Interview: Conor Dowling, Co-Director of ‘The Light of Day’

10247436_704219166288363_6733685474139280260_n

This week Dublin’s premier filmic fright fest, the Horrorthon, returns blood-stained and shambling to the IFI. Demonic possession and dismemberment are to be expected, but between the shocks and screams there are laughs to be had at the screening of the comedy mockumentary, The Light of Day.

Film Ireland picked at the brains of co-director Conor Dowling ahead of the screening this Friday. 

Set and shot in Dublin, The Light of Day follows a group of amateur filmmakers as they struggle with the horrors of low-budget filmmaking on the set of a vampire horror flick. The mockumentary follows Michael, the DOP trying to salvage the production against a horde of incompetence from the egocentric director, a desperate producer and non-existent budget.

The film was made as part of the MSc in Digital Filmmaking at Filmbase, written by Christopher Brennan and directed by students Amy Carroll, Conor Dowling and Eoin O’ Neill.

After it premiered to rave reviews at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh, Conor Dowling, who describes the team as “horror fanatics”, told us what it means to have it shown at the IFI Horrorthon. “We’re over the moon to be screening at the IFI. I’ve been going to the Horrorthon for years and it’s a genuine honour to have our film screen at it.”

The feature was the culmination of a course focused on practically preparing filmmakers for all areas of film production. Conor went on describe how this benefited the making of the film. “The course allowed the class to work together on several projects throughout the year before The Light of Day, giving us the opportunity to see what it was like to work together along with giving us top quality experience and guidance.”

This was particularly relevant for the three directors. “Before we got onto set we were all on the same page in terms of the script, the cast, the shooting style, and how all the scenes would be staged. Having three directors on a film is not very common and people often wonder how it can possibly work, but for us it was a particularly smooth process, and working with two other directors was actually a huge benefit.”

Conor explains that working collaboratively they were able to “work on our shotlists together and give feedback on the other director’s interpretations of how scenes should play out, while each bringing our own unique take and sense of humour to certain scenes. By the time it came to shoot, we were happy to divide the three shooting weeks up evenly with a week each. Having three directors also allowed us to cover more ground and sometimes even shoot simultaneously. For example, one director could be setting up for a scene in the warehouse and the other director could grab some crew, and an actor to film some additional scenes outside.”

Another topic discussed before the shoot was their influences. “When it comes to mockumentary style you have to look at the likes of The Office, both the US and UK versions, and the films of Christopher Guest. These would have been the main influences but we also looked elsewhere to get an idea of how it has been done differently. For example, I was a big fan of Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, which was a great comedy horror mockumentary in 2006 and we were all a fan of the Belgian film Man Bites Dog, which was not tonally what we were looking for but in terms of camera movement and naturalistic staging of scenes it was a great example.

“So for the mockumentary style we intended to make it look as close to real life as we could using natural light where possible, using a lot of camera movement and working with our cinematographer to obtain the fly on the wall documentary style we wanted.”

The Light of Day is told through behind-the-scenes styled footage documenting the production of the vampire horror flick, ‘The First Bite is the Deepest’. The story of the shoot develops alongside footage of the film, creating a film-within-a-film that presented both challenges and opportunities for the filmmakers. “To establish a different look and feel for the film within the film, we used a different camera and shooting style. Stepping away from the handheld mockumentary style for these scenes, we were able to use a more traditional cinematic shooting style with more complex lighting setups. The aim was to have a short cinemtic horror film split up and placed throughout the overall film, and this film was a great opportunity for us to try out different cinematic techniques and styles from some of our favourite horror and action films.”

 

The Light of Day screens on Friday, 24th October 2014 at 19.10 as part of the IFI Horrorthon 2014 (23rd – 27th October). The directors will attend the screening.

Tickets for The Light of Day are available here

Share

‘The Light of Day’ Screams at Horrorthon

Light-of-Day-2MED-300x238

The Light of Day, the mockumentary about the making of a low-budget vampire horror flick, will emerge from the dead of night to sink its teeth into the IFI Horrorthon next week. The film screens on Friday, 24th October 2014 at 19.10

The Light of Day follows the doomed crew of First Bite is The Deepest, a cheap vampire flick, as they struggle to make their film. With a hapless director, inexperienced crew, world-weary producer, star with a peanut allergy and the worst product placement deals in history there’s more horror behind the scenes than in the film. Things get truly perilous when the film’s private investors pull out halfway through shooting. Now it’s up to the only two sane people on the production to salvage the shoot.

