The penultimate round of RTÉ's Storyland competition kicks off today (April 23). Four semi-finalists will show their third webisode in the hope of projecting to the final and winning Storyland 2012.
Storyland is a competition run by RTÉ Drama to deliver new online-based dramas. Eight shows in total initially compete for votes to make it to the next round and deliver another webisode, with competitors eventually being whittled down to one winner after four rounds. Each round is voted on by the general public.
The four dramas competing for a place in the Storyland 2012 final are 'Hysteria', 'The Begrudgers', 'Trouble Times Three' and 'Student Teacher'. IFTN caught up with members of the production teams to discuss their drama, and why they think the Irish public should vote for them.
John McKeown, of Dublin-based The Sixsem Production Company, produced three of the four dramas. The first is 'Hysteria', an apocalyptic-based drama where a lethal virus stemming from pregnant women has wiped out millions of people worldwide. It has resulted in pregnancy being outlawed, and with no known cure, confinement is the only option.
'Hysteria' was shot in Dublin, Wicklow and Cavan. John produced the episodes with Jessica Duggan. Stephen Crilly (Unlocking Charlie) wrote and directed, with Deirdre O'Toole the director of photography. Grace Kelley (Man Made Men), Sam O'Mahony (Camelot), Jenny Ní Chleirigh (Tilly and the Teeth), Tom Maguire (Becoming Jane) and newcomer Amy Doyle all feature in the thriller.
'The Begrudgers' is a comedy which stemmed from two lead characters from a Philip Doherty-written play. John McKeown, Aine Corby and Jessica Duggan produced. Philip Doherty (The Drunk Ouija Board) wrote the script while Finn Keenan was director of photography. 'The Begrudgers' stars Shane Carroll (Murder on Main Street), Ray Fitzsimons (Flat Lake), Shane O'Connor, Brianne Fitzpatrick (Let's Talk About Joey), Will Govan and Hugh O'Brien (Father Ted). Finn Keenan says people should vote for 'The Begrudgers' because it is a "refreshing new comedy."
The Sixsem Production Company's third entry is 'Trouble Times Three', a drama centred around a man named Scott, who is struggling to come to terms with the fact he got three different women pregnant all at the same time. Declan Reynolds (Lose the Booze) takes on the role of Scott as well as writer of the comedy, with producer John McKeown and director Eoin Cleland (Free House) also contributing to the script. The webisodes were filmed in Monaghan.
John McKeown said of all three Sixsem Production's dramas, "they are all good stories with talented people. There's nothing better than a good story being told."
The fourth Storyland entry is 'Student Teacher', a drama about a young man who completed his Leaving Certificate early, only to become qualified as a teacher and get a job in his old secondary school, teaching his own class. The comedy/drama was filmed in Athenry in Galway, and the cast includes a number of Irish comedians, such as Neil Molloy (Republic of Telly), Kevin McGahern (Hardy Bucks) and comedienne Carol Tobin (The Savage Eye). Giles Brody (Life Coach) wrote and directed the webisodes, with Rory Walsh of Spire Digital in Galway and Damon Blake producing. Cormac Walsh was director photography.
Director Giles is hoping that with enough online votes the cast and crew of 'Student Teacher' will be able to make another episode in Galway, although he's keeping any future storylines under his hat for now. "We’ll be visiting schools around Galway to see what students think we should do next. We want to have as many people watch the episode as possible, which is why we’ve also added in Irish subtitles to the YouTube videos. We think it’s a great way to show off the language with new technology," he said.
Each webisode is six minutes-long, funded by a budget of €8,000 from RTÉ. Voting is open from Monday April 23 until Sunday April 29.
Previous Storyland winners include 'Hardy Bucks', the mockumentary show written by Chris Tordoff, Martin Maloney and Mike Cockayne, which won the public vote after nine webisodes aired in the first Storyland competition in 2009. It subsequently ran for a successful first series on RTÉ, and just two weeks ago received €175,000 in a production loan from the Irish Film Board (IFB) to develop 'Hardy Bucks: The Movie'.
Speaking of this year’s entries, Jane Gogan, commissioning editor for RTÉ Drama, said all series are “very different, each bringing a whole new range of skills, styles and attitudes in storytelling with good material for drama and comedy… Storyland is a crucial aspect of RTÉ's role in industry development and gives us the chance to fast track new talent into the heart of RTÉ's drama programming.”
To see trailers or to vote for any of the four Storyland semi-finalists, go to the RTÉ Storyland homepage.