24 February 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
Five Minutes with… Kieron J. Walsh, Director of ‘Jump’
23 Apr 2013 : By Kevin Cronin
Nichola Burley in a scene from Kieron J. Walsh's 'Jump'.
‘Jump’ – a thrilling New Year’s Eve saga packed with multiple overlapping storylines and big themes of hope and redemption - arrives this week as a shot of adrenaline in the arm of the Irish cinematic landscape.

Deliberately eschewing the stereotypical image of a Northern Ireland-based film being preoccupied with religion and politics, Kieron J. Walsh’s film about the mixed fortunes of a group of twenty somethings is darkly humorous, tragic and inspiring.

Ahead of the film’s release this Friday 26 April, Mr Walsh took the time to chat with IFTN about his approach to tackling such a challenging project, how audiences have responded to it and his advice to budding directors struggling to get their first films off the ground.

‘Jump’ is unusual for an Irish film in successfully juggling several overlapping storylines, based on the play by Lisa McGee. How difficult was it to adapt the story from stage to screen?
The play is not as fast moving as the film and doesn’t have as much playful stuff between the characters. If you can imagine the play, there are two people pretending to be sitting on a bridge, who are sitting on the edge of the stage, talking. They shoot the breeze and its theatre but that won’t work at all in a film. For cinema each scene has to move the story forward. That was the big challenge - to try and eradicate any kind of theatrical aspects when making the film. To make sure it didn’t feel like the film of a play.

You’ve said that ‘Jump’ was a deliberate attempt to avoid religion and politics in a Northern Irish film. Was that part of the appeal for you in making it?
Yes, there was none of that in the play and that’s what I found really attractive about the project. I spend a lot of time going up to Belfast and various parts of Northern Ireland, filming there and visiting friends, and life goes on up there. You can lead a normal life up there without any connection to the Troubles. Life goes on, as normal, as it does in Dublin. There’s a gallows humour in Northern Ireland among young people and I like that sense of humour. That sort of black humour really came into play in the script.

How did you find Derry as a filming location?
What was incredible about Derry was the first thing Derry City Council did for us was shut that bridge down, the Derry Peace bridge, and give us complete access to it. No cars were allowed except for ours. They did this for no money, nothing. They just wanted to help show Derry on film. We shot it in March and April and they put the Christmas lights back up for us all over the city. Imagine trying to get that done in Dublin! I doubt they would! We shot nine nights up in Derry and the rest of it we had to shoot in Belfast, standing in for Derry, because we couldn’t afford to bring the whole film crew there. But we tried to hide the fact that it was Belfast as much as we could.

‘Jump’ has played internationally at major events including the Toronto Film Festival and the Palm Springs Film Festival. How do you feel about the positive critical reception the film has received to date?
It certainly makes it worthwhile. It was a very tough film to make and to shoot. There were a lot of nights filming in very cold conditions. It was very difficult to edit because of all the different storylines and the time-jumping. It was a real long-edit process and took 19 weeks to cut the picture. There was a lot of testing the film to make sure audiences knew what was going on.

When it goes to these festivals - with such incredible directors and films - and wins an award, it’s really gratifying. But what’s most gratifying is the reaction from audiences. It played in a festival in Germany recently and won an audience award and it was shown there without any subtitles. Beforehand I was asking ‘are you sure this is going to work?’ and they said afterwards the audience completely understood what was going on. None of the accents are hard to understand in it, really. Everybody knows New Year’s Eve. And everyone knows that mad things happen on New Year’s Eve, that wouldn’t normally happen.

‘Jump’ touches on some dark themes and sensitive subject matter. How carefully did you have to tread in broaching such a serious topic as attempted suicide?
I think the most important thing to remember is that this film is about a girl who makes the decision not to. She has to witness the death of someone who really wants to live - whereas she wanted to die - to change her mind.

What advice would you have for young filmmakers struggling to make their first project?
Persevere and never give up! Be determined and try and think of the most economical way of doing a film. It’s really hard to get a film off the ground. You have to admire anyone who puts a film together because it’s so hard to make films. In Ireland, unfortunately, making films is like a hobby. It’s very difficult to make a living from it. You’ve got to have a number of balls in the air to make a living. I shoot commercials, I shoot television, and I skip from project to project because you can’t just rely on making a feature film every 3-4 years. You have to do something else too.

What international directors do you admire who are working today?
Paul Thomas Anderson would be someone I always find interesting and I enjoyed a lot of Steven Soderbergh’s recent movies including Side-Effects.

Can you reveal anything about the next big project you’re working on?
I’m on a location recce at the moment for a new TV programme I’m doing, currently called ‘The Psychopath Next Door’ - however that title may change. It’s a pilot for an eight-part series for Sky. I’m directing it and looking for locations at the moment in West London. It’s a very American-looking estate with wooden houses like somewhere in New England. The characters in the story have an idyllic lifestyle until a female psychopath moves in next door. But they have no idea she’s a psychopath. It’s a very dark comedy - so dark in fact that you’re not sure if you should be laughing or not!

'Jump’, directed by Kieron J. Walsh and produced by Brendan J. Byrne , is a Hotshot Films and Blinder Films Production in association with Northern Ireland Screen, Limelight Media and the Irish Film Board.

The talented cast includes Charlene McKenna (Raw, Ripper Street), Martin McCann (Shadow Dancer, Killing Bono) Nicola Burley (Streetdance) and Valene Kane (The Fading Light).

The film is out in Irish cinemas this Friday 26 April and the trailer is available to watch below.

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