The film was made by students on the Filmbase/Staffordshire University MSc Digital Feature Film Production Course. For further details on the course, click here.

Blood-stained tickets for The Light of Day are available here

 

Share

The Light of Day – Review of Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh

10247436_704219166288363_6733685474139280260_n

 

Cathy Butler sinks her fangs into The Light of Day, a mockumentary about the making of a low-budget vampire horror flick. The film premiered at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

 

When the opening title card appeared on screen, having characteristics suspiciously similar to Final Cut Pro default title settings, I had my doubts about The Light of Day. However, this meta-mockumentary about a disastrous film shoot defied its slightly unpromising opening.

 

The film was produced by students of the Filmbase/Staffordshire University MSc Digital Feature Film Production Course, and has at its helm not one, but three directors: Amy Carroll, Conor Dowling, and Eoin O’Neill. It follows the exploits of a film crew attempting to shoot a cheesy screen adaptation of a vampire graphic novel, led by their eccentric and incompetent director, Richie, and his beleaguered producer, Desmond.

 

Considering the scope of an entire cast and crew, Light of Day is truly an ensemble production. Film crews often feature diverse individuals who would never have spent time together were it not for the film they are working on, and this is used to great effect here. The cast of characters is the core of the film; the stressed yet dedicated DOP hiding from his personal problems, the writer worried about her book being butchered, the eager-to-please First AD, and a sound guy who never makes a sound, to mention but a few. The zany director figure, complete with turtleneck, is a bit of a cliché, but this ultimately serves to make more real the assorted characters surrounding him.

 

The film is certainly a testament to the potential of low budget or crowd-funded filmmaking – production values are high, showing what can be done by a talented crew regardless of how much money is behind a project.

 

This kind of self-referential film can be problematic. What if it is only enjoyable for people who know the trials of filmmaking themselves, and who can laugh out of familiarity? The film takes aspects of two of its more famous predecessors –Tom DiCillo’s Living in Oblivion and Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s documentary Lost in La Mancha ­– and fuses them together, making for a very enjoyable caper, with laughs that non-filmmakers will likely partake in as well.

 

The DOP remarks to the producer near the close of the film that he doesn’t strike him as the kind of man that enjoys being peaceful. One might wonder if this could be said of anyone with any filmmaking inclinations. Surely such a person must have some bizarre craving for disorder, given the wealth of potential problems and personality clashes that this film uses for comic effect. Light of Day takes such disorder and turns it into an entertaining and engaging piece of comedy.

Click here for our coverage of Irish Film at the 26th Galway Film Fleadh  (8 – 13 July, 2014)

Share

Shooting wraps on ‘The Light Of Day’

Production Still. Jack Hickey as Michael Matthews 

 Jack Hickey as Michael Matthews 

Production has completed on upcoming Irish feature film The Light Of Day, made by masters students of the Filmbase/Staffordshire University MSc Digital Feature Film Production Course.

 

The Light Of Day is a mockumentary that stars Jack Hickey as Michael Matthews, DOP on low-budget horror film ‘The First Bite Is The Deepest’.  Over the course of a tumultuous shoot, Michael attempts to deal with all manner of obstacles, including the film’s hapless director, Ritchie (Aidan Lawlor), an increasingly stressed and desperate producer, Desmond (Dermot Magennis), and the writer of the source material, a graphic novel called The Quench, Sarah Clarke (Lorna Larkin). Can Michael ensure that the film eventually sees the light of day?

 

The Light Of Day was filmed on location in Dublin City over three weeks, with over €25,000 raised to fund production through the successful ‘Filmbase Filmrace’ Indiegogo campaign.

 

The Light of Day  was made as part of the Msc in Digital Feature Film Production, unique in Ireland as it is the only course that offers students the oppurunity to make a feature film. Since 2011, the MSc has allowed students to gain hands on experience in filmmaking, providing them with both creative and technological skills for future roles in digital film production and the creative industries. The two films previously produced through the course, Keys To The City (2012) and How To Be Happy (2013), have had succesful festival runs. The Light Of Day, written by course alumnus Chris Brennan, hopes to repeat their success.

 

Post production on the film is underway, aiming to be completed in time for Summer festivals.

 

 

 

 

Share