By David Hennessy and Lucy Hull
A new film sure to strike a chord with the diaspora will premiere at this week’s Galway Film Fleadh. The community funded Out of Here follows its lead character Ciaran, played by Fionn Walton of What Richard Did, who returns home to Ireland from his foreign travels too soon and finds that everything has changed in his absence.
After finding his friends and ex-girlfriend have moved on without him, Ciaran finds himself broke and back living with his parents which leads him to question if he should have come back to Ireland at all. Filmed last year, Fionn Walton is joined by a cast that includes Aoife Duffin of Moone Boy and Earthbound and rising stars Emma Eliza Regan and Annabell Rickerby. Out of Here is written and directed by Donal Foreman, his first feature film.
With many young Irish people people feeling there is no place for them in Ireland, The Irish World caught up with producer Emmet Fleming as well as actresses Annabell Rickerby and Emma Eliza Regan ahead of the film’s premiere.
Emma Eliza Regan
Rising star Emma Eliza Regan, who plays Ruth in Out of Here, is recognisable from her roles in Ivan Kavanagh’s award winning The Fading Light as well as the IFTA nominated Death of a Superhero. The Galway actress was recently at the Cannes Film Festivals where two of her films were showing: the short Out There and the feature Love Eternal. She has also taken the lead roles in Colin Downey’s fantasy film, The Shadows and Tin Can Man by Ivan Kavanagh, which took prizes at many film festivals. Her television work includes Jack Taylor: The Sorrows, the IFTA winning Aislings Diary and IFTA winning series 1916 Seachtair Na Casca. Emma has recently been shooting The Second Coming with Pete Doherty.
What attracted Emma to the project? “What really attracted me to the idea of the film was the fact that I could personally relate to the story. There can be times where I doubt myself and my decisions and wonder if I will ever find a place of contentment, so the fact that an Irish director wanted to express that twenties-inner-turmoil in a film certainly got me interested. I had some understanding of the director’s voice and what it was he was attempting to express in the film.
“Like the central character, I was a bit lost and questioning should I move back to London and pursue acting there, or stay here, and I was also a bit confused over a relationship, disillusioned with my opportunities in Ireland.
“Also, Irish cinema has been saturated with stories from inner city Dublin culture, and there has been so many films like Adam & Paul, In Between The Canals, Intermission and TV series like Love/Hate about drugs and violence, and as a person who didn’t have any experience in that society, I could never really relate to those stories,and frankly I don’t think that you neccesarily need to be in young, pregnant and in a flat injecting heroin to be interesting enough to make a film about. WithOut Of Here, Donal was making a film about regular middle class, educated, artistic young people- who went to college, went to live gigs & house parties, had ex’s they still thought about, wanted to travel the world, find a place to call home. These were the everyday characters and people I personally could relate to- and I liked that someone was finally making a film about that very vibrant culture in Dublin. I think there is the space for all sorts of cultures in Ireland to be seen in our films.”
Speaking about her character, Emma Eliza says: “Ruth is quite innocent and sheltered in ways, she is studying speech therapy in Trinity, so I always saw her as sort of an outsider because the majority of the characters in Out of Here are all in NCAD studying art. The NCAD characters are all extremely hip and trendy and bohemian in comparison to Ruth who would be very traditional and quite naive. She is going out with her first boyfriend Andy. Andy is extremely protective of her, and is always trying to care of her but he can get overly possessive which leads to arguments.
“I felt I could relate to her in many ways, I was never really the trendy hipster girl although a lot of my friends are, and I guess I was also in similar situations, and even would have been in The Grand Social at gigs with a guy and his friends and been a bit of an outsider on the scene, and been a bit protected, so I used all those real experiences and it was a really great character to play.”
Emma has worked with many talented directors in the past and sees debutant Donal Foreman as one to watch out for: “Donal has already developed his own unique way of working, and as a young director, he has a very individual voice. I think New York is probably a great place for him to be based and inspired to create something visually different. Sometimes it is good to go away and have that space creatively, and come back with the film then having had that distance from Dublin. I am looking forward to seeing the completed film.”
Jess, Ciaran’s love interest is played by Annabell Rickerby. 25 year old Annabell from Dublin was invited to audition for 2011 film This Must Be the Place, starring Sean Penn. While she got down to the final two, Annabell would miss out on this role but ever since been involved with The Factory, the Dublin film makers’ space that is the breeding ground for so much of Ireland’s cinematic talent including Kirsten Sheridan, Lance Daly and Shimmy Marcus.
Annabell’s previous credits include the short films Rhinos, Splintered Concerto and Golgotha. Since filming Out of Here, Annabell has been cast alongside Peter Coonan and Killian Scott, both of Love/Hate, in Get Up and Go. She tells The Irish World how she came to get involved in Out of Here: “Donal got in touch with me after he saw Golgotha, a student short. We actually knew each other years ago when we were in our teens. Donal’s been making films since he was a kid but I only started acting 2 years ago. I went through the audition process and ultimately got the part. I was delighted, I really like the simplicity of the story and how relevant it is right now to young people in Ireland.
