Emma Hyland caught up with Theo James Krekis, James Doherty and Peter Brennan – makers of the upcoming short film ‘Breathe’ – to find out all about their influences, aspirations and challenges.
Breathe tells the story of a Traveller – played by Love/Hate‘s John Connors – who becomes increasingly concerned with his seven year-old son’s femininity and sets about toughening him up. The film questions how far a man is willing to defend his family name when the one threatening his reputation is his own son. It also looks into the experience of LGBT members of the Travelling community.
So lads, let’s start with the obvious. What made you decide to set this film within the travelling community in Ireland?
Theo: I knew I wanted to tell a story about a father and son and the tension, which could manifest if a son wasn’t becoming the person his father had hoped him to be. It was a case of using a backdrop of a patriarchal space with a strong and unified family bond binding them together to create this tension. Originally though, the story was set amongst travellers living in the broken suburban zones outside London, but James and Peter felt that the story could be more interestingly explored in the travelling community in Ireland, as it was a world they were more familiar with.
Why did you feel this was an important story to tell?
James: Initially I didn’t necessarily think that it was an important story to tell, I just thought it was a great script and we wanted to make it. However as we spoke to Travellers and organisations like Pavee Point about the story it became apparent that in some traveller families there was still a huge stigma attached to LGBT people. That has really pushed us to tell this story and, in particular, to make do so as authentically as possible.
How did you all come together for this project?
Theo: I came across Greeble Studios’s website and saw they were doing a script call for a short film. I submitted my script and Peter, the producer, emailed me back and said he’d be in touch in the coming weeks, but a day later I got an email asking for a meeting. Initially, I had been working with another director on the project but after our meeting I decided that these were the right guys to bring the project to life!
James: We had over 100 submissions, and I read every single one, but I have to admit that once we’d read Breathe it was just perfect for the kind of film that we wanted to make: Powerful, emotional and character led, with a strong message.
What was the casting process for this film? How did John Connors from Love/Hate get involved?
Peter: Being big Love/Hate fans we were keen for John to play the part. We contacted Maureen Hughes who was the casting director on Love/Hate and asked her to read the script. She suggested John but told us that he had expressed that he wasn’t keen to read it as he didn’t want to be typecast as only playing traveller roles. Thankfully though he did read the script and loved it. After a quick meeting, he came on board as our lead and we couldn’t be happier to be working with him! We are still currently casting all other roles.
Who are your biggest influences in film?
Theo: My work has been hugely influenced by the likes of Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant), Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank) and The Dardenne Brothers (Rosetta). There’s something in all of their work that people can derive meaning from, which for me is an integral part of why we turn to cinema and film.
James and Peter: Ours is Theo.
Is there any film you wish you were involved in making?
Theo: Anything with Ryan Gosling in.
Peter: Great question, I’d love to have worked with Daniel Day Lewis so I’d say In the Name of the Father or My Left Foot.
James: Days of Heaven. It was long before I was born though so I wouldn’t have been much help.
Do you plan to work together in the future?
Theo: Not after this experience, no. Haha, I’d love to. These boys have been a dream team so far. It will just be a case of whether they’re available and if they like what I’ve written.
James and Peter: We’d love to. But we need to get this one out the door first.
What has been the biggest challenge in creating this short film?
Peter: I suppose the biggest challenge so far has been fundraising. We’ve received £4k funding from Film London, but that doesn’t cover our aspirations for the film. We’re currently crowdfunding on fundit for another €6K and it’s going well so far. It’s quite a small budget really for what we have planned.
On top of that it’s casting Patrick’s son, trying to find a child with the right age, who looks the part and can act is quite a challenge.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
Theo: I’ve just finished the first draft of my feature film, Sift, which is still in its sweaty, confused, adolescent state, but I’m getting there. The story follows a 15-year-old track runner mourning the recent death of his mother who finds solace in…….and that’s as far as I’ve got.
James: I’ve got lots of big plans. Big, messy, unrealistic plans.
Peter: I have a documentary I want to make! All in my head at the moment but I hope to get something on paper and start the arduous task of fundraising all over again!
And finally, when are you hoping to release ‘Breathe’?