The Cork Film Festival is known for championing short films. We chat to six emerging film-makers who are showing their work over the next few days
Cork director Brendan Canty, below, is best known for his music videos, as the man behind the global hit video for Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church’, and for working with actsincluding Talos, Dermot Kennedy and Saint Sister.
Christy is Canty’s second scripted short film, and the bug has bitten deep, with him declaring his intention to move further into filmmaking, including features.
“This is my favourite thing I’ve ever done, by a long shot. In its simplest form, it’s essentially about a 16-year-old kid from Knocknaheeny going for a jobinterview, but really, it’s about young people onthe northside and theinsecurities they have and how capable they actually are.
“We street-cast it all. There are eight kids in it, four between nine and twelve and then four in their later teens. Off the back of it, Danny Power, who plays Christy, got a part in an episode of The Young Offenders and they wrote him into a secondepisode, and two of the other kids have worked on The Young Offenders as well. I think that goes back to the theme of the film: with a bit of confidence, these kids can go on to do anything.”
Killarney-born, Dublin-based McNeice studied film at UCC. In Orbit is her debut short. She’s currently working on a second short film, Lambing, and she has also co-written her firstfeature, which is now in post-production.
“In Orbit is an arthouse LGBT short; an elderly woman looks back on the greatest experience of her life, which was basically finding her ability to love. The festival run has been very emotional because it’s brought out a lot that I didn’t even know I was feeling.
“The script won four awards internationally. I think one of the reasons it’s done so well is that it’s something that’s never really been looked at. There are people in Ireland in their 70s and 80s who’ve never been on a date or held someone’s hand, and they’re going to live the rest of their lives by themselves in empty houses.
“(Cork actress) Claire Loy was the first person to come on board with the film; I cast her well before anyone else. She’s got this intensity to her because she’s got such dark features, and depending on what angle you shoot her from, she has this ability to look like completelydifferent people.”
Director, writer and photographer Shaun O’Connor is from Castleisland, Co Kerry, but lives in Cork. He has made numerous short films, several of which have won awards in Ireland and at international festivals. He has also directed for TV, most notably for RTÉ show Republic of Telly.
“We wrote the script as a self-contained short film, but also as a proof-of-concept or trailer for a TV show we’re working on, based on a psychiatrichospital in Ireland in the late Seventies. A White Horse is a short story from that world, and it touches on themes that are still hugely relevant in Irishsociety.
“We entered a competition at the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland and we got an ARI package for three days, which is the same set of cameras, lights and lenses that you’d use on a Hollywood feature film. We made it for about €6,000.
“The big challenge was keeping everything looking consistent with the period, but we had an excellent production-designer in Kate Howard, who made 1970s Ireland appear on-screen with a limited budget. She won best production design for it at the Kinsale Sharks, one of three awards it’s won in the past two months.”
Limerick-born theatre director Maeve Stone worked as assistant director in the Abbey Theatre in 2012 before joining Pan PanTheatre Company as an assistant director. She also lectures in Trinity College Drama and Theatre Department. The House Fell is her first foray into directing film. She’s currently working on a second short film, The Last Dance.
“The House Fell is about a woman who leaves her sister’s wedding and you’re not sure why. She convinces her friend to go with her to buy weed from a guy they went to school with and they end up in this abandoned mansion, where she’sfinally able to talk about what’s going on for her.
“We shot it over two days, in the village I grew up in, in June, and it cost under €400. This is the first film I’ve made, even though it’s been a medium that I have been in love with for a verylong time.
“There was a lot of learning and lots of mistakes, but the big thing for me was realising the skills andexperience that I’ve built working in theatre are transferrable, which is something I didn’t know. It was exciting to learn that I can work in film.”
Connemara writer, director and actor Tristan Heanue can currently be seen inVirgin Media’s crime series Darklands, but behind the camera, he has written and directed three shorts and produced another. Ciúnas is his first short film as Gaeilge, and was made with the help of a €5000 award from Dingle Film Festival’s Físín Script competition.
“We shot Ciúnas in two days last November. I had a really good crew of people who I’d worked with onprevious films. I can’t speak highly enough of everyone who worked on it and we’re all really proud.
“It’s about old Ireland in a way, and parents who find it hard to deal with changing times and the pressures that young people are under. They don’t necessarily have the tools to deal with things like mental health issues. This film is about parents showing their daughter that they love her and that they’re there for her, even when they can’t articulate it.
“Directing in Irish was challenging. I don’t speak Irish even though I’m from Connemara, because I’m not from a Gaeltacht area. The script was more about the unspoken, so the language wasn’t such a huge thing, but it was still hard sometimes. We had to stick to the script a fair bit instead of being able to improvise.”
Animator Lorraine Lordan comes from Ballineen in West Cork. She did a portfolio course in Coláiste Stiofán Naofa in Cork city, studied animation in Ballyfermot College of Further Education, and now works as assistant director at Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon, where she worked on the Academy Award- nominated The Secret of Kells, and The Breadwinner, as well as the Puffin Rock TV series,also currently in pre-production as a feature-length film.
“The idea for A Cat Called Jam came to me when I took a year off to go backpacking when I was 30, so I was incubating the story for quite a while. It’s about a cat who believes he’s a dog, and that’s how he wants to live; it’s about how he sees himself, and about how to get the world to see you the way you see yourself.
“It’s a daunting task to write and direct an animated film. I went off and did a load of script-writing courses. I had a very strong idea for the look of the film in my mind, very much inspired by the cartoons of my childhood, where going to the cinema wasn’t something you did very often and was a big day out.”
All programmes of short films at Cork Film Festival 2019 are available on www.corkfilmfest.org