It’s a strange feeling when you complete your short film. All the months and years spent honing, tweaking, analysing and discussing are over. It is time for your film to go out and hopefully fulfil its purpose, to entertain and amuse. It is time for the goal you have been working towards; the film's first screening.
In my experience, the first screening is always a daunting experience. It’s paramount to standing up and shouting ‘This is as entertaining as I can be!’ at a room full of strangers.
My most recent short film ‘After You – Sixty Years in the Life of a Dublin Doorman’ was no different. It had been a labour of love for five years. After many submissions to the Irish Film Board and even more rewrites, the film eventually got funding two years ago. The production was a breeze, helped enormously by having the exceptionally talented team at Brown Bag Films work on it, and last month it was finally ready to have its first screening at the Galway Film Fleadh.
The best analogy I can think of to describe how a first screening feels is this: imagine you spend a few years cooking a meal for 200 people. Some of these people you know, some you don’t, but they are all going to spend the next 7 minutes eating your creation. As the semi anonymous chef, you have to watch on as they devour (or worse, don’t devour) your meal. Will they like it? Will the people who bankrolled the meal think it was worth it? Will they be left full but unsatisfied? As the metaphorical desserts are slurped, it dawns on you. They are clearing away the plates. It is over. All your fretting and work is finished. The film is done. It feels like the day after your birthday, the day after Christmas, the day after the best day of your life all rolled into one. It’s simultaneously exciting and deflating. It is a roller coaster of emotions.
It’s five years’ work for 420 seconds of images.
And then you slump. That’s that. Clocks keep ticking, the dog keeps barking with the juicy bone and no one muffles the piano. Some sort of internal self-preservation mechanism kicks in and you decide you need to justify those five years. Above all else, you need to justify those 420 seconds to the organisations good enough to pay for them. We are exceptionally lucky in Ireland to have the level of support that we do for short films. Receiving money to make a short is a really big deal, it is a huge honour and privilege so the least you can do in return is try to give the film the best life you can. In short, you need more people to watch your film.
Generally speaking you can’t put your film online for a year as you submit to as many festivals as you can, so you cut a trailer:
You email links to the password protected online version of the film to people whose work you admire, you give out DVDs, you do anything and everything you can to get your work seen. And then you wait; wait for someone, somewhere to like your film enough to screen it at their festival or to respond with a few kind words.
And then, just as you are about ready to give up and become an accountant, the final stage begins, the best one of the whole process. The one where you get an overwhelming urge to do the whole thing all over again. You write scripts, draw up storyboards, put in funding submissions. You begin to pine for the dark, the nerves and the food analogies. You begin to dream about the day when you are once again lucky enough to stand up and shout, ‘This is as entertaining as I can be!’ at a room full of strangers.
Damien O’Connor has written and directed four films funded under the Irish Film Board, RTE, Arts Council Frameworks scheme.
I’m sure you don’t have much to worry about, it looks like a great film; can’t wait to see it :)7 August 2012 by Charles Kenny
Man I really like this trailer, the best so far !!! a tear drop is coming down my cheek now…. =) .
very nice really enjoy the 8 month I worked on this ! all the rendering, all the lack of sleep, my one week in the hospital hahahaha!!!! just kidding wish for this to repeat again and again every year until people stand up and shout , THIS IS IT!!! THIS IS WHAT ENTERTAIMENT IS ALL ABOUT!!!! YEAHHHHHHH|!!!7 August 2012 by john paul giancarlo
Great blog Damien! You’ve summed up that squeeky pants feeling quite nicely!7 August 2012 by Darragh
Brilliant summary Damien, and a great film too!7 August 2012 by Shane Collins
Thanks all! Much appreciated.7 August 2012 by Damien O'Connor
I love this movie - it is beautiful!
Well done.8 August 2012 by Deirdre Rudden