Writer / Director Greg Corcoran takes us behind the camera and tells us how he made The Flight to Memmingen. The short is now available to watch online and below.
The brilliant Peter Jackson once said “The most honest form of filmmaking is to make a film for yourself”. And that’s as good a starting point as any when it comes to why and how I made this, my latest short film, The Flight to Memmingen. I had been working on lots of live TV at RTÉ and making music videos and promos on the side. I missed drama and pure filmmaking, ie working with talented, dedicated actors to tell a story. I wanted to make a film. Not just any film, not a film for festivals or broadcast, nor a film for funders, but a film for myself.
I had previously adapted a short story by the fine Icelandic writer Gyrðir Elíasson for a music video and was a big fan of his work. He sent me a collection of short stories called Stone Tree and I was immediately inspired by one of his strikingly dark yet charming stories about one man, his rise and his subsequent tragic demise. From there the spark was lit and this film, The Flight to Memmingen, was born. I set about adapting it with an Irish slant and based it on a fictional standup comedian called Dave Murphy – he just wants some peace to write his famine sitcom, but at what price?
14 minutes long, the film stars two of Ireland’s finest comedians: the brilliant Ger Staunton in the lead role and Martin Angolo as a comedy club MC, both fresh from their hugely successful shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. Shot in 4K on the Sony F5 by the very talented DoP Shane Caffrey, The Flight to Memmingen also features the superb Aoife Moore, Micheál Ó’Gruagáin and music from Ireland’s finest folk act Ye Vagabonds.
Story wise, The Flight to Memmingen is, at its heart, a naturalistic slice of domestic life. I really wanted to make it as a dark, challenging, character-driven film, a relationship drama that veered from comedy to tragedy, and that had strong characters and a spiralling arc, all in a mere 14 minutes. As a film, a narrative, it is quite unorthodox. It doesn’t have a conventional structure or a neatly resolved ending. It has played at festivals from Miami to Moscow but it’s a very Irish film and not necessarily an archetypal festival film. I’m fully aware that it mightn’t be for everybody but I knew that from the very first moment I read the short story it’s based on.
It’s worth noting that no comedians were harmed in the making of this film. One got very, very wet and extremely cold in the wintery Irish sea for a scene that was cut out but he’s not bitter, much. Ger, I owe ya pint.
All told, I was blown away by the generosity and dedication of everyone who got involved with the project and we had a blast making it. People went above and beyond to get it in the can and I’m truly grateful for that. So far, thankfully, it has received a very positive response and I’m just glad it’s now out there in the world for all to see.
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