Ahead of its cinema release, Robbie Walsh tells us how he made S.P.L.I.T. out of nothing.
To be as short as I can S.P.L.I.T. came about when I was at a complete loose end with acting and filmmaking in general. I’d no challenging auditions other than parts like 2nd guy on left and the odd commercial.
My 1st directorial feature film, Eden, had gone nowhere except some smaller festivals. I was almost flat broke and felt a little lost and disillusioned with the industry. I was frustrated and wanted to do something gritty, tough, different, something that got in peoples faces. A two-fingered salute to the extreme PC culture I felt was creeping into film and acting and trying to kill the artist’s reliance on instinct.
I had very little time to shoot and remembering the trouble with boom shots, dropped takes and improvised scenes in my previous films (and binge-watching The Office and Man Bites Dog during a bottle of JD), S.P.L.I.T. hit me. The idea of 2 Dublin inner city, no nonsense hitmen on camera discussing modern social issues whilst killing people for money just kept growing. I began to write.
I reached out and asked for favours from the best people I knew: Actors, Non-Actors, Crew, Martial Artists, MMA fighters, Musicians, Models. Many came on board, some didn’t, some wanted to help but were away or unavailable, some just not interested.
In the end I got Damien Dempsey and David Alexander, who runs SBG Tallaght. He then brought in MMA legends Cathal Pendred, Chris Fields and John Redmond on fight duties. Then Slaine Kelly, Jenny Dixon along with Dessie Byrne, Paddy Murphy, Johnny Elliott and Claire Mallone were willing to help out with appearances and then scene-stealing cameos from Philip McRory and Rob Quigley. Family and friends appeared as extras. Even my brothers paid for sandwiches when we filmed in my parent’s house – they now have an executive producer credit!
We got what money we could – close to nothing by film budgets, and what equipment we could get together and with Donnecha Coffey on camera and Kolm Mooney on sound we shot as much as we could in the time we had – 3 days – and after an extensive edit, thanks to TJ, and some music donated by Keywest, the film was ready to go.
There are a million stories from set that I could delve into… but maybe for another day! Now here we are, a few years later and, after a short festival run, a few awards, relentless encouragement and inspiration from friend’s and family, and advice to get up of my stool and not quit and nothing left in my pocket, I’ve dragged S.P.L.I.T. kicking and screaming into a limited national cinema release on October 12th.
Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.
S.P.L.I.T. is in cinemas from 12th October 2018 in Odeon Coolock, Omniplex Rathmines, Cork, Balbriggan, Movie World Mayo, Eye Cinema Galway, Arc Cinema Drogheda, Empire Movieplex Ennis, Ormonde Cinema Tipperary and Cineworld in Parnell St.