Steve Gunn talked to Dave Tynan about his short film The Cherishing, which is screening at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival as part of After ’16, a once-off shorts initiative to commemorate, celebrate and ruminate on 1916.
Commissioned by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board, nine short films went into production in the summer of 2015. ADIFF is hosting the World Premieres of these nine new films.
Last year the Film Board said that instead of the usual short film funding scheme, they invited filmmakers to give their response to 1916.
Signatures is the normal scheme and last year’s signatures was After ’16 – it happened really fast. Obviously, I didn’t have Rising scripts lying about. The brief came out in February 2015. I went to Chapters and bought a lot of books on the subject to set things in motion. The fact that I didn’t know that much about the Rising was never going to stop me putting in for the scheme. You’ve got to make things. You are only as good as your momentum.
So you went off and read about 1916, wrote a script and then sent it to the Film Board, who gave you the green light. And you went and shot it.
That was basically within a year.
Tell us a bit about your take on the Rising.
It’s a story that hasn’t been told before. The idea for the film came from my research. I came across something that mentioned that the local sweet shops were the first to be looted when the Rising started – there was a lot of looting. I thought that was interesting.
There is a great book called Dublin Tenement Life by Kevin C. Kearns. It’s the most interesting non-fiction book I have read. It’s not an academic book. It’s interviews with survivors of the old Dublin tenements. Reading where people came from to where the Rising came into their lives was fascinating. These were hard times. Your average family might have 10 people in a room the size of a small bedroom. They were already at war. The husband could well be away fighting for the Brits in the Somme or wherever – it was a better paying job than working on the docks. Every mother lost at least one child. Mothers and kids were just left there to rot. One in three people in Dublin lived in a tenement. They became the subject of the film.
In the film, there’s a close-up of a sheep’s head boiling in a pot that I’m really happy we got in this film because that is what the diet was – dripping, stale bread and the like. So if you are used to all of that, of course, you go for the sweets.
It’s almost like a glorious coincidence in your life that your interest in history has met with an opportunity in film.
And very quickly because that script got written at the end of February last year. That is the quickest turnaround I’ve ever had. My previous short Rockmount took 3 years to put together from thinking about to making.
We’ve tried not to repeat ourselves from previous work. There’s not much dialogue in it. It’s trying to tell pictures. It’s made for cinemas.
The Cherishing screens as part of the IFB After ’16 Shorts at the Light House Cinema, Sunday 21st February 2016 at 3:30PM
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The 2016 Audi Dublin International Film Festival takes place 18th and 28th February 2016.