John Michael McDonagh latest project ‘Calvary’ goes into production

Following on from the box office success of The Guard writer/director John Michael McDonagh much-anticipated second feature ‘Calvary’  is currently in pre-production at Clancy Barracks Islandbridge.

‘Calvary’ is a dark comedy about a priest Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) who is tormented by members of his own parish in Sligo. ‘Calvary‘ has received a whopping €975,000 production loan in the last round of Irish Film Board funding.

First day of principle photography has been set for the 24th of September with 3 week shoot in Sligo followed by a further 2 weeks in North County Dublin.

Other Irish cast to appear in the project include Elaine Cassidy (The Others), Domhnall Gleeson (Shadow Dancer), Pat Shortt (The Guard), Fiona O’Shaughnessy (Alexander)  Chris O’Dowd (currently shooting Moone Boy), and Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones).

Confirmed Irish technical crew include cinematographer Larry Smith; costume designer Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, production designer Mark Geraghty. Patrick O’Donoghue as line producer, Morna Ferguson make-up department, and Orla Carrol as chief hair stylist.

The budget for the project is in excess of the €5million, a co-production, Clark and Flora Fernandez-Marengo will produce for Reprisal Films and James for Flynn Octagon Films.

With just under €1,000,000 supplied to Calgary’ through an Irish Film Board loan plus vast sums of revenue forgone through section 481. There  are questions that need clarification surrounding crewing of the construction department on ‘Calgary’. It is this bloggers understanding that one construction crew was rejected for this project in favour of another that is game fully employed on at least one other production, this it is not a case of singling out ‘Calvary’ it has become the norm in recent years. There are many long-term unemployed crew members seeking work, some families are hanging on by a thread with debts mounting. It would appear for construction the methods for hiring crew lacks any transparency with some crew members working between two and three productions at the same time. A press release can be expected over the coming weeks from the producers of ‘Calvary’ that this project will create hundreds of job. However closer examination will reveal how at least in construction its a small group of people employed on 75% of the projects, effectively “a closed shop”. This is not the best use of taxpayers’ money but clearly producers find themselves under some pressure “to keep the camera rolling”  the question is how many other areas of production are best practices not being employed?

To quote an Irish producer from a recent article in the New York Times We’re clearly not very good at property development, and clearly not very good at banking. But you could argue we’re not bad at art and theatre and music and possibly film.” He just put film making up on a very big pedestal, in banking clearly the regulator let us down, however does anyone know who is responsible for performing that role in Irish film?  Its a very grey area.

© Tom Dowling 2012 image by Tom Dowling

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