Interview: Conor Barry


The 14th edition of Producers on the Move will be held during the Cannes Film Festival ( 18-21 May). Since its launch 14 years ago, Producers on the Move has brought 270 producers together over four days during Cannes and aims to lay the foundation for future collaborations at round table meetings and co-production lunches. This year 29 producers from 29 different European countries will take part in the event. Among them is Irish producer Conor Barry.

Conor graduated from the IADT in Dun Laoghaire (the National Film School). He has worked very closely with the writer/director – Brendan Muldowney over the years, producing his IFTA award-winning feature film Savage, and eight short films including Innocence and The Ten Steps. He has also produced two IFTA-nominated documentaries In Sunshine or in Shadow and Gualainn le Gualann (w/d – Andrew Gallimore). He is currently producing the feature film Love Eternal (w/d – Brendan Muldowney) with Morgan Bushe and Macdara Kelleher in Fastnet Films and is serving as the Irish co-producer on Simon Pummell’s transmedia project Brand New-U and is now in advanced development on Muldowney’s next project Pilgrimage.

Conor co-founded SP Films, an award winning Dublin-based film production company, with Brendan Muldowney, with the aim of developing and producing feature films for an international audience.

Niamh Creely caught up with Conor just before he headed off to Cannes as this year’s Irish Producer on the Move.


You must be very pleased to be selected as one of the 25 Producers on the Move at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.


Yes. Producers on the Move is obviously a great brand and it gives me a tremendous opportunity to pitch some of the projects I’m involved with and also to get to hear about the projects all those other Producers on the Move have as well.


I was reading what it entails and it sounds great –lots of networking and also getting a chance to meet Producers on the Move from previous years.


Yes, and I know for a fact that an awful lot of Producers on the Move end up working together and that is again a great opportunity to put the projects in the shop window.


How does the selection process work?


I think in each country the film board or whatever selects a particular producer, and I was lucky enough to be selected by the Irish Film Board this year.


I read that it has to be someone who has done some work on an international film already.


Love Eternal was a co-production with Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland and Japan and also we’ve just finished shooting another co-production with the UK and the Netherlands, Brand New-U, directed by Simon Pummell.


Love Eternal is based on a novel and directed by Brendan Muldowney – can you tell us a little about it? I see you’re working with Fastnet Films – how did that connection come about?


Love Eternal is a Fastnet Films project. Macdara Kelleher, the MD of Fastnet, was at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007 and he came across a treatment of a novel by a Japanese author Kei Ôishi called Loving The Dead. The book is quite dark but has a heart to it and he contacted both of us in relation to that. We loved the material and have been developing it since 2008.


I noticed that the Dutch production company Rinkel Film, who worked with Fastnet Films on The Other Side of Sleep, are involved with Love Eternal – is that how that connection came about?


Funnily enough the Producer on the Move in 2008 was Macdara Kelleher and Reinier Selen of Rinkel Film was the Dutch Producer on the Move in the same year  – and out of that came a project Nothing Personal, which was led by Rinkel Film, and that was the start of a relationship on several projects between Fastnet Films and Rinkel Film – Nothing Personal,  The Other Side of Sleep and Love Eternal. Coincidentally Brand New-U, which is done through SP Films – myself and Brendan’s company – our Dutch co-producer on that is Rinkel Film. So there’s connections there alright!


You also attended the EAVE 2010 European Producers Workshop and the ACE Producers Network as well – so you’ve been using all these opportunities that have arisen.


Totally. In this day and age your natural networks are probably the most important thing. You just can’t finance a film through one country or through one partner;  you need multiple partners – and EAVE 2010 and ACE and, to a certain extent hopefully Producers on the Move allow producers to be able to engage with talent in each other’s countries in a very natural manner. The whole purpose of EAVE and ACE is to get to know people over a period of time and it becomes a very natural process rather than  just showing each other projects or becoming  attached to one or just looking for advice. It gets rid of all those borders… in your headspace anyway.


Making it more of a human connection…




You’ve had a long-term creative partnership with Brendan Muldowney. How did that begin?


We were in film school together, doing the degree in Dún Laoghaire College  IADT now. His graduate short film was called The Church of Acceptance and that was screened at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival a very prestigious festival and we just kicked on from there doing a number of short films together and moving on into features with Savage.


For people who want to get into film would you say your route was ‘textbook’ – going to college; making short films…


You know, I hate reducing it to a game but sometimes it’s like Snakes and Ladders – and I’ve definitely never taken the elevator; it’s always one step at a time. It’s what I would call a well-worn traditional path – doing a Filmbase course, or some film-related course, using that to get a portfolio together to allow you to get into film school, then making a graduate film, and then using that film to get into festivals and then kicking on in terms of various different short-film funding awards and then gradually developing into features – very much one step at a time. It’s good to know that there is some sort of a route out there – but it’s a long-term route and a lot of work.


So what’s the plan for Cannes?


I’ll be there from the 17th to the 22nd with John Keville, my producing partner at SP Films  and as usual we will be pushing the projects we have and also keeping our ears open for anyone who’s looking to speak to us about other projects.








Short Horror Films at Exchange Arts Centre Sat Nov 20th


A free literary reading and screening of short horror films will take place this Saturday, 20th November at 9pm at the Exchange Arts Centre, Exchange Street Upper in Temple Bar.

The evening will begin with a reading at 9pm of the Dublin-born 19th-century author Sheridan Le Fanu’s celebrated novella ‘Carmilla’, the fictional story that invented the female vampire as a literary character (later to become so popular with filmmakers and cinema audiences). Set in central Europe, this story was to greatly influence another Dublin-born author, Bram Stoker, in the writing of his novel ‘Dracula’ and also served as the basis for several 20th-century films, including Hammer’s The Vampire Lovers (1970), Roger Vadim’s Blood and Roses (1960), Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932) and Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness (1970).

The ‘Gothic literature’ reading will be followed (from approx 10pm or so, until 11pm closing) by the screening of a programme of horror/chiller short films, as another part of the same ongoing inaugural festival of horrors (soon to draw to a close for this year).

This programme will consist entirely of shorts chosen to suit the horror/chiller theme of this new festival and will include several short films directed by Brendan Muldowney and produced by Conor Barry for SP Films including ‘The Ten Steps’, ‘Innocence’, ‘The Honourable Scaffolder’, ‘Beauty Queen’ and ‘Final Journey‘. Other filmmakers’ shorts to be screened at this event will include the recent documentary ‘Fear’ (dir Conor Horgan – 2009; running time 25 mins approx), Irish narrative shorts ‘Vale Road’ (dir Glenda Cimino), ‘Th3 Room’ (dir Sean Breathnach), ‘Death Is Red’ (dir Gerry Wade), ‘The Hollow Girl’ (Dave McCabe) and ‘Circus Porcalina’ (dir Aaron O’Reilly) and the brand new music video ‘Taking Lives’ by Irish band Zombie Cops (dir Eoin Heaney).

Glenda Cimino’s lengthy first short ‘Vale Road’ won third prize in the ‘Clontarf Bram Stoker Horror Film Competition’ that was held at the end of October at Clontarf Castle Hotel. Its large cast included Conor Drum, Tommy O’Neill, Phyllis Carty, Seamus Whelan, Ian Walsh, Kathy Kavanagh, Jason Nelson, Siobhan Hearty and the late Rhiannon Lee Doyle (who sadly passed away shortly after filming ended in 2007).