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'The O'Briens' Slaine Kelly & Emmet Hughes Talk to IFTN
17 Jul 2013 : By Kevin Cronin
Slaine Kelly and Emmet Hughes, producers, writers and stars of 'The O'Briens'.
‘The O’Briens’ - an ensemble Irish family comedy drama filmed entirely in Galway - premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival this April and is set to make its Irish premiere this 19th September in Galway, as revealed to IFTN by producers Slaine Kelly and Emmett Hughes.

The plot concerns three Irish adult siblings living abroad, who are called back to their childhood home by their father for a family reunion two years after the death of their mother.

Written, produced and featuring Slaine Kelly and Emmett Hughes, the film also features Liam McMahon (‘Hunger’), Kelly Blaise (‘The Borgias’) and Amber Jean Rowan (‘What Richard Did’) in supporting roles.

IFTN spoke to Slaine Kelly and Emmett Hughes for an update on the film’s progress and a chat about its critical reception in California, its universal appeal and influences.

Ms Kelly and Mr Hughes, thanks for agreeing to chat with IFTN. Can you tell us what’s next for ‘The O’Briens’ and when we might get the chance to see it in Ireland?

SK: ‘We’re going to premiere it in Galway on 19th September and then hopefully have a screening in Dublin after that, followed by Europe and the States. Hopefully everything will go well. We’re trying not to jinx anything!’

EH: ‘A lot of people genuinely want to see it so hopefully we will secure a cinema release soon!’

How did you two meet and what inspired the original concept for 'The O’Briens'?

SK: ‘We both had mutual friends and started hanging out. And we’re both actors so we started talking about different things and we discussed making a film together and finding something we’d want to be in. I’ve always wanted to be in an ensemble comedy piece and I wanted to do it in Ireland and I’d never been given that opportunity before. So we kind of started discussing it and Emmett’s crazy into rom-coms. If people were to look at us, they’d think it’s me that’s into the rom-coms, but it’s actually him!’

EH: ‘I live in a rom-com world. My favourite films are Notting Hill and Love Actually, and I love all of that. The film appeals to everyone from ages 18 to 70, so there’s something in it for everyone. We didn’t want it to be a typical Irish film and wanted it to be about a family that everyone could relate to. Everyone goes through the same things with family members and relationships.’

How have audiences related to the different characters?

SK: ‘It’s really strange what people take from it because people will come back and say they relate to the father or the sister or the brother, and because it’s a big ensemble piece there’s something in it for everybody.’

Can you tell us a bit about the events that kickstart the story?

SK: ‘The last time the characters were all called home it was for sad reasons, when their mother died, so they’re all fearing the worst when their Dad says ‘you all need to come home now’. They think the father is ill but when they come home, they realise it’s not that. It’s all of them that are unhappy - the three siblings - and the film looks at what’s happening in their lives that’s triggered the situation. And there are some things in the film that I don’t think people will expect. We did our best cutting the trailer to hide a lot of the plots, so that there are surprises when you watch it.’

What was the audience reaction like at the Newport Beach Film Festival in California?

SK: ‘I think we were completely shocked because when we got invited to the festival, we didn’t realise how big Newport was and we thought it was going to be a tiny little screening, maybe 200 people, and when we arrived there it was a big screen and there were people queuing down the street to get in. I think we were so innocent beforehand we had no idea what we were walking into!’

EH: ‘They had the name of the film inscribed in grass above the cinema screen! Everyone got to see the beautiful side of Ireland and related to the characters, so they loved it!’

SK: ‘I think it went down so well because there are so many Irish Americans, and three-quarters of the audience were all ordinary people who had travelled to be there and some of them had left Ireland 30 or 40 years. They were saying ‘my family was exactly like that. I know that area of Galway’, so it’s surprising how much they related to it.’

‘The O’Briens’ will have a special screening in Galway on 19th September and the trailer is available to view below.

Directed by Richard Waters, the film was also produced by Fionn O'Brien, Ciara Byrne, Richard Kearney and Alison Scarff of Mist Media - with Paddy Casey and Roisin O providing original music.

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