Ep 32 – Guerilla Filmmaking with Maureen O’Connell

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Alright, welcome to the successful screenwriter podcast where we discuss anything and everything. Screen writing here we interview Successless, free writers and film makers to find out just what it takes to make it in the industry. Alright, welcome to the podcast we have on an awesome guest from across the pond we have on filmmaker Maureen O’Connell.

Maureen O’Connell

Hey, how’s it going?

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Ohh man, so glad to have you on today. So you are a filmmaker and screenwriter in Ireland. I watched one of your short films called Girls and. It was. Very topical girls is about this, this teenager who’s kind of struggling at home seeking it looks like seeking attention, ends up getting into some violent situations and almost like a mob rule, which is. Very topical. Right now.

Maureen O’Connell

They shot that in 2000. 9 which you believe?

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Oh wow.

Maureen O’Connell

Yes, it showed. Eight years ago and then I it. It’s what happened was it was summer 2009 and then I and that goes also got into. Rabbit in that. Summer when, as I was shooting it, I found out. I got into radio which is in London. The moment and then so when we finished shooting it. Then I had to start. And write it in September. So I was going over to London and live there and even for three. Just to do that acting course. So it’s editing it online with the Azure kind of. Going back with by e-mail. It’s kind of giving notes and. This type of thing and then it came. Out went to the court Film Festival.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

OK.

Maureen O’Connell

And then it didn’t really go. Into very many festivals. Would you believe it? I was really annoyed. I talked to a. Festival guy and he said yeah, but, you know, girls. Because it’s it’s girls, it’s. Called girls, you know and. It’s it’s about young girls. Radio girls like, you know.

Speaker

Right.

Maureen O’Connell

131213 who? Who are extremely violent. And and get involved in this model kind of. Violence or create? And and he said. Yeah, the girls aren’t really that violent, is. What he said. To me, and The thing is, it’s based. On true, it’s it actually happened.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Ohh, I believe it, yeah. It it there’s a a raw. There’s a raw truth to it that when you’re watching, they like, yeah, I mean I’m. I’m the father of a teenager. And so I I know that the kind of emotions that they struggle with and how they’re trying to find themselves. It’s interesting being a parent of a teenager because they want independence. But yet they still want. The love and coddling that you would give like a younger child, but they don’t want to show that. So you always kind of have to, like, force the hug and and with with the way you show it in girls, that main character is is that’s all she wants. She wants to be accepted by family or friends. And so this really resonated. And I think it it holds up for being that. I mean 2009, I couldn’t really tell. It holds up, but I wanted to bring you on the show because you found some success with girls. And this goes well well beyond contests, you know, because there are contests that you can send. Films or screenplays, too, and you can get a nice award or or a crappy award, you know, but it’s about what can come out of it and you were able to get girls pitched to screen Ireland and you found. Success that way.

Speaker 5

Yes, right so screen.

Maureen O’Connell

Ireland is like a state funded organization, so any big films like Made of Ireland are kind of backed by screen Ireland. You know, big TV series of this type of thing. So they always have funding things that you can apply for either pre production, production or development of this type of thing you know. So I went for one of them. Spotlight and I have a Co. Writer Amazing Co writer Jenny. Craig and we, I I sent in the short film girls and I said so I want to, you know, base it off this short film and. Create a feature film. And so. If we got spotlight, which we. Did and they pay you basically to develop it with them? And they give you aids like they. Give workshops and they give you mentoring and. They also give they gave the brilliant script editor and Cynthia Desouza. He’s a British screenwriter, producer. She’s a. And really lovely as well. Her notes are kind. Of inspired. So she’s. Really help the process with Pervis. So now we have a first draft of a feature film and we’re just honing it down. And so then we have to give it into screen. Ireland at the. End of February. There it is so and, but yeah, we’re all good to go. We’re basically just polishing it now and. So yeah, and then I hope to. Get into production. So that’s the next step.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right. So so with screen Ireland, it sounds like it’s a pretty competitive thing to to get into. If you have a bunch of different film makers going in there. So the fact that you’re able to get it is pretty huge and that you can. Really leverage that. What kind of differences do you think because you’ve been to London, you’ve been, you’ve been, you’ve been around. What kind of differences do you think filmmaking in Ireland is compared to other places?

Speaker 5

I suppose like.

Maureen O’Connell

I mean when? I was in London, I was 2 1/2 years in Arata. And I was trying to. Be an actor and then. I mean, it’s very difficult in. England, especially the name like Maureen O’Connell like. I only got. Seen for the Irish cards.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Is that right? Yeah. So you’re automatically kind of typecasted.

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, totally. And I mean, just like three years. In classical acting training you. Know we can do every accent on this like anyway and so.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Oh wow, that’s awesome.

Maureen O’Connell

So basically, yeah, so you’re only thing for you? Know Irish parts and. And because I made my. Own films anyway, already I thought. What am I?

Speaker

Doing you know.

Maureen O’Connell

I’m waiting for someone to give me a. Job I just go create myself. Go back to what I’ve always done, I. Always create my own work. But I felt like in London. You can’t do that because the reason is. London has a proper film industry, so they were proper structures, so if you have any. Talent. What you. Usually do is. You become like an ad and you shoot up and you start making money.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Got you.

Maureen O’Connell

One is, I mean, that’s seductive. Because you want to make money because the. Rents in London are. Huge and this type of thing is just so tired then and you get involved.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right.

