Saturday, February 09, 2013

Doing Things.

I'm working on a new script. It doesn't have a title yet. It's shooting in 7 weeks and has to be finished in about 9 weeks. It's probably the fastest turn around on a film I've ever done! As mentioned in the last update this is the short film project with the Ablevision Ireland Group. A fantastic group of people who share a passion for just Doing Things! Their a fearless bunch of people, who are open, friendly, interested and inspired.

Building a story for this one has been interesting, and a completely new way of writing for me. For the last two sessions I've mainly been sitting in and listening. I've talked a little, suggested a little, but mainly just listened very closely and picked up on the reoccurring themes within the discussions.

Week one Audrey, the group leader, went round the circle and asked basic questions like; 'What are likes?' 'What are your dislikes?' 'What are you pet hates?' - mine was Queue jumpers! - that kind of thing. The main one was 'What are your hopes?' What came out of that was largely a desire for Independence. These guys really want to be independent, to have their own place, freedom and responsibility. As someone said, "We're capable people."

We also asked about what kind of theme people would like to explore, what might make a good film, one of the group, Stephen, suggested Homelessness. So we talked about that for a while. Audrey asked the group why some people might become homeless. We touched on drug use, alcoholism, money problems. But we want to narrow it down and try to find a positive message, and something we could explore that was relevant to the group and their own situation and experience.

Then Ariana said 'Just to be difficult', that a person might leave home to be difficult, because they didn't want to do what their parents, or carers, told them. Someone else talked about leaving because someone was being too strict, or over protective. And there it was... From everything we talked about over the two sessions, and some key suggestions, a story appeared.

It's a story about a young couple who love each other but can't be together because one isn't being properly cared for and hates his home life and the other has an overprotective parent who wont let them be together. They just want to be together and find independence. So the run away.

None of this was my idea. Audrey guided the discussion. This themes appeared and I my job was to react to what everyone was saying, find the story within it all and then put some structure to it. And now to write the script of course, which I'm working on at the moment.

I need to have the script finished for next week. Then we start auditioning everyone for the parts. Then we have to find locations, of which there are several. All heading for an end of March shoot so I can get it edited in the first week of April, in lieu of the arrival of my second child in the second week in April and the deadline for the festival we're enter at the end of April.

I'm enjoying it, and going into a new film is always exciting and interesting, and of course - challenging! This one just has some new challenges for me. It certainly has me on my toes. I'm sure we'll be able to pull it off in time. It's a tall order. But there seems to be a good team there. Onward!

Saturday, February 02, 2013


My last post was a little down, wasn't it? It came two weeks after my Drogheda screening of Derelict. Which is about right. After a high there's usually a slump. I guess that was it. Little bit of panic and self-pity. Still, not to take it back, it's a grumbling little monster that lives in the dark recesses of my mind, who comes up ever now and then for a moan.

I think part of my panic comes from not being able to just start a new project. Life is in full tilt at the moment, what with preparing for the new baby and immigrating later this year. I fly out to the states in two weeks for a week to start, hopefully, setting things up. I'll be meeting people, old friends and new contacts, shoring up the ground for the arrival of my family. I come home then for the birth of my second child. Something I looking forward to. And something I'm I have no concept of, yet.

I remember when we were expecting Evelyn people with kids would say "You have no idea how much it's going to change you, and your life," I thought, yeah, whatever, it wont change THAT much. How wrong was I?! It changed everything. Now number two is on the way, friends with two kids are saying the same, "You think one was tough?! Just wait for it..." So, I'm waiting!

I said to my wife last night, "You know, we'll wake up one morning, years from now, maybe when the kids are in college, and suddenly we'll feel awake, for the first time in 20 years, we'll be awake and then we'll realise we've been living in this semi-sleep state and perpetual tiredness for the past two decades..." I look forward to feeling awake again.

So, the film stuff, yes - I've been dying to make another film, as I'm sure you know by now. I had thought of doing a short, but organising that would be fiddly around this time. Then I thought of doing a short documentary, along the lines of Bill, For Short, a sequel of sorts! Still could happen. Then I got a bit over excited after talking to Patrick O'Donnell (actor) about my old script Ghoster. He liked the idea. I remembered I did too. So the next day I went back and read it. It was good, really good. The cogs started churning and whirring again.

So I started to look at putting together a feature film before I move. Pretty much shot down instantly by everyone I know. Always encouraging. Except for my unborn baby however! I put the idea to my wife and she said "OK, we'll ask the baby, ok baby, one kick for No and (just to make it difficult) three kicks for Yes," - my wonderful little child gave three kicks right away!!! There it was, can't argue with an unborn baby!

But I conceded. Feature films are complicated beasts of things. And this one would require a budget of at least €60,000, actually I estimate a conservative budget of €72,000, but I know I could pull it in under that. With trying to move and new baby, reality has won out on this one! But that's OK, I accept that, I'm not an idiot... most of the time! My main worry is that it wont be shot at all, or if it is, not in Ireland. I think it's a uniquely Irish story. At least, the characters are uniquely Irish. There are cultural elements there that I have doubts about translating to America, say.

But I might try and get it going over there. Perhaps set it in New York, Chicago or Boston. Make the characters Irish-American, maybe draft in a couple of actors from our fair green isle, just to keep a toe in the original idea. We shall see what happens. It'll be a while away anyway.

Funny how things work out though. All hope seemed lost that I would get to make another film before I left. Then I got a call from Ablevision Ireland to have a chat about doing a film with a group of disabled people. They asked me to come in as story advisor. But now it seems it might be more than that. They want to make a short film (3 to 5 minutes) by the end of April for entry into the Oskar Bright Film Festival. So they asked me to help them do it.

It's very exciting. I get to make a movie after all, but not the one I expected, and it wont be my movie, but that's OK. This is a completely different thing for me. I've never worked with disabled people before. I think it's going to be a challenge, but one I'm going to relish and I know, learn from. I'm looking forward to getting stuck in and it will be interesting to see the results. More details on that as I go.

Meantime, I'm writing away. Trying to get a new script completed for entry into this years Academy Nicholl Fellowship. Thinking about what's next. Every week I record a pitch video to crowdfund a new film, it varies from Ghoster, Nevermore to Float! But who knows, by the time I get to the states and spent some time there something might hit me completely out of the blue. I wanted to make a film before I left. I got my wish. Not what I expected. But I got it. So I'm a little more upbeat today! It's always exciting making a new movie!

Just because you've hit a pothole, doesn't mean the road has ended.