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Michael O'Kelly as Jack Donna Anita Nikolaisen as Ali in QED

#Interview: Scannain talks QED with Amy-Joyce Hastings ahead of premiere at Galway Film Fleadh

QED, a new short drama directed by Amy-Joyce Hastings will have its world premiere at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh in July.

Exploring the theme of sacrificial love, QED poses the ultimate question, ‘What won’t love do?’

The film was co-written by Hastings and lead actor Michael O’Kelly (Red Rock). It also stars Donna Anita Nikolaisen (Fair City), Norma Sheahan (Handsome Devil), and Charlene Gleeson (Penny Dreadful) in the principal roles.

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Charlene Gleeson as Claudia in QED

QED is actress Hastings’ fourth short film as writer/director. In July 2016 she wrote and directed Body of Christ, a micro short commissioned by the Galway Film Centre (UNESCO City of Film). Body of Christ won 2nd place at the 28th Galway Film Fleadh’s ‘One Minute Film Festival’, was nominated for the Micro Cinema Award at the Blackbird Film Festival in New York in April 2017, and took home the Award for Best One Minute Film at the 7th Underground Cinema Film Festival. Previous shorts include Hear Me Now and Nocturne Passage. Film Venture’s productions The Callback Queen (feature) and Lily (short film) have
a combined three IFTA nominations since 2016.

Trisha Flood, Danielle Collins, Jannick Ohlendieck and Michael O’Lelly produced, alongside Executive Producers Alan Fitzpatrick and Graham Cantwell for Filmbase and Film Venture respectively.  Director of Photography was Jaro Waldeck, with Sonja Mohlich as Costume Designer, Marina Granville as Key Makeup and Hair Artist and Jessica Timlin and Alekson Dal’Armellina on production design. The score was created by two-time Emmy-nominated composer Joseph Conlan and post-production sound was headed up by Dean Jones at Raygun Sound.

Billed as a stylish urban drama with deep emotional resonance, QED was shot on various locations in and around Dublin. Full details of the screening will be announced by the Galway Film Fleadh at the launch on June 27th.

Filmbase is supported by the Arts Council. Join the conversation by using #QEDfilm on Twitter.

Scannain caught up with writer/director Amy-Joyce Hasting to talk about the film:

QED is your fourth short as writer and director. As an actor, what made you want to step behind the camera?

They are all just different forms of storytelling. I have always written in one medium or another – poetry, essays, and plays to begin with. And I was always very interested in the technical and visual aspects of filmmaking. You can see in any of the photos of me on set as a kid I’m always hanging out with the crew, and I remember a few times being told to let them get on with their work and not ask so many questions! So that curiosity was always there, I think it’s more a case of what gave me the confidence to decide I could do more than just act. That was after my first year in London where long-story-short I ended up managing a rehearsal rooms business in the West End. I thought if I can manage someone else’s business, I can set up my own, so Graham Cantwell and I founded Film Venture in 2009 and that was when my filmmaking career began alongside acting. It was a natural evolution.

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Michael O’Kelly as Jack in QED

What was the hardest thing about making QED?

Pre-production was very quick, I think we only had 2 weeks from getting the green light from Filmbase to shooting, and I had a couple of day acting in a comedy while trying to manage that. It was manic but very fun. The shoot itself was brilliant, and honestly the first time I ever got a buzz from directing the way I would from performing. Then disaster struck – it turned out our sound recordist had been listening through the boom all week but recording from the onboard mic of the sound recorder which was in his pocket the entire time. So I had literally no usable sound from the entire shoot. I don’t want to give anything away about the story until it has had its world premiere, but suffice to say the lead actress Donna had some incredibly difficult scenes, emotionally and vocally, and I was so panicked that unlike regular ADR, it would be impossible to recapture the performance. She was truly amazing to recreate what she did in the original, and most of my other cast are also very experienced VO actors so they were all consummate pros at getting the job done. It took 11 days to re-record all the dialogue and foley on location with the original props and costume. It took me over 2 months to put the pieces back together, at times I felt like Sisyphus with his boulder. But when all was said and done I got to take it to Raygun Sound for the final mix, and it was the best feeling. I really think the audio is better than the original could’ve been, it’s richer and more layered. And a big shout out to Dean Jones and Colm O’Rourke at Raygun cause they did a brilliant job for me. I had the Fleadh submission deadline fixed in my mind the whole time and it was a long old slog but a deadline that important is a great motivator. And it makes it such a sweet feeling the film got selected after all the blood, sweat and tears (and gin)!

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Michael O’Kelly as Jack Donna Anita Nikolaisen as Ali in QED

Who did you bring in to work on QED?

So, like Lily last year, the film was produced in conjunction with Filmbase’s digital master’s program, so the students made up the bulk of my crew, and they were a lovely lot. I had professional HODs hired in by Filmbase, some I’d worked with a number of times, and some were new to me but we got on great and I’ll definitely be working with the same team again. I cast Norma Sheahan from a self-tape as she couldn’t make the auditions, that was a new one for me but she was exactly what I was looking for Maria and a dote to work with. I knew all my other actors from working with them previously so it was a lovely experience to direct them, and I’m incredibly proud of the performances in this film.

So what is QED about?

I’m actually being very tight lipped about this until after the premiere. It’s been tricky to promote the film without wanting to give anything away, but I am a great believer that knowing as little as possible about a story beforehand allows you the most authentic experience watching it. Almost every one of my favourite films or tv shows I knew absolutely nothing about in advance. It’s a deeply emotional story about a marriage, but it also explores some other major themes which I think will be pretty shocking and interesting for audiences.

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Michael O’Kelly as Jack in QED

What made you want to tell this story?

This story was the brainchild of Michael, the lead actor. It was something he’d experienced a version of in his own life. He pitched the idea to me after the Lily screening at the Kerry Film Festival last October. I thought it was a fascinating idea and such interesting themes and high stakes. He later sent me his script and asked me to direct it. I loved the story but the script didn’t work, I was going to pass regretfully but I said I’d see if he was open to me completely rewriting it as I found the subject matter so interesting. I didn’t actually expect he would be as it takes a lot of trust to hand over your idea to someone else’s reimagining it, but he was a really open and obliging collaborator and great to work with.

And finally, where can we see this?

Delighted to say it will be having its first ever screening at the Fleadh in July. The exact screening date will be announced at the launch on June 27th.

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Michael O’Kelly as Jack in QED
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