, Michael Costine and Brian O’Neill] – and that was one of the things I stressed to the lads from the start – casting is so important and so much time should be dedicated to it – whenever you’re reading the script you’re asking “who is that?”. And we really punched above our weight with the actors we got. We were so blessed to have such great talent willing to get involved. You only get to do your first feature once so we aimed for the best cast we could and it was fantastic that we got practically everyone we wanted. And their performance and energy in such a short space of time was amazing to have.”

With How to Be Happy ready for its world premiere this weekend in Galway, Richard is looking forward to this year’s Fleadh and delighted that both screenings are sold out, “which is absolutely fantastic for everyone involved and it’s great to be screening at the Fleadh on the weekend. There’s such a buzz down in Galway and all the filmmakers are there as well. I was only at the Fleadh myself last year for the first time but the greatest thing about it is that you can walk up to any filmmaker and people in the film industry and chat away to them – people you would normally never get access to – and that’s a great opportunity.”


How to Be Happy screens on Sunday, 14th July in the Cinemobile at 11.00 & 12.30