Something Rising at the tech Mecca

Actor Adrian Grenier, star of the hugely popular show Entourage, at a press conference at this year's Web Summit at the RDS, Dublin.

THE stars kept on coming yesterday at the Web Summit. Even as your correspondent was heading for the train, for instance, Adrian Grenier, better known as Vince from Entourage, was ascending the press conference stage to field questions.

I touched base with one attendee who was looking to use a new technological approach to tell an old story. Nick Ryan of Image Now Films made The Summit, about the tragic accident in the Himalayas; now he’s crowdfunding to develop a movie about the 1916 Rising.

“It’s always been told through the leaders Pearse, McDonagh, Connolly, and so on, but I thought the actual events of the Rising itself were really fascinating in terms of what people were doing on the ground — shopping on Grafton St even as it was happening early on, or looking up from D’Olier St to see what was going on and getting hit by stray bullets. All of that.

“To me what’s important about the Rising is that its resonance is still felt today, be that in Syria or wherever, and despite what people say about it, no matter what side of the divide you’re on, it’s seen as the beginning of the end for the British Empire, so from that perspective it’s a global story.”

Ryan was approached by the Web Summit and asked to talk about some of the technology used in making The Summit, and when he mentioned his plans for the Rising movie, the Web Summit people said it might be interesting to get involved in a crowdfunding exercise.

“The crowdfunding initiative aims to raise $100,000, a small part of a total budget $8m-$10m and the aim is to use the crowdfunding revenue to develop the script as well as a proof-of-concept test. While people are familiar from movies with the level of destruction, say, in Berlin after the Second World War, that’s what the lower half of Dublin looked like after the Rising. We need to be able to reconstruct Dublin pre-1916 for the movie in order to show its destruction, so we’re looking at digital systems and developments for that, for our proof-of-concept test.

“That’ll show we can make a movie in that manner, to show that we can depict all of that convincingly — as well as the reality of people trying to buy the milk and the newspapers.

“In 1994, when Michael Collins was being made, Dublin was recreated with sets, which is expensive and couldn’t recreate what we want to do, while we intend to rebuild Dublin digitally, based on architectural plans and other material from archives. That would be a fully digital model, which would open up virtual tourism: Visit Dublin in 2016. Putting aside the political nervousness at the moment about 1916, there’s huge tourism potential here.”

Ryan makes a passionate pitch for his project.

“We’re working with an incredible producer, Pippa Cross, who produced Bloody Sunday, and what we want is people to go to our feature film and come out feeling they’ve seen a documentary, that kind of feel. We’re looking to entertain people. If they learn something about the context of how this country was born — how any country was born — then good, because it’s for people who believe in standing up to be counted, because the 1,200 volunteers in the Rising certainly stood up to be counted.”

The interaction’s a welcome development, he says: “The great thing about the crowdfunding is that it shows you there’s support, you interact with people.

“With other films, I never spoke about them before they were made, but now we’re getting feedback before it starts, which is great.”

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