Maureen O’Connell

In that kind of way that you don’t actually. Create and you don’t. Effect you can’t have in. Your head or takes ages now to direct that.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, you have to put your. You have to put your time in. Start from the bottom, right.

Maureen O’Connell

Exactly. Yeah. Where? It’s in Ireland, there isn’t any.

Speaker

Industry there was a.

Maureen O’Connell

Film scene. I’ll call it a film because it’s too. Small now it is developing and we’re we’re we’re getting some huge can’t canceling Greystones. Wicklow just decided to give us the go ahead for a huge film studio.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Ohh wow, that’s great.

Maureen O’Connell

Dublin that’s coming in and we have a huge. One in Limerick. Called Troy studios. So it’s it’s really. Be beginning, I think, and eventually we will have a really great film industry, but at the. Moment. It’s still kind of at film scene, but. What is great about that? It’s just tons of. Really, really talented people on the ground. And we and we never have. Any money and it’s kind of. I think because it’s quite like a socialistic. You know, kind of a place. We all because it’s a community spirit, quite strong, we all. Help each other just make our own stuff. As something like to be created. It isn’t driven by honey.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

It’s like it’s it’s it sounds like a small town film community, you know? Yeah.

Maureen O’Connell

Pretty sound like you know, so. So you can begin directing. That’s what I. Mean like? That you want to and you have no. Money you can still. Do it and I’ve done. It time and time again, all those shorts. And I did it. With Spa weekend and feature film and I’ve just only recently directed my first funded short film from Screen Ireland. Home and and they’re. Obviously I’m developing this feature film with them as well, so hopefully I’ll get funded for that feature. Film, but yeah, so. The reason why it’s taking me seriously is because of. High levels of experience as. A director now if. It’s said London. That wouldn’t. Happen, but I would have made. Money in London. So just concerned.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, so it’s. Like it’s it’s like being a big fish in a little pond and then kind of going over to London and then and then having to start up. I could understand why you would want to go back and then just have creative control over your own projects. Plus, I I see the other benefit is you’re on the ground floor of something that sounds like. Like it’s. It’s going to explode, which would be pretty amazing. Yeah, I’d want to be on the ground floor of that.

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, exactly. It’s it’s quite exciting at say we’ve really great people in screen Ireland at the moment because we had this thing back in 2016. Sorry, it’s it’s you. Know I’m interrupting. You, but this is quite important. It’s quite. An important cultural. Moment in Ireland. It’s called waking. The feminists happened was.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

OK.

Maureen O’Connell

Theater, which is our national theater. They were celebrating the centenary, so in 1916 there was a huge rebellion against the British and eventually then we ended up having our own Republic and so we’re not part of the UK and not part of anything. You know, we’re we’re the Republic of Ireland and and it kind of started in 1916. And so we were celebrating this as 100 years since that there’s loads of celebrations. Going on to the Abbey Theatre, which was involved in all the stuff that happened in 1916 as. Well, and you know our our our proclamation was was all about equality between men and women. Like we proclaimed this from the steps of the DPO. Back in 1916. And the Abbey Theatre decided. Which shape the Congo being the artistic director. Decided to put on all these plays. Written by men. Bar one. So what happened was it was an explosion, and so women, actresses and directors and writers stormed the Abbey Theatre and screamed the house. And scream those. Then and. Then they went. One by one onto the. They and and talked about times that they’ve been bullied, which they felt they’d never been able. To speak about before, however, they hadn’t. Been funded over and over. And over again, and they quoted statistics. And facts and you know. You know, you know, want to prove. They just went nuts. Quite rightly so and. So what happened then as? A result of that all the arts. Kind of funding bodies around had to check themselves. Green Ireland ended up. Really checking themselves, which was brilliant and they brought on load the women onto the onto the board of Green Island. So they’re making choices now, which is great and that’s why I finally got funded. I know it. I know it is because I couldn’t get. Funded before then. Not even by even can’t be cancelled and stuff around the around the. Country and things. They all have to check themselves as well. There’s tons of female directors now coming up. Which which you. Never saw before. Lunacy. You know? So we’re gonna find this happen, and that’s why that’s why, like, and the the they they just did another funding thing. And it’s brilliant. They’ve loads of kind of non white Irish people now who’ve been selected you know to develop scripts. Loads of women and it. Like, it’s amazing, right?

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, a lot of diversity.

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, it’s really fun.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

That’s great. No, that’s exciting. That is really cool. Screen Ireland sounds like it’s it’s really upping its game and and creating opportunities where there where really there weren’t any. So with the filmmaking industry in Ireland, it sounds like it’s still kind of at that gorilla level.

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, to a certain. Extent, but I think. That. That’s good. I think it’s kind of good for people for a filmmaker because it’s a vocation. It’s.

Speaker 4

Not like a proper job.

Maureen O’Connell

You know, I think it is. You know, you really like. You know, you’re just. You’re not amazing, yeah.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

It’s gotta be you gotta be passionate about. Got it.

Speaker 5

Yeah, and it.

Maureen O’Connell

It is kind of. I always see it as kind of a. Spiritual thing. You know, you’ve got to. Constantly kind of step out in. Faith in yourself, even when you got no money and stuff and kind of. You know, lead. A group of people and, you know, try. To create something that you believe in that. You think is either entertaining? Or whatever it’s, you know.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right.

