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Forgiving Amy Interview: James Mulholland Revisited

13 Oct

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Back at the start of the year, this writer interviewed James Mulholland, the rising talent from Ireland and director of the stellar short My Father’s Son. Half a year on, and Mulholland has been busy with his latest short, the harrowing Forgiving Amy. His latest dramatic short focuses on family and forgiveness, and is just as affecting and emotional as his last. The output being produced by his Cedarwood Park outfit is reminiscent perhaps of the likes of Ken Loach, but they are without doubt their own thing- a very different and distinct beast.

Half a year may not seem like a long time, but James and his career has come on leaps and bounds since we last spoke. As Forgiving Amy starts to do the Festival rounds, it seemed as good a time as any to catch up with the delightful James once again and see how he had moved on as a filmmaker, and what exciting developments are in store both for the short, and his upcoming projects. And rest assured, he didn’t disappoint. Read on for an insight into the evolution of a promising and challenging filmmaker, and the development of a subject that has been long gestating…

So, what was the inspiration behind Forgiving Amy?

Forgiving Amy was the film that my first two films grew out from. Two and a half years ago I first thought up the idea for the film, and from that idea grew the ideas for my other two films (What If? and My Father’s Son). The film has been in my head all that time, I finally wrote the first draft of it in October 2012 and went from there. The penultimate scene in the film was a big thing for me as the entire idea (for the film] grew from that moment in my head. It also hits home with me- it’s about family… the choices young people make… [but] mainly forgiveness.

What are your intentions with the film- is there anything you’re hoping it will convey to audiences, or do you think it’s entirely up to them to interpret the motivations of the characters?

I like my films to be a bit of both. I try to write complex characters with a lot of depth; I direct the films to tell the story the way I want and to get across the points I want [to make], but I hope that the characters have enough depth [so] that [the audience] can take a lot away from the film. I directed with forgiveness being the main [theme] I wanted people to think about- to try forgiving people in their life, because we never know what might happen or what we might regret if we don’t. But there are also other things like relationship problems, relationships with family, etc.

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Your output is very realistic, understated and intimate. Are you just trying to tell good stories, or are you trying to represent what certain parts of Irish society are like now?

I feel for this trilogy of films I’ve made, the style suited the story. These films need to feel gritty and real to hit people, make it feel like documentary in a way. My main goal is to tell stories that make people think about life- in the background there is a small look at society but I don’t start the script with those ideas up front, at least not for this trilogy of films. All three films represent the society I’m growing up in at the moment, [so] I comment on what I see, or have seen in my life.

Since the last interview, how do you feel you’ve changed as a filmmaker? Do you feel that your methods of production or storytelling have matured?

I’ve matured as a filmmaker but my methods are mostly still the same. I seem to have a way with performances- actors say they have never been directed the way I direct them, but it seems to work so I’ll continue [with those methods]- it works for me.

I have matured in the sense that I really don’t want to move on until I get something I can use. Forgiving Amy was supposed to be 4 day shoot, but it turned out to be 8 days because I would not move on from takes until I got what I wanted.

It ended up putting me in debt for a while but it made the film a lot better by doing so. If I had moved on the film would have been a lot weaker, and last year I would have just said “Aw, let’s just put it together in the edit”, but I wanted to stick with storyboards as much as possible and get the right performances.

Would you want to do something a bit more light-hearted next?

It’s funny you ask this, since I’ve gotten asked this a lot lately. Firstly, I directed a comedy in 2011- unfortunately I had to take my name of the project when it was in post-production, but in the end that film went out, did well and won best comedy at a festival.

I also helped re-write that film, so I know I’ve a bit of lightness in me but it doesn’t drive any sort of passion for me. I love going to see comedies but I have no passion to make one, at least a slapstick one. I do have ideas for dark comedies but that’s as light as I might go. I do have a Kids’ animation story in mind that’s light, but we will see if that ever gets the go ahead or not.

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So what’s happening with Forgiving Amy? What festivals will it play at? Will there be an internet release after that?

I recently found out [Forgiving Amy] got nominated for Best Indie film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress at the underground cinema awards. I’m thrilled by that! Our first screening was at Underground Cinema last month, so to come out of that with nominations is great. Then I found out we got into the underground film festival for 2013.

I’ve sent it out to about 18 festivals and will get word back mostly from October onwards. Overall I should be sending the film to about 30 festivals, then there’s a national TV release in Ireland, ending with an internet release alongside my other films.

What’s next for you? Are there any upcoming projects you can discuss?

Yeah, I’m currently in pre-production of [what could] possibly [be] my last short film, ‘Jorund’ (Working Title). It’s a short film based in 841A.D in Ireland [with Vikings]. I’m being extremely ambitious and making a different type of film than I’ve made [before]- feedback on the script is extremely positive and it is also by far the darkest of my films.

It’s about a young Norse man who is tasked by his mother to regain his family’s honour by getting revenge on the Viking who killed his father. I’ll be casting it next month and shooting in February 2014. I’m also writing my first feature film due to shoot next summer for a festival run in 2015.

Forgiving Amy will be available soon. You can follow James’ ouput and get updates at Cedarwood Park’s Facebook page.

The post Forgiving Amy Interview: James Mulholland Revisited appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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