When the Covid-19 crisis hit the Irish commercials production sector like a bullet train, local producers Andrew Freedman (Antidote) and Paul Holmes (Red Rage) were convinced that their community had the skills, spirit and solidarity to rally into action. If they couldn’t shoot as usual, there must be ways they still could use their talents and resources.
As part of Commercial Producers Ireland (CPI), an industry body representing 21 small Irish businesses in the commercials production sector, they knew the potential of the directors and production staff of the Irish industry. Their chat ended in them devising an initiative whereby Irish commercials directors from CPI member companies would contribute to make a film to inspire hope.
The brief was founded in Irish poetry and literature and the resulting film, made entirely by remote working over the last 10 days, combines artistic and creative flair with a timely message that we will all pull each other through this difficult time and come out stronger, soundtracked with original music from Irish composer Denis Kilty.
LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with Andrew and Paul to hear how they pulled their community (metaphorically) together to shine a light of hope for the Irish people.
LBB> How did the initial conversation that set this project in motion happen?
Andrew & Paul> We were both chatting after the lockdown and getting quite depressed about the effect this was going to have on our businesses and on the whole industry. We thought it would be nice to get everyone together through Commercials Producers Ireland (CPI) to do something positive, so we came up with this idea of getting Irish Commercials Directors from CPI member companies to contribute to making a film to inspire hope. This film would be 100% Irish, be made 100% remotely and we thought it could help to enlighten our nation.
LBB> Why did you decide that what’s most valuable now is to inspire hope?
Andrew & Paul> Irish people (although not alone) have been going through a tough time since this started and it can all really get in on people at times. The fear of the unknown, the health worries, financial worries and negative thoughts can overcome people, so we wanted to shine a light of hope and remind people how strong we can be as a nation, how good we are at pulling together and how things will get better, and despite the challenges that we are now facing that there will be a bright future ahead.
LBB> How did the creative idea develop from there?
Andrew & Paul> We wrote down our idea and a brief for contributors and we shared this with the CPI executive committee who loved the concept. We then got all our members to share this with their roster of Irish directors and most importantly - we gave them a deadline of a week to come back with contributions. We gave them technical specs and a maximum duration for any material submitted.
LBB> What drove the decision to bring CPI member directors together for it?
Andrew & Paul> By bringing together directors from all our member companies, we felt we could convey a unity of voice and portray a strong message of hope for our nation.
LBB> How did you brief all the directors?
Andrew & Paul> It was a kind of “do your bit for our country” calling where we used some famous Irish poetry to inspire directors. We didn’t want to get too restrictive in the brief as we wanted an artistic edge to emerge from the film. The world is awash with films made from zoom calls and the like right now, so we wanted to stay away from this as much as we could and make a film that had a clear narrative and had artistic merit.
LBB> And what was the response like from them?
Andrew & Paul> We had a super response from Irish directors from CPI member companies. Most were live action directors but some of these were animators, and the contributions covered a wide variety of directing styles.
LBB> Then how did you weave it all together into a coherent piece?
Andrew & Paul> We brought in a fantastic editor in Stephen O’Connell who has cut top dramas for Sky Atlantic, BBC, Showtime etc. and he is a master and creating a clear narrative in the cutting room. We used a guide music track for the edit before handing it over to Denis Kilty who set about composing a wonderful score to accompany the pictures and add great weight to telling our story. Copywriter David Cower crafted the words and renowned actor Gavin O’Connor narrated. All these contributions gelled together to craft the finished film.
LBB> What were the biggest challenges of the process and how did you overcome them?
Andrew & Paul> The biggest challenges were getting the brief right and then shaping the film into a strong narrative, then getting the score and VO just right was challenging but we were fortunate to have wonderful creative talent at our disposal for this process.
LBB> Anything else you’d like to add about this experience?
Andrew & Paul> This film has brought over 20 small businesses together in making it, and we hope that this film will inspire hope in our nation and we look forward to a bright future ahead.
Directors / Contributers: Andrew Baird, Lena Beug, Jon Hozier Byrne, Seán Clancy, DADDY, Jamie Delaney, Paul Donnellan, Ciaran Dooley, Brian Durnin, Gavin Fitzgerald, James Fitzgerald, Leon Forestal, Shane Griffin, Grizzly, Keith Hutchinson, Johnny Kelly, Colum Maguire, Hugh O’Connor, Brian O’Malley, Stevie Russell, Manus Goan, Natasha Waugh