Maureen O’Connell

And and from that. You grow as an artist, you know, and then hopefully, you know, money, you know you will be able to start paying the bills of potentially and stuff and pay for oneself.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

And I mean that’s that’s the real struggle. It’s just like that around the world. You. Now there’s the I almost want to say, at least with screen writing, there’s this fantasy that that, that got the screenplay they’re going to sell it and and and make a ton of money and get the huge job in Hollywood and everything’s going to be great. And it’s just not. It’s just not the reality. It it takes a long time. It took me a decade before I even started to get even just a little bit of success. And I have to assume you’ve been doing this for a while as well.

Speaker 5

Yeah, now.

Speaker

Ohh yeah.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

I mean, since 2009, yeah. Yeah, exactly. And you and you’re and you’re now you’re tapping into those successes with with screen. Now you’re lending being paid to write this feature, which is fantastic. You mentioned Spa weekend and and I got to watch a sneak peek on. This what a funny film. Really, really clever. You’ve got a good wit for humor and situational comedy. There’s a scene that I liked. Where. The main character in the Love Ventura Stony are chatting and they’re both really into each other and so they’re pseudo flirting. And and and, but you write the subtext on there and it pops up in little bubbles of what they’re really thinking. And I haven’t seen that before. I mean, usually the subtext subtext. But. But you went the extra mile of including like, oh, I totally want to sleep with her. And then he’s and then she’s like, I don’t know if I want to sleep with him. And I thought that was really cute. And it was clever. So I had. A nice little dimension dimension to that scene.

Maureen O’Connell

Oh, well, actually, it’s only in that. In that scene that. You mentioned it because I hadn’t initially written that in. And that was my. Thing that I can suggest, Co wrote. Spa weekend with Carl argue and that particular scene. I did write it. But what ended up happening was when we walked. In to that. Cafe to shoot it. I thought I was a bit nervous. I had to kind of perform and. I had to make sure that every like every time you walk on set, you’re. Kind of nervous, you know, kind of bubbling. On energy, and I looked in and the owner wasn’t there, but there was people that. His staff were there, they were Italians and an Italian. Cafe and in. Fact I couldn’t speak English. I don’t know what he was. Saying broken English, he said. Something to me like the boss was. Down the road or something and I went. Oh yeah, the scratcher. Was talking about it. And so then I started it and. I got lots of. Takes of Stony and. Then I turned the. Camera around I was. Getting me and on my I have one take. On that long kind of me, you know, reacting soundly. In the middle of that, the boss walks in, so he’s overstone his shoulder. And like, I’m like, trying to kind of say hello without kind of the. Camera kind of thing. You start scaling up. What’s going on, honey? ‘S giving. Me 50 daggers like you know.

Speaker 5

I’m gonna call course. I was like hey.

Maureen O’Connell

It’s going and he’s like, you know, my child. Is in hospital. And I’m like. What? He goes? Yeah, just. Going to the hospital.

Speaker

And I was.

Maureen O’Connell

Like, oh, I said, oh, my God. What’s? Going on. And he’s like, oh, your mom’s. Trying to tell you and. I said why? And so basically I like gone. Yeah, yeah, whatever.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Ohh my gosh. Ohh no.

Maureen O’Connell

Never. Yeah, having this family emergency.

Speaker

So I was like, OK, when?

Maureen O’Connell

I get out. But what happened was. Because of that, like like, my performance was much longer. Seeing my performance is all open, so I. Don’t know what this guy was doing. So I had to. Cut it so. I all then and then after.

Speaker 4

That I put.

Speaker 5

The the the subtitles.

Maureen O’Connell

In because I thought it was funny because. I had to. Make the scene work. It’s not work.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

That’s a clever trick, then, as a director to save the scene. That’s brilliant. I mean, I guess that’s when you know you’re a directors when you can do stuff like that and then just really cut what you need to and keep what you can.

Speaker 5

Yeah. So.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, that’s awesome. So how did you? Find yourself becoming a filmmaker and a screenwriter.

Maureen O’Connell

And well, so I I am a Dubliner but.

Speaker 5

We moved to Wicklow, which?

Maureen O’Connell

Is 1 County Down from Dublin and it’s it’s really beautiful. So the the countryside, you know, and I grew up there then as a kid from made. 6-6 years of age. On my dad brought. Home and a video camera one day he’s a he’s an agriculture lecturer. UCD he had to go on these. Road trips with his students and. Film farms and cattle and stuff. And so he was kind of. Doing that and he left. It down and I remember seeing. It nice to watch. Film Spielberg was because I used. To watch them on video tapes. You know, you never only had like.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Ohh yeah.

Speaker

It was.

Maureen O’Connell

Crazy like, you know, when you think of it. Technology is not but. Like we only had two channels, they’re. The Irish channels and. They’re terrible. Have to watch. These army films over and over, and. Over again on videos. And never bring them back to. The video shopping so.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

It’s funny you say.

Maureen O’Connell

So when I saw it, yes, yeah, yeah.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Ohh I I’m just saying you reminded me when I was a kid. I watched the same video.

Maureen O’Connell

I think I think I used. To watch Willow, I watched Willow. Willow.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Oh my God. Willow was so good. Ah mad mardigan.

Maureen O’Connell

And they don’t make them like that anymore. I know, I know, I say like. An album, but they don’t.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

No, that man, it’s such a classic. It was George Lucas. Too, you know?