“I’ve never lived abroad but two of my friends are considering leaving soon because they’re frustrated at the few opportunities available here. It’s impossible to get work and everything is too expensive. What’s more is everyone knows everyone. It’s a small pond which is useful as an actor for networking
but can be socially repetitive.”
Speaking about her role, Annabell says: “I play Jess who is Ciaran’s ex. She and Ciaran used to go to college together, then he dropped out. When I read the script, I made the decision that I didn’t want to portray Jess like the typical horrible ex- girlfriend who everyone hates. I feel that character is seen too often when in real life, the breakdown of relationships is more complex than that. To his credit, Donal gave myself and Fionn a lot of freedom in shaping the characters and a lot of this happened during improvised rehearsals. I think she’s quite independent and focussed. She has no doubts about her choices or her future. I tried to portray her as funny, clever and likeable too.”
Like her co-stars Fionn Walton and Emma Eliza Regan, Annabell is part of a filmmaker’s community within The Factory in Dublin and had acted with Fionn previously in Rhinos: “It made the whole process so much easier already knowing Fionn because there was no awkwardness and we were just messing the whole time. I’ve worked with him a couple of times including Rhinos and he’s very easy to work with. A lot of laughs were had.”
So what is next for Annabell? “I am currently doing a year long in screen acting course at The Factory. I’ve also started up an all-female writing workshop in The Factory to encourage actresses to begin writing for themselves to give them an opportunity to create female characters that are complex and realistic because there is a lack of those roles available internationally. We have a view to extending the group to other writers and filmmakers in the coming months.”
Out of Here’s producer Emmet Fleming, from Castle Island in Kerry, is one of the nominees for the Galway Film Fleadh’s Bingham Ray New Talent Award, last year won by Pilgrim Hill director Gerard Barrett. The other nominees are actress Kelly Thornton who stars in Life’s a Breeze, director Steph Green for Run & Jump, writer Ailbhe Keogan for Run & Jump and cinematographer Eimear Ennis for Eoin Macken’s Cold.
Emmet speaks to The Irish World while the production team still race to finish the film in time for the Fleadh: “We screened a rough cut for the Fleadh a few months ago. In the meantime, we decided to pull out of Galway (Film Fleadh). We didn’t know what Galway thought of it. We decided to pull out because we didn’t want to rush it, and we were getting a better deal on the post production if we kind of stretched it out over the summer rather than trying to get it all done in a limited window, just before Galway.
“So we told them we were pulling out, and that’s when they let us know how much they really liked it. They really wanted us to reconsider and give it a go to get it done in time because they really liked it and wanted to give it a really good slot. So then that’s what we did. Then it was a race to get an application into the film board, and we got that and that allowed us to finish the film in time. It’s been race, we haven’t finished yet, we’re in the middle of the sound mix at the moment, and we’re going to finish that probably next Wednesday. It’s been manic.”
“It was always the plan to screen it in Galway, and it was sad when we decided to pull out of it, but the film’s our baby and we didn’t want to jeopardise it in anyway by rushing it, so that was a big decision to make. We’re absolutely thrilled to be playing in Galway, it’s Ireland’s leading festival so it’s the perfect launch pad. Pilgrim Hill premiered in Galway last year, and we’re getting a similar slot to that, and they (the festival)’re pushing it in the same way.”
Out of Here is joined on the programme by other fresh Irish films such as Made in Belfast with Ciaran McMenamin, Eoin Macken’s Cold and the John Banville adaptation, The Sea. Isn’t there a wealth of home grown movies to be found on the festival line-up? “There is. There’s a lot of low budget stuff, and you can make really high quality films now with much lower budgets, and these aren’t necessarily coming through the traditional routes of film board and funding routes, so they often pop out at the last minute, and are more under the radar. There’s a lot of talent out there, it’s a healthy industry.”
Out of Here is Emmet’s first feature film. How did he find the leap from short to full length? “An awful lot of work has to go into short films too, and it’s pretty much the same process for a feature film. I wouldn’t say as much, but it’s nearly as much work overall (for a short): Same amount of paper work, you still have to get all your insurances and contracts and get all your post-production sorted. It’s a just bit longer but it’s just the same process so I haven’t found it too daunting a leap.”
What is next? “We, Stalker Films, have got another project in development called Cardboard Gangsters that we’re hoping to get moving on as soon as possible. It’s written and directed by John Connors (who acted in King of the Travellers). It follows four friends growing up in a rough estate who are drawn to the drug dealing lifestyle and the bling. It’s gritty, realistic. It’s a good story and we think it will pack a little punch.”
Out of Here will screen at Galway Film Fleadh on Saturday July 13. The Galway Film Fleadh runs until July 14.