17 July 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
Pictúir Paradiso: ‘The Hit Producer’ director Kevin de la Isla O’Neill on the films that shaped him
02 Nov 2015 : Paul Byrne
With his micro-budget feature film (less than €20k) very impressively hitting Irish cinemas this Autumn, we talk to ‘The Hit Producer’ director Kevin de la Isla O’Neill about the films that got him to where he is now.


Cronos is a film by Guillermo del Toro. When I was around nine, I was in basketball practice in a highschool. They were shooting in the background a show called Hora Marcada - kinda like an Alfred Hitchcock presents. I was curious and I was put in as an extra. I was never paid but I got my makeup done by Guillermo himself. This film is such a magnificent piece of drama, horror and a child looking for a father figure. One of the Mexican cinemas hidden gems.

El Mariachi/US/1992

El Mariachi is an innovative piece that was made for a tiny budget by Robert Rodriguez selling his body to science. It taught me how to become a faster and economical filmmaker. What a guy. All his DVD’s are packed with amazing 10 min film schools.

Twilight Zone/US/1959

I was brought into the cinema by my brother when I was five. I remember a sweet story (Spielberg) and being traumatized by a girl with no mouth. Happy childhood. This film has four of the most influential directors in my career. Spielberg (Jaws, which I would’ve love to mention as its, well pure awesome), Joe Dante (Gremlins, the funnest Christmas film), George Miller (Mad Max, Happy Feet) and John Landis (Blues Brothers and American Werewolf in London, which as I love working with prosthetic makeup effects – my dream came true meeting Rick Baker at the London Make up trade show a few years back).

Back to the Future/US/1985

My Dad used to take me to the cinema a lot. And this was a really happy accident. We were meant to go see Masters of the Universe. But it was sold out. So enter Marty McFly and Robert Zemeckis. Perