by Naman Ramachandran
- Irish producer Conor Barry is currently producing Simon Pummell's transmedia project Brand New-U
Ireland’s National Film School was where producer Conor Barry met director Brendan Muldowney and produced all his short films and then their first feature, the award-winning Savage came about, followed by Love Eternal. Barry is currently producing Simon Pummell’s transmedia project Brand New-U [+see also:
Cineuropa: How did Savage happen?
Conor Barry: We come from the world of short films and when you try to break into feature films it is very difficult without an already established reputation – so Brendan designed a concept that we thought could be achieved on a very low budget - Savage. The Irish Film Board came on board that project in development and also encouraged us to apply for funding with them – which we did. So in the end, despite it being a very raw and dark film, we were able to fund it successfully on a low budget, and most importantly, make the film that we wanted. I cannot say enough about how supportive an environment the Irish Film Board was, in trying to make a difficult film with a debut director.
How did Love Eternal come about?
In Cannes 2007, Macdara Kelleher and Morgan Bushe of Fastnet Films came across the novel In Love With The Dead by the Japanese author Kei Ôishi through TO Entertainment, who represented him, and who eventually came on as our Japanese co-producers. Macdara then approached Brendan Muldowney and myself, as he was familiar with Brendan’s short films, and thought it would be an interesting mix. We went into development with the Irish Film Board in 2008, and financed the film in 2011 with production funding from the Irish Film Board and the Section 481 tax subsidy, and with Gilles Chanial of Red Lion as our Luxembourg co-producers accessing the Film Fund Luxembourg and the CIAV Tax Credit, and with Reinier Selen of Rinkel Film as our Dutch co-producers accessing the Netherlands Film Fund.
In the end, the financing went quite smoothly, and the natural creative spends in each country definitely helped with this. The lead is the remarkable young Dutch actor – Robert de Hoog, and we also shot on location in Luxembourg and Ireland, as well as post-production taking place primarily in Luxembourg, and also the Netherlands and Ireland.
What projects do you currently have in development?
Pilgrimage is in advanced development with the Irish Film Board and has also received Media development support. Written by Jamie Hannigan, with Brendan Muldowney attached as director, it is the story of a group of monks who escort a holy relic across the perilous war-torn landscape of 13th century Ireland - but at what cost to their faith and sanity? Pilgrimage is as much about the loss of faith, as it is about a band of people coming together to overcome huge obstacles.
Blood Of My Blood, written and to be directed by Finola Geharty, is also in development with the Irish Film Board. It is the story of an archaeologist living and working in self- imposed isolation on a barren island off the west coast of Ireland who comes into contact with a young wild hunter, and they meet, clash somewhat, and fall in love. There is a chemistry and intensity between them which seems to adhere to formulae outside the conventional groundings of human relationships. However this intensity begins to cast a growing shadow over them both, when the archaeologist makes a horrific discovery…
What are the challenges facing the Irish film industry today. And, what are the opportunities?
We live in an age of austerity, so financing is now far more competitive and difficult, and then the reality of dealing with lower budgets once you achieve the funding, is almost a bigger challenge. However - was it ever thus? In a way, this challenge reinforces the massive opportunity, which is working with talent that can thrive in these difficult circumstances, and becoming inspired and motivated by this talent. A very obvious and straightforward opportunity is the tax incentive, Section 481 for film and television production, which offers up to 30% on eligible Irish spend, and has dramatically improved Ireland's competitive position as a film location. Lastly, the issue of competing in the massive English language market is both a challenge and an opportunity - and to quote the great Leonard Cohen – ‘we are locked into our sufferings and our pleasures are the key’.
What does being selected as an EFP producer on the move mean to you? And how do you think it will help you in Cannes?
The EFP Producer on the Move selection is a terrific honour and opportunity. I hope to use it as a platform to promote the projects I am attached to, and by extension, the talent I work with on a daily basis. The reality of filmmaking today is that natural networks are becoming more and more important in terms of forging partnerships, especially, when discovering new projects. Also, in an industry that is so subjective in its assessment of projects, it is terrific to have an opportunity to come into such an objective environment, thanks to the EFP Producer on the Move brand.
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