Producer On The Move 2010 – Ireland
by Naman Ramachandran
Katie Holly is the Managing Director of Bl!nder Films and has produced One Hundred Mornings and Sensation.
Cineuropa: On what criteria do you choose projects?
Katie Holly: It’s always down to the story and to the talent behind it. For example, our next feature Citadel, which we plan to shoot later this year in co-production with Sigma Films, is a genre film, a psychological horror, but beyond this the story is inspired by the director’s [Ciaran Foy] own experience of agoraphobia. Having seen his shorts and been impressed by his very strong visual style I knew he would deliver something truly unique and that ambition is apparent on the page. I’m very excited about the prospects for the film, which has already attracted a great bunch of partners.
Could you walk us through the process of putting together One Hundred Mornings and Sensation?
One Hundred Mornings was actually made under a brilliant scheme organised by the Irish Film Board (IFB) in conjunction with Screen Training Ireland, Filmbase and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, called the Catalyst scheme, which was set up to give an opportunity to emerging filmmakers to make their first feature. A series of workshops were held, after which scripts were written and applications made – we were lucky enough to be one of three projects selected for funding. With a total budget of €275,000 it was a big challenge to match our ambition to the budget but with an immense amount of goodwill and creativity across the board we are very proud of the results.
The scheme was a wonderful experience, and gave a great leg up to so many people – not only was it mine and the writer/director Conor Horgan’s first feature, it was also that of many of our heads of department, including our amazing DoP Suzie Lavelle (who won an IFTA for Best Cinematography for her work on the film) and editor Frank Reid – both of whom have gone on to work on several features since One Hundred Mornings, which is terrific and exactly what the scheme was designed to do.
Funnily enough, Sensation also came out of the Catalyst. I met Tom Hall, the writer/director there, he briefly pitched me his idea and I was intrigued enough to take it further. Putting together Sensation was a little more complicated – the budget was higher for a start. The IFB were our key partner, and first in for production finance. Having made approaches to a number of funding bodies throughout Europe who have reciprocal relationships with the IFB, we were very fortunate to access the Rotterdam Film Fund through our co producer Herman Slagter of Riverpark Films. While it was a relatively small amount of finance it was key in terms of having another partner on board – and it meant that the film was definitely going to happen.
What are the challenges facing the Irish film industry in this recession market and what are Bl!nder’s plans to overcome them?
There are a number of significant challenges facing the Irish film industry at the moment. Despite the support of the IFB it is very difficult to finance a film entirely out of Ireland – we don’t have the same level of support from broadcasters our fellow producers across Europe enjoy. This combined with disappointing box-office performance for Irish films domestically means it is difficult to find and build an audience. Having experienced overwhelming audience response to our comedy series The Savage Eye, which we produced for national broadcaster RTE late last year, we know there is an audience out there for strong home grown material, the challenge is how to harness that for feature films.
Lastly, how do you feel about being chosen as a Producer on the Move 2010?
It’s a great acknowledgement and I’m particularly grateful to the IFB who have been a tremendous support to my own career and to Bl!nder Films over the past few years. I’m really looking forward to meeting the other participating producers – particularly since I have already seen and greatly admired the work of several of them – and hopefully building lasting partnerships with like minded filmmakers that will span across future projects.
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