A young couple enter the woods of Ireland only to discover that not all of the country has left its Pagan roots behind.
Paul Farren sat down with the sun gods and writer/director Mark Sheridan to find out what really went on in Crone Wood, which screens at the Underground Cinema Film Festival.
Can we start off by talking about how you made this film?
Crone Wood is my debut feature film – it became a reality in that I felt that if I didn’t go out and make my first film, it may never actually happen. It was a matter of a looking at what kind of resources I felt I could be able to get access to; who I knew I could work with; and who could actually deliver something under limited conditions. We realised we could achieve a certain amount of money, which is probably counted below no-budget, but I knew from working on a lot of films before what we could get away with… and found footage was an aesthetic that obviously you could do cheaply but also it was something I was very interested in looking at. I grew up in the world where Blair Witch came out and it scared the hell out of everyone at the time and I enjoy a lot of the movies like Paranormal Activity and Rec since then. So I wanted to see if you could still do it right and not in some of the cheaper ways it has been exploited in more recent years.
That led me to picking my 2 main actors, they came on board first. I got Elva Trill and Ed Murphy. I had worked with them in the past filming stuff for Final Year students in DIT and the Lir. Elva actually put me on to Therese Aziz who became my co-producer. Because we were working under such tight resources, having them on board and their support is really what made it possible to deliver this kind of film. No matter how talented or experienced you are, if you don’t have a team working with you, I just don’t think you’re going to pull it together with little to no money.
What money did you have?
What money we had basically came from friends and family and then we crowdfunded a couple of thousand at the end for post-production.
Since you made it you’ve got a sales agent on board, which is great. That’s one of the hardest things to do. How has that worked out and tell me something about the film’s festival life.
It’s been amazing. Jinga Films have come on board as sales agents. After the cast and crew screenings, I invited Fantastic Films along to come and see the film and John McDonnell came along and said to me afterwards, ‘I think we can do something with this’. I’m not sure that without his help we would have got Jinga, but they came on board as executive producers and, yeh, it’s been incredible. It’s gotten to a number of festivals – we premiered at the Horrorthon at the IFI in Screen 1 last October. It was in Slovenia a couple of weeks ago and now looking forward to the Underground Festival.
You’re not the only horror screening – you’re in good company…
Yeh, horror is alive and well in Ireland!
What is it about horror that keeps us going to the cinema?
It’s an addiction, isn’t it? Jason Blum who runs Blumhouse Productions pointed out that horror is one of the only genres that still makes more money in the cinemas than it does on video on demand. For me, people who love horror will always love horror. It’s like a roller-coaster – yes it scares you but once you get hit by that thrill you’ll always be chasing that next one.
What was the most challenging aspect, apart from funds for this film?
Well we shot the film in 5 days – which is inhuman! But to be honest with you, it’s having the endurance. Even if you have the film shot and in the can, there’s just so much more between post-production, trying to raise a bit more money, getting the film out there, getting people to see it – it’s a couple of years of your life. And when you do something this small with such a small crew, a lot of that is going to rest on your head because no-one is going to care about the product as much as you. Nothing can prepare you for how exhausting that is. And yet you know that if you take your foot off the pedal for one moment it could just disappear…. but it’s so worth it in the end and I’m particularly looking forward to screening at the Underground Cinema Film Festival.
And next up for you?
My next film is going to be called 18 and it’s going to be bring a whole new level of horror to Ireland. I can’t wait.