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, great.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

So good. OK. So you’re watching videos? As a kid, because we’re old.

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, that. And then and then and. Then so I. Saw this video.

Speaker 5

Camera and I thought I’ll.

Maureen O’Connell

Just make my. Own. So I started to shoot fairy tales because I had my. Friends who were the actors and the unwilling actors to. Pulling them into it and then.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Ah, our director from heart.

Maureen O’Connell

And then, because we didn’t have a script because. Obviously I I don’t I. I didn’t have a computer or anything. Like you know. So I’m going to go, you know, typing. Script. So it’s like you know what happens in. Little Red Riding Hood. Make it up. Now go action.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

That’s awesome.

Maureen O’Connell

Yes. And then I added in camera. Kind of thing, you know.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, well, that never works out. I tried that when I was a kid. You’d end up, you know, deleting half of the stuff recording over. So so did that take you to? Acting school to London is that where? What happened?

Speaker 5

No. So what did I do then? I did. I did film school first of all. So I went to the pharmacy in Dublin.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

OK.

Maureen O’Connell

Funny farm. And it’s so funny when you think body Farm and like body. Permit like we. Like it’s real. It’s it’s great, it’s great college, but it’s part. Of Dublin that can be. Quite kind of, you know, run down and stuff like.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Oh, OK.

Maureen O’Connell

Every single day like you’d have. Like people shooting up.

Speaker

Ohh geez.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Oh, yes. Hey, love. Oh my goodness.

Maureen O’Connell

Good crack like you know. Meet other, you know, film makers anyway, you know, watch the films and studying them and stuff. Like that. And then we shoot our grad film. At the end and things and then after that I was still acting as I was studying film I was doing like amateur dramatics and profit share. And so when I graduated from film school, I ended up getting an agent and.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Ohh, great, congratulations.

Maureen O’Connell

Then I did. So then I end. Up doing lots of acting like. Classical acting like loads. Of kind of wooden. Heights like Cathy and stuff, you know? We did national tours of Ireland.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

OK.

Maureen O’Connell

The importance being this type thing Trojan. Women even do Greek tragedy and things. Like that and but. From the money I made from those. Shows I made films then. That I had. Written and so I.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

You are a film makers filmmaker. You didn’t buy the nice car, you didn’t get the nice apartment. You just wouldn’t made another film.

Maureen O’Connell

Exactly. That’s totally what I did.

Speaker 4

Because I actually did.

Speaker 5

Have savings as well and I.

Maureen O’Connell

Remember, I was just thinking about. That reasoning, but I spent on film I’ve done. Something I got.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, exactly. No, I I get it. I get it. Yeah.

Maureen O’Connell

And then then. After then I. Was in Mr. Shooting girls. And I had applied to ride on. The off chance just thought I’ll see. Like am I, you know.

Speaker 5

Good enough to even get.

Maureen O’Connell

To the third audition of. Rad or second audition or something? That’s silly. Because my directors who directed me in modern heights kept telling me he taught. It rather, he’s like you should go to Radha. And you know you have to. Get trained and I was like Nah and. Then I ohh sure I’ll try it and. Then I got in I think. Because I was relaxed, I wasn’t thinking.

Speaker 5

I wasn’t nervous. Then I was like, oh, who cares? If I get.

Maureen O’Connell

In and then. I end up getting in. And I was like, holy back. I’m sorry, but like. Then I got in. So then I had to. Go because it. Was, you know, great adventure so.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, of course. So I’ve. I’ve been to London and it’s such a huge sit. I mean, it’s it’s just giant, you know. And there’s there’s every nationality from around the sun in London. It’s a big melting pot. Now as the ugly American, I would just kick up conversations with people. On the tube, the their subway. Oh, they hated that.

Speaker 1

They they hated it.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

And and and the more I realized they didn’t want to talk to me, the more I. Would go out of my way to.

Maureen O’Connell

Or you couldn’t stop.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, I could. I was like, well, now I have to talk to you because you’re gonna act this way. And and certainly the the Americans. So as in London, did you find being being someone who’s Irish, was there any kind of difficulties other than getting typecasted? As an Irish actor.

Maureen O’Connell

I think I mean I I.

Speaker

Think you?

Speaker 5

Know English people are lovely.

Maureen O’Connell

Really nice. I mean it’s, you know. They get a. Hard time from the Irish God. But like, I mean like that’s. Obviously, just historical, kind of.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah. There’s some. Yeah, there’s some fire there.

Maureen O’Connell

I think no. So yeah. But I think. That there are certain things that are interesting. Certainly, like get ratted. Like, I mean, I said it a few times and. Other Irish people would say it as. Well, like you’ve gone to rate. It and I ran. It it’s great like so I mean. We love rate it, it’s. Not it’s not. It’s not. It’s just interesting. Kind of. Sometimes the kind of British psychology. Is like they kind of they did. It’s like, didn’t know what to do with the they put them on a pedestal. And so sometimes we’d be like these really romantic little country people that they are. They’re lovely and they’re really sense. My sense of rhythm and kind of they’re kind. Of socialism and. Then other times you’d.

Speaker

Be like Irish, you shouldn’t trust.

Maureen O’Connell

Them and kind of.

Speaker

You know they’re always.

Maureen O’Connell

Causing trouble, always complain. Cracking it’s always kind of lost that like, right that kind. Of down and handed you know what the situation was, you know which.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

That’s funny.

