We all have scars.
Interview with Writer/Director Graham Cantwell
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I wanted to make a film to raise awareness of bullying among young people and start a conversation about how to tackle it, and what young people who are being victimised should do to combat it. During the gay marriage referendum in Ireland a friend of mine, Eamon Farrell, wrote an article about being bullied as a young boy that really struck a chord with me. I asked him if he would allow me to take his story and turn it into a film and he agreed. I included elements from my own experiences and the experiences of friends and changed the gender, and that's how the story's journey began.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
To be taken on a journey, to see the problem of bullying from the perspective of a victim, to watch a young woman struggle with her identity and attempt to overcome some pretty big obstacles. To see some incredible actors at work. To be moved and challenged.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I was bullied as a child, and I know very many people, particularly in the arts, who were too. It is such a common experience, that almost everyone has encountered bullying, either as a victim, as a perpetrator or as a witness. Lily's journey explores the trauma and uncertainty that a young person encounters when they are subjected to physical and emotional trauma, in person and online. My hope is that the film will encourage young people to open up about their own experiences, and encourage parents to discuss the topic with their children. Also as a society we are moving in the right direction when it comes to our treatment of the LGBT community, but there is still a lot of work to do. I am hoping that LILY will open a few people's minds, make them look at their own prejudices and assumptions in a different light.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
Like any film, LILY has evolved at every stage of the process, from the script stage, where I asked fellow writers to read and critique the story, to the rehearsal phase, where the actors came in and put their own stamp on the characters, gave their own voices to the dialogue. Then on set, where the reality of filming on a tight schedule forced us to creatively explore ways to say more with less, and in the edit, where we trimmed as much as we could from the narrative to only keep the essential moments and figured out ways to use musical score to communicate an idea in a more concise, compact way, right up to the viewing experience, where every audience member personalizes the story for themselves.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
We've had a great response, particularly from live audiences. The film seems to travel well, the humour plays with all types of audiences and the strength of the performances has led to a lot of extremely positive feedback. I've had a number of people approach me after screenings who were very emotional, saying the film meant a lot to them, particularly young people in the LGBT community. We've also been quite successful on the festival circuit, screening at some fantastic festivals, and winning the Tiernan McBride Award for Best Irish Narrative Short at The Galway Film Fleadh, Ireland's premiere film festival, putting us into consideration for the Academy Awards. We were very proud to have our North American premiere at the Savannah Film Festival, and got such a warm response from the audience. Our next screening is at the Santa Fe Film Festival.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I had hoped it would be well received, but you never know until you put the film out there, so it has been nice to have had it do so well.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I am hoping to make more people aware of the film, to generate interest and help spread the message.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We have a terrific sales agent in Network Television Ireland, but we are always on the lookout for festival directors, selectors, buyers and journalists to help us get the film out to as wide an audience as possible.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
If the film manages to convince one young person that they can overcome bullying, or galvanizes just one young person to open up and talk to someone about their experience, then I will feel I have done my job, but of course I'd like it to have as big an impact as possible. The more people we can reach and encourage to address the issue, the better.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
How can we eliminate bullying of young people, and what can a young person do when they are being victimised?
Would you like to add anything else?
Being a teenager can be a very traumatic experience at the best of times, and when you feel different to your peers the pressures can be exaggerated and exacerbated. One of the key moments in the film comes when Oonagh, a tough as nails character, a reluctant mentor to Lily, opens up to her and advises her how to deal with the challenges she will face. Her speech is everything I wish someone had said to me at that age, and is one of the cornerstone moments of the film. My hope is that it will spark something in any vulnerable young people watching, and inspire them to take steps towards becoming more confident in themselves.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I'm working on several feature projects, including an adaptation of a Jennifer Johnston novel set in 1920s Ireland and an adaptation of 'Faraway Home', the story of a group of Jewish child refugees in Northern Ireland during World War II. Sharon Cronin, the producer, is in pre-production on her next film 'Acorn' with director Kevin De la Isla O'Neill. Clara Harte, who plays Lily, recently finishing a tour with The Abbey, Ireland's National Theatre. Amy-Joyce Hastings, who plays Oonagh, is developing a feature screenplay 'After the Rain'. Leah McNamara, who plays Violet is currently working on the History Channel series 'Vikings'.
Interview: December 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
We all have scars.
Sharon Cronin, Indah Pietersz, Emma Carlsson, Ciaran Byrne
About the writer, director and producer:
Graham Cantwell (Writer/Director)
An award winning writer and director based in Ireland. Directed IFTA nominated feature films ANTON and THE CALLBACK QUEEN and co-wrote POISON PEN among others.
Sharon Cronin (Producer)
Sharon produced her first feature, POISON PEN, in 2014. She has since worked as Production Co-ordinator on several feature films. Her latest production, ACORN, is set to film in 2017.
Clara Harte - Lily
Dean Quinn - Simon
Leah McNamara - Violet
Amy-Joyce Hastings - Oonagh
Paul Ronan - Dermot
Aisling O'Neill - Yvette
Lynette Callaghan - Ms. O'Shea
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Buyers, Film festival Directors, JournalistsFunders:
Made in association with:
Film Venture, Powerscourt Pictures