What exactly is a neolithic patchwork quilt? We’re stumped too. The man to ask is Paul Heary, a short filmmaker coming from Dublin. That’s because Neolithic Patchwork Quilt – which screened recently at the Cork Film Festival – is his second short film. He’s interested in breaking with conventional filmmaking practices and has some tips to share with the FFL community on getting your film into the right festivals.
Paul’s first filmmaking steps
I completed an M.A. Degree in Film Production from University College Dublin in 2008. My career began shortly thereafter. I have worked a lot in the areas of editing, storyboards and script supervising, mostly involving corporate videos and music videos.
“I wanted to make a film that explored these areas that broke with conventional ideas of film being a visual language and dialogue being a minimal source.”
There are a number of films I saw last year – Spike Jonze’s Adaptation being one – that broke with the traditional screenwriting conventions of film as a visual medium that I learnt at film school. These included the use of flashback and voiceover. It really interested me how these elements served a narrative as opposed to being something to avoid. I wanted to make a film that explored these areas that broke with the Aristotelian idea of film being a visual language, with dialogue only as a minimal source.
Paul‘s Current Film
The current title deals with the idea of mindfulness. The concept deals with the idea that disasters and happenings around the world are things beyond our control. It tries to emphasize an idea that while these things happen and we can feel empathy for these bad situations situations, they also should not give us a false image of a negative world – which only increases unhelpful, negative thought processes. Mindfulness espouses the idea of gaining a sense of positivity about life and trying to live in the present. In that way we can improve our mental health. This is just one theme in the film and a central experience we see the lead character Herman going through.
Paul’s biggest adversity
The biggest adversity overall I would say has been finance. This film was self-funded due to the difficulty in receiving funding in the Irish market. This is not to say that it can’t be achieved. It’s more that it’s quite competitive to receive funding in Ireland. Practically from then on it is a more difficult process in terms of securing locations and crew at the budget they would expect to be paid etc. A couple of locations for example were secured in Neolithic Patchwork Quilt through shear generosity – but we still had to hunt for such locations.
Paul‘s festival strategy
My advice to other filmmakers is to research which festivals are worth the exposure for your money but also to research which ones are suited to your genre/theme. If you have made a short film, your goals will be different to a feature for example. In embarking on the festival process I also found out that some festivals will not permit your film if they find out your film has been shown in other festivals previously. Some highly ranked festivals like your film to have its debut in their festival. This is also something to find out and consider before submissions.
Some festivals are not feasible to attend as they are international. We will have a screening at the SOFIE awards in New York for example in December and our budget does not permit us to fly there. However we have attended a screening of the film at the Cannes Short Film Corner this May.
Paul’s current project
I have been working on a couple of feature scripts with the idea of trying to secure funding using Neolithic Patchwork Quilt as a showcase.
I have also had the idea of turning the short itself into a feature film. A number of people have remarked how there is so much in the film itself that it feels like actually watching a feature. This gave rise to imagining that this could possibly be achieved. We will have to see how things turn out but definitely the next idea would be to make a feature film and strive for success with that.