Scannain caught up with writer/director Rachel Carey to talk about her IFB-backed Short Stories short film Nice Night For It, ahead of its world premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh.
Ground down by endless nights awake, an insomniac takes a night-time walk, where she finds comfort in a fellow sleepless stranger.
Nice Night For It stars Emmet Kirwan and Clare Dunne. It was produced by Fiona Kinsella, with Piers McGrail as DOP, Original Score by Denis Kilty. It was Edited by Ciara Brophy, with Casting by Maureen Hughes, Production: Design by Annabel Konnig. Post Production took place at Screen Scene, with Audio Post Production by Raygun.
Getting the backing of the Irish Film Board is a huge boon for any budding filmmaker “It was fantastic and very much appreciated. I know a lot of people go for the funding, and how hard it is to get. Even to get shortlisted was a massive boost for me and I was so pleased to be invited in to talk about it. It was the first that I’d applied to the Film Board so I didn’t really know what to expect when I went in. I’d done a lot of Filmbase programs and had applied for Short Shots numerous times, and been longlisted numerous times and never gotten through, so I do know that disappointment. You write a lot of scripts, and you wonder which one is going to hit. Last year the Short Stories scheme gave a theme, which was Tribes. I thought that was really interesting. Sometimes it’s good to have a channel of focus because you have so many ideas and you’ve so many stories. So I actually wrote two scripts that I applied with for that. One which was a lot more comedic and then I tried to think laterally around the idea of tribes. The comedy I submitted was about a women’s prison. Then I started thinking about tribes in a different way. Something that I’ve personally experienced is insomnia. I really like writing about, and something that I want to do as a filmmaker is write about things that I know and that people will understand. And suddenly this idea of insomniacs, this disparate tribe as such, who have this thing in common but so rarely get to meet each other, struck me as something interesting. I had a lot of experience with insomnia…not so much anymore thankfully…but I always remember that it’d be such a relief when somebody else went “I have it too”. It really was a visceral relief when you meet somebody else who has it. I suppose that’s where the story just really came up out of nowhere then and I wrote it relatively quickly and the treatment sort of poured out as well. Which I always think is a good thing, when you’re on to something real and something that moves you when it flows out of you in that way. The Film Board obviously saw that and invited me in, and took a chance on it. It was such a great opportunity to make it and have some money behind it. I just found them really helpful. You really see how they come in and support you as an actual filmmaker, and on the promotional end of it.”
Nice Night For It plays with the other IFB-backed shorts on the Saturday of the Fleadh “Premiering at the Fleadh is brilliant. I was at Galway last year. I was in the Pitching Contest last year, and I’m in it again this year for my sins! I got so much out of it. It was brilliant. I ended up getting a mentor out of it, it was Kirsten Smith who was on the panel and she just took a shine to me and my idea. And I ended up going out to LA and staying with her for a while and workshopping some ideas with her. I find it such an inspiring festival always, and I remember leaving Galway going “I’m coming back with something next year”. And I had this other script that I was thinking that I could shoot myself, on a shoe-string, and I was trying to get that moving and the funding program came along and I was lucky enough to be selected. It’s nice to be going back with something to show. “
This particular strand of IFB funding came with guidelines such as the theme and the overall length of the short “The film is six minutes. Short Stories was given five, but mine is kind of six all told with credits and what not. The first cut in the edit was 12 minutes and I had the usual state of panic, but we’ve got it to a good place now. I love shorts, genuinely, I watch them all of the time. I think it’s such an interesting form of storytelling, such a great starting ground for filmmakers. It’s six minutes long but it was a big production. You have to give just as much love to every stage of the process to come out with six minutes. And it’s funny as I’ve friends who aren’t involved and aren’t in the industry and they ask how long it is and I say six minutes. And they’re just like “Really?” But yeah, that’s what it takes. To tell a story in that time is difficult but really satisfying. “
Coming from an advertising background Carey was familiar with shorter form storytelling “Six minutes for me is long-form. I’m used to the 30/40 second format. Cutting the trailer I was in my comfort zone again. I’ve worked as a copywriter for 10 years so I’ve a long history in the industry. There’s a lot of people in the industry. There’s a lot of cross-over. We all use the same production companies, post-production houses. We work on miniature films really. And more and more lately brands and advertising agencies are starting to make films, branded films. We did one for 3 Mobile at Christmas and animated short film that Ciaran Hinds narrated. There’s a big cross-over, but because you’re working on brands so much a lot of creatives in the industry naturally have an outlet of their own where they can tell their own stories. Write the things that they want to write as we’re not trying to sell anything…other than ourselves! It’s been brilliant as over the years I’ve gotten to work with fantastic directors, post-houses, to go on shoots abroad. So you learn so much, and you go into film kind of knowing what you are doing a lot more than other filmmakers starting out. And then you know everybody in the industry so it’s handy enough to find the right people to work with. On Nice Night For It, the minute I wrote it and got funding for it I knew I wanted Piers McGrail to shoot it because I knew him and I’d seen the work he’d done on Lorcan Finnegan’s Foxes in particular. A lot of Nice Night For It is set at night, funnily enough, and I knew Piers and I knew how good he is with light. He’s really that pure director of photography, that real natural. I was really lucky to know who those people were and I knew who exactly I wanted to do those different things necessary to bring the story to life in the best possible way. And I was lucky enough to get them. People like that just brought so much to it.”
Having a good crew on board helped, but it was still challenging production “A huge challenge in the film was actually the night shoots, as it’s mostly set at night. Some of it is set in a house and we had to darken the whole house and shoot day for night. But as a lot of it is outdoor we just had to night-shoot. We had cherry-pickers, and it was a really complex lighting setup to create the effect that we wanted. That comes with its challenges when trying to get locations, and getting the Gardai to hold people, and trying to get people in neighbouring houses to not switch the lights on and off. That was interesting but really fun. Something that I will never forget. We shot at the end of March, just before Daylight Savings Time, for two long days. And as late as I was able to get away with and from their we’ve been in the edit. We just finished finished it about 3 weeks ago by the time we got the grade, got the score, got the sound-mix done. Each of those stages was as important as the shoot itself as far as I was concerned. We put massive effort and work into those. It’s been a long process overall to get a six minute short. I’m really happy with it. And I hope people enjoy it and don’t boo!”
Nice Night For It plays as part of the New Irish Shorts 7 programme, which will world premiere the shorts backed by the Irish Film Board on Saturday, July 15th in the Town Hall Theatre at 12pm.