Time out with Fresh alumnus Donal Foreman.
Tell us about your history with Fresh
I had already been making films for two years (since the ripe old age of 11) when I first entered the Fresh Film Festival in 2000. My friends and I entered our movies into the Fresh every year for the next three years. It became our focus every year to have a better film for the festival and eventually, after winning a highly commended award in 2002 for our adaptation of the New Testament set in a secondary school, The Son of God, we finally one first prize (and the audience award) in 2003 for The Unmentionable.
What was it like getting your films screened as a young filmmaker?
Even just to have our work chosen by the festival was really encouraging for us. To then see an audience react to it in an actual theater gave us a real sense of validation and, for me personally, a great sense of possibility for the future --- as in, if we’d gotten this far with our silly backyard comedies, how far could we go in the future?
How did being involved in Fresh affect your filmmaking and development?
It was my film school before film school. I owe the Fresh a lot.
Tell us about your journey since the days of Fresh.
I went straight into the National Film School at IADT after secondary school and my Fresh films were a big part of the portfolio that got me accepted to the course. I graduated in 2008 and spent three years working on independent short film projects and various other film related jobs. I shot promos for arts companies like Irish Modern Dance Theater, taught part time on film courses at the Dublin Business School, wrote film criticism for different publications internationally and programmed films for the Experimental Film Club, a monthly screening series which I co-founded and which is now hosted by the Irish Film Institute.
In 2011, I moved to New York City and found work as a teaching artist with the Tribeca Film Institute, helping a new generation of young folk make their films. I have been back and forth between Dublin and NYC since then, working to get my first feature film, Out of Here, made, which I have been developing since 2007 and finally completed in June 2013, premiering it at the Galway Film Fleadh that same week.
What has been your biggest achievement so far as a filmmaker?
I would say it would have to be the feature, simply because it’s the most ambitious project I’ve taken on to date, and honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, ever.
What was your biggest disaster?
Every film project is littered with lots of little disasters that feel huge at the time. Luckily over time you forget about them and remember, as Robert Zemeckis, “pain is temporary, film is forever!”
What is your next big goal?
To get Out of Here out to the widest audience possible, and to get my second feature made in NYC.
What is your favourite film and/or director and why?
Always too many to choose from so I’ll just pick a few out of a hat….
Film: Satantango (1994, Béla Tarr), a seven hour Hungarian movie that was one of the most mind blowing experiences I’ve had in a cinema.
Filmmaker: John Cassavetes, known as the “godfather” of American indie film, he was a great inspiration for me in using improvised and collaborative approaches with actors and thinking about film as a way of changing and learning about yourself and others.
Any advice for young filmmakers?
I’m going to be cheeky and direct you towards the “10 tips for Young Filmmakers” list I wrote for the Fresh a few years because I’m not sure I can improve on them now...
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?
“I learned a long time ago when big trouble comes along and I let it get to me, I’d lose my breakfast. I never saw anything in this business that was worth losing your breakfast for.” --Howard Hawks