18 June 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

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IFTA Q&A Series: Patricia Kelly on Directing
12 Apr 2024 : Luke Shanahan
Patricia Kelly
To mark the 21st anniversary of the IFTA awards, we are showcasing Irish talent who are blazing a trail across our industry, working in front of and behind the camera.

Hosted in association with IFTA, this Q&A Series connects with Irish talent who represent a range of disciplines across our industry.

We find out about their approach to craft, working on the projects they’ve been nominated for, and the best piece of advice they’ve been given in their career.

Patricia Kelly is IFTA-nominated for Best Director - Film and Best Script - Film for Verdigris. This is Kelly’s feature directorial debut, and first two IFTA nominations. Verdigris has been nominated for five IFTAs overall, including Best Film, Best Lead Actress - Film (Geraldine McAlinden), and Best Supporting Actor - Film (Maya O’Shea).

IFTN: How did this project first come about?

PATRICIA: “During the pandemic I was furloughed from my day job and figured if I was ever going to get an independent feature made, that was the time. So, I began writing the script and figuring out who I would like to collaborate with. Once I had secured our tiny budget, I asked Paul FitzSimons, whom I had known for a long time, to join me in producing Verdigris. Thankfully he loved the project and we were up and running.”

IFTN: Tell me about your experience on set. What was your favourite moment during production?

PATRICIA: “Verdigris was written to be able to be shot in 15 days. We worked very hard in pre-production to ensure that we could pull it off in that very short time frame, doing as much prep and rehearsal as possible. Because of this, and everybody's extraordinary talent and dedication, production went 95% to plan. My favourite moments, because it's impossible to choose one, were seeing our amazing actors bringing the characters to life - witnessing my words become heartbreaking, hilarious and fascinating moments in these characters' lives.”

IFTN: How do you approach working with actors, and what advice would you give to aspiring directors on this front?

PATRICIA: “I began my creative career as an actor so I have a real love for the craft of acting. The one piece of advice that I would give to aspiring directors is to fully understand that all actors work differently because there are many ways to approach the discipline. Talk to your actors about how they like to work, ask how you can help and support them to find their way into the role. You don't have to know it all, trust your actor and be guided by them.”

IFTN: What was your first role as a director (feature/short etc.), and how has your style changed over the years?

PATRICIA: “I began with shorts, mostly narrative but one documentary. I think my style has formed to one which embraces an unfussiness, generally keeping things on the simpler side and choosing carefully when to enjoy being a little flashy.”

IFTN: What filmmaker or director’s work has influenced or inspired you the most?

PATRICIA: “There are so many but I have been hugely influenced by Debra Granik, specifically Winter's Bone, and Lynne Ramsay, particularly You Were Never Really Here. I could watch both of these films over and over again and I love their styles of filmmaking.”

IFTN: What other Irish filmmakers have you been most impressed by recently?

PATRICIA: “I really enjoyed Claire Dix's Sunlight, I thought that was a terrific film. And Margo Harkin's Stolen will stay with me for a long time. Going back a little further, I was as in love with Colm Bairéad's An Cailín Ciúin as the rest of the planet.”

IFTN: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?

PATRICIA: “Probably that well-known adage about casting being 90% of directing, it's so true. But also simply not giving up, as it's the one way to guarantee you won't succeed. I absolutely know how difficult it can be to keep going through decades of rejection. But for me, not giving up, figuring out how to pivot and approach things from different angles has absolutely paid off.”

Bloomsday Film Fest: Director Martin Turk and Line Producer Jeremiah Cullinane discuss Kino Volta
Actors Hannah and Emily Dargan discuss The Watched
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