Interview: Paddy Murphy

Independent film makers are at the moment making a name for themselves. With festival such as the Fingal Film Festival, film makers are getting the opportunity to be heard. One man who knows more than most what it’s like to make independent films is Paddy Murphy. Paddy has five independent films under his belt and is about to embark on his sixth. I caught up with him to have a chat about his new short film The Three Dont’s and where he love of film comes from.

First things first, what’s your background?

Hey there. Thanks so much for having me. I like to think I have an interesting background… Fingers crossed. I was employed for many years (almost a decade in truth) across software retail stores like Gamestop and Xtra Vision. I truly loved these jobs, as they gave me cheap and easy access to my two favourite things – video games and movies.Eventually I got into video game development and became the CEO and Co Founder of one of Ireland’s most successful independent video game companies, Open Emotion Studios.That was an amazing experience and it allowed me to travel all over the world, attending conferences and honing my craft as a visual storyteller. While at Open Emotion I helped bring over a dozen games to release across a variety of platforms. When Open Emotion shut its doors in 2012 I moved abroad to Malta to find myself. When I moved back to Ireland in 2014, I began writing scripts/short stories. It was around that time that I met Steve Spade (celebrity magician) and helped co-found his production company Spade Lion, before departing in May of this year to pursue many other interesting projects… Including The Three Don’ts.

That’s certainly an interesting background and you have accomplished a lot in your life so far. Where did the idea come from for The 3 Dont’s?

The main idea came from a friend of mine named Brian Clancy, who stars in the movie as Jason (one of the main characters). I met Brian for a coffee after I had finished writing the script for Steve (Spades) new film Cavity. When Brian told me the story, I was blown away. It was filled with so much dark humour – something I absolutely love. It was part In Bruges, part Snatch with a smattering of Miller’s Crossing down on top. After that meeting I rushed home and wrote the 26 page script overnight while watching Quentin Tarantino classics like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction – perfect for dialogue inspiration. Brian had originally came up with the concept along with another friend, Mickey Ridley, who came on board as assistant director and I tried to incorporate some of his ideas too – such as a stronger friendship between Jason and Benson, the two lead protagonists – into the short. It was a hugely engaging creative effort, where the whole cast and crew really contributed into making this film unique. A lot of ad-libbing and creative decisions on the fly‚Ķ It was a fantastic process all round.

Can you tell us a bit about the film?

As stated above the film is a dark comedy – At its core it tells the story of two (slightly naive) lads (Jason played by concept creator, Brian ‚ÄúRusso‚Äù Clancy and Benson played by Nathan Wong) who take on what appears to be a ‚Äúhandy‚Äù job from three shady characters lead by the intimidating Banger (played by Adam Moylan). Banger and his crew (Madman played by Aaron Walsh and Tic-Tac played by John O‚Äô Connor) tell Jason and Benson to follow the three don‚Äôts and they‚Äôll make it through the night just fine ‚Ķ but what are they? Well you‚Äôll have to watch the film to find out – however if we can get our Facebook page to over 1000 likes we‚Äôll reveal the first don‚Äôt. So make sure to head over to Facebook and throw it a like if you wanna find out more. We reckon that the film will run for between 25 and 30 minutes and is full of comedy and violence – sometimes both together 🙂

You have mainly been involved in horror films before, was this a big change for you?

Not really. Luckily, The Three Don’ts still contains quite a lot of gore (major props to our make up artist, Bekki Tubridy for the red stuff) and dark humour was something I always felt seeped into my previous films (particularly Ground Floor). At the same time, although The Three Don’ts is more grounded in reality, there is more than enough to make this film feel quite horrific. The biggest change for me was working with a new Director of Photography. On previous films I worked exclusively with Aaron Walsh (who is a phenomenal DOP) but on The Three Don’ts I had the pleasure of meeting and working with the exceptional Barry Fahy. I saw Gun Down at the Richard Harris Film Festival and was absolutely blown away so I jumped at the chance to work with Barry. It was an absolute joy Рthe man is a consummate artist and knows his craft inside and out. I think another difference was the scale of the cast, crew and equipment. There was more people on set than I’ve ever had to deal with before which brought with it challenges. Having more equipment meant more setup time and the fact that many scenes were shot outside made the whole thing weather dependent so there was that too… It was an amazing shoot though and I think you’ll be hard pressed to believe we shot the whole thing in just 4 days.

