film poster

Dead Along the Way

“I was on my knees in every sense and I had some industry people telling me that I was biting off more than I could chew.” Filmmaker Maurice O’Carroll talks about bringing his first feature-length film, Dead Along the Way, to the film festival circuit. “The biggest challenge was to stand back up and make everyone believe we were going to make a good a film with the available resources at hand.”

Filmmaker Maurice O'Carroll
Maurice O’Carroll

From Shorts to Feature-Length

O’Carroll has years of experience making short films. Feature-length was a whole new experience for him. Time and effort are the greatest differences. A feature film involves so much time and planning from script to completion to marketing and distribution. I always work hard but I’ve never worked harder in my life these past couple of years.”

O’Carroll’s biggest challenge? No budget.

“Everything is a challenge when you have no budget. And when I say no budget I mean no budget. After a run of horrible luck I was stone broke and principal photography was due to begin in five days. Locations were falling through, we lost a couple of actors last minute, my car died, I got hit with a severe bronchial infection.”

O’Carroll stood up to the challenge. “I’m too stubborn and obsessed with filmmaking to fail. Looking from ‘the outside in’ it was the worst possible time in my life to embark on a feature film. However, I knew that I simply had to make Dead Along The Way. And, as the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.”

Dead Along the Way
Dead Along the Way

Dead Along the Way – the Story

“In this Irish crime comedy, hapless wedding videographers Wacker and Tony find themselves unexpectedly dealing with a dead body, overly-enthusiastic Gardaí, fertility treatment, and a vengeful gangster… oh, and an imminent wedding.”

O’Carroll says, “Getting the film made and getting selected for Ireland’s most prestigious film festival, Galway Film Fleadh, has boosted my appetite and confidence to make another film… like now already!” The Galway festival features a packed program with more than 150 films, including 16 world premieres, from over 30 countries around the world.

Democratized Cinema

O’Carroll’s first cinema experience was Star Wars. “I was five years of age and I suppose I’ve been chasing that experience ever since. However, filmmaking was always a world away from me, inaccessible, and I grew up as an aspiring writer until the digital age democratized cinema. As soon as I picked up my first camera – which was 12 years ago – I knew in an instant that I was finally at home.”

 

O'Carroll on set
O’Carroll on set

Story

Visual storytelling defines O’Carroll’s heart. “Story holds a mirror up to humanity and it helps us explore our emotions, educates us, thrills us, and it sympathises with us. And, for me, story in film is often best when it is a heightened sense of reality that changes us in some small way through its message.”

Collaborating

“I built my own (film) collective,” says O’Carroll. “I used to live in an isolated part of Ireland and when I decided to go on this journey I was on my own. My wife Elaine – who probably has more credits on all my films than I do – promised to support me no matter what it took and I suppose that was the most important launch pad to begin with.

“I met Sinead O’Riordan (the film’s co-producer) and Tom Lawlor (a principal actor) when I was making my first short film and they became long-term collaborators. I stressed from the beginning that it was important to find great people, and I always try to foster a ‘film family’ atmosphere on and off set. Respect, teamwork, and good energy are paramount and a catalyst for good work.”

Film Gear Choices

O’Carroll’s budget limitations applied to the gear as well. “I went into this project with the philosophy: we film with what we’ve got. I own quite a bit of prosumer gear and I also have a Blackmagic Cinema Camera 2.5K which we shot on. FilmEquipmentHire.com in Dublin showed faith in our project off the back of previous work. They were incredibly generous with a deal on Zeiss lenses and many other accessories. The owner, Colin Browne, was literally trying to fill my car with gear.

“Shooting on such a low budget meant that we ran into problems, of course. But I had an amazing crew, guys and girls that I have learned to trust over the years, and they always managed to find solutions.”

Feed Your Crew

“But everything worked out because Dead Along The Way had a simple but concrete cinematic language and we never wavered from it. We all knew and embraced our boundaries and we worked to the best of our creative abilities within those limitations. And we always had great, home-cooked food… that’s more important than any camera sensor.”

film poster
Film Poster

See more on Maurice O’Carroll’s work here.

Feeling Moved

Feeling moved this morning, thanks to two inspiring Facebook posts. Both came from Irish artists.

Sinead O'Riordan
Sinead O’Riordan

One post spoke of a theatre experience moving the writer so deeply she found a way to leave her software engineering job and make a life for herself in the theatre. Sinead O’Riordan – interviewed here in 2014 – is now acting as well as producing both theatre and film. Says O’Riordan: “I needed to create and tell stories that affected people positively and endeavour to have people walk away from my work, feeling moved. I at least had to try.” What initially moved O’Riordan to make her move was seeing a 2002 production of Miss Saigon.

