Further evidence of Irish cinema’s ‘golden period’ seen in Galway

‘Siege of Jadotville’, ‘A Date for Mad Mary’ and ‘Staid’ among Film Fleadh screenings

A still from Paul O’Brien’s ‘Staid’ which was among the Irish titles screened this weekend   at the 28th Galway Film Fleadh.

A still from Paul O’Brien’s ‘Staid’ which was among the Irish titles screened this weekend at the 28th Galway Film Fleadh.

 

A golden period for Irish film continued with a slew of excellent domestic premieres at the 28th Galway Film Fleadh. One of the less flashy releases confirmed that, in a year of Irish Oscar nominations, the do-it-yourself aesthetic is still strong. Paul O’Brien’s Staid, inspired by one of the Wexford-based writer-director’s early plays, boasts a production budget of just €300.

He and his producers had to tease out additional funds to get the film ready for its premiere at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival in February, but that is still some nifty accounting.

“We brought it to a local company called Highwind Media, ” O’Brien told The Irish Times. “They helped a lot. The production budget was €300. But we had the equipment. If we’d had to rent that it would be way more than that. That was the petty cash to buy props and so on. Everyone worked for free. If they hadn’t it would have run into tens of thousands.”

Largely set in the same bar, Staid follows the boozy, angst-ridden interactions of four disappointed Wexfordians. The film is about unrequited love, incomplete grieving and the importance of moving on.

Staid

‘Free and nimble’

O’Brien, the author of admired novels such as Blood Red Dollar Turns Green, drew assistance from another local writer. Eoin Colfer, creator of the Artemis Fowl series, is an old friend and was happy to come aboard as executive producer.

“He financed us with a loan. We were able to pay him back with the first couple of screenings,” O’Brien said. “So the film can goes into the world without any debt on it. It’s free and nimble to go around the film festivals. We screened it in Wexford and sold a thousand tickets. So that went into our war chest.”

It cost around €6,000 to tidy up the sound, but that was the only significant additional expense before the film was ready to tour the world. Staid went on to win best foreign feature at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.

“I always wrote my plays as mini-movies,” O’Brien mused. “But the technology wasn’t there until now.”

There has been acclaim for several new Irish features at the Fleadh. Peter Foott’s The Young Offenders, a raucous Cork comedy, was greeted with ear-shattering hoots.

The festival scored a real coup with the first screening of Richie Smyth’s The Siege of Jadotville, a Netflix production starring Jamie Dornan. But the most acclaimed Irish release has been Darren Thornton’s delightful Drogheda-based drama A Date for Mad Mary. We will hear much more about it.