That’s quite an achievement 🙂 In terms of making an independent film, what’s the biggest obstacle?

Funding. Finding a good producer, raising crowdfunding or even seeking funding from the arts council/film board are all tough tasks and as of yet, although I‚Äôve made six short films (in under a year) I’ve yet to receive funding for a single one, ha ha. However, all you can do is get out and make things‚Ķ and hope that if you keep it up, you will get noticed. That‚Äôs the challenge‚Ķ and the dream.

It’s always the money isn’t it? What’s your biggest achievement to date?

I am incredibly proud of my releases and achievements at Open Emotion Studios. At 28, I was awarded one of the top videogame developers in the world under 30 by Develop Magazine, which was amazing. My top achievement though was showing Ensnared (the first short film I wrote/directed and one that’s very close to my heart) at the Richard Harris Film Festival. Richard Harris’ son’s were in attendance and after the screening, actor Jared Harris said that he “Loved Ensnared” and couldn’t wait to see the rest of the Psychosis Trilogy… That was a huge moment for me… and a massive achievement.

That must have me an amazing experience for you. Do you have any regrets?

Not paying enough attention to the sound on our second film, Devil on my Back. I absolutely love the film and the performances are some of the best we’ve committed to film… but sadly the sound wasn’t right and as such the short has suffered for it… It was a lesson learned though and I’ve treated sound with much greater reverence on subsequent productions.

Speaking in general, what’s your view on the film industry in Ireland?

It’s a fantastic place to be right now. There are some truly amazing folk emerging. From established people like Paddy Jordan (DoP – Stitches) to Lenny Abrahamson, there are some truly amazing people here working on an international level. On a more regional basis, I‚Äôve been exceptionally impressed by people like Nigel O’Brien in Galway, Steve Hall in Limerick, Eamonn Tutty in Dublin, and Randall Plunkett and more. The biggest issue solely lies in funding and although the IFB and Arts Council have plenty of great initiatives, it can still be mighty cut-throat trying to get some much-needed cash for projects. However, it just means folks have to get creative. We ran a crowdfunder for Ground Floor and through that we raised enough to bring International genre horror actress Tristan Risk (American Mary) to Ireland. Get creative‚Ķ. and never give up.

Now that you have a few films under your belt, what advice would you give to any budding film makers?

Lighting is everything. Get your boom as close as humanly possible. Continuity is important… but obsessing over it can be dangerous. Ideas come in pre-production… kill them once the film starts to roll Рespecially if they are time-consuming. Have fun Рfilm sets are intense, make friends… make memories… make great movies. That’s what it’s all about.

And finally, I can’t let you go without asking…..what’s your favourite film of all time?

Oh now that’s a loaded question. There are a multitude that spring to mind. I love films like Fargo and Miller’s Crossing (The Three Don’ts was heavily inspired by works like these) but obviously I’m a horror fanatic. One of my favourite horror films is a Korean horror film called A Tale Of Two Sisters. I obviously love all the classics too like Jaws and Star Wars… but they‚Äôre too obvious for a question like this. But being honest one of the few films I could watch over and over again… A real desert island film – at least for me – would have to be Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I absolutely love the humour in that movie… The chemistry between John Candy and Steve Martin is incredible. I must throw an honourable mention out to Kevin Smith’s Clerks which was a major inspiration to me growing up and even more so now as a filmmaker… I could keep going, ha ha, so let’s leave it at that… Thanks again so much for having me and I hope you’ll enjoy The Three Don’ts when it releases later this year!

So there you go, from computer games to film making, Paddy has done it all. Head on over to the Facebook page for more information on the The Three Dont’s and of course on the lovely Paddy himself. The film is due for release later this year. Check out the trailer below for a little taster of what’s to come.

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