Caroline Farrell
Caroline Farrell

The second post, from Caroline Farrell – also interviewed here – featured a poem she wrote years ago on forgiveness. Farrell’s motivation: “Not many of us can walk through life without heartache, or the lingering weight of it, so, I’m putting ‘The Memory Wandering’ out there, as a gift to anyone, whom in any way, might find it helpful.” Farrell’s poem will be featured at the closing of the French premiere of her film In Ribbons at the 2015 Cannes Art Film Festival.

 

As we take our first creative steps in 2015, we can find inspiration in the lives of two creatives who take giant steps to move the world around them. They need to create and tell stories. So do we.

 

Alan Duggan’s Web Series ‘Claddagh’

Thanks to Tom Murphy at irishfilmmakers.com for sharing this interview with Alan Duggan.

IFM recently caught up with Irish-born actor/writer Alan Duggan to talk about his career, and his new web series ‘Claddagh.’

IFM: First off Alan, give us a bit of background and information about yourself. You’re originally from Ireland, but now live in Vancouver?

Alan Duggan
Actor/writer Alan Duggan

I’m originally from Northern Ireland, roughly fifty miles South of Belfast. I grew up in a family of five, two brothers and two sisters. My father was from the South of Ireland and my mother from the North. I grew up playing Gaelic Football, though had a passion for football (soccer). I ended up playing semi-pro for 5 years. I moved to Canada in my early twenties. I currently live in Montreal, though I travel around the country for career opportunities.

IFM: Tell us how you first got involved in acting.

Acting was a gut reaction. I was sitting in my living room in November 2003 watching TV and I realised that that’s where I should be, on the TV.

IFM: What aspect do you enjoy most about acting and performing? And which do you prefer, film/TV or on-stage acting?

I love the fact that I get to play any character in the world from criminal to a priest to a dad, and then return to my real life. I enjoy the stage and relish the instant gratification, though I love film/TV. I feel I’m built for that side of the industry.

IFM: You’ve moved into writing and directing too. How was the transition, and what were some of the challenges you faced?

From the second I started acting I began writing. It was like they came hand in hand, for me anyway. And I get to write about what I know. I had no interest in directing until I was on set of my own project. I found that I had a knack for it.  Especially when you know what you want. The biggest thing I found was dealing with actors and their sensitive side. Knowing how to talk to them so their egos aren’t bruised. Stroking their ego gets you what you want out of them.

IFM: Do you think taking on the dual role as writer/director has made you a better performer? If so, in what areas?

I feel that as an actor you should be open at all times to any situation. You don’t know what you’re going to get from the other actor. As from a director/writer stand point, if it’s your own project you know what you what from the performer, though stay open as some of the best work just happens.

IFM: Moving onto ‘Claddagh’. Briefly describe the series and how the idea for it came about.

'Claddagh'
Irish web series ‘Claddagh’

‘Claddagh’ (Love, Loyalty and Friendship) is about Irish James McGovern, a gambling entrepreneur living in Belfast. He  receives a phone call from his uncle Frank (the Irish GodFather in Montreal) that his father, priest Fr. Kearney, has been murdered. James has to return to Montreal to bury his father.

He receives news from his uncle all is not well. As both his father and his uncle are both IRA Commanding Officers. Someone has found out where his father was hiding. James has no interests until he receives a recorded will from his father in the form of a DVD that leads him on an unknown journey. Will he be able to become a solider of Claddagh? They say write what you know.

IFM: You take on a number of roles with the series including co-writer. How long was the writing process, and how many drafts did you go through before you believed you were ready to shoot?

I’ve been writing ‘Claddagh’ since 2004. I had written five one-hour episodes for TV, then I got a friend (Anthony Mancina) involved to write with me. So we took everything I had written and took little pieces from each episode and wrote a pilot. We shopped that for a while with no success. We then we wrote the project for the internet. So all in all two drafts and roughly six years from writing till shooting.

IFM: Where was ‘Claddagh’ shot and what was the crew and your fellow actors like to work with?

Claddagh’ was shot in and around the streets of Montreal. The cast and crew were awesome. Everyone pulled together to get the project done. Whatever was needed was done without question. There’s so many people that deserve praise for their effort on this project, from pre-production to post production.

IFM: What are your hopes for the future of the series?

I predict that somewhere down the road that we will get picked up by a Network.  Viewers already are asking for it to be on a Network. So it has great potential.

IFM: And finally, and what does 2013 have in store for you?

2013 has started well so far. So great auditions for several TV shows. We’ve started working on writing Season Three of ‘Claddagh.’  I’m also presenting an award at the Wasaga Beach Film Festival 26th January. So 2013 has gotten off to a great start!

 

Links:

AlanDuggan.com

claddaghtheseries.com

Claddagh on YouTube

Claddagh on Facebook