Making It
Making It

#Interview: Scannain talks Making It with Eamonn Norris ahead of 29th Galway Film Fleadh

Kerry-filmed comedy Making It is heading west to feature at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh, where it will play on Wednesday, July 12th in the Town Hall Studio at 9:30pm.

Making It is an original feature film produced by the National Digital Skills Centre at the Kerry ETB Training Centre, Tralee. The film tells the story of a Mike McMahon, who sets out to make his own action movie without a clue of how to do it. His efforts quickly land him in hot water with both sides of the law and the whole thing is a massive disaster with shootouts, car chases and plenty of local Kerry characters.

The movie stars Seamus Hughes who recently appeared as one of the main cast in the IFTA winning An Klondike for TG4. Seamus also appeared in Ken Loach’s 2014 film Jimmy’s Hall. The film also stars Moya Farrelly who appeared opposite Aidan Quinn in the popular film This Is My Father as well as RTE’s Bachelors Walk and Single Handed. In 2015, Moya appeared in the hit Walking on Cars music video ‘Speeding Cars’ which has almost 12 million views on Youtube.

Making It is directed by Norris, who has made several short films prior to this and just recently finished directing episodes of season 21 of TG4s hit show, Ros na Rún. The film was written by Norris and Fred O’Connor based on a story developed with Brian Nolan. It features a big cast of Kerry actors and the crew was made up of industry professionals, graduates and recent trainees from the Broadcast Production Course at the Kerry ETB.

Scannain caught up with director Eamonn Norris to talk about the film:

Why did you want to make this film?

I’d been working in TV and film in Ireland since 2007 and began making my own short films in 2012 with a small team of people I met on the FÁS, TV & Video production course in Co. Kerry (Fred O’Connor, John McCarthy, and David Pembroke).

Some of these short films went on to play at festivals in Ireland and the USA and I guess I was working my way up towards a feature. Almost all of the shorts were either outright comedies or had comedic elements. We always seemed to veer in that direction.

Making It was born when Brian Nolan, the head of the course in Kerry (now the Broadcast Production Skills Course at the Kerry ETB) contacted me when I was out working in the USA and asked if I was interested in directing a feature film. I jumped at the opportunity.

Brian, Fred O’Connor and I developed the story of Making It and then Fred and I went and wrote the script. I love the process of writing with Fred as we have a very similar sense of humour and it’s great to be able to bounce ideas around with him.

You’ve worked in TV and film. Was there experiences on either that translate to the other? Do you prefer one to the other?

I mostly worked in television until I began making my own short films and all of my experiences there influenced me as a film-maker. I began working for Ros Na Rún on TG4 in 2007. Initially I worked in the office as asst production coordinator and then I moved down to set and worked as a stage manager and later as a floor manager.

Andrea O’Connor an Irish Assistant Director based in New York (who worked on Sex & the City, Daredevil & Spotlight) trained me as an asst director and I worked with her on the CBS TV show Blue Bloods in New York City, which was an amazing experience. The writer and executive producer Siobhan Byrne O’Connor and director and co-executive producer David Barrett had a big influence on me while I worked there. I was lucky enough to shadow David Barrett on the season 4 finale of Blue Bloods.

As an asst director and also working in the locations department with Galway location manager, Declan O’Toole I learned a lot about logistics and how a set is run. I learned about producing during my season up in the production office in Ros na Rún and also by observing the producers on Blue Bloods as well as learning the hard way, producing my own short films.

The directors on Ros Na Rún and all their varied styles had a big impact on me. I learned a lot from Anne McCabe, Cóilín O’Scoláí and Deirdre Ní Fhlatharta and I was very lucky to get the opportunity to train directly with Claire O’Loughlin and later with Stephen Butcher. Under Brian Nolan, I learned a lot about the technical part of the industry.

All of these experiences together helped me to produce Making It.

I love working on both TV and film. I’ve been directing Ros Na Rún recently, which is something I’d dreamed about from the day I started working there. It is a brilliant opportunity to work with a great crew and you get to experiment a bit with different styles. Ros Na Rún films both multi-camera, studio set up and also single camera so a director has the opportunity to work in a traditional television environment and also in a more feature film environment. The main difference is the speed at which you have to work.

Who’s in your cast and crew? And how did you find them?

Seamus Hughes plays ‘Mike McMahon’ the lead character in Making It. Seamus worked on An Klondike, Jimmy’s Hall, Ros na Rún and many other TG4 productions. We had often talked over the years about working on a film together. I sent him the script and I was delighted when he agreed to play Mike. It is a complex part to play, as there are a lot of elements of comedy and pathos and the character goes on a massive arc through the film. I was really impressed with how Seamus could embody these different facets of Mike and his focus on set was a great source of inspiration.

I loved Moya Farrelly’s work since I was a kid and I was actually an usher in Diamond Cinema in Navan when This Is My Father played there. When Moya rang me and told me how much she’d laughed while reading the script, I breathed a massive sigh of relief, as she was the first actor who’d read it. That gave me a massive confidence. When she came on board to play Linda, the film really began to come together.

The other lead characters, Elaine Kennedy, John Fraher, Ronan Magee, Kaylin Galvin, and Sean McGillicuddy were all found through auditions in Co. Kerry. Kerry people have such an interest in the arts. We were lucky to have such a wealth of talent involved.

The crew was made up of my regular collaborators and also the trainees on the Kerry ETB, Broadcast Production Skills course. A lot of graduates, particularly from my year of the course came to work on the film. We were very fortunate to have Noel Quinn with us as sound supervisor. Everybody worked really hard.

What are your hopes for the film?

I remember when we were in the middle of production on Making It, Seamus and I talked a lot about the film appearing at the Galway Film Fleadh. It is a dream come true that this is going to happen. Seamus is from Galway city and I’ve been working there over the last 10 years so it is a spiritual homecoming of sorts for the film.

It was a great honour to premiere as the opening night film at the Kerry Film Festival and I hope Making It continues to entertain audiences. Hearing people laugh during screenings at what we all worked so hard on together is a wonderful feeling.