Maureen O’Connell

One you’d be.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

When I was over there, I was just they were. They were nice, but I I knew nothing. I was the most ignorant American to ever go to London. Yeah, I did because I ordered. I was at a restaurant. I ordered a water and they brought over a sparkling water. And I was like, what’s wrong with this water? Why does this water taste weird? That’s like I just want water like regular. Water and they brought me. Another one, and it’s still sparkling like. It tastes funny. So making films in Ireland, it sounds like a challenge, but it sounds like a like a boatload of fun. And for for people that aren’t in Ireland and can’t take advantage of trying to bring their their film to screen iron to get funny, what would you recommend as the gorilla kind of filmmaking that you’re naturally good at having worked in this film community in Ireland, what kind of tips could you pass off to film makers or even screenwriters? On what they can do to make a. A no budget.

Speaker 4

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Maureen O’Connell

Sure, well. I always think it kind of starts with the. Start the decision to commit to making it so. Say if you’ve written the script. Already and and you know you’re happy with it. And so you know you. Want to make it it’s. It’s literally like a. It’s I always come back to this, it’s. Kind of it. Is a spiritual decision. You have to kind of say I’m going to make this. And step into that. And then what ends up happening? Is you end up. Reaching out to people, you ask them some. People say yes. And people say no. And you begin to gather. A team around you and you. It has a moment. Item to it. Once you have committed to it.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

You are the momentum.

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, you are the. Momentum. Exactly. But you have to commit 100%.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

OK.

Maureen O’Connell

Now when I when I’m making. All these things. Tons of challenges, tons of challenges, but I didn’t think. Like I would kind of get knowing some frustrating things. But I it never. Occurred to me that I would not. Make the film or not finish it. Because I had committed to it already.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, you leave no room for defeat.

Maureen O’Connell

For that. Yeah, exactly. So you. Have to really, really make that decision deep down. Inside of yourself. And people think they do. They trick themselves. They think they make the decision. And and then they go back trying to and. Then it doesn’t. Turn out like. Oh, I didn’t know. No, because you didn’t make the decision properly, you know? So. So you have to be very serious with yourself. Really. And it’s just a quiet moment with yourself. You really commit to the to the project, and then you just step out and bathing yourself, you kind of all these things. Start to happen and you. Have to act on it. As well, you can’t just. Expect things to. Happen for you. You have to drive it and. And that’s and that’s basically. Things will start. To happen, I mean I I don’t. Know what one? Situation will be, you know, people out. There who maybe aren’t in Ireland and you. Know what the situation is with other film communities and. Other countries, but I do think. If you begin by beginning, I mean commit and you will find a way and.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

So it has to be like a volition. You have to have an unbending will to finish this project. Now do you run into issues because because no budget filmmaking has a has a has a lot of. It can have some negative kind of connotations, like people aren’t getting paid and people working for free, and all of that stuff, and that can always be there can always be an issue. So do you run into, you know, problems where you’re trying to get talent or issues where you’re trying to work with somebody and and and there is no budget on the table, do you have? Trouble filling those?

Maureen O’Connell

No, no, not really.

Speaker 5

OK, The thing is like I make it quite clear to people.

Maureen O’Connell

Like this isn’t paid. I can pay your expenses. Now you can say yes or no. There’s no pressure. If they say yes then.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right.

Maureen O’Connell

They have to commit to it as though. It’s a professional. Project. You know, they have to.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right.

Maureen O’Connell

You know they’re talent to the table properly. You know. And and I would expect that of them expecting to turn up on time expecting you. Know to know their. Lines and to you. Know have prepped no. I’ve never had that problem. I am quite I suppose I will be quite confident about casting and and and making sure that I can get the performance from people because I’ve taught acting as well. So say I proclaim there was loads of people who hadn’t done like one thing before or you know, they’re very kind of nervous about it and stuff like that because I. Taught that thing I.

Speaker 4

I could.

Maureen O’Connell

Read them, I knew. Where they were and I was able to. Kind of make a bite size and easy for them in each scene you know and and kind of break the scene down for them and. Get the performance that I wanted. So I would never. It’s a good thing to. Know where you were at as well so. When I was making proclaim. I would never have gone to someone who is well established and asked them to act in it. Because they ask for money and I.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right.

Maureen O’Connell

Don’t have any degree. So I wouldn’t like. I wouldn’t do that. And so you know. If, if, if. If you’re in that situation. Where you’re not getting the talent and because they said there’s no budget, then don’t be asking.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right. Are you trying to? Are you trying to spot talent? Are you trying to find that act? Or or that even that cinematographer that you think really has a future. And so you want to kind of grab them early on and give them an opportunity.

Maureen O’Connell

Kind of measure the project days to. Kind of. See the you. Know if if we’ve been budget. Or if we don’t, kind of. Hire for our kind this budget or. I mean can this? Film stretch can. I get this DOP with this say for home I always really wants to work. With Porsche Wachner, who’s the cinematographer on it. Now I wouldn’t have. Asked him for anything else before. Then, because I had no funding in that and. He’s exceptionally talented, you. Know but he. Ended up saying he was in the midst. Of shooting several feature films. And he came on board for home.

Speaker 5

And so it’s kind of I.

Maureen O’Connell

Suppose I I yeah, I. Did see him, but I. I would have asked him beforehand.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right. So it’s it’s. Waiting till the moment is right.

