Aoife Nic Ardghail gives us the insight into her film Casual and how a little poetry got it over the line.
Casual is my comment on modern dating and how those intimate but brief relationships can, when they end suddenly, leave at least one party feeling raw, powerless and unable to express themselves. This is all sown up in comedy though, because I wanted the film to be fun.
I wrote the script as far back as August 2014 when I was discovering my new love for screenwriting. I’d written a few stage pieces before, but Casual was among my first short film scripts and it was the one that other director and writer friends seemed to enjoy the most when I bounced it off them for feedback. It was also a film I felt I could make relatively easily, if I found someone with more directing experience who liked it enough to shoot for fun. I saw some of Kate Dolan’s IADT student films online and got in touch as I thought she would be a great fit as director.
Luckily for me, she clicked with the script and brought Philip Blake on board as DOP. We were
loosely going for a Broad City inspired vibe, with naturalistic improv dialogue elements like in the 2014 film Appropriate Behaviour. Between the three of us we sourced everyone, and almost everything, we needed to make the short – camera and sound assistants, actors and dancers. Locations and shoot dates, however, proved more difficult. I got Romano Morelli of Ristorante Romano to let us use his premises for a mention in the end credits, but my attempts at securing a convenience shop were unsuccessful. I had to rewrite a few scenes because of this and we captured the shop action we couldn’t write around by guerrilla shooting through a Spar window from across the road, while I went in in character and acted out the scene. But in the end we cut the shop and the rewritten stuff because there was enough in the scenes that had better production value.
I’m not sure if I can call the weather a glitch since the heavy, incessant rain the day of the park scenes may have been the very reason we didn’t get kicked out. There were no other members of the public around, apart from a man with sandwiches and a radio in one corner of the amphitheatre, so we didn’t encounter any patrolling rangers. Unfortunately, the dance choreography outside of our shelter didn’t make it into the final cut as there was no masking the fact everyone was being soaked.
I cast fellow Bow Street actors Fiona Lucia McGarry, Terry O’Neill and Mark Donaghy so I knew we’d have that end of the film on point. My friend Kate Finegan is a choreographer as well as actor and aerial hoopist and she sourced the wonderful dancers. Scheduling was another tricky one though. People were working around their professional gigs so that stretched the shoot out over several months.
From start to finish, it took about nine months to get everything in the can. Then it was another year before completion because I moved to Brighton for a time and it all stalled. But once I was Dublinbound again I decided I would get a crowd-funding campaign going to see the project through. I set the target at €2,000 for an editor, sound designer, composer and promotional material as neither me, Kate or Philip knew anyone who would come on board pro bono for post production. Both Kate and Phil by then were fully booked with their professional commitments. I wasn’t massively hopeful I’d raise the amount as Fundit is an all-or-nothing platform, and by the final week I was still way off my target. But after a little panic, I got a brainwave to record a short poem each day for the last seven days of the funding drive and get this on my Facebook page instead of the flatter written pleas I’d been previously posting. Casual has a poetry theme, so I thought this was fierce clever altogether. And amazingly, it worked.
With the magic funds I was able to get National Film and Television School past students Rob Szeliga and Filip Sijanic on board for sound design and music. They’d worked together while studying so that was a big plus. Then writer/director Daniel Butler agreed to edit, grade and do all of the technical business with DCPs and those final elements that I have little understanding of as first time producer and someone used to being in front of the camera.
It’s thanks to all the remarkably talented people who dedicated their time to this project that I now have a film. And of course I have to mention my friends, family and anonymous supporters who gave me a dig out through Fundit. I learned a whole rake and I’m looking forward to the next one.
Casual screens at IndieCork in Programme 2 of the Irish Shorts selection @ 4.30pm on Friday, 13th October 2017.
IndieCork runs from 8 – 15 October 2017