For this article a call was put out to FilmmakersNetwork members for questions they'd like to ask the filmmakers of acclaimed Irish film One Hundred Mornings.
In the glowing Irish Times review
Tara brady wrote "One Hundred Mornings is the third and final issue from Project Catalyst, the Irish Film Board’s 2007 micro-budget initiative. It’s not only a very fine picture; it’s practically a ransom demand for like-minded schemes. More movies like this one, please."
The story is set in a world upended by a complete breakdown of society where two couples hide out in a lakeside cabin hoping to survive the crisis. As resources run low and external threats increase, unspoken animosity fills the air, and a suspected affair is driving a wedge between them all. Poorly equipped to cope in a world without technology and saddled with completely conflicting worldviews, everything begins to disintegrate. Finally, each of them faces a critical decision they never thought they’d have to make.
The film was written and directed by Conor Horgan (Deep End Dance, Happiness) and is his debut feature. It was produced by Katie Holly of Blinder Films (Sensation, The Savage Eye). Conor recently won the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild award for Best Screenplay 2011. The film has also won the IFTA award for Best Director of Photography 2010 for DOP Suzie Lavelle and garnered a special mention at the Slamdance Film Festival 2010.
How did you go about structuring the script? Would love to hear about the process of structuring the script pre- and post-outline. Was there a particular paradigm you used?
I wrote the first 28 pages, came to a grinding halt, then realised page 29 was actually page 1 so threw away what I'd done and started from there. Then I wrote the end, then the middle and kept jumping around until it was done. I wanted an episodic script made up of discrete sequences, which helped us restructure the film substantially in the edit. I didn't use a a particular paradigm.
I believe the script was quite short - around 60 pages or so. If that is correct and as the rule-of-thumb is one page equals one minute I'd like to ask was the the plan to spend the extra time on visuals, on improv on set, material from rehearsals with the cast or something else?
The original script was longer- the 62 page version reflects the finished film. I set out to have as little dialogue as possible, so many two minute scenes in the script are covered in two lines of action, making the script for an 83 minute film only 62 pages. We shot some sequences that didn't find a place in the finished film.
I'd be interested in hearing what attracted Katie to the script.
The quality of the writing and the story itself. It felt fresh, was a really engaging read, had a chilling story that was also scarily prescient and it also had strong and complex characters. Given that I was reading it with the Catalyst budget in mind it also felt achievable which was reassuring.
I'd be curious to know how Conor found the move from from photographer to director. Was it difficult to translate his creative vision from telling a story with one frame to having many frames?
Not really - the storytelling in each medium is usually quite different. My background in photography helped me with framing and some technical aspects, but I was still on a pretty steep learning curve to get a handle on the other aspects of directing.
There's a number of shots with a pretty shallow depth of field - obviously this was a conscious decision whilst filming but was this decided on prior to shooting or was it only made clear (i.e. to shoot in that way) when they arrived on location?
It was very important to Suzie (Lavelle, DoP) and I that we could use shallow depth of field as a storytelling device. With four characters in a confined space we really needed to be able to direct the viewer to what was important in each scene and the depth of field was a vital part of that.
Also, was there much ADR treatment needed? Boring question but just curious!
I don't know what a lot is - we spent a day at it, so probably an average amount. One shouted "Hey!" was recorded by Paul Ronan at the edge of the Sahara, while I directed him over the phone.
How important was the Catalyst project in getting OHM made?
Vitally important - I don't think the film could have been made as it was within normal commercial constraints.
I also think that a deadline and competition can be a great motivator - and since the rules were that scripts couldn't be dusted off from the bottom drawer to enter it meant that a lot of new ideas were developed and written over a relatively short period of time. I would hope we could have made the film anyway, in fact so many other films that got their first spark at Catalyst have since been made, but the very fact of the workshops and competition itself was vital to the creation of the script, and so many other ideas. I really hope that Catalyst 2 gets going soon.
What is the Workbook Project and what was its involvement in OHM?
The Workbook Project is a terrific resource for independent filmmakers which was set up by Lance Weiler - http://workbookproject.com/
- it's a resource that provides information on all aspects of filmmaking, helping to make filmmakers collaborate and focussed on how we as filmmakers can fund, create, distribute and sustain.
Alongside that it runs DIY Days which is a roving conference for those who create and in addition they set up a competition called the DISCOVERY & DISTRIBUTION Award - for a film from anywhere in the world which had not had theatrical distribution in the US. We applied with ONE HUNDRED MORNINGS and won - the prize gave us a weeklong run at the Downtown Independent Cinema in LA, and also gave us an amazing team who helped get the word out about those screenings, and about the film in general.
New methods of distribution are appearing now, often aided by digital projection - how did the nationwide release of OHM finally come about?
We actually worked on the theatrical release of the film in Ireland ourselves - the Irish Film Board have a fund called 'Direct Distribution' where they can help producers to fund a theatrical release. We always had theatrical aspirations for the film, at festivals it plays so well with an audience and there's nothing like the collective experience of watching a film in the dark with a room full of strangers.
Of course the first step in undertaking this was to ensure we could book screens, so we approached the various exhibitors, had them screen the film and then met them to discuss our plans for press & marketing for the release.
Once we had confirmation on a number of venues we were able to set a date and proceed with our marketing and press strategies. We partnered with the inhouse PR team from the IFI for national press, and engaged a regional press officer to concentrate on local press for towns we knew we were booked into. We've been truly overwhelmed with the response to and support for the film.
One Hundred Mornings
IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE FRIDAY MAY 6TH
The Irish Film Institute
Movies @ Dundrum
Omniplex Cinema, Santry
IMC Dun Laoghaire
Movies @ Swords
The Eye Cinema
Omniplex Cinema, Mahon Point, Cork
FROM 18TH MAY
SLIGO – The Model Arts Centre
FROM 20TH MAY
LETTERKENNY – Century Cinemas
BELFAST – Queens Film Theatre
ROSCOMMON – Carrick Cineplex
CLONAKILTY (CORK) – Park Cinema
More info on screenings and about the film at www.onehundredmornings.com