Lost & Found is a feature film with 7 interconnecting stories set in and around a Lost & Found office of an Irish train station. Writer/Director Liam O Mochain talks to Film Ireland about his film, which was 5 years in the making and has now made its way into cinemas.
I always wanted stories that were inspired by true events. I did a lot of research on Lost & Found offices around the world and I’d get different stories. Also, friends and people I’d meet would tell me stories and I’d think, ‘that sounds like a Lost & Found type story’ – it happened quite organically in that respect.
I started off with 10 stories. I ended up using five of those and then two more evolved while we were in the middle of production over the five-year period. But I would have written notes down on pieces of paper. I sent texts to myself, emails to myself. I wrote notes everywhere. Then I would correlate all the pieces together. I spent 6 months on each story and script before I would actually start production on it. Doing it over this long period gave me a lot of time to think about all the different stories, characters and ways to interweave them together in the overall project.
I would have worked on stories individually but always keeping an eye on the characters. When I was two or three stories into it, I’d have an idea of how it’s evolving, how each individual stories is and then how each of them can be linked to each other and which characters I wanted to bring back. It might be just one line that somebody says that either I’ve written or has been improvised. It might just be the delivery of that line that I really liked and that gave me the idea for something else… another element to another store and then I put them in that as well.
I was keeping an eye on a lot of things at the same time: the stories, the scripts. the characters, the tone. I also wanted to be curating these stories where there was a really nice balance of emotions if possible. Each story is its own separate story. They just happened to be linked and they just happened to have characters coming back in other people’s stories. But they have to work first and foremost in their own story. I would have concentrated very much each year on those individual pieces but then keeping an eye on what is possible with the other stories.
I don’t know if I’ll ever do something like this in the future. It’s a haphazard, stop-start process. You don’t know if people are going to come back. You don’t know if you’re going to finish the piece. Whereas with a feature, if you’ve written it, and hopefully if it’s any good, you know what you’re making. With something like this, you don’t know if you have enough stories. You’ve started on it, you’ve done a couple of stories. You’re hoping you have enough to complete the whole project. In that sense it can be quite stressful. Will I have enough stories? Will they work together in the timeline? Will it work in the edit? You have little pieces peppered all throughout the stories. You don’t know until you put them all together whether it works.
Financially, I did it myself. I just made enough money each year to try and get one done. If the story was a three-and-a-half-day shoot, we did one of those in the year. If the story was a two-day shoot, we did two of those. Once you hit above 4 days shooting it becomes a different beast. People are on to other jobs. Shooting was done on long weekends of 3 to 4 days where people were willing to give their time once a year. I just got enough money each time. When we got to the end, in the last stages of post-production, before grading and the sound mix, we did go to the Film Board but it wasn’t something they were interested in.
Thankfully, we got to where we are now – it’s playing in the cinemas and Film4 have just picked it up for the UK and we hope to it have in cinemas there in October. We have a couple of major international US companies who are also interested. So, hopefully, the film will have a good life.
It was difficult to do but not as difficult as doing a feature in one go. I could stop and start, pay everything off and start again. It meant that when I came to the end, everything was paid off. I don’t owe anybody any money. The previous features I did, I still owed money on 2 years later. The other thing is, I had more time to think about this film. I had time to enjoy it. It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had making film. It was a really enjoyable experience – and hopefully people get that from it as well watching it.
Lost & Found is currently playing in the following cinemas from 13th July