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Fresh face on Irish film scene

Craig Farrell

With the likes of Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender and Robert Sheehan all working abroad, it was only a matter of time before a new name appeared on the Irish acting scene

This November Exchange Dublin is hosting two screenings of BenD, a low budget dark fantasy thriller feature film produced in Dublin, Ireland.

The Liberty’s Craig Farrell sat down with Colm Kearns – a young Irish actor, and the lead of BenD.

Had you been involved in any type of production prior to this?

– In the summer of 2010, I played the lead in a short film called ‘The Chance of Striking Gold’, which was my first real experience of acting. The director (Eoghan McQuinn) and Christopher Carroll, the other lead actor, gave me a lot of encouragement and taught me a lot. It was after ‘Chance’ that I decided I wanted to pursue acting further. Between that film and BenD, I featured as an extra in some productions; student films and studio films. They didn’t require much acting of me, but they made me more familiar with the filmmaking process.

How did you get involved in the film?                               

– Seamus Hanly, (writer and director of BenD), and I knew each other from college. He had written the script over a long time and tried to film it before, but it had fallen through for a variety of reasons. He wanted to get it all done this time around. Seamus asked Eoghan what I was like as an actor. Evidently, I had made a decent enough impression on him to warrant a text from Seamus. He emailed me the script and we then met up to discuss it. Basically, he needed someone who’d be committed to it, because he knew shooting it would be a long and potentially difficult process. I promised him that I would stick with it, but that college might occasionally get in the way. He was happy enough with my commitment and we began shooting a few weeks later.

What is the film about?            

– We don’t believe in such outdated conventions as ‘plot’ or ‘narrative’! Pure Hollywood hogwash! Nah, don’t worry, it’s got a plot alright. Without wishing to give too much away, it’s about Ben, a young man who’s just returned to his home town after a relatively long absence. While driving around one night, he has a strange car accident. All of this occurs prior to the film’s beginning, when we first see Ben, he’s temporally displaced, out of sync with reality. His sleeping pattern has become strange and he can’t really engage with day-to-day reality. It turns out he is in a world between that of the living and the dead. While there, he becomes caught up in efforts to capture someone who’s broken the rules of the world of the dead.

How many people were involved in the project?

– It was a small crew. The core group was Seamus (writer/director), Tony Flynn (producer) and the actors; myself, Aisling Lynch, Dave Duffy, Gareth Lyons (who also did some camera work and helped with production), Diarmuid Hanly and Binne McManamon. Others occasionally helped out in technical positions like camera and lighting.

How long did the filming take?

– We filmed our first scene in November 2011 and we finished shooting in late August of this year. The final cut is around 80 minutes long. I feel, given our budget (or lack thereof) and the fact that many of the crew had to fit filming around college and work commitments, we (and credit must go especially to Seamus and Tony here) did pretty well to get it finished in that time. It’s really opened my eyes to how much you can get done with just enthusiasm and hard work (oh, and talent, of course, I’d like to think we had some of that too).

Where about in Dublin did most of the shooting take place?

– A good deal of it was shot in what, for lack of a more evocative term, I would describe as the Green Luas Line area; Rathmines, Dundrum, Ranelagh. A great deal of it was shot at night. During the night, a lot of those places have a good look, interesting but indistinctive. The film could be set anywhere and that’s a feel Seamus wanted, I think. The climax of the film was shot in a warehouse a few hundred metres from Connolly Station. It’s been converted into a rehearsal space for bands. It was a great location and the fella who ran it (whose name unfortunately escapes me) was very accommodating.

Was there any “professional” help with the project?

– It was a largely amateur affair, born out of elbow grease, love for cinema and an ability to withstand long nights in cold conditions. The only professional element was Dave Duffy, who played the villain, Luke. Dave acts on Fair City and has featured in films with Daniel Day-Lewis and Rutger Hauer. He’s a lovely guy, and it was great to see a professional actor approaching the film with the same enthusiasm we had.

How did you find being filmed?

– It was a fun experience, but occasionally frustrating. Sometimes, it’s the small things, the seemingly incidental lines that you just can’t seem to get right and it rankles. We did about a dozen takes of one line where all I had to say was ‘what.’ I worry that I come across too wooden in the film, but I feel I’m still learning my craft as an actor and I learnt a lot filming BenD.

Were there any mishaps during filming?

– Plenty. We had to adapt a lot, things never went according to plan, but I think that was a good experience for all of us (though I suppose Seamus and some of the crew with more film experience would be well used to this). Getting the right locations was always tricky. Shooting the scenes at the Luas stations were particularly tough, because filming could get held up for a while when people would leave the Luas and gawk at the folk in the weird clothes with the camera. It could be quite difficult to pick up sound/dialog properly in a lot of locations as well. It was a learning experience for me seeing how we would work around these difficulties.

How large, or small was the budget for the film?

– Miniscule. It was entirely self-financed by Seamus, I believe. I don’t think it cost more than 1200 euro or thereabouts. I feel we did a lot with a little. I laugh out loud when I hear mainstream films being described as having ‘a tiny budget of only 100,000 dollars.’ That’s about 80 BenDs.

What are your thoughts of the film as a whole?

– I’m really proud of our achievement of completing it with such a small budget. Film making is generally seen as such a daunting task, requiring vast amounts of time and funding, and while BenD was no easy task, being able to complete a film with so few resources, is, I feel, a hugely encouraging experience.

BenD will be screened on Friday, 2nd November and Sunday, 4th November at 8:00pm in Exchange Dublin, on Exchange Street Upper. Tickets are €5 and seating is limited.

Image top: via Harry Weir

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