– We talked to the Irish director about turning a successful short film into a feature film and doing it in the midst of the epidemic.
This article is available in English.
Irish director Brendan Muldownie Presented his horror-thriller Cellar [+lire aussi :
interview : Brendan Muldowney
fiche film] In this year’s edition of SXSW And a tour of several German cities at the Fantasy Filmfest. The film is currently being released in Shadder for streaming. We talked to the director about developing the story of his short film into a feature-length version.
Cineuropa: Where is the idea Cellar Coming up? Are you afraid to go to the cellar?
Brendan Muldowny: When I was young I grew up in a house and had a cellar where coal was stored. My brother and I took turns to pick them up. Well, I did not particularly like it. But the idea of the film is related to my short film Ten steps Since 2004. This was very successful for our company. It did well at festivals, and apparently has a special kind of, extreme darkness that works for the audience. The film is available on YouTube, and there are many comments that will make people wonder how the story goes. I thought of some alternative endings and tried to write versions of it. I always wanted to get back to it.
Does the idea of counting come from small?
Yes, that is the main point of the short film.
Was it hard to find the house where you filmed the movie?
Part of the financing structure depends on a fund that promotes incentive shooting in other parts of Ireland and outside of Dublin and in unattractive counties. That’s why we first tried to scout a house in Sligo, and then found it in Roscoemen. I want a house with a hallway leading to a basement door and a basement. We found the corridor, not the cellar, and built the first one. The house is beautiful with a magnificent entrance and symbolic elements and full of antiques.
Was it hard to find the right actors?
It was easy for both leads because I knew them. It was more work for the kids. Our casting director asked for the tapes himself. I made short lists out of them and had a zoom meeting with the candidates. Before deciding, we auditioned and rehearsed some scenes online.
You decide to tell a story in a contemporary context, but connect it with ancient myths and beliefs. What would you say is your own attraction to past cultures?
I had to discover a mythology, first in Judaism and then in Christianity, where you have no real heaven or hell. I wanted to try something new, turned to Irish mythology, and finally ended up with the idea of hockey, which means absurdity. I made hell empty, for example. I guess the world closest to what we created is the world of HP Lovecraft.
Can you tell me what are the most important aspects of the aesthetics of cinema?
I work with the same cinematographer for most of my films. He also did the photography for the original shorts. We shot it at 16mm with a double wig candle in complete darkness. We did not want to go that route this time. It’s not completely dark, the audience expects to see something. But still, I’m not generally over color, which also determined the look of the house. When it came to camera work, I wanted a more classic approach, like Hitchcock creating a moving camera tension.
What were the biggest challenges of production?
During the third lockdown in Ireland we started making movies and we stopped for a while. Then things got worse with the set, quarantine, testing, masks, live casting and so on. But it was also an opportunity. We shot in November, so we were able to shoot in the right night light without being artificially created. Also we had scenes in a county house where the staff was able to shoot because they were working from home, which would be more difficult than usual.
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