O’Malley’s feature project starring Charlotte Vega (Another Me) and Bill Milner (iBoy) entered production in Ireland in September 2016 and has since moved to post production.
We chat to Ruth Treacy who produced the project with Julianne Forde, also of Tailored Films, running through their development and funding process, in addition to the multitude of support they received to shoot in Ireland.
O'Malley directs a script written by David Turpin, also the project's composer, with Tony Kearns (Citadel) as editor and Joe Fallover (Fear of Flying) as production designer.
‘The Lodgers’ follows siblings Rachel (Vega) and Edward (Milner) who are forced to stay in a large estate home inherited from their parents. When a young man falls in love with the sister and attempts to free her, a deadly chain of events begin to unfold.
David Bradley (The Strain), Moe Dunford (Patrick’s Day), Deirdre O’Kane (Noble), Eugene Simon (Game of Thrones) and Roisín Murphy (What Richard Did) also star.
IFTN: Tailored Films has an impressive mix of corporate work under its belt, in addition to feature and broadcast. Can you firstly give our readers a quick round-up of what the company does and for whom?
“Tailored Films was established in 2006 and we initially focused primarily on corporate and commercial productions before expanding to develop projects for RTÉ and the Irish Film Board. Corporate work is still a key part of our business today however, and we regularly produce promotional and educational online videos for clients such as the Science Foundation of Ireland, ICTU, and Teaching Council amongst many others.
“The bulk of our corporate work has been in the education sector. We also run the Digital Film School which involves summer filmmaking courses for teenagers and adults, as well as transition year filmmaking workshops. There has been crossover between the Digital Film School and Tailored Films, in that we also helped to establish and run youth filmmaking competitions annually for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Youth 4 Decent Work) and the Irish Cancer Society (X-hale film competition). It's nice to be involved directly in film education as well as producing films ourselves.”
IFTN: Cameras started rolling on Brian O’Malley’s second feature ‘The Lodgers’ in September of last year. Can you tell us what the journey was from concept to this part of the creative process?
“The Lodgers came to us in spring 2014 as a one pager concept by the writer/musician David Turpin who we were in college in IADT with many years before. He had asked us what kind of films we were looking to develop and we mentioned that a classic haunted house story was one that we would be keen on, and within a day or two he had come up with the fantastic pitch for The Lodgers. We were immediately captivated and brought it to Rory Gilmartin in the Irish Film Board who was behind it from the very beginning and supported it through three stages of development before we applied for production funding.
“We were delighted to bring Brian on board the project in summer 2015 and he assisted hugely in finessing the package and preparing it for production. We also shot a proof of concept promo in December 2015 which helped immensely in securing a sales agent and some international finance on the project .”
IFTN: The Irish Film Board has been a considerable support to the project. Can you outline how, in addition to production funding, they might have been an asset to the team?
“They really have been hugely supportive at every step. As mentioned already, Rory was key to this support, he was a great mentor at every point - in terms of script notes, casting ideas, financing ideas and even throughout post production when had left the IFB and was no longer duty bound to help us - he was still of immense help. The IFB in general were fantastic - the legal process which Teresa McGrane and Oisin O'Neill oversaw was super streamlined and very much on the producers side, assisting with negotiations at all times, and all of the staff have been very helpful when it comes to giving opinions on the cut, or suggesting the best marketing approach going forward. They enabled our vision to come to life without being heavy handed or overly bureaucratic, it has been a hugely positive experience on the whole.“
IFTN: How was the eerie atmosphere of ‘The Lodgers’ created on set?
“The film's main location, Loftus Hall, was one of the main contributors to this atmosphere - it is the perfect place to film a ghost story. It is steeped in its own unnerving history and as soon as you walk in the door, the air temperature drops and you get a sense of eeriness from the outset. Our production designer Joe Fallover and our DOP Richard Kendrick and their respective teams also did an amazing job creating the foreboding atmosphere on set through lighting, smoke and design elements. The red velvet four poster master bed which is a centrepiece within the film was entirely designed and built by Joe and his team, as was the trapdoor which was rigged to seep water during a number of sequences. The costume designer SJ Ffrench O'Carroll and head makeup artist Edwina Kelly equally enhanced this sense of eeriness through their character design work. All of these elements, combined with the location which acted as a character in the film itself, contributed to this overall sense of supernatural dread for the audience.
“Loftus Hall is an impressive location, not only known for being one of the most haunted places in Ireland but also for not being far from where John Crowley’s Oscar-nominated ‘Brooklyn’ shot its Irish scenes. What was the shooting experience like for the Tailored Films team and company in Co. Wexford?
“We had a very positive experience filming in Wexford overall. Initially we were worried about not knowing the locality and where to get good deals or arrange catering etc, but we received a lot of support from Wexford County Council who assisted with absorbing a lot of our soft costs such as road closure costs, provision of cherry pickers etc. They also advised us on local contacts and we sourced some local crew. This kind of on the ground support was invaluable. With regard to Loftus itself, we filmed our original promo there in December 2015 and although we had looked at filming in other houses closer to Dublin for the main shoot, none of them were as perfect as Loftus Hall. We needed somewhere which was crumbling but also had full electricity and facilities for us to use, and all the alternative locations we looked at were either too pristine and restored, or were so dilapidated that they had no roof & were dangerous.
“We also filmed in Johnstown Castle, Tintern Abbey and Clongeen Village in Wexford. We do believe that more provisions could be put in place either by the Government or arts funding bodies to afford regional film offices some finance to attract productions to their locality, or for further tax incentives to be made available to productions that film entirely in a rural area. It is always difficult for a producer to weigh up the cost of accommodation, travel & crew per diems when filming in a region where there might not be a local film officer on the ground to assist, against filming in the more familiar regions of the greater Dublin area, or a city in general. However we are delighted that Steven Davenport in the IFB is spearheading the expansion of regional film office development at the moment.”
IFTN: Most finally what phase of post-production are you currently in with the project and when can we expect to see ‘The Lodgers’ in festival programmes and on the big screen?
“We have picture locked on the film and we're now in the sound design and VFX stages of post. The score is also being composed currently by David Turpin, Stephen Shannon and Kevin Murphy. We have a number of festivals we're aiming for, and our sales agents Epic Pictures and Irish distributors Wildcard distribution will decide the release strategy going forward. We're hopeful that The Lodgers will hit Irish cinemas later this Autumn.“
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