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, and. And also if he’s right for that project, it’s also making sure you know way sometimes you see someone make say no, which feature film and they bring on someone who’s, like kind of slightly famous or something.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

OK.

Maureen O’Connell

And actually there’s nothing for the film. You know, kind of the wrong casting or it kind of it kind of makes it feel top heavy or it does something to the energy of the whole thing.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right.

Maureen O’Connell

Where’s the fact that it would be much better just casting someone who was just right for the party, who wasn’t necessarily in any way famous or anything you know?

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

No. Yeah, some some films will use a A named actor as a marketing for distribution and things like that, and it can. It can work well. But again it there. But there is cause for hazard there. If they’re just throwing a name in and not actually really trying to cast the part. So.

Speaker

But I do want.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

To pick apart this a little bit, if you have a few minutes. Because you mentioned a professional project and I think that’s really important because. I’ve I mean I’ve I’ve been around the block a couple of times and I’ve been to. I’ve been to one or two film festivals and I’ve seen a lot of low budget indie stuff with. I mean it’s it’s you can tell it’s low budget and it looks like bad. It sounds like garbage. The acting doesn’t exist, the editing. Was an afterthought. Color correction doesn’t even matter, you know, so it it’s not professional and it’s low budget. And what I like about your stuff. Looking at Spa week and watching your short films low to no budget but doesn’t look like it, it’s professionally shot. The sound is good, the talent is doing the job, cinematography is coming off well, so you’re you’re using a no budget feature film. But you have a professional film that. You could put. Up on streaming or anything and and it would and it would pass mustard. And I think what I’m getting from you is like, even if you don’t have a budget, still treat it like this is a professional.

Maureen O’Connell

Yes, absolutely. That’s definitely it. So like it might prep that goes into. Went into spa again. They might have rehearsal. And just took my costumes and props and. Logistics. But you know even like say. Proclaim like we did. Loads of research on proclaim on what they wore. So we went into the detail. Of like even Kobe things you know those. Well, yeah, for the guys, so. We have those, you know, straps of.

Speaker 5

The we’re kind of that kind. Of attached there.

Maureen O’Connell

They they they had two buttons but the buttons would kind of fold inwards. They were actually buttons on the inside you often see these costumes where the buttons. Are on the outside and that. They didn’t have them back then.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Oh wow, you got really fine details there.

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, yeah, but that costs nothing, as in it only costs time, you know. But if you’re taking yourself seriously, and if you really. Want it to look good? Then and and if you’re not making any money now and paying and what you can do is. In your own time, this is.

Speaker 5

To do this is the idea of.

Maureen O’Connell

Commitment. That’s why I’m saying commitment. Is so important. It’s so important. When you make that decision. You have to act. Totally professionally at the, you know, even though it’s. A no budget. Affair. That’s and rehearsal.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

So put the put the time in. I like that.

Maureen O’Connell

And cost nothing as well. People will rehearse with you. Because because you. Know them and. You get to know me like.

Speaker 5

Them you give them like you come.

Maureen O’Connell

Over to your house and some sandwiches and tea and stuff. Well, you get the rehearsal. In and that cost. But I mean, that’s brilliant. It’s gold rehearsal.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

How much are you considering the lack of budget when it comes to actually writing the screenplay? Because to me it sounds like you’re fearless.

Speaker

You know, I did that.

Maureen O’Connell

Now I’m always myself. I just do it anyway. But say yes. So what happened was, I suppose that at the claim. So I felt driven to proclaim because my. Granny was in. Come on them on which is Irish. Female freedom fighters mentioned love history books and stuff. So I’m. I’m going right back. I’m related to. Daniel O’Connell he’s he’s. The big statue on O’Connell St. you know. The Great Liberator and stuff. So. So I I really want. To do someone come back from London. Like I have to be involved in. This in this centenary. Come on, have to do something. So I researched female three and five. First of all. But it was too epic. I thought I can’t do that with no budget. So I stumbled upon the story of the Irish proclamation, which they printed in secret. And there’s 29 mistakes on it, which I didn’t. Know about there’s no. With an eye on it and everything, it’s. Mine it’s a. Great story. So I thought, oh, I’ll do this then. And I’ll just. Insert my granny into it so I felt. Driven to do it. Because because of that kind of. Just my my relatives my. My family and stuff, you know? So, but then I was thinking that how how? Can I do it and and? I began walking around Dublin, going if I. Can shoot this.

Speaker 5

Kind of and you know.

Maureen O’Connell

With lots of depth of field. If I keep it moving to keep the. Kind of energy. Up. So we feel kind of tense. With people, but also it helps if we’re close in on them. Not just kind of story wise, because they’re going to be tense. And it’s good to. Be, you know, in on the character on their eyes and stuff when they’re sweating for a tense story, but also helps because we can cut all. The traffic lights and. All the modern. Stuff out, which is just. Behind the heads, you know.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, smart.

Maureen O’Connell

So I was thinking of myself. I started looking and. There’s loads and loads. Old buildings we had the James Joyce shop that we shot in. For the baby. Clothes shop, which was a an actual shop. That’s where they kind of pretended to sell baby clothes stuff and in the back I had the. Printers you know.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

How about that?

