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Exclusive: New Irish Film 'The Dig' Finishes Shooting in Northern Ireland
21 Dec 2017 : Nathan Griffin
Exclusive first image of Ronan Callahan (Moe Dunford)
IFTN caught up with Out of Orbit Producer Brian J. Falconer after his new debut feature ‘The Dig’ wrapped on principle shooting earlier this week. The project stars Moe Dunford, Emily Taafe, Lorcan Cranitch and Francis Magee.


IFTN: For people who may be unfamiliar with the project could you tell us how it came about?

Brian:  ‘The Dig’ was written by Stuart Drennan and had been developed through Northern Ireland Screen. It came through the ‘New Talent Focus Scheme’, which has produced films like ‘The Survivalist’ and ‘Bad Day for the Cut’ last year. I came on board the project in December of last year because I had been in with NI Screen and had spoken to them about what projects they had in development at the time because I was looking for my first feature. I then paired up with the writer and started developing the project with him for about 8/9 months in the lead up to NI Screen choosing it as their New Talent Project for 2017.

IFTN: During that time in development you got the Tohill brothers (Andrew & Ryan) on board as Directors for the project, how did you find the dynamic of working with two directors?

Brian: They are amazing. I had worked with them before, I had produced their last short film, which was called ‘Insulin’ and it was one of two short films made for ‘The Survivalist’ feature film, as part of the media package (prequels). They are absolutely brilliant, I had never worked with a director team before and they complement each other so well, they are so well prepared when they come to the set and because we only had 18 days to shoot this film, they really had to be due to the amount of pages we were shooting a day. They are really great at separating out their tasks, for example when one is giving direction to the actors, the other will be talking to the DOP or helping him block the scene. They just work so well because they have only ever made films together, so it’s the way that they work.

IFTN: What are your thoughts having now come through the process of the New Talent Focus Scheme and do you think it’s an effective initiative?

Brian: I suppose with a scheme like this it can only be as effective as the films it produces. Last year they had ‘Bad Day for the Cut’, which was screened at Sundance and the writers of that went on to get repped by CAA and have their film played all over the world. For a low budget film that was pretty good.. But I suppose it all comes down to the development of the projects. I spent a lot of time working with the writer, working with the script editor, a girl called Katie Boyles, on developing the script. I think it’s a great way of getting your first feature made and Northern Ireland Screen put up a good chunk of the money, and then another company called Yellow Moon gave us a post-production deal and actually put financing into the project as well so from a financing point of view it was good, but we had a lot of development to do to get it to that point.

IFTN: So Yellow Moon are doing post-production on the film now, can you tell us a little bit about the next steps for the project?

Brian: Yes, the film has been with them since it wrapped and we are going to be delivering the project, hopefully by the end of March, so we are currently in the offline edit and we have an incredible editor by the name of Helen Sheridan, who works at Yellow Moon who is amazing. She hasn’t had any weekends off at all because we assembled the project as we went along, which was brilliant because it meant we could make sure that we weren’t missing anything. So she has been working on it for the past 5 weeks.

IFTN: And Festival plans?

Brian: We are going to have to wait and see what we’ve got, see how well the film turns out but I am very hopeful that we have made a really good film, you know with the performances we have in it from Moe Dunford, Emily Taafe, Lorcan Cranitch and Francis Magee, they are all absolutely amazing, any one of them could lead the film so I am hopeful that what we have is a very strong Irish Film so the idea then would be to get into the top festivals, get a top festival premiere. We have options, we have time to look at Cannes, the Directors fortnight potentially because it is a first time feature but we don’t know yet and we’ll have to wait and see. That is certainly something I am looking at now myself and trying to map out a potential festival route.

IFTN: Can you give us a short synopsis of the ‘The Dig’?

Brian: So, the film is about a murderer who gets released from prison and returns home to find that the victim’s father has been searching for the body on his land for the last 15 years. The Murderer (Moe Dunford) can’t actually remember where he buried or what he did with the body, or anything about that night. So he realises, the only way he is going to get rid of this guy is if he helps him look.

It’s an intense thriller as these two guys form an unlikely partnership. Moe Dunford who plays Ronan Callahan, the murderer, wants to make amends, although he knows it’s not possible and the father (Lorcan Cranitch) just wants to find the body so at that stage anything that might help lead him to his son, he is willing to do it, and if that means digging with the guy who did it, so be it.

IFTN: Sounds like a captivating concept...

Brian: I know, that is what drew me to the project from the very start. I was looking for a project of that scale and when I met Stuart Grennan, the writer I was just really engaged with it. Having that concept of just two guys in a bog digging, is absolutely brilliant but there also lies the problem because as we don’t have anything to distract the audience, all we have is drama basically and performance so we did a lot of work in the development so that it was as good as we could make it. It was a long year to get to this point!

IFTN: With a spell spent in the bog as well!

Brian: That’s it, up a bog, on the side of a mountain outside of Ballymena, filming for three weeks and it was absolutely brutal.. Some days were 12-14 degrees colder than the day before and we had a blizzard one of the days which meant that we potentially had to stop filming but all the snow just disappeared within three days and we were fine. It was just crazy the whole thing!

The project, which was backed by the Northern Ireland Screen’s ‘New Focus Talent Scheme’ and produced by Out of Orbit, is targeting a release in March, 2018.

For more information and updates on the project follow @ooofilms on twitter

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