Interview: David O’Reilly (Kubrick by Candlelight)

SNP Official Selection
Kubrick by Candlelight

Today we begin revealing some highlights from our lineup, with the full slate to be announced in the weeks to come. First up, David O’Reilly, director of the mini-epic Kubrick by Candlelight, whose synopsis reads: “In 1973 Stanley Kubrick came to Ireland and brought the whole goddamn British Army. A light hearted romantic comedy set behind the scenes of the filming of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.” We spoke to David recently about the film.

David O'Reilly (Kubrick by Candlelight)

James McNally (JM): Your day job is as a location scout. What made you decide to make your own film and what was it about Kubrick that drew you to that subject matter?

David O’Reilly (DO): I’ve always been making little short films and taking part in 48 Hour Film Challenges where the experience is often better than the end product. I wanted to make a bigger, more professional film about “what I know” – which is film crews and the travelling circus. Aside from being a massive Kubrick fan I had met people who worked on Barry Lyndon and then discovered the myth and legend of his sudden departure from Ireland. Combining both elements and then finding the love story that would bring it all together became the script. I wanted to explore the theme of the dirtiness of the behind the scenes – behind the camera filming the “most beautiful film ever made” are guys chain smoking and eating bacon butties, blocked toilets, long hours etc.

JM: Your film is quite ambitious with a fairly large cast and elaborate sets, etc. How were you able to pull this off on your very first film? I assume you called in lots of favours?

DO: We pulled it off with a lot of work! The best elements, those that make it seem epic, were free – extras, locations, classic cars and VW Campers. I went on social media, had articles in local newspapers and on the radio calling for help and the wave of good will from people wanting to help and be involved was overwhelming. I think we had to go big – there’s no way to make a movie about a movie without pushing the limits of what you can do in a short film. Because we were filming in Tullamore (my family’s hometown) we called on local favours and most of my family are in there somewhere on screen and a lot behind the scenes – my cousin Gavin Cowley was the music supervisor, his cousin Ewan composed the music, a second cousin designed the poster etc etc. But because we were filming in Tullamore we couldn’t readily call on the favours from our film crew friends and connections although we got some terrific financial support from Above the Line Security and SP Locations – two companies we work with in the day job. We also brought over a beautiful Alexa with all the trimmings courtesy of Arri Rental and some huge lights courtesy of MBS Pinewood.

Kubrick by Candlelight

JM: How did you get Brian Cox (who narrates the film) involved?

DO: I had a long list of Irish and UK actors and any of them would have been brilliant for us. I pursued Liam Neeson for several months and we were very close to securing him but schedules didn’t match up and we approached Brian’s agent. Within days we were in the studio in Soho and he was fantastic. He’s a huge Barry Lyndon fan and whilst he’s from Dundee his family all hail from Ireland so he felt entwined in the project.

JM: Your actor Michael Nolan bears a great resemblance to Stanley Kubrick. Where did you find him?

DO: I typed in Dublin actor, beard into a casting website called StarNow and had about 8000 results and then I swiped my way through and found one gentlemen who had a good look but I wouldn’t be able to put the camera on him. Within a few swipes I found Mike Nolan and the rest is history! He said yes and we put a parka on him and he was Stanley.

JM: What’s next for you? Another epic short film or maybe even a feature?

DO: I realised this was the question I would be asked at every festival and screening very early on in the film’s run! We put so much effort in to KBC that had we had the 90 page script we could very easily have extended the shoot in to feature shoot without a huge expense. So at the moment I have writing several feature projects that could work on a smaller scale. Although the epic seems to be in my blood and work so I might need some money! There’s certainly a feature length script in development for Kubrick By Candlelight in the works…

Shorts That Are Not Pants Festival 2018 takes place November 23-24 at Cinecycle. Early Bird passes are available NOW!

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