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah. So that, that’s all true like you. Know that all. Happened. I had to. Find a shop that would that looked right. And it was James Joyce. Shop it’s called Sweeney’s Pharmacy and I just. Went in there. And I asked them and they’re like.

Speaker

That’s pretty awesome. Enjoy like you want.

Maureen O’Connell

Anymore here. And I’m like, I don’t really have. Anymore. They like, no.

Speaker 5

It’s grant. And they’re like, yeah, I only.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

That’s awesome.

Maureen O’Connell

Had booked half a day and then I. Went up to your man and. So The thing is, they’re. Very eccentric and they love Irish history, so they love James. Joyce to be unison. There all the time, all the tourists, but. They get drunk, they give out the whiskey and stuff.

Speaker 4

And you.

Speaker

You know.

Maureen O’Connell

So I so I had half a day. And I remember when up and like I’m. I kind of bleed all the day and. He went OK, sure. No words. And he said we’ll. Go up to the Pope so they all came and. All the American. Tourist Japanese tourists when was. And they got hammered. And so when I was finished, I actually finished 11:00 PM.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

That’s hilarious.

Maureen O’Connell

I went over to him and he. Was like just. He’s like, oh, that’s grind. And he was totally blind drunk. Like you know, he had a great time, so. I got really lucky, you know, and then. The GPO like I told you was chance my arm. I remember, like an awful. Lot of it is chance in your arm. You. Kind of this the whole thing about commitment. You still you? See if you make the choice and you really. Are gonna commit. You’re gonna kind of. I could have gotten myself to. Loads of trouble with. The DPO we shot outside. So the GPO is this huge like we. Still use it. It’s our post office. Main post office.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

The post office, OK.

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, the General Post office and but it has bullet holes in it from 1916. So you. Yeah. Yeah. Like it’s it’s where they all so basically forget Pierce. He proclaimed the proclamation on the steps of the General Post Office in Street. So where he shot it is where. He proclaimed it. And then after. He proclaimed it. He went into the. Into the post office with all of. The Irish kind of rebels. And they had a huge fight. Out there, tons of people were killed and there’s bullet holes everywhere. Still in the building and. Stuff you know. So I didn’t ask. The post office, of course. Because I didn’t. They say no when.

Speaker 5

I asked the uh guarding uh for.

Maureen O’Connell

Uh, please? Uh, so they uh they. Had a headquarters on the corner and. Uh, because it’s to do with 1916 and because it’s they’re all quite patriotic. So they’re like. Yeah, sure. Go on.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

I love it.

Maureen O’Connell

I said Ohh yeah, I said. I only have 10 people on a tripod.

Speaker

And I thought I’d.

Maureen O’Connell

Only have 10 people, but I end up giving movie extras dot IE. And I shared it and I. Just sent them an e-mail I. Said these, I said if you have any extras who want to come, I campaign, well, give them coffee and Donuts and croissants and stuff. And I said here’s photos of the costume I’d like them to kind of wear if they have that and. Like that, I’d love to have them.

Speaker 5

And I had a few emails.

Maureen O’Connell

Back and I I would just click and paste the same thing to more kind of. Going, yeah. Yeah, because. They kind of so movies was. Their agent to get in touch with all. Of them and then. They emailed me directly back.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right.

Maureen O’Connell

I didn’t think they turned up. 40 extras turned up in costume.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Ohh wow, that’s great in costumes.

Maureen O’Connell

40 in costume and then I also also didn’t.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Right.

Maureen O’Connell

Have like just. Tried out. I had 14 foot crane with with. The crane.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Oh, did I forget to mention that?

Maureen O’Connell

They didn’t have enough. Crew to look.

Speaker 5

After our stuff.

Maureen O’Connell

And the Common street can be. Quite going like, you know it has loads. Of heroin addicts on it now. Having said that, they are lovely. They’re really nice heroin addicts because they’re they came along and. They supported us. They ended up wanting, you know, the behind. The camera asked. Me questions and stuff that they they what was going on and they really moved by. Michael, who was playing. Who cares? Because he’s. Brilliant. Proclaiming you know yard population so, but the guardian with two guardian there and they ended up looking after our extra equipment and our bags and our coats that we had to put behind. The pillars because I didn’t have. Room and uh, we shot from 6:00 AM until 12 noon and we got it in the bag but it’s. It’s it’s as they say, comes back to the. Main point of just commitment you. Just if you commit.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Better to I’d I’d rather ask for forgiveness than permission.

Speaker 5

That’s it. Exactly. That’s Werner Herzog, isn’t it?

Maureen O’Connell

I love him.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

That’s hilarious. Yeah, he’s great. But I guess when it comes to writing the scripts, you’re you’re scouting locations and and figuring out what you can shoot. Alright, this that’s really good to know. I love the commitment angle. I think you’re absolutely right. It has to become a volition. It has to be. There is no other choice for failure. And I think. You’re right. I think some film makers, some writers will commit to something, but maybe they give themselves an out even though they don’t realize it. Yeah.

Maureen O’Connell

Yes, unconsciously.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, I think you’re right. The other thing I. Wanted to discuss with you was I wanted to discuss with you teaching because you’re a teacher. I’m I’m an instructor, and I think if you’re able to teach something, if you’re able to to come out it from. Not even a mentorship perspective. What an emotional I hate to say, like experience of like you’ve been there, you’ve been that nervous. Actor. I’ve been that insecure writer. You can you can connect with someone on a more raw emotional level, and I think it it brings their game up. It brings their it brings them courage and it brings them strength to the project.

