Local film Staid gets standing ovation at Wexford premiere
THE National Opera House was packed to capacity on Thursday night for the Wexford premiere of Paul O'Brien's debut film 'Staid'.
The film, which was entirely shot in Wexford on a budget of €300, is already receiving critical acclaim with Film Ireland saying it seems to invite comparisons with Gerard Barrett's Pilgrim Hill, another micro-budget film dealing with life wasting away unnoticed.
'Like Barrett, O'Brien makes a virtue of his restraints and turns what assets are available - most notably the musicians at his disposal - into the film's distinguishing qualities.
'Music, indeed, is just one part of the optimistic vision that O'Brien brings to what is often very heavy material. Even if it deals with depressed isolation this is, basically, a comic film. Indeed, its most positive quality may be that it exists at all; at the same time that it worries about the deadening effects of rural life, this small-town film proves that there's energy in those places yet.'
'At a moment when there seems to be something of a contest in Irish cinema to test how little finance a good film needs, Staid boldly, and largely successfully, undercuts much of the market.'
Paul said he was hugely surprised by the reaction to 'Staid' at the opera house.
'I wasn't expecting what happened. When I walked onto the stage to introduce the film I was immediately hit with an avalanche of excitment from the packed House.
'I have never, ever felt or seen anything like the reception it received when the credits rolled. It was loudest, most sustained standing ovation I have seen or been a part of - and I still haven't wiped the smile off my face. I will never, ever forget that night as long as I live. To come before your own people, surrounded by amazing cast and crew, and be embraced like that; best night of my life,' Paul told this newspaper.
Paul said the film started out as a play he wrote 18 years ago.
'It was too soft and didn't suit my angry nature, so I put it away for 18 years and pulled it out and we did it as a play 'One Last Long Breath' at the Sky and the Ground (in 2014). When it was coming to the end I thought it could transition into a movie, which it became with the same characters, but with completely different stories,' said Paul.
His next move was to Wexford's Highwind Media.
'I told them I wanted to do a feature-length film and had no budget and no movie credits and luckily they came on board.. We did have the actors and a venue in the Sky and The Ground and started shooting and early on realised we had something that was going to translate well,' said Paul, who invested money raised from the play performances at the pub, plus €300,
'We shot it last Easter over two to three weeks, part time when people who had lives and jobs and families were free.. what came out in the end I would be happy to stand over anywhere in the world.'
One of the film's actors, Adrienne Meyler, is singled out for praise in the Film Ireland review: 'For all the music, however, the film's ace-in-the-hole is Adrienne Meyler. As Baby, Meyler delivers a genuinely nuanced performance. At the same time as she provides the pillar her male friends lean on in difficult moments, she fights to not break down at the prospect of what has become a joyless life. It is Meyler's inhabiting this space between two extremes that carries the film.'