To be fair, there’s not many excuses left these days for failing to realise your dream, if picking up a cam and shooting something is your dream, that is. We’re living in a Youtube age when you can create cult classics with only your mobile phone at hand. Nevertheless, this sort of quickie movie-making may not be everybody’s cup of tea and it can result in some pretty dodgy footage, so if you‘re of the more traditional school of film-making, never fear, there are still plenty opportunities on your doorstep.
The common opinion across the boards these days seems to suggest that the Irish Film Industry is in dire straits (although thankfully the new movie Kisses, as reviewed below, has received much praise), and comments such as this by Kevin Moriarty (head of Ardmore Studios, home of The Tudors) in The Sunday Times back in July reinforce the idea: “My first instinct is to recall too many Irish films that would have benefited from further script drafts before getting to the screen”. In response, David Kavanagh of the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild said “The writer sells everything to the producer and is paid the same whether the film is good or bad”, claiming, therefore, that it’s a lack of control which leads writers and others to allow poor quality films onto the big screen.
All the more reason then for amateur filmmakers to embrace the freedom of working with friends and others to create their own shorts, in a way that suits them. I know it’s easy to talk and there are possibly plenty talented writers out there whose scripts are gathering dust because they don’t believe it will ever get made, but there are ways to see your story come to life. Networking with others is the way to go and thankfully there are forums, such as Mutant Space, Egomotion (for Cork dwellers) and Filmmakers Network Forum (Dublin and elsewhere), where you can discuss your ideas and gather a not-so-motley crew. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to give a helping hand for free, in order to gain experience themselves, and in this way you can usually avail of cameras and a few pieces of sound/lighting equipment.
The same can be said for the numbers of people waiting to break into the acting world and searching for a short film to add to their C.V.
Even if you do not acquire great equipment or a fancy editing suite, always remember that simple can be just as effective, and that film festivals are often on the lookout for shorts that are an alternative to the glossy features which headline the festival itself. This year’s Cork Film Festival is an apt example; the winner for the Made in Cork shorts was Ed Godsell whose film ‘Matty Kiely’s Last Day’ proved that all you need is one camera and a good idea. http://purecork.blip.tv/#928772
Meanwhile, Damien McCarthy’s horror short, ‘He Dies at the End’ filmed in black and white and free of dialogue, was a further example of how simple can be best. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jOU3m_tHtQ
Also, do not limit yourself to Irish festivals: this October, Kevin O Neill from Cork saw his short, ‘My Ball’ win the Best Short Film Award at the South African Film Festival.
So, don’t leave your good idea hanging around; get moving and you might make it into a film fest and, if not, well, there’s always youtube…Now, if only I took my own advice to heart; I’d better get moving too.
Kisses (Review) (some spoilers included!)
Kisses, directed by Lance Daly (The Halo Effect, Last Days in Dublin), and featuring newcomers Kelly O’Neill (Kylie) and Shane Curry (Dylan), is the story of two children, Kylie and Dylan, who run away from home in a bid to escape their problematic families, but find themselves in even more trouble on the streets of inner city Dublin.
One of the most striking visual aspects of Daly’s film is the use (or non-use) of colour: the film actually begins as a black and white piece, gradually blossoming into colour as the children leave behind the drab surroundings of their estate and escape to the bright lights of the city. The colour here is not just representative of the city itself, of course, but of the temporary happiness and excitement which freedom brings, and the kindness displayed by both characters for each other.
The colourful escapades which these children experience is a stark reminder of their youth and naivety which, we realise, has been too often extinguished by troubling issues on the home front: Dylan’s Dad is an aggressive drunk, responsible for Dylan’s older brother’s disappearance from home some years earlier, while Kylie has her own demons to face in the form of an abusive uncle. As disturbing as these revelations are, Daly has managed to infuse the film with enough warmth and integrity to keep our hopes alive and avoid depressing the viewers. This is largely due to wonderful performances by the two young actors, who, having been randomly plucked from their schoolyards, bring a natural charisma to their roles. In the face of the many dangers which they encounter on the streets of Dublin, they are resilient and determined to stick by one another, yet for all their self-sufficiency, their innocence is still plain to see. While some moments in the film may seem implausible, such as the children’s journey downstream on a canal boat used for dredging rubbish, Daly does not wait too long to give the magical trip a dose of reality. It is this mixture of wonder and innocence encased within the cold actuality of the adult world that results in such a memorable film. Watch out too for a cameo by Stephen Rea as a Dylan impersonator!
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