Dead Along the Way: Wedding bells and murder trails in comedy crime caper

Maurice O’Connell’s IndieCork opener was inspired by a bored day filming a wedding. The comedy crime caper even has Tom ‘Nidge’s Dad’ Lawlor among the cast, writes Caroline Delaney
Dead Along the Way: Wedding bells and murder trails in comedy crime caper

HE MIGHT have been inspired by his video work at weddings but director, Maurice O’Carroll’s resulting feature film is a far cry from frills and bouquets.

In fact, vengeful gangsters and dead bodies are the key features of Dead Along the Way.

“Weddings were my film school. And it was at a wedding, bored out of my skull during a priest’s sermon about love and marriage, that I asked the question, ‘what’s the craziest fucking thing that could happen at this wedding? Well, what if the wedding videographer had killed someone and he was trying to hide the corpse during the wedding,” says O’Carroll.

This is a buddy movie with plenty black comedy moments. It follows two hapless videographers who discover that a bad day can always get worse — “shooting wedding videos can be murder”.

And with appropriate black humour, O’Carroll notes that the film was made with: “No crowd- funding; no film board funds; no budget. No problem.”

“French film maker, Jean-Pierre Melville said ‘your first feature film should be made with your own blood’ and I continue to give my blood to this film.”

So actually, O’Carroll, aged 44 and originally from Tralee, is also the film’s writer, producer, editor and colourist.

However, he didn’t suffer alone. His wife, Elaine, was drafted in for everything from props and costumes to feeding the crew: “Elaine trained as an interior designer so we put her skills to great use on set. She spent three months inside bins and skips looking for props. She sourced costumes from charity shops and painted the sets using people’s leftover paint buckets. She also housed and fed a film crew and cast.”

There’s a wry laugh from Maurice when he’s asked about the risks of making a debut feature film with such a minimal budget: “Making something that looks and feels like a bag of shit can damage your reputation for starters, which make things even harder to make a second film. Thankfully, the film looks and plays great.”

Credit for this also goes to the cast which includes Cork natives, Ciaran Bermingham and Sinead O’Riordan; while Tom Lawlor plays an unhinged gangster who goes on a murderous rampage.

Tom Lawlor
Tom Lawlor

‘Lawlor’? Unhinged gangster? Yes, he’s dad to Tom Vaughan Lawlor who played Nidge in Love/Hate. But, while that’s a neat parallel, it wasn’t the reason for the casting: “We’ve been friends for years. He was in my first short film,” says O’Carroll.

Despite the murderous theme, the film doesn’t actually portray killings or a lot of violence: “The violence is more suggested, but it’s still a violent film but one that doesn’t take itself seriously.”

O’Carroll expects the film to get a 15 cert— and says it’s the language that might prompt that.

Husband and wife film-making duo, Maurice and Elaine O’Carroll.
Husband and wife film-making duo, Maurice and Elaine O’Carroll.

Next up he wants to find a distributor that fits Dead Along the Way and he’s working on his next film as well as a four-part TV series.

“I had three short films at Indie Cork in 2013 and Mick Hannigan was so supportive, I said I’d definitely be back with a feature film. ” He’s fulfilled that promise and with Irish film in rude health at the moment, is definitely one to watch.

Dead Along the Way screens at The Gate Cinema as part of Indie Cork Festival on , October 9. For a full festival programme, see Indiecork.com

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