11 December 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Newport Beach Spotlight: Writer-Actor Emmett Hughes discusses Advent
28 Sep 2023 : Luke Shanahan
Emmett Hughes and Bríd Ní Neachtain in Advent
We caught up with writer-actor Emmett Hughes ahead of the World Premiere of his feature film, Advent, at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

Emmett Hughes is the screenwriter and lead actor of Advent, an upcoming independent feature film that will be having its World Premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival. This is Hughes’ fourth film at the festival, having first made the journey to Newport Beach in 2010 with comedy drama The O’Briens, written by Hughes and directed by Richard Waters. Since then the festival has screened short film Ár Scath le Chéile, and psychological thriller Axis, both of which Hughes has written and starred in.

Advent follows a writer who returns home to Ireland to complete his long overdue second novel, but is plagued by local villagers who refuse to leave him alone. As time passes and he struggles to finish his book, their intrusions become increasingly disruptive, and eventually, more sinister.

Hughes and Waters’ collaboration continues on Advent, with Waters directing and editing. Hughes also serves as a producer on the project, along with Alison Scarff and Aisha Tyler, best known for her character Charlie on Friends. Eoin Loughnanne and Jordan Lee McGrath are executive producers.

Joining Hughes in the cast are IFTA winner Bríd Ni Neachtain (Róise & Frank), Emma Eliza Regan (Death of a Superhero), Kevin M. Walsh (Taste the Difference), Seamus O'Rourke (Locus of Control), Ciara Bailey (Saint Dracula 3D), and Nelly Henrion (I'm Talking to You).

We sat down with writer-actor Emmett Hughes to discuss his fondness for Newport Beach, his influences, and getting the project off the ground.

IFTN: Congratulations on Advent having its World Premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival, how does it feel to have the film debuting there?

EMMETT: “It’s incredibly exciting to be returning to NBFF. My debut feature, The O’Briens, had its worldwide premiere here over ten years ago. Since then, I’ve had two other films screen here so it feels like coming home. The focus and support that NBFF gives to Irish filmmakers is extraordinary. NBFF takes great care of its artists and it’s been great to see the explosive growth of the festival.”

IFTN: When did you first start writing Advent, and what inspired you to write this film?

EMMETT: “I started writing the film two years ago and continued to write until we wrapped. The location itself is on the outskirts of my hometown and I always knew it would be the perfect setting for any story. With that, I just needed to find the right one. I wanted a love story but between all the characters. I knew from the beginning it was always going to have a dark element to it, but to make sure humor ran through its core was key. A big inspiration for me is Martin McDonagh and how he can create such a great balance between dark and light while always keeping everything grounded in character.”

IFTN: What can you tell us about Samuel, your character in the film?

EMMETT: “Samuel is a writer who had success abroad with a bestselling novel, and is returning home to finish the sequel. He’s got terrible writer’s block and hopes that coming back to Ireland will shake something loose. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon and just wants to be left alone, but the quirky locals in his small village refuse to leave him to his writing. The results are both hilarious and touching.”

IFTN: As well as writing and starring in the film, you are also producing, how did you approach funding the film?

EMMETT: “Funding from the film came privately. My producing partner Jordan Lee and I were executives on the project along with Aisha Tyler and Eoin Loughnane. Creative control is always a must on an independent film, on any film really, and I was lucky enough to be in the position to have that. We were also blessed with a sensational cast and crew. Without their commitment and hard work, Advent would still be on the page.”

IFTN: How did director and editor Richard Waters come onboard?

EMMETT: “Richard Waters, and his producing partner Alison Scarff, were behind my first film, The O’Briens. We have a great relationship, and they are a real powerhouse team, they do everything from producing to editing. I really believe in the power of the independent filmmaker and they have that same independent spirit. They’re fantastic to work with.”

IFTN: What’s next for Advent after the Newport Beach Film Festival?

EMMETT: “We’ve already gotten into our next festival, this time for our Irish debut, at the Richard Harris Film Festival in Limerick at the end of October. It will be great to spend some time on the festival circuit sharing this film with the world. We took Axis to ten festivals and it is a great experience getting to enjoy the film with audiences before it goes to theaters and streaming, so I’m excited to hopefully get to do that again.”

Advent screens at the Newport Beach Film Festival on Friday 13th October, 2023.

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