33rd GALWAY FILM FLEADH
Casper Claven is about to begin social care at UCC. After moving into student accommodation, Casper discovers his father has been killed in a high profile hit. Casper chooses to conceal who he is but when threats appear at his new home paranoia begins to set in.
Hi Anthony, it's great to have the chance to talk with you, how have you been keeping during these strange Covid times?
For the most part, it has been a pleasant experience for me. I've managed to find myself exceptionally busy during this time, so I count myself very lucky.
Since the start of lockdowns what has been the most surprising thing you've discovered about yourself and have you taken on any new hobbies or interests?
I was most surprised to find that I really love cooking. I used to eat out a lot and I was convinced food tasted better if someone else made it. This is only true if you make pasta and tomato sauce for every meal.
Congratulations on your recent World Premiere of Inherent at the 33rd Galway Film Fleadh, how important are festivals like Galway in supporting and championing new filmmakers?
Thanks very much. Festivals like Galway are exceptional at supporting new filmmakers. From the outside, you always know who is playing in Galway and that is by design. They are just great at reaching audiences outside of the filmmaking community. This year, they went above and beyond to showcase films online whilst still having in person, socially distanced screenings that are family-friendly. Some of the best films I have seen in the past few years have been at the Galway Film Fleadh. Festivals like Galway are of paramount importance to filmmakers. The age of being able to stream anything you want at any time means that lesser-known filmmakers fall into the abyss of endless options. Festivals have helped build the careers of some of the best filmmakers working today - from Taika Waititi to Lulu Wang to Andrea Arnold. The filmmaking community understands the importance of festivals, which I feel is often lost on the average cinema goer. I definitely feel lucky to have the Film Fleadh here, and Galway full stop. it's a magical place in its own rite.
Did you imagine you would get this type of response and reaction to your directorial debut?
Honestly, no. I've been shown a lot of support from the filmmaking community which is amazing. Some filmmakers I really respect have reached out with positive feedback, which is always nice. But what surprises me most are those who are outside of the filmmaking community who are connected to Inherent. Ultimately, I was just very happy to be part of a festival like Galway, but the response has been incredible.
How much has your background as an actor helped to prepare you for directing your first short film?
What's great about being an actor is you get to work on many different sets with many different directors. My very first role was in The Lobster directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. I spent a lot of time floating around the set just watching everything. Little did I know then that I was getting an education from one of the best filmmakers in the world. That stuff is priceless. I've also worked with directors who I've seen get great performances out of actors with various techniques. You just absorb everything because you never know what will be useful. I couldn't imagine directing my first short without having been on a set!
"When I was young, our neighbours got a satellite dish and by some divine miracle, we managed to tune Sky Movies into our aerial TV."
Can you tell me a little bit about how Inherent came about and what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
The short started when Screen Ireland (Ireland's film funding body) announced the Actor as Creator scheme, where 30 selected actors would be given €2,500 to create a showcase. However, Inherent exists as a feature screenplay that is in development, so I decided to take the protagonist and place him in a new situation that could exist within the same world for the purposes of my showcase. Instead of doing a standard showcase, I decided to use the money to produce a short that could give the tiniest glimpse of what the screenplay is.
Right now, my hometown of Cork City is facing a serious drug problem, specifically with heroin. I'm genuinely heartbroken to return home to see people I grew up with begging for coins on the street to get their next fix. What most people don't know is that these people are suffering and self-medicating. The feature explores the drug and crime problem Cork is facing and investigates its relationship between a traumatic Irish history at the hands of war, church and state. A really great resource for anyone who might be interested in learning more is The Two Norries Podcast - both ex-users and ex-cons from Cork City who turned their lives around. They in themselves are inspiring.
For the short, I had to distil the idea down, focusing more on the implications on the personal lives of those related to gangland figures. It was the simplest narrative that could work given the restraints of Covid. Although, many people have said it feels like it is part of something bigger, almost like the opening of a TV series. I'm very happy about that.
What was the most challenging scene for you to film?
There was a shot that I wanted to get in one. Casper jumps up out of bed, grabs a bat and runs out the door and a car drives off. Sounds simple, but the timing and choreography for it with the lack of resources was really something else! I had actors doubling as crew, Dale (who plays Gervain) was shining a light in a window to make it seem like a car's headlights and had to duck down and run to get out of the way when I moved. Then we got Grace (who plays Grace Smiley) to drive, with the car needing to take off at an exact time to get it in the shot. This was all while filming on a busy road with teenagers looking for trouble, whilst trying to hit marks coming to the end of a shoot day. I think we got it on the 3rd take. I barely used it in the end!
Looking back do you think there is anything you would have done differently on this short?
Yes, plenty. A lot was rushed because of Covid-19 and lockdowns etc. Personally, I would have liked to spend more time developing the script. It was the very first draft that I used. That is a big no-no for me usually. I can confidently say that will never happen again. There are plenty of mistakes for sure. I keep a list with my producing partner Ciarán Grace. Genuinely.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
Ultimately, I love stories. The escapism that film affords me is like nothing else. When I was young, our neighbours got a satellite dish and by some divine miracle, we managed to tune Sky Movies into our aerial TV. Films I should have not seen at that age scarred me for life. So to answer that question, I think it comes from some weird trauma of seeing Eyes Wide Shut at 8.
As well as write, direct, and produce Inherent you also play the lead Casper Claven how did you manage all these creative roles on this short?
It was a decision I felt strongly about. I had contacts and people I could have hired as producers or directors but I said f--k it. I know I want to do it all at some point. I might as well fail now while no one is looking. It's one of the best decisions I have ever made. I love the pressure of it all, to be honest. But most of all, I was open to failing so I could learn, and there was plenty of failing. The key was to plan everything as much as possible, so I could focus on acting. This way, when inevitably something goes wrong you also have a backup plan, or the ability to adapt, which we needed often. But with that said, I had an incredible team of people, Grace Collender and Dale Leadon-Bolger, two amazing actors who I wish I could have shown off more doubled and tripled up as crew, stunts, cooks, you name it. My producing partner at Evil Genius, Ciarán Grace is a driving force. Not to mention everyone in the 'Special Thanks' you see at the end of the film. It doesn't quite do justice to the names you see. Esther McCarthy and Eoin O'Neill legitimately created a front page of a newspaper for me, that was super integral for the whole process. The kindness of people when you are trying to do something like this can be exceptionally humbling. So yes, it's super stressful, but I genuinely had people who would have gone to war for me.
Is this something you would do again?
Absolutely. I won't do this for every project, but I certainly have babies that I want to see the whole way through.
Now that your debut short is done do you have any worldly advice you would offer anyone thinking about making their first short film?
My advice would be, once you think you're finally finished with the script, take a few days to break. Then go back and finish working on the script.
And finally, what do you want your audiences to take away from Inherent?
For me, I don't really think it's any of my business what they take away from the film. That's the beauty of stories, once they're out there, it's not for the storyteller to interfere with. It's the audience's story.