I'm Talking to You

#Interview: Scannain Talks I’m Talking to You with director Thomas Quain

Ahead of its World Premiere at the 5th IndieCork Film Festival on October 11th, Scannain caught up with director Thomas Quain to talk about his independent Irish feature I’m Talking to You.

The film follows Mark, a young Irish Garda who is being trained in on the M50. One day he discovers a pirate, propaganda radio signal that causes him to question his black and white morality.

I’m Talking to You stars Aidan Lawlor (Get Up and Go), Jed Murray (You’re Ugly Too), Alice Stands (Rebellion), and Robert O’Connor (Bloody Sunday). The film is produced by Anna Ginjaume Grivé and Victor McGowan.

Where did the idea for I’m Talking to You come from?

The idea came from an idea Orson Welles had for his never made movie Heart of Darkness. Welles set his movie during the second world war and the idea was that as Marlow went up the river he heard a Nazi Propaganda radio broadcast getting louder and louder. Finally he leaves the boat the goes into the jungle to find the source of this signal and destroy it. That idea kind of knocked me out. So I carried that idea around for a while and finally came up with the idea of the Guards on the motorway combined with the economy crash of 2009 and the Propaganda Radio.

Where did you find the actors?

We were based in Dublin and we just put out a lot of ads on Crooked House and Star Now and Facebook and held auditions in the middle of town upstairs in a pub. The casting really helped with the writing too in an interesting way. I had found it very hard to finish the script to what I considered a good level and finally in fact I just gave up and with a half finished script began casting as I just wanted to make the film. I wouldn’t recommend doing this. But some of the people who came in were really brilliant and talented and we just wrote a part for them and that made the film better and more interesting, I think it gives the film a bit of an episodic quality at times but I’m fine with that. We also tried to cast people who had a good chemistry together and from that we got a lot of great improvised scenes a lot of which are in the final film!

Where did you get the money for the film?

I used all my money! I emptied my bank account and credit union and put it all into the film. I work part time in the Irish film Industry as a production assistant but also worked a lot of very random jobs like off licenses, ice creams shops, car parks and a popcorn shop! I didn’t care I had studied film for 5 years and felt if I didn’t try and make a feature now I never would. Our biggest expense was the gear, and then food and we also paid our principal actors. In the end I think our budget was about five grand.

What did filming involve?

I shot the film with Constant Motion Pictures, Victor McGowan and Anna Ginjaume Grivé who produced it. At the time they had just come off the independent film Demon Hunter which I also worked on and so we had a good working relationship. We definitely couldn’t have done it without them. The filming was difficult as the script was so incomplete in fact NONE of the first two days shooting is in the final film! This was really a case of finding the film as we were making it which I just felt we had to do. Kind of as a consequence we shot a lot of different styles too -­- some essay style stuff, some documentary style and some standing shooting and blocking. It was all very free wheeling and I think our brilliant DOP Alan Rogers thought it was a bit mad at times! But I just think when learning and on a low to no budget film I think you have to accept that you will make mistakes. It wasn’t until we actually began shooting Aidan Lawlor and Jed Murray as the main guards on the road on the third day that I felt we were finally finding the film. Once we put those guys together great stuff happened.

Can you give me an example?

Well one of my favorite scenes is when they go into a take away and just wait for their food. That was only one line in the script but they went in there and improvised a five minute scene almost all of which is in the finished film! That amazed me and it kind of still does. We did a lot of that during the filming not all of it worked out but then sometimes the stuff we planned and rehearsed meticulously didn’t work out either. Really I think you just have to go with what feels natural on the day and if you cast good actors like we did it makes it a lot easier. I find you get much better results if you go with the natural flow of things than try to go against them.

What’s next for you?

I’m writing my next feature already it’s about a reality TV gardener who discovers the couple whose garden he is doing is being forced to make pornography by a gang of giant rabbits.

I’m Talking to You screens at the IndieCork Film Festival on Wednesday, October 11th at 3pm at the Blacknight Festival Centre. Director Thomas Quain will be present to introduce the screening.

I'm Talking to You
Thomas Quain and Robert ‘O Connor working on I’m Talking to You (Photo: Adam Symes)