by Naman Ramachandran
- Juliette Bonass (Element Pictures) produced Glassland and her next, A Date for Mad Mary, is currently in post-production
Juliette Bonass studied film and broadcasting at DIT University in Dublin specializing in directing but later found that she was more drawn to production. After graduating she started out in commercials as an assistant. This proved invaluable as she learnt templates for shooting on bigger budgets and with highly professional crews. She then began making her own short films. One of her first was a self-funded short called What Will Survive of Us which she produced with Ciaran Deeney and David Clarke of El Zorrero Films and written and directed by Domhnall Gleeson, all of whom were fellow DIT students. The same team secured finance for their next short Noreen, starring Brendan Gleeson and Brian Gleeson. Her debut as feature film producer was Fastnet Films’ Get up and Go, directed by Brendan Grant. Her next film Glassland [+see also:
film profile], directed by Gerard Barrett, won a Special Jury Prize for actor Jack Reynor in the World Cinema – Dramatic category and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the same category at Sundance 2015.
Cineuropa: How did Glassland happen and how did you get involved with Element Pictures?
Juliette Bonass: Ed Guiney runs Element Pictures with Andrew Lowe in Dublin. I had known Ed over the years just from being in the industry. I had never worked with him but always really wanted to. One day, he just asked me to come in and have a chat with him about co-producing Glassland with him, as he had known my work on Get up and Go. We had a chat about the project and the budget and we all seemed to click so it all just progressed from there. Working with Ed and Element is really a very harmonious and gratifying process.
Could you please tell us more about your next film A Date for Mad Mary? What stage is it at?
A Date for Mad Mary [+see also:
film profile] is my second project with Element Pictures and co-producing with Ed Guiney. It’s a bitter - sweet comedy drama that sees a young woman called Mary McArdle return to her local town of Drogheda after a short spell in prison. Back home, everything and everyone has changed. Her best friend, Charlene, is about to get married and Mary is the Maid of Honour. When Charlene refuses Mary a ‘plus one’ for the wedding, on the grounds that she probably couldn’t find a date, Mary is determined to prove her wrong. She throws herself into the local dating scene, in the hope of finding a nice guy but it proves not to be easy in a town where everyone knows her reputation. The film stars an ensemble of young Irish actors including Seána Kerslake who featured in Kirsten Sheridan’s Dollhouse [+see also:
film profile], Charleigh Bailey and Tara Lee as well as established Irish talent including Denise McCormack and Norma Sheehan. It is written by Colin and Darren Thornton and directed by Darren Thornton (Frankie). We shot it over five weeks last winter and we are now in post-production and hope to release it early next year.
What other projects do you currently have in development?
I am currently developing some projects with Element Pictures for production early next year and we are still in financing stages for that.
What are the challenges facing the Irish film industry today. And what are the opportunities?
One of the main challenges I think is the fact that it’s very hard to get Irish people to go see Irish film in the cinema today. I read a fact recently that there are over forty DC and Marvel films scheduled for release in the next six years. That’s over six films a year or one released every two months. I don’t know how you can compete with that. I don’t know how any films can compete with that! I know there is significantly less disposable income available to people these days but it’s so important that audiences realize that it’s still important for them to experience Irish cinema and to recognize that our films are of an exceptional standard, are new and innovative and are prominent here and in the rest of the world. The industry needs to be supported here now and in the future. In regards to opportunities Ireland has further enhanced the tax incentive Section 481 for film and television. This means that the rate of tax relief has been significantly increased and is now worth up to 32% of eligible Irish expenditure. The tax credit is now based on the cost of allcast and crew working in Ireland, regardless of nationality. These changes will give a greater deal of certainty to the Irish film and television industry and will allow it to maintain existing jobs and create new ones and brings us into line with the UK and other countries in Europe.
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?
It was a great honour to be chosen as Ireland’s Producer on the Move this year. I am very grateful to the Irish Film Board and the European Film Promotion for selecting me. It’s so nice to be acknowledged in that way. I see it as a great opportunity to meet with other European producers with a view to co-production and availing of financing opportunities on my current projects in development. It would also be highly useful to brainstorm on future projects and to establish long forming relationships for working partnerships in years to come. It’s also great to be able to soak up information on producing and financing in various European countries. To be exposed to other talented producers who will be selected in such an intense working environment will be a huge privilege. Hopefully it will also raise my profile as a producer, which will be really helpful to my career.