Maureen O’Connell

I find it all helps everything kind of. Helps, doesn’t it? But. I really enjoy teaching acting and sometimes it scares me how much I do enjoy it because I could kind of. Do it forever, you know.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Just do it, yeah.

Maureen O’Connell

Yeah, and I suppose, yeah, you. Almost have to teach from a place of love, don’t you? To really kind of. What you naturally do, because you really see how. How vulnerable a person is? When they’re trying to, especially with, but I think it’s with anything really that is creative. What actually what you’re doing is you’re kind. Of trying to heal through being creative.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Wow, that is, that is so true. I’ve never really thought about that. Ohh, my gosh. Maureen, you’re, like, 100% right. Wow, that’s deep. You’re right though, because you know everything that I do. I mean, this podcast is successful screenwriter. Podcast is a podcast that I wish I had when I was first starting out. I mean the book I write I wrote was the book I wish I had when I first started and it and it is. Because you’ve been. There you’ve experienced that type of pain and. If you’re a good person. Or person of empathy. You don’t want to see other people going through that, so you you become a teacher, you become an instructor to try and help and and. Yeah, you’re right. It it is a it is a form of helping someone heal. Wow. That’s amazing.

Maureen O’Connell

Well, I I think so. Anyway, you know.

Speaker 5

From my own experience like I found. When people act. So that the barriers that they come.

Maureen O’Connell

Up against in enacting. Are are psychological barriers that. Probably you know. Happened when they were kids. You know these things that they and so. What you do? Gently lead them to those barriers. And to keep kind of. Pressing on them and they don’t. Have to get it immediately or anything. Like that they. Such comes you. Know gently. Aware of it so that eventually. Those bodies go down, they go down and then they’re more free as an actor to tap into emotion that they may not have been able to before that point. And so it’s healing essentially so. It’s that’s kind of.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

It really is. It really is. You know, I’ve, I’ve always. I’ve always heard it as character building, but I think I think healing is I think a far more accurate and and truthful aspect of of what we do with screen writing. I I have screen writers come on and that I mentor.

Maureen O’Connell

What I did?

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

And part of it is is educating like, OK, this is the, this is the myth of screen writing. And here’s the reality of screen writing. But the other part of it is helping somebody find their voice. As a writer. To me means a lot, because you you’re you’ve affected that person for the. Rest of their life. You know, a little piece of you will carry on with them and then they’ll take what you’ve taught them, hopefully pass it on. And so being able for me to help somebody find their voice is always. I get so much joy from it, it’s just I still get letters today from writers that will send me, like, you know what you’ve done is you’ve helped me be able to, you know, write the screenplay and find my way. And it feels it just feels good.

Speaker 5

Of course is. Yeah, absolutely. And it’s kind of.

Maureen O’Connell

A2 way thing, isn’t it? It’s yeah. You’re. You’re helping heal them, but in. In that process, you. Kind of. You know you are. Released too as well.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, it’s crazy.

Maureen O’Connell

So it’s lovely. It’s it’s really lovely. Occupation. Teaching. OK.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, it’s definitely symbiotic and and I think the teachers that that they can get overlooked, you know, like they people that taught us. I always try and and pay respect to like my mentors and and and make sure they get the credits credits due but a lot of times teachers you know the great teachers they get looked over but they don’t need the. Credit because your success is the validation that they need. Exactly. So, is there anything else going on, Maureen, other than the fact that we went way deeper than I thought we would?

Maureen O’Connell

I set up a Film Festival.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Oh, what is it called?

Maureen O’Connell

The Dublin International Comedy Film Festival.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Oh, that’s wonderful first year then.

Speaker 5

Yeah, it.

Maureen O’Connell

We did it on the December 3rd and 4th.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

OK, very good.

Maureen O’Connell

And Richard Bill Williamson. Dave made a maze.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, he was on the show. He’s great. I love Dave, that, that, that film is fantastic.

Maureen O’Connell

It’s so brilliant. And it’s so funny.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Yeah, it really is.

Speaker 5

So he was very he.

Maureen O’Connell

Did a Q.

Speaker 5

And A and everything for us and.

Maureen O’Connell

We, everyone just loved him. So like all the other kind of film makers, you know, whenever he kind of go on Twitter and say he loved someone film, everyone would go crazy. And they’re like, oh, we love you.

Speaker 5

E-mail me saying.

Maureen O’Connell

Bill Waters is, you know, like my film.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Girls, I’m excited to see where you go with that feature because I know you wrote in 2009, but my God is it is that. Did you ever hit something primal that really is timeless? So I’m I’m really, you know, congratulations on landing the the funding through Screen Ireland because. I mean, that’s every screenwriter’s goal is to get paid to write and yeah, so anybody listening in Ireland, screen Ireland, I’m sure you’re already aware of it, but that’s a great way to to find funding.

Maureen O’Connell

I know.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

And for all of those Gorilla film makers out there, commitment.

Maureen O’Connell

And then.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Be committed to it like a marriage and and and make it happen. Well, Maureen, it’s been a real pleasure having you on and I wanted to say thank you.

Speaker

Oh no thank you.

Maureen O’Connell

So much. I’m so grateful for it. It’s actually lovely challenges.

Geoffrey D. Calhoun

Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share on your social media where you can tag us at the successful screenwriter.


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