Next week a feature film produced by the students on the MSc Digital Feature Film Production course at Filmbase will receive its world premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh. The course was launched in September 2011 and the film, Keys to the City, is the first feature to be produced under the supervision of the course which is a collaboration between Filmbase in Dublin and Staffordshire University in the UK.
With a cast that includes Rory Keenan (The Guard), Conor Mullen (Holby City), Una Kavanagh (Garage), Natalia Kostrzewa (The Looking Glass) and David Murray (King of the Travellers), it was a hugely challenging endeavour and provides a film for our times with characters struggling to survive in a recession-era Dublin.
Eoin (Conor Mullen) is a businessman who can no longer pay the bills or the mortgage, Paul (Rory Keenan) is a landlord with the banks breathing down his neck and Monika (Natalia Kostrzewa) is a Polish cleaner whose minimum wage job is under threat. All three are struggling for survival and forced to increasingly desperate actions in the hope of keeping their lives and families together. Through separate, but interlinked stories their choices will affect their own lives as well as each others.
To complete the film, students collaborated with established Irish film directors Conor Horgan (One Hundred Mornings), Conor McDermottroe (SwanSong) and James Fair (Watching and Waiting) to write the scripts and producer John Wallace (Dollhouse, Rewind) who mentored the production.
The students were in charge of directing, producing, shooting and crewing the film. Laura Way, best known as an actress with credits including The Clinic and Silence was one of the directors chosen for the project. “It’s a major undertaking to make a feature film as part of a Masters programme. Embarking on this exercise has been an education in film making that you can never learn from books. The support from industry professionals was overwhelming, with established film makers, actors and crew bringing their knowledge and talent to the production. The Galway Film Fleadh have a great reputation as an industry festival and to premiere there will be the icing on the cake.”
The MSc course was established in Ireland last year by Filmbase, in association with Staffordshire University to respond to the identified need to prepare filmmakers for the reality of producing feature films in new digital formats. The success of Irish films including One Hundred Mornings, and Rewind (IFTA Winner Amy Huberman, Best Actress) which were made as part of the Catalyst Project, promoted by Filmbase in association with the Irish Film Board, had proven that creative Irish filmmakers could make successful films in digital formats on low budgets.