Tristan Heanue, Writer/Director of ‘Ciúnas’

 

Tristan Heanue gives us an insight into Ciúnas, his Irish language short film, which is screening at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh. Tristan is also nominated for The Bingham Ray New Talent Award at this year’s festival.

What can you tell us about Ciunas?

It follows a couple as they drive to the city to collect their daughter, they are in the middle of a family crisis. It focuses mainly on the parents and how they cope with the situation.

How did the idea come about?

I was visiting someone in a psychiatric hospital a few years ago and I saw a middle-aged couple sitting at the table next to me in the waiting area. They weren’t speaking and just sitting there in silence.

A few minutes later their daughter arrived, I had no idea why she was there and nothing was addressed when they met. They just proceeded to make small talk even though they both looked like they had a million things they wanted to say to her and ask her. It just stuck in my head, that old Irish thing of not being able to express your feelings or say what you feel. I started to imagine their morning before they came to the hospital and that was where the main story came from.

A few years later I submitted the idea in a paragraph to the Físín Script competition run by the Dingle Film Festival and it was shortlisted and eventually went on to win the award which came with €5000 funding and €2000 equipment rental to make the film.

You’ve a fantastic cast, including Hazel Doupe, who was staggeringly good in Float Like a Butterfly. Can you tell us about finding your 3 leads and working with them.

I saw Hazel in Michael Inside at the Fleadh a couple of years ago, she only had one scene but I was blown away by the emotion and how real she was. I contacted Frank Berry and he put us in touch, I sent her the script and thankfully she liked it.  She’s a really special talent, and takes her work very seriously, I’ve no doubt that she will have an incredible career.

Gary Lydon I have been a fan of for years, we did a film together last August and on the last day I asked him how his Irish was and if he would like to read the script. Again I was delighted he liked it and came on board, we worked very closely on his character and spoke at length in the months preceding the shoot and I think that shows in his performance.

Ally Ní Chairáin I had met through a friend and I instantly knew I wanted to work with her. She was the first person to be cast and again we spoke at length regarding her character and we worked out many ideas and subplots, none of which you see on screen but they gave her layers to her character and performance.

On set it was a dream really, the work we had done individually really showed and everyone hit the ground running. We didn’t rehearse really, apart from a few reads of it the night before we shot.

Does your background as an actor feed in to your directing?

Definitely, I love working with actors, it’s one of, if not my favourite part of the directing process. You just have a better understanding of how they think and what they may need to hear when you’ve acted yourself. You are more sensitive to their needs and can be quite protective of them.

I see you’re working with Narayan [Van Maele, cinematographer] again alongside you – what does he bring to the project and maybe tell us a little bit about working with him.

Narayan’s incredible, we have a wonderful collaborative relationship. He brings so much knowledge with him and always has so many ideas and suggestions. We usually do our location recce together and plan the shot list after. But we like to keep it kind of loose so if something isn’t working or locations change we can work together to find solutions or a better way to do it. I’m looking forward to making many more films with him.

Also you have the brilliant Michael Fleming composing the music…

Yeah, we had worked together on my previous film and I loved the experience. We agreed that this project needed a very subtle score. We decided early on that too many notes over such a delicate piece felt contrived so we set about finding sound textures that reflected the mood instead.

You were also nominated for The Bingham Ray New Talent Award at this year’s festival – what does that mean for you?

It was a real shock to be honest, they had never nominated a short filmmaker before so I really didn’t expect it. I’m hugely honoured and so happy that they liked the film and connected with it. Win or lose it’s a great boost and hopefully it helps bring the film to the attention of some more festivals and helps it on its journey. Things like this can really make a difference with an independent film.

 

Ciúnas screens as part of the Irish Talent: New Shorts 6, Fiction programme on Saturday, 13th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 10:00 as part of the 2019 Galway Film Fleadh.

 

The 31st Galway Film Fleadh runs 914 July 2019.

 

Preview of Irish Film at Galway Film Fleadh 2019

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‘Ciúnas’ Wraps

Ally Ní Chiaráin

Tristan Heanue’s new short film Ciúnas (Silence) has wrapped after shooting in Connemara, Co. Galway.

The Irish language short film, which follows a couple embarking on a journey in the midst of a family crisis,  stars Gary Lydon (The Guard, Calvary, Pure Mule, The Clinic) Ally Ní Chiaráin (The drummer & the keeper, Michael Inside) and rising star Hazel Doupe (Float like a butterfly, Michael Inside, Calm with Horses).

Heanue will once again team up with Cinematographer Narayan Van Maele (Gutland, Gridlock) with camera equipment being supplied by Vast Valley Ltd as part of the competition win.  

The film is scheduled for a premiere in March at the 2019 Dingle Film Festival.

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Tristan Heanue, Writer/Director of ‘A Break in the Clouds’

 

 

Tristan Heanue gives us a look at A Break in the Clouds, which screens at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

 

What can you tell us about A Break in the Clouds?
 
It is about a young couple who are struggling in different ways following the birth of their first child. It follows them over one morning as things come to a head.

 

How did the story come about?

It came from a few different places. A few friends of mine had babies in quick succession and I saw first hand the different types of strain that it had on them. It just stuck with me and I wanted to tell a story that showed what the pressures were like for both sides during this time.

 

Did you always know you wanted to direct this story?
 
Yes, I had been working on the script for over a year and it was always in my head to direct it. Originally, I hadn’t planned to act in it as I submitted it to a short film scheme, but once we didn’t get selected for that I had to re-think it. Paddy Slattery [producer] had always suggested me acting in it so I decided to go for it. I had a wonderful cinematographer in Narayan Van Maele who made the whole experience so much easier. We spent a day in Connemara walking through the locations and planning everything so when the time came for me to step in front of the camera for my shots he had it all under control.

 

You’ve worked with Paddy Slattery before – what does he bring to the table?

 

A number of things, he is always the first person to read my scripts so I trust him more than anyone. He gives the best advice when it comes to screenwriting and doesn’t sugar coat it. He always helps you keep belief in a project and pushes you on when you sometimes might be having doubts about the material, which usually happens weekly!

 

What were the important lessons you learned from your debut directing experience that you brought to bear on this film?

 

Mainly to not try to cut corners with anything, to be more prepared. Sometimes you look back at the other films and see little mistakes and you just do your best to not do the same again. I spent a lot more time on the script also, it went through quite a few different versions as we had a certain budget and had to make sure it was possible to shoot it on that.
 
How important was the chemistry of the cast to successfully tell this story?
 
It wasn’t as important as maybe on others. All the characters are somewhat estranged in it or have bad communication with each other so I think it would have worked either way. But as it happened everyone kinda knew each other. I had met Marie Ruane, who plays Natalie, a few times before and we spent an evening rehearsing our scene beforehand but that was the only rehearsals we did for the film. Gemma-Leah Deveraux, who plays Sarah, and Marie had also known each other for years so they were comfortable working together. And I had also met Linda Bhreathnach, who plays Ally, a couple of times before so that always helps things flow a little better.

 

You must be excited about Galway
 
Yeah, I’m so excited to show this film to people. I’m nervous as well of course but I think the excitement is maybe edging it this time. Galway is obviously special for me being a native so it will be great to have all my friends and family there with me.

 

 

A Break in the Clouds screens at Galway Film Fleadh on Friday, 14th July at the Town Hall at 10am as part of the New Irish Shorts 4 programme.

 

 

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