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ÉCU Film Festival 2018

Benjamin Cleary
& TJ O'Grady Peyton


A man wakes from a coma speaking a fully formed but unrecognisable language baffling linguistic experts from around the globe.


Hello Benjamin & TJ thanks for talking to The New Current, how does it feel to have Wave part of this years ÉCU Film Festival?

Ben: We're delighted and humbled to be included in such a great festival with such a strong collection of shorts. 

Wave won Best Live Action Short Film at the Irish Film and Television Award's, what has it meant to you both to get such recognition for your film?


TJ: The whole thing has been a crazy experience. We started this journey over two and half years ago and to see Wave travel all over the world and be watched by film lovers in various festivals feels surreal. Winning Best Short at the IFTAS was the icing on the cake as it's fantastic to get recognition at home from your peers.


Are there nerves ahead of festival screenings?


Ben: Yes, especially the first one. We premiered in Tribeca and it was quite nerve-wracking showing it to crowds for the first time. Wave also has comedy elements so it's that instant feedback sort of thing which is very rewarding if the comedy beats land, but if they don't, you know about it straight away. 


Can you tell me a little but about Wave, what inspired your screenplay?


Ben: I read an article a few years ago about an English man who had a stroke and woke up speaking fluent Welsh even though he hadn't spoken the language since he was a young boy 60 years previous. I've been fascinated with such phenomena since then. It's quite amazing how little we really know about the brain. 


TJ: Simply put, we all wanted to make something together and after a few conversations on the potential concepts, we decided to make Wave. It was originally called Pohe which is a misspelling of HOPE but I'm glad we changed it to Wave!


Were you able to keep pretty close to your script or did some things have to be cut? 


TJ: It was a really fluid process with no deadline. Like in any film, things developed here and there, but the core or essence of the film never changed.


What has the experience been like working together on this film?


Ben: It was really enjoyable, we're great mates so I think we had a bit of a shorthand before it even started which was useful. 

How important is the collaborative nature of filmmaking to you both? 


TJ: Having someone you trust there to bounce ideas off and collaborate with is such a great thing in a creative endeavour. It's really hard to do things alone, almost impossible I would say in this medium or art form, unlike, say, painting. This was made by a large number of amazing people who dedicated so much time and energy to the project. Ben, our producer Rebecca and I were the core unit and were very lucky to have such a great team involved. 


What was the most challenging part of bringing Wave to life? 


Ben: Well Wave was self-funded so we were doing things on a shoestring, which brings a multitude of challenges. If it wasn't for having Rebecca, our producer extraordinaire, Wave never would have come to fruition so we owe the film to her really. 

Have you always been interested in filmmaking?


TJ: Since I was a young child. Movies have always been an art form that have spoken to me. 


How much has your style and approach to your writing and directing changed since your debut film?


Ben: Not really, I feel like I'm more so trying to build on what I started with that and just trying to learn as much new stuff as I can. Which I suspect (and hope) will always be the way it works. 

"It has opened some doors and with that comes additional pressure..."


Did winning an Oscar for Stutterer add any additional pressure on you as a filmmaker?


Ben: Yes I think it has a bit. It has opened some doors and with that comes additional pressure, but it feels like a healthy sort of pressure and is a great motivator to try to keep producing better work.

What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?


TJ: Be nice to people on your way up, because you might meet them on your way down.


And finally, now that you can be reflective do you have any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?


Ben: All I usually say is try to get the script as strong as possible before shooting anything. Get peoples' opinion on it, refine it, hone it. Oh and chop out a few minutes from your final cut! Almost every short I watch is too long. 

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