Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Emily's Song

This is 16 minute short film about two young brothers and how they help their father deal with his grief long after the death of their mother, Emily. It's a heartwarming, often comic tale about how two clever lads use their skills, talent and ingenuity to work together to save their family.
It was shot last summer in Drogheda, County Louth in Ireland over two weeks on a budget of €15,000. Which has since crawled to €20,000 in post.
I co-wrote/produced/directed with my production partner Thomas A Kennedy. We wrote the script back in 2001. We then moved onto writing other projects, including a TV show script, three feature film script, anther short and an animated film script. We eventually decided that we had better make one! We chose the first one we wrote together, Emily's Song.
There was only the two of use for a long time. Ivan McCullough came on board first of all as Cinematographer and Jason Byrne as the dad. It went from there.
Also in the film are local actors Shane Murray-Corcoran (King Arthur, Angelas Ashes) Eric O'Brien and Melanie Mulroy. With comedians Dermot McMorrow and lending his voice, Colum McDonnell.

It was a tough two years. As I said before it took a lot longer then expected. First of all a couple of people let us down with regards to helping us posucing the piece... well, one person did! Promises were made, months passed and promises were broken and much time was waisted! We learned a valuable lesson. That problem caused us miss out on applications to what would have been much needed funding. Bt we time it wrong and pretty muc missed everything... not thats there's much.
But as I went through that process and I'm still going through it, I have discovered something. The folks with the funds seem to want you to do one on your own before they will consider you, which I guess is fair enough. We were kind of walking in there saying "Hi, we have no professional experience in this area, now give us loads of your money so we can get some?!"
the answer, I think, was always going to be no.
So we put our hands in our own pockets and found our funding. Houses were mortgaged, loans were got, saving were flittered and souls were sold. But it came together.
Many dates were set and many false starts were had, but we eventually arrive at a shooting date that seemed to suit everyone who'd signed in blood. June 20th 2005 to july 7th. Two weeks of movie mayhem folks.

Now as I said Thomas and I were on our own for a lot of it and I was on my own for a lot of that. While Thomas was off doing things like, working to support his family, reassuring his wife that he wasn't insane and having kids and stuff I was unemployed and going insane trying to build everything for the film, write the music, cast the thing, raise more funding, get big name irish actors to work for free (They all said no!) paint my house for shooting, gather items for set dresing, find someone to supply food and all that kind of stuff.
Again I remind you that I was on my own for mmost of that... Thomas did paint a shelf white the day before shooting, that was good. Kidding... Thomas was incharge of the other slightly impportant matter of finding a crew. Which he did, and what a crew, a great team of talented young men and women about town. They were swell... sorry, went all roaring twenties there.
Serious, they were amazing, so kudos for finding them, kudos to them.

I have to say I've been very lucky in this respect. If I hadn't of hooked up with Thomas I don't think I would have managed to make my first film so soon. He had a huge well of talent and resources he was able to tap, due to the fact that he has been lecturing in film for the past seven years at the National Film School IADT.
I was lucky. I can't imagine what it must be like for a novice, same as I was, trying to go out and make a film for the first time without those kind of contacts. Straight away I had access to professionals.
But that's equally daunting. Rather then what I'd been doing before, which was making half arsed films with friends who also didn't have a clua how to make films I was going to be directing people who had worked on more professional shoots then I could hope to make in my career... should I be allowed to have one.
So one thing that hold true, whether you're in my position, your position and whatever position... know your film, know your characters and for gods sake, know the story you want to tell. Becasue no matter what experience you hav, you're the one who has to keep that story in your head and your the one everybody is going to turn to when things are going slightly off track and compromises are being made, scenes are being dropped and actors are wanting to change lines - it you the turn to to find out how else you want to tell the same story that was the reason they are all here and the reason you're spending all your money, all you parnters money, all you parents money and all everyone elses money who happen to be in a twenty mile radious!

But it's not all about that... it gets like that at times, especially during the shoot. After all, everything we'd been planning for a year now had to happen in two weeks. So yeah, it get's insane. But there are magical moments. And more about thsoe anopther time.

Finishing Up

I start my Blogger blogging at the end of a great journey. That of the making of my first film, a short entitled 'Emily's Song' starring Irish comedian Jason Byrne. It's two years in the making, which was a lot longer then I thought it would be! But we got there and next week we'll be finish the blighter!
So in this blog I'm going to reminisce about it and talk about future projects and all that stuff. I've rescently been asked to lecture in film produciton following my experience so I might prctise here! So maybe I'll empart some useful info to those trying to make their first film and those who've made a few films can laugh at me and all the mistakes I'm making. Either way, hopefully someone will enjoy this!