Director Conor Horgan talks about his debut movie – a chilling vision of a post-apocalyptic Ireland.
You started out as a photographer, moving into adverts and short films, has your career been building up to making a feature length film? Well, I’d love to tell you with a lot of hindsight that of course it has. But I haven’t necessarily had this carefully mapped out career path, just each thing has led to the next and it’s been great. I have always wanted to make a film. I mean ever since I was 15 and in transition year in school and we made a little film. Actually, it was so long ago; it was on video so it was a super 8 films. I’ve always just been fascinated with what goes into making a film in general. I didn’t always know I was going to make a film, but I did always want to.
How much time did you spend developing the story of a post-apocalyptic Ireland? Like with most people, you read up and you try and keep abreast of the things that are happening in the world as well as the possibilities, which could cause difficulties near to home and the near future. They may not be the most comforting things but it’s better to know about them than not.
I mean everyone knows that there are major problems; it’s just a question of how much or whether you want to know or not. So, to answer the question, I would have been thinking about, making films set in this kind of situation for quite a number of years, but when it actually came to making this film, I had to write the script very, very quickly. The first script was written in four and a half months. I didn’t stop then, that was enough to get us the money, but a year later, when we shot it, I was still writing all the way up to when we actually were shooting it and as we shot it. And of course you had to go back depending on time lines and change it again.
It’s never fully explained, the circumstances of how the characters find themselves in a post-apocalyptic world, were you ever tempted to include that, or did you want to leave it open to viewer interpretation? When I first started writing the script, I wrote the first 28 pages and then it came to a grinding halt and I couldn’t progress. When I went back to it I thought ‘you know what, page 1 is actually page 29′ kind of thing. So all of that other stuff I wrote, I didn’t want it, or need it. And in a way I wanted to start at the aftermath.
I wanted to make a film about what happens when things fall apart, the actual falling apart really isn’t as important as how we react when it does. I think the, there’s clearly a number of possible causes but we don’t know what they could be. Look at today’s newspapers, what if any of those things come to pass there would be some level of a breakdown of society. And that was the thing that I was interested in. The particulars as to what causes it or not, weren’t really relevant to this particular film.
Were there any movies that you watched to get the tone and feel of the kind of story that you were going for? I didn’t watch that many, there’s one French-Austrian film called ‘The Time of the Wolf’ which I watched, and certainly that had a very realistic view on how things could go in those circumstances, and that really appealed to me and was something I set out to do and so I hope that I did it. I saw ‘The Road’ after we finished our film, but it didn’t feel realistic, it was almost biblical in a sense.
The movie is very much an actor led piece, relying heavily on strong performances. Was it a tough movie to cast? I saw Rory Keenan in a play a couple of years ago and I wrote the character of Mark specifically for him. I just thought, I really wanted him to do it and that was the most difficult audition of all – he came in and I thought what if he doesn’t want to do it and what if we don’t get along! But you can’t scream ‘I wrote this for you, so you have to do it!’ We really did a very exhaustive casting and we got really great people. We were all down on the location for over a month of the shoot and by the end of it we were all feeling like we were almost living in that world.
It’s interesting to see the film showing at London’s sci-fi festival, were you surprised to see it being included in that genre? Not really, I devoured Sci-fi as a kid, though I haven’t really read very much since. It’s not a futuristic film though, it’s a very realistic film, extremely I hope. But it is showing things that haven’t yet happened… and hopefully won’t. It actually won an award at the Rhode Island Film Fest for ‘Best science fiction film or fantasy’ and I couldn’t help thinking that I wish it was a fantasy!
ONE HUNDRED MORNINGS is at Irish cinemas from May 6th