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John McDonnell • Producer

Producer on the Move 2006 - Ireland


John McDonnell (see news) started out in the film industry as a location manager twenty years ago, working on films such as Mike Newell’s Into the West, Jim Sheridan’s In the Name of the Father and Braveheart by Mel Gibson. He founded his own production company Fantastic Films in 2000, driven by "a desire to bring a different perspective on the kind of film that is normally associated with Ireland." He is one of Ireland’s most experienced production managers and line producers, working with emerging, as well as established writers and directors.

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Focused on the international film industry, he is a resourceful producer and his production credits speak for themselves. They include Aisling Walsh’s acclaimed Song For a Raggy Boy (2002), Colm McCarthy's The Making of a Prodigy (2003), Timbuktu (2003) the digital feature film directed by Alan Gilsenan which opened the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in 2004, Martin McDonagh’s 2006 Oscar-winning short, Six Shooter (2005).

Cineuropa: Could you tell us in a few words about your company "Fantastic Films" and the types of films you produce?
John McDonnell: Fantastic Films was set up to produce films of any genre, the only criteria for me are that the subject matter must appeal to me and the finished film is one that my children would enjoy either now or in the future.

The first feature film you produced in 2000 was the multi-awarded Song for a Raggy Boy by Aisling Walsh. Since then you have produced long and short features films, with an amazing sense of projects with high production values. What are, according to you, the essential ingredients to recognize the success of a project at an early stage?
The most important ingredients to me are the script, the creative team and the audience. By that I mean that if a film has a clear idea of who it intends to reach then with the right creative team behind it i.e. cast , director, heads of department, financiers, sales agents, distributors and timing, the hope is that you will reach the people you made the film for.

How did the Oscar for Best Short Film received for Six Shooter affect your career as producer?
Besides the obvious delight at the win, I think the effect will be a slow burn. For me personally, it is terrific to have the acknowledgement that one has an eye for the right material and it will help to open doors over the coming year and beyond.

Are you satisfied with the co-production mechanisms in Europe?
I believe there is a lot of work being done to help the co-production mechanisms but, as with everything else, more could be done. It is a particularly challenging time for co-productions between the UK and Ireland, as a result of the recent changes in the UK.

What do you expect from the selection for the EFP programme "Producers on the Move"
I see it as a great opportunity to meet with other producers, sales agents, distributors and financiers and also to swap notes with others regarding new ways to finance.

See the background

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