independent

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Couple behind the camera

Actors Aislinn O'Byrne and Alan Fitzhenry with director Karolina Kraus.
Actors Aislinn O'Byrne and Alan Fitzhenry with director Karolina Kraus.

Maria Pepper

Husband and wife filmmaking team Luke McKenna and Karolina Kraus have been creating an impression on the international scene with a film called The Buggyman which was written and directed by Karolina and produced by Luke.

Filmed on location in the Raven Forest in Curracloe last summer, it features Wexford actors Alan Fitzhenry and Aislinn O'Byrne as a couple on a date, enjoying a walk in the forest, when they begin to be haunted by a presence that reflects their own fears.

Luke and Karolina's young sons Andy who was four years old at the time and Colin, then 18 months, were involved in the process with Colin appearing in the film and Andy trying out as a 'director's assistant'.

The film is less than two minutes long but manages to tell a full story in that running time and primary school teacher Luke thinks that's the reason why it has been so well received internationally, having been selected at festivals in Berlin, Toronto, London, Nottingham, Minneapolis, Oregon, New York Cleveland and Spain.

It picked up awards in Berlin (Honourable Mention), London (Best Super Short) and Toronto (Best First Time Director for Karolina).

The film is still on the festival circuit with its current run due to come to an end later this year. The couple then hope to screen it locally, possibly alongside their documentary called Seanchaí which is nearing completion and which they hope will embark on its own festival run this year.

Directed by Karolina and produced by Luke, Seanchaí is a short documentary exploring the storytelling tradition and a reflection of life in Ireland which includes stories of youthful mischief, school, jobs and how Ireland used to be, told by an entertaining cast of Wexford-based storytellers.

Another film created by Luke with Noel Cullen, called 'The Blessed Ignorance', set in an alternate Ireland at the beginning of the recession, recently won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Television Pilot Screenplay at the Olympus Film Festival in Los Angeles amid strong competition from Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated directors. It was originally a web series written for RTE's Storyland and Luke developed it into full-length TV pilot which he shot with Wexford-based actors five or six years ago.

Filmmaking took a back seat to writing after that as Luke and Karolina got married and had their children but they went back behind the camera last summer for The Buggyman and now have new projects in the pipeline. 'Wexford is without a doubt, a brilliant place to be pursuing film. It is full to the brim with talented writers and filmmakers', said Luke who stumbled into filmmaking by accident during his time as an actor when he caught the bug from being on sets and gradually moved to writing and production.

Karolina graduated in TV and Media Production from Carlow IT and is a writer, director, editor and musician. 'The sense of accomplishment following the success of a project, especially when completed independently, is an incredible motivation to get out there and make more' he said.

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