Bringing it home

Fionn Walton in a scene from the film

David Hennessy

A new community funded feature film that examines the dilemmas faced by many of the current diaspora is sure to strike a chord with many. Out of Here, written and directed by Donal Foreman follows the adventures of Ciaran, a young Dubliner who returns home from his foreign travels too soon and finds that everything has changed in his absence.

Not only have his friends and ex-girlfriend moved on without him, but he finds himself broke, living back with his parents, and questioning whether he should have come home to Ireland at all.

Filmed last year and currently in post-production, the film stars Fionn Walton who appeared alongside Jack Reynor in What Richard Did, Aoife Duffin of Moone Boy and rising stars Annabell Rickerby and Emma Eliza Regan. With many young Irish people feeling there is no place for them in Ireland, The Irish World caught up with the film’s writer/ director and two of the actors to get their thoughts.

Fionn Walton

Fionn Walton will be recognisable to many from his roles in What Richard Did and RTE’s Trivia. The Irish World caught up with him to ask him about Out of Here, in which he plays Ciaran.

Can Fionn relate to the situation his character Ciaran finds himself in? “Though, unlike Ciaran, I have not spent a year abroad, travelling, I think most of us can relate to the feelings one experiences upon returning home from a pleasant few weeks in a foreign land and wondering why Ireland can’t be more like that country. I suppose Ireland’s flaws and shortcomings appear all too glaring when one returns. One starts comparing Ireland to wherever it is one has returned from, and usually Ireland is promptly ridiculed and cursed. However, this may soon fade and one will be reminded what one loves about the place.

“Though the longest period of time I’ve spent outside of Ireland is just over a month, I can understand to a degree the situation many young people find themselves in upon returning. As with all of us I’m sure, I have friends and relatives who’ve had to emigrate in the last few years. The destinations are the usual ones: Australia, New Zealand, Canada. Two of my cousins, one from either side of the family, moved to Australia at roughly the same time, in 2009. They’ve returned home for visits once or twice since but it seems unlikely that they will be moving back to Ireland any time soon. They have found steady work and enjoy the lifestyle. For those who have returned, whether by choice or as it is with the protagonist of this film, through necessity- he is without means, and found the place wanting, the film’s themes will to them seem all too familiar.

“In one of our discussions about the film I remember Donal mentioning a friend of his who had returned to Ireland after a long absence. He described the experience as being like re-entering a bubble. Though the film’s relationship with Ireland, Dublin specifically, is far from negative. Really what it is about is seeing Dublin from a fresh perspective, appreciating aspects of its geography and topography hitherto unnoticed but especially, seeing again all the old places and the old streets but seeing them transformed in some intangible way; their intrinsic beauty somehow unlocked. Ultimately Ciaran’s attitude to Dublin is ambivalent, but his views are not without an understanding and appreciation of its uniqueness.”

Fionn and Aoife Duffin who plays one of his love interests in the film

The film’s message is undoubtedly a current one, could Ciaran see such a movie ringing so true just a few years ago? “I certainly don’t think the film would have had as much currency even five or six years ago, indeed it is probably unlikely that such a project would have been developed. At least the likelihood of that is far greater now anyway. Though emigration is of course worryingly prevalent at the moment and while the film will most likely appeal to people in their mid to late twenties, I think our parents’ generation will also connect to it on a very real level. The 80s was perhaps an even bleaker time in Ireland, though many who emigrated would never return. I suppose there is still the hope for this generation that they may return and settle once again in this country.

Fionn was in What Richard Did. Did he know just how much of an impact that film would make when he was shooting it? And is he pleased to see Jack Reynor’s subsequent success with Hollywood roles? “Well, I certainly knew from the beginning how much of a privilege it would be to work with Lenny (Abrahamson, director of What Richard Did). While his output is relatively small (for now), the films he has released are great works of art. With a director of his calibre, your faith is unshakable. You know that once his full vision is realised something very special will have been created. Still, I don’t think many could have predicted precisely the extraordinary level of success it has achieved so far.

“As for Jack, I’d say most people who have met and worked with him had a pretty strong conviction that he would attain greatness. He’s a wonderful actor, in addition to which he undeniably possesses whatever it is that comprises star quality. The success he has garnered and will continue to garner is thoroughly deserved, I’m delighted for him. He’s also such a lovely and genuine guy. I owe Jack a great deal, without him I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work on the film: Jack suggested me for the role of Cian to casting director Louise Kiely, and is essentially the sole reason I was seen for the part. I met Jack at the Factory, where we had participated in a three-day workshop in May 2011. At the time, I was without an agent and had never had a professional gig. He also recommended me to his agent, Derick Mulvey (of MacFarlane Chard), who then went on to sign me.”

For the entire feature that speaks to director Donal Foreman and Aoife Duffin who also stars in the film as well as more from Fionn, see the April 13 edition of The Irish World.

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