#Interview: Scannain talks For You with Brendan Canty ahead of premiere at Galway Film Fleadh
Debuting at the Galway Film Fleadh is Brendan Canty’s For You, a small relationship drama featuring some of Ireland’s brightest stars.
A socially isolated girl struggles with her alcoholic mother until an act of devotion from her boyfriend offers relief and the strength to love. The short features as part of New Irish Shorts 3, a collection of shorts which explore relationships in their many forms.
A starry cast is lead by Gabby Murphy (Hot Knives) and Barry Keoghan (Mammal, Dunkirk), with support from Hilary Vesey (Striking Out), Charlie Farrell, Eva-Jane Gaffney (What Richard Did), Nathan Beatley (Hot Knives), and Stephen O’Brien (Love/Hate).
Director Canty wrote the script with Alan O’Gorman. For You was produced by David Lester Mooney and executive produced by Lorraine Geoghegan and Claire Corbett for Hinterland Films. Narayan Van Maele was DoP, with Mark Kilbride as production designer. Editing was by Allyn Quigley at Windmill Lane.
Canty, aka Feel Good Lost, was the director behind the powerfully emotive Hozier ‘Take me to Church’ promo. This promo went viral, helping catapult the then relatively unknown artist to global recognition and has garnered over 300 million views aggregate. Feel Good Lost received two 2015 MTV VMA nominations for this promo, and won awards for ‘Best Direction’ and ‘Best Idea in a Music Promo’ at the Kinsale Sharks.
Since then Canty has gone on to direct numerous promos for such artists as Gavin James, Aluna George, All Tvvins, Le Galaxie, Talos; and making commercials through Hinterland Films in Dublin for Budweiser with Conor McGregor, Sky Sports GAA, and more.
Scannaincaught up with Canty to discuss For You:
What is the story of For You?
For You is about Lana, a timid 18 year old girl from inner city Dublin. The film follows her as she prepares to go to her boyfriend Darren’s debs, but her social anxieties around his friends, and struggles with her mother’s alcoholism make life difficult until an act of devotion from Darren offers relief and a strength to love.
Why did you want to tell this story?
I originally created these characters for a music video for Gavin James and I just fell in love with them and the cast. So I knew I had to do something more with them. The story is very loosely inspired by the experiences of two friends of mine. The first friend never did her leaving cert and a big regret about that was never being able to go to a debs. For years after she felt like she had missed out, not so much on the event but more like she had missed out socially – or the feeling like she had been left out of something. Which is a hard thing to deal with. It’s now like 10 years on from when she left school and it still gets to her. The emotional importance that this event has over teenage girls is just insane.
I remember thinking about that a lot around the time when I wrote this. I spoke to a friend about it and he told me about a story of another mutual friend of ours that he went to school with. They were all dolled up and about to board the bus in the local town to bring them to their debs. Then across the road, the girl’s father stumbled out from a pub hammered drunk and making a scene, in front of her and her friends. That story broke my heart. The debs just seemed like the perfect catalyst / backdrop for an emotional coming of age film.
You have directed commercials and music videos, is there one form of filmmaking that you prefer? And is there skills or experiences that you’ve had with the music videos that helped with making For You?
This was actually my first proper short film! And I found it a totally different experience from directing music videos and commercials. I wouldn’t say I prefer either medium really. I enjoy working on all of them. I’m just constantly looking for new challenges and new ways to push myself. Without a doubt working on music videos helped when making For You in every aspect. The best thing about music videos is how fast you can make them. I have made well over a hundred videos across all types of genres. Nothing else can give you so much filmmaking experience in such a short space of time. Specifically, working with actors and casting on a regular basic was definitely a big help. And also the experience I have gained has made me a lot more decisive. Which helped a lot especially within the tight schedule of this film.
What was the hardest thing about making the film?
Writing dialogue was without doubt the hardest thing. I’m quite good at writing story arc’s and scenes through music videos but dialogue is something that I don’t have any experience in really. It was really a shot in the dark for me but my co-writer Alan was a huge help. Also, seeing the first cut was a very scary thing. I totally freaked out that it wasn’t going to work. With music video’s the music carries so much, so instantly you can get a feeling of how it is shaping up. But when you are looking at a first cut of a film everything seems so flat. And I didn’t really have the experience and the foresight yet with film to be able to go – “a good sound mix will really help that, or these edits will bring this to life”. I just panicked. Luckily I had a lot of amazing people around me to keep pushing me and encouraging me to finish it. To say I have learned so much from this film is an understatement.
Who’s in your cast and crew? And how did you find them?
Our lead is the brilliant Gabby Murphy, Gabby is a master at giving subtle and vulnerable performances. Alongside her is the tour de force that is Barry Keoghan. We had a very specific window that we could shoot with him as he was shooting Dunkirk at the time. What a phenomenal talent he is. We found them, along with the great Hilary Vesey through Maureen Hughes at Bow Street when we were casting the music video. The rest of the amazing cast were made up of friend’s of the actors and some more casting via Louise Kiely.
The crew all came from commercials that I have done through Hinterland Films and from music videos that I’ve made. It’s a dream team of incredible Irish talent that we’ve been building for a number of years. They all chipped in and worked for free on this so I am absolutely indebted to all of them.
It was shot by the brilliant Narayan Van Maele who has actually shot a number of the shorts in the festival this year, and produced by David Lester Mooney, Lorraine Geoghegan and Claire Corbett who have been producing my stuff for years.
What are your hopes for the film?
I try not to think about things like that too much. A big part of directing is all about managing expectation and trying not to get your hopes up too much. But I’d love if people came away from it feeling something, and I think they will. If they do then I think it will do well! It’s a sad but hopeful love story that most people will be able to relate too so I think it can resonate with a lot of people. I’m just excited to get it out there and to see where it takes me…
The New Irish Shorts 3 strand takes place on Thursday July 13th in the Town Hall Theatre at 12pm.