TW talk to movie maker Nigel O’Brien; who is The Last Man?

971382_284558568376371_4958751817977698526_nBy Owen Quinn

Can you tell us about yourself?

I’m from Dublin living in Galway now for the last 18 years  I’m an independent film maker working in short films and music videos. Although in my day to day work I do corporate and private videos; that’s what pays the bills.

 

 

When did your passion for film making begin?

I suppose like most film makers my age, it began when my mum and dad brought me to see Star Wars, watching that Star Destroyer fly over the screen just blew me away. And  Star Wars was the 1st movie to have behind the scenes documentaries. Watching them was a big  influence on me and really sparked my interest in the whole film making process.

 

What directors influenced you growing up?

Good question. How long have we got.. There are so many. For me most of the directors that changed cinema in the 70’s  Coppola, Cronenberg, De Palma. Terry Gilliam, Ron Howard, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Lucas, Terrence Malick, Polanski, Scorsese, Ridley Scott Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg and there are so many more.

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Where did you train?

I went back to school as a mature student  in Galway city and did a 2 year VEC film and TV production course  Kinda like  community college.  Practical skills style filmmaking school which was great. With a lot of the big colleges you could spend the 1st year just doing theory . but we were shooting our own work on week 3 and editing on week 4, that’s the best way to learn, by doing..

 

What avenues are there in Ireland to help budding film makers? Are there government grants available or is it all self funded?

The IFB Irish film board fund films but it’s a long hard road to get any money from them and there is only so much they can fund every year.  After college I went for a self employment grant that went some way to buying equipment. But for most it’s self funded. As for filming budgets crowd funding websites are the most common way to raise money.

 

You are a fan of the Twilight Zone. What is it about that show that grabbed you so?

I think it was the style of it. Like the Outer Limits you had new characters and story every week and each story ended with a great twist. It made you think.

 

Tell us about Runner. What was the genesis behind that?

I wrote Runner in College, And thank god they wouldn’t let me make it. After I finished film school I put my own cast and crew together and we shoot it over. A few months at night and weekends. It was a long hard shoot but well worth it in the end.

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It’s set 100 years from now where corporations have taken over the world and people live in a new world order. Our hero ( a cop) finds out whats really going on and that everything he was led to believe is a lie. He escapes his future city only to find out the bad guys have built a satellite system that will destroy his new life out side the city.

He gets himself captured in order to stop them. That’s where our story starts.

It’s kind of a throwback to 70’s sci-fi in the style of John Carpenter.

 

 

How hard is it to write to a budget especially a sci fi movie?

With Runner I knew what locations I had access to and what kind of props I could get my hands on. Airsoft club members as out extras, old building sites. A friend with a black Range Rover other friends with black motor bikes. And the local flying club let us shoot there.

And I put our actor in a plan to get the big escape at the end.. So I wrote the story with all that in mind. And you shoot at night . Darkness is a character in itself.

 

How did The Last Man come about?

The Last Man was an idea I had had for years just an idea from watching the Twilight Zone. And those twists at the end of each episode. I loved the way they would make you think and stay with you long after  viewing the show.

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How long did it take to write it and did the story change along the way?

Yeah kinda . I started with the ending and then worked backwards. The last film we did was a crime comedy called Gun Down written by Martin Cassidy so I brought in Martin and we worked on the script together. Gun Down starred Limerick actor Philip P Coffey so we really wanted to work with Philip again so I was writing we him in mind and he loved the script so this film will be the 2nd in a trilogy of short films with Philip and our crew. Its called the Pocket Watch Trilogy. There’s an in joke which will be revealed when you see the films.

 

Were there any ideas that had to be jettisoned due to budget?

We lost one scene on Runner as we ran out of time and money. But we are still funding on The Last Man so hopefully we will reach our indiegogo target and all will be good.

 

What defines a good sci fi movie for you?

It has to be the story, that’s the foundation. If you don’t have that then your wasting your time.

 

How do you go about casting the movie?

Well this one is a cast of one ( think Tom Hanks in Castaway) and we had Phillip onboard from the get go so you could say we got lucky. But there some great actors working in Ireland right now. And on Runner and Gun Down there was no problem with casting.

 

10931248_769383636443968_1551388939911746551_nAnd locations?

We are shooting this one in Connemara Galway. It’s wild out there, looks like the surface of the moon in parts. It’s just an amazing location, the landscape is epic  so that was a no brainer.

 

What can you tell us about the story and the characters we can expect to meet?

Our character is returning from a future war searching for his family, not knowing if they are dead or alive. He’s coming to terms with what happened to him in that war. The choices him mad and he’s dealing with his own demons.

 

You launched a fundraiser to crowdfund the project. How does that work and why did you have to do that?

They say never spend you own money on film making which is easy when you don’t have any money. Films are expensive to make and it’s not just making the film you need to get it out there so people can see it. And the only way to do that is put it online for free or shop it round film festivals.

So if you have a budget 30/40% needs to go to selling your work.  With the indiegogo funding we need to feed , transport and house our crew for the 3 day shoot and have money left over to submit to festivals round Ireland , The UK , and The States  over the next year..

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What can anyone that contributes expect in return?

There are a range of rewards on the page from digital downloads of the film when it’s  complete .DVD Hard copies to production credits. And you will be apart of a team of amazing film makes making what will hopefully be a great film.

As both writer and director, does that it easier to bring to life exactly what you originally envisioned in the script?

I don’t think it ever ends up as you see it in your head when your writing the script but we have a great crew and they work really hard to make that happen. Our Director of Photography and lead editor Barry Fahy has a great eye for what he’s doing and a real passion as a film maker so we will get pretty close.

 

 

Where do you stand now production wise for The Last Man?

We are fully crewed, scripted and storyboarded we have our locations and we begin principal photography in the next few weeks.

 

Where can people find out more about the Last Man and Runner?

You can find us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Runner?fref=ts)   (https://www.facebook.com/thelastman2015?fref=ts)  and twitter both updated on a daily basis where there are trailers. Behind the scenes videos we also have a music video from the sound track coming this week From Dublin rappers Class A’z  , a duet with cork blues/rock band Ruby and the Nighthawk’s.

You can go on the indiegogo page ( https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-last-man-sci-fi-short-film#home) The links are on Facebook and Twitter where you can find out all about the film’s cast and crew and if you like donate anything  from 1 euro to what ever you would like. Also check out the links below to our videos.

https://vimeo.com/114925257

https://vimeo.com/118832787

 

What have you lined up next?

The reality of an independent film maker is working and paying the bill’s. So up next are wedding video’s, editing assignments and whatever work comes in the door. I am working on the script for part 3 in the Pocket Watch Trilogy, again with Barry and Philip.

That one is gonna be a western. So it should be great fun to shoot .. Everyone loves a good old cowboy story….

Nigel thank you very much.

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