Cork producer Fionn Greger has served his time on blockbusters, but was happy to scale down for an abortion-related drama, writes Esther McCarthy
IT’S the little independent Irish film that’s making a big impression on filmgoers — and a Cork producer is central to its success.
A romantic drama based around the issue of abortion, Twice Shy was made for under €100,000 — a tiny figure by film budget standards — but has been getting extremely strong reviews ahead of its Irish release.
An intimate, subtle drama about a young couple (Iseult Casey and Shane Murray-Corcoran) who fall in love towards the end of their schooldays, they face challenges on a road trip to London, where she intends to terminate an unplanned pregnancy.
Part of its success is down to the talents of producer Fionn Greger, who went from studying at UCC to working on the set of a Bond movie as he pursued a career in cinema.
He worked closely with writer/ director Tom Ryan to get the film made against many odds.
It was when they met through film circles that Greger and Ryan first mooted the idea of working together almost three years ago.
“I’d watched Tom’s first feature, Trampoline, and thought it was an incredible achievement,” he tells me.
“He asked if I’d be interested in producing Twice Shy, even though we didn’t have a script or funding. The issue of abortion is a big issue in Ireland, yet nobody’s making a film about it.
“Tom wrote the script within two months and when I read the first draft, I knew it was a film I had to make.”
He wasn’t the only one impressed with Ryan’s script — actors Pat Shortt and Ardal O’Hanlon both came on board in supporting roles after seeing the film’s quiet storytelling power.
Twice Shy’s great victory is that it manages to tell these characters’ story by taking a broader view — it’s primarily an examination of young love and the challenges it faces.
“As filmmakers you’ve sometimes got to strip away the noise and make a film that moves you,” Gregor says. “We’ll leave the film do the talking.”
The producer who grew up in White’s Cross in Upper Glanmire has had an interesting and varied career path. While studying economics at UCC, he set up a business producing short films and music videos.
“I ended up making videos for the likes of Damien Rice and The Frames. I started focusing more on producing and that drove me to go to London, because I wanted to work on big movies, to work my way up.”
He did just that, working as a production assistant in such big-budget blockbusters as Sweeney Todd and the Bond movie Quantum of Solace in London’s iconic Pinewood Studios.
“It really helped me learn and focus my attention on how a film production works,” he said. “It was a fascinating time because you get to see two or three hundred people, all working towards the same goal.”
More recently, he has been working with Amazon UK, where he works as a full-time producer across the company’s various video production facilities, based in London.
It’s the perfect job, he says, allowing him to continue to hone his filmmaking craft in a secure and creative job environment. In his free time, he continues to work on developing independent film projects.
“It’s a brand new role and I count myself privileged to be doing it,” he says.
“I’m working full-time as a producer and it’s a fabulous place to work, very forward thinking. They’ve very much supported the film and I feel like one of the luckiest guys.”
Greger, Ryan and the film’s team are excited to finally see it opening in Irish cinemas today, two and a half years after they first worked to get it made.
Interestingly, it will launch on Irish film streaming website, Volta, on the same day, meaning those who don’t have access to the cinema can watch it at home. “It offers an avenue for films when publicity is at its most high,” he says. “Otherwise films can sometimes get lost in the ether.”
Twice Shy opens today in cinemas, including the Gate in Cork
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