Brian Rossney Q&A
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
Can you tell us where the idea for In The Valley of The Moon came from?
I was standing in a queue in a cafe, just before a meeting and when I went to pay for a round of coffees, a guy noticed a picture of my two year old son in my wallet. He told me his son looked similar. He took out his wallet and the two of us stood in the queue, stunned as we looked at our kids pictures. Our boys were practically identical. In the following days, I wrote the outline of a film that centered around that experience and typed up the script in a day....but tweaked and tweaked until I finally got the funds to produce the film. The film title came about from the no. 1 track in the charts in 1914, when the film is set. It was also how soldiers described the landscape, like the surface of the moon, due to all the shelling.
Was there anything about writing or shooting the film that was particularly challenging?
Writing the film was a real pleasure and it was very quick. In fact the bulk of what I added after the initial 1 day writing sprint, was ditched during the shoot.
The shoot itself was challenging. It was really a case of just not having enough people. However, my crew were absolutely brilliant. The Dop, Ciaran Kavanagh came in earlier on the project but everyone else just came in during production. Shooting on an Arri Alexa, while a fantastic camera, takes a team to manage, so there were some minor challenges there. The biggest challenge as I said was just not having enough people. With the entire budget blown on costumes, locations, lighting and camera equipment and most importantly catering, all the cast and crew worked for the simple love of the craft rather than payment. A few who couldn't make it at the last minute, by no fault of their own did cause a ripple effect of delays which led to some pickup shoots which I could only afford to fund five months later. This put the post-production process into a stand-still as I couldn't move forward with the visual effects until we had those shots. Again, given the budget, I was forced to wear many many hats from writing, producing and directing to sound mixing and doing the visual effects. Focusing on directing while keeping the production running was definitely the most painful challenge.
This is your debut film - What was it about this one story that made you want to make it your first film?
This particular story for me was only just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the irony and lunacy of war.
I wanted to tell the story of how two people who have nothing in common could meet in such a messed up, turbulent and inhuman environment and engage with each other in a very human and peaceful way without sharing a common language. I wanted to see how many levels of irony I could present such as, communication without language, peace at war and also present a world where nothing is as it seems. Brady, for example is an Irish soldier in a British brigade, the German soldier Friedrich doesn't even know he's Irish. Brady at the beginning is pretty much sentenced to death by his frustrated commanding officer, which in itself is ironic because he may not have survived otherwise. The stupidity of war was a constant force that really drove me to finish this film and I don't think I'm finished with this subject matter as a film maker.
What's one important lesson you took from your first time making a film?
I may have been over ambitious. The budget was €6,500 and as I said, that was gone on costumes, lighting and camera equipment and catering. Without paying for cast and crew, there's no real assurance that you will have everybody on the day especially when they have other paid options knocking on the door. The most important lesson is to make sure that everyone is paid and will be there on the day.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you have lined up for the future?
Last year, I got some very positive interest with a sci-fi feature I wrote, but I really want to focus on directing my first feature film, which I also wrote which is far less ambitious from a production perspective. So the next film project will be my dark comedy feature, set on an island during WW1, somewhere in the Atlantic.
'Greed' is a cautionary tale about George, a nervous young man who returns to the island after inheriting a fortune. Taking advantage of the beautiful scenery we have off the west coast of Ireland, the script is full of very colorful and somewhat eccentric characters and a rich story-line that will have the audience laugh and jump out of their seats. Casting for 'Greed' will start in July while we are looking at financing this low budget feature.