Jaffa Poster

#Interview: Scannain talks Jaffa with Jason Branagan ahead of premiere at Galway Film Fleadh

Jaffa, a new film from Jason Branagan, will have its World Premiere at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh.

The film tells the story of a young man who learns he can’t have children and struggles to come to terms with his new reality while trying to find a way to break the news to his girlfriend.

Written and directed by Branagan and produced by Roisin O’Brien, the film stars Danny Mahony (End of Sentence) and Aoife Honohan (The Ladies). The film was shot by Cinematographer Noel Greene.

Jaffa marks the third time that writer/director Branagan has teamed with actor, Danny Mahony. The pair first worked together on the micro-budget feature Shoebox Memories, after which they filmed the award-winning short film Transitory.

Scannain caught up with Branagan to talk about Jaffa ahead of its premiere:

What is the story of Jaffa?

Jaffa is about a young guy who, while trying for a baby, discovers that he can’t have children. He struggles to come to terms with this new reality while trying to find a way to tell his partner.

Why did you want to tell this story?

I think it’s often taken for granted that men can always have children. And more often than not, if a couple can’t conceive it’s usually the woman who will go for fertility tests first. But the reality is, it takes two to tango and in many cases it’s the man who is infertile. I’m at an age where a lot of people might be getting married and having children, or at least start planning for it. Seeing that around you makes you think about things, and I thought well what if at the point someone wanted children, they discovered they couldn’t have them. I wanted to explore that from a male perspective and when I looked into it, it felt like an important story to tell.

You’ve directed a number of shorts and a feature, what have you learned along the way that helped you with Jaffa?

I have. And I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way so thankfully I’ve learned a lot; from technical stuff to how to be more efficient with my time, how I like to work with actors to figuring out my pre-production process. But the biggest thing I’ve learned has been honing in on the kind of stories I want to tell. It’s taken a lot of work – some good, some bad – to get to that point but thankfully I have and although it’s not my first film by a long shot, in a certain sense Jaffa feels like my first really complete piece of work.

What was the hardest of getting this made?

The hardest part was writing it. It’s a delicate subject and it’s easy to try lighten the mood with humor, but the reality of the situation the main character finds himself in isn’t funny. So I wanted to make something that hopefully represents the reality of the situation. That took a lot of research and a lot of re-writing. Thankfully I have some people who can be brutally honest and critical of my writing; they’re important people to have. And in this case, they pushed me to stay true to the story I wanted to tell and the reality of the situation.

Danny Mahony and Aoife Honohan in Jaffa

Who’s in your cast, and how did you find them?

It’s a small cast. I worked with Danny Mahony previously. He was in my feature film, Shoebox Memories, and starred in my last short, Transitory. I knew I wanted him for the role. Brendan Sheehan was also in Shoebox. After that we didn’t cast per se – I asked for recommendations from other actors. Danny worked with Aoife Honohan on the short film, The Ladies. After a quick chat, we cast Aoife. David O’Neill is a friend of Danny’s. And then I try to cast my Dad in as much as I can, so we cast him as the Doctor.

What are your hopes for the film going forward?

I’ve been lucky to have some strong responses to my films here in Ireland but I’ve never had any traction internationally with films I’ve made. So I’d love to see the film play some international festivals; in a perfect world we’d get to something top tier. But time will tell. As it stands, this is my first film to play the Fleadh, so I’m pretty stoked on that.

The 29th Galway Film Fleadh reveals its full programme on June 27th at 6pm in Galway and online at www.filmfleadh.ie. The festival takes place from July 11th to 16th.

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