18 July 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

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IFTA Q&A Series 2023: Peter Murphy on Directing
27 Apr 2023 : Luke Shanahan
Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy
To mark the 20th anniversary of the IFTA awards, we are showcasing Irish talent who are blazing a trail across our industry, working in front of and behind the camera.

Hosted in association with IFTA, this Q&A Series connects with Irish talent who represent a range of disciplines across our industry. 

We find out what they look out for in the projects they take on, what their approach is to filmmaking and collaboration; what inspires them; and what recent work in the industry they most admire.

Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy are nominated for Best Director (Film) and Best Script (Film) for Róise & Frank. The directing duo have had a working relationship since their college days, co-writing and co-directing the shorts The Family Tree, Waterloo Dentures, Swag, and Die-Cycle. In 2015 they released their debut feature film Traders, a dark psychological thriller set against a backdrop of economic collapse. This stands in stark contrast with the heart-warming Róise & Frank, a film about a grieving widow, her dog, and finding hope in the darkest of places. Murphy also has a background in directing television, such as Tommy Bowe's Bodycheck, a unique insight into what it takes to rise to the top of the modern game of professional rugby.

IFTN: IFTA celebrates 20 years this year. How does this significant milestone reflect the growth and strengthening of the Irish film industry over the past two decades?

PETER: “I think the sheer quantity and quality of output has grown in a way I would never have believed possible. Just look at this year's Oscars and all of those Irish nominations. It now really feels like the awards are celebrating a world class Irish film industry, as important as the Cesars, the Goyas or BAFTAs.”
IFTN: What was your approach to making this film, and where did you take inspiration from during the process?

PETER: “We were working with a load of talented people. We wanted to give them the space to be creative and bring their vision to our film. If everyone feels respected and valued there's a sort of collective inspiration, everyone hopefully feeling like their contribution is important and valued.”

IFTN: Tell me about your experience on set, and your favourite moment during production?

PETER: “I can say, with confidence, that my favourite moment was getting our first set up in the can in one take. It was a very complicated wide shot with a dog looking for a sliotar, so discovering that our canine actor was a superstar came as a huge relief, not least to Mike Hayes, our 1st AD.” 
IFTN: How do you approach working with actors, and what advice would you give to aspiring directors on this front?
PETER: “Myself and Rachael, my co-director, take a low key approach to directing actors on set. We've talked a lot with them beforehand and, crucially, they've been cast because we believe in them and want them for the role. On set your judgement is crucial and actors rely on it. They need to trust that your decision to go for another take or move on is a decision they can trust.” 

IFTN: What was your first role as a director?

PETER: “Shooting and co-directing (Rachael again) a Super 8 slasher movie. I also took charge of my mother's giant jam pot for making all the fake blood. Instant coffee was the secret ingredient!”
IFTN: What filmmaker or director’s work has influenced or inspired you the most?

PETER: “It has changed so much over the years. Started out loving Sam Raimi and still do but more recently I haven't seen anything I've loved as much as Bong Joon Ho's Parasite.”
IFTN: What other Irish filmmakers have you been most impressed by recently?

PETER: “I just adored Severance. Aoife McArdle's work on that was really impressive, And what Colm Bairéad achieved with An Cailín Ciúin has been amazing and well deserved.”
IFTN: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?

PETER: “If you can, start your shoot on a Thursday. You'll have two intense days and then a chance to sit down, take a breath and figure out what's going on? It means not shooting Saturdays, but everyone knows not to do that, don't they?”

The 20th anniversary of the IFTA Awards Ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 7th.

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