[PHOTO: At the Official Launch of the Offline Film Festival. L to R: Kevin McGee, Enda Oates, Film Board Chairman Bill O’Herlihy, Festival Director Gary Hoctor.]
FESTIVAL TRIUMPH FOR NENAGH FILM-MAKER
A film by Nenagh native Kevin McGee has been selected for three prestigious festivals in one month. The Ballsbridge Poisoner, which Kevin wrote and produced, was one of fifteen films chosen from almost 300 entries in the OffLine Festival. It will also highlight the Clones Film Festival and the International Short Film Festival in Dublin, where it has been nominated for Best Film and Best Actress.
Kevin is thrilled by the success of the film, an Irish-English co-production starring Eimear Morrissey (Damo and Ivor), Enda Oates (Fair City’s Pete Ferguson), and the renowned Beckett interpreter Sara Jane Scaife. Despite the international crew, the film is something of an underdog on the festival circuit.
“We had no budget at all. Most of us are freelancers, so we’ve all felt the effects of the recession. That means free time, so we decided to take advantage of that and make something for ourselves. It’s fantastic that the film has also resonated with other people.”
Part of the reason is its topicality: “It’s about an office worker who is fighting against redundancy. She uses her wit and her intelligence to escape the chop. It’s a story people can identify with.”
Despite the title and the grim topic, the Ballsbridge Poisoner is a light-hearted affair. Kevin goes onto say that: “We wanted to say something about the downturn, but it had to be a comedy. If people want to be depressed they can turn on the News.”
The film was shot over two weekends in Dublin, with a crew of nearly thirty. Friends and family were drafted in to help. Kevin’s wife Brigie did the catering, and cousin Charlie McGee stepped in as Assistant Director. The key member of the team was the celebrated director Clive Arnold.
“Once we got Clive on board,” Kevin says, “we knew we could do it.” Clive was fresh from his success with the Bafta-winning live episode of Eastenders, so he a serious draw. His generosity was also an inspiration.
“When Clive found that everyone was working for nothing, he turned down the fee. He paid for his own flights. He paid for his hotel. He’d hardly even take a cup of coffee. He’s a class act.”
Does Kevin have any plans for a follow-up? “First we have to follow the festival trail with this one. Three appearances in four weeks is something special, but we want to take it outside Ireland too. We’re hoping for a New York premiere early next year.”
In the meantime, Kevin and Charlie are back at work on the Nenagh Silent Film Festival, which is due to take place on St Valentine’s weekend. Kevin states that:“We’ll be launching the programme later this year. The committee will kill me if I let anything slip, but it’s going to be special. Even better that than last year.” -END