19 April 2021 The Irish Film & Television Network
'Camelot' Interview with Producer Morgan O'Sullivan
05 Apr 2011 :
Jamie Campbell Bower and Joseph Fiennes in Camelot
IFTN speaks with 'Camelot' producer Morgan O’Sullivan about bringing the epic historical series to fruition, his hopes of casting more Irish actors in further installments and his plans for the new enormous studios in Ashford.

Produced for US cable giant Starz, ‘Camelot’ shot in and around the Wicklow countryside for six months in 2010. The series is based on Thomas Malory’s 15th century book, ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ and looks to bring the saga of King Arthur to modern audiences. The series’ cast includes Joseph Fiennes (Flash Forwad), Eva Green (Cracks), Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd), Tamsin Egerton (Chalet Girl), Claire Forlani (Meet Joe Black) and Peter Mooney (Summer’s Blood).

The epic series is a co-production between the Irish production company Octagon Films and Take 5 Productions in Canada, and is executive produced by Morgan O’Sullivan alongside Ecosse Films’ Douglass Rae (Nowhere Boy), Graham King (The Departed,), Tim Headington (The Young Victoria) and Craig Cegielski.

Managing Director of World 2000 Entertainment, Morgan O’Sullivan has brought several large scale productions to Ireland including ‘Braveheart’, ‘Reign of Fire’ and ‘The Tudors’. He received an IFTA for his Outstanding Contribution to the Irish Industry at this year’s awards show. Following the MIPTV premiere screening of ‘Camelot’ in Cannes on Monday, April 4th, Morgan O’Sullivan will attend an IFTA screening in Dublin of the first two episodes of ‘Camelot’ on Wednesday, April 6th. IFTN caught up with the Irish producer before the event:

IFTN: Hi Morgan, are you happy with the reviews ‘Camelot’ has received so far?

Morgan O’Sullivan: Generally speaking, we got OK reviews, but there is always a certain amount of anticipation with these things because ultimately the audience decide, it’s not the reviewers. There seems to be universal praise for Eva Green’s performance which is nice, and Joe Fiennes. Morgan is a great role for a woman, and Eva has such a great range, I think she was the perfect choice for the role.

IFTN: Having produced ‘The Tudors’ with such success - was it easier to fund ‘Camelot’?

Morgan O’Sullivan: Every show has its own challenges and in today’s market nobody buys things quickly, however ‘Camelot’ sold very quickly in the end. I met Chris Albrecht and I think he had looked at it previously while he was at HBO and it didn’t work then, but it seemed to work for him when we spoke, so it was good news. HBO is new to original programming so it was great to be working with them.

IFTN: Do you see cinematic TV drama such as ‘Camelot’ slowly taking over from film?

Morgan O’Sullivan: I do, I think many people normally associated with feature films are starting to look at television as a possible outlet for their talents. It seems to be the case for directors, but also actors. A lot of actors sit around for years, waiting for the right movie to come along, whereas in television they can practice their craft a little more.

And I think the lines are blurring a little, particularly with cable in the United States, because there are no commercials, there is a certain amount of freedom that you have on cable that you wouldn’t have on network television. From that point of view I think the world is our oyster in that sense. It’s also a chance for writers to really shine because, for example Chris Chibnall wrote ‘Camelot’ over the past twelve months, and it is a great opportunity for writers to really sink their teeth into something. So yes, both from a writing point of view, a directorial point of view and from an acting point of view...it is a pretty big opportunity for anybody.

IFTN: Five directors worked on ‘Camelot’, did you ever consider using fewer than that?

Morgan O’Sullivan: No, we had five directors and they each did a few episodes. It couldn’t have been just one director because it is a lot to contain, it is not like a two hander because there is such a large cast.

IFTN: The series also boasts a large Irish crew, is that something you had to fight for?

Morgan O’Sullivan: No, not at all. I think we have established now that Ireland has one of the best in the world, it is a well oiled machine. There is a wealth of experience here, crew-members having done so much through the years in terms of feature films, and television shows.

And there isn’t just one crew in Ireland, there is now a depth of talent that I think is pretty significant. And I think that is why the shows come to us and that is why the feature films are coming to us as well.

IFTN: As opposed to ‘The Tudors’, ‘Camelot’ doesn’t boast any Irish actors in the lead roles, did you have any reservations about this?

Morgan O’Sullivan: Well, I would love to have seen more Irish actors, definitely but it was a case of finding the best person for the job really. I am not saying anything derogatory about the Irish actors and I think we will have more Irish cast definitely as the show goes on. We have an awful lot of knights to get through (there are nearly a hundred knights in the drama when you think about it) so there are lot of male parts there.

We did a lot of casting in Ireland, but it just didn’t work out that way as much as we would have liked. I am always looking for more, I would cast the whole thing out of Ireland if I had my way, but we have a lot of international partners, this is a very big budget production. So from that point of view, everyone has to have their say, and you are trying to please an awful lot of people. That said, Sinead Cusack is in it, as is Liam Cunningham and Diarmuid Murtagh and there will be more as we go on - hopefully we will get picked up now for a second season and that will be more Irish to the fore.

IFTN: Is the second season to shoot this summer?

Morgan O’Sullivan: Yes, if we get picked up! The network gets the numbers in and they analyse it and they analyse the reviews and then they decide whether to go for season two or not. We did this with ‘The Tudors’ each season and everyone waits on tenterhooks. We will know whether we are going ahead in two or three weeks’ time.

IFTN: Wednesday will see the series have its first Irish audience, in the form of the IFTA academy preview screening – it must be particularly rewarding to see the reaction of an Irish audience for Irish co-produced series such as these?

Morgan O’Sullivan: Yes, the locations looks absolutely gorgeous, and especially on the big screen. It was always the ambition that, if we were going to be different and we were going to make a mark for ourselves in this arena, I felt that we had to be producing series of motion picture quality or feature film quality in prime time...and that’s what we were doing, bringing that added dimension to it, to each series that we do.

IFTN: Do you plan to return to the production of feature films in the future?

Morgan O’Sullivan: Yes, with the potential of a new studio coming up in the next couple of months, naturally we will want to get back into the feature film arena and certainly the bigger feature films because, as you possibly know, up until now our difficulty was that the studio space was somewhat small in Ardmore.

When another one opens up, it will be an awful lot better I think. It’s at the stage now where the fit out is going on, so we will be finished certainly by July. We are even starting to market the idea of the new studio now for later in the year. We’re trying to figure out now how we can increase the number of projects that we do on an annual basis with the additional studio space.

IFTN: Can you tell us a bit about the new studios?

Morgan O’Sullivan: It is pretty big. The biggest stage is 30,000 square feet. And the smaller stages are almost 15,000, just under 15,000 square feet. So, it is a fairly big facility and it is purpose built as a studio of course.

’Camelot’ premiered on Starz television in the US on April 1st and at the MIPTV market on 4th April. The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) with host a first look preview of episode one and two of ‘Camelot’ on Wednesday 6th of April which Morgan will attend and participate in a Q&A with Academy Members.

RTÉ are set to broadcast the series on Irish television with a TX date yet to be confirmed. Check back on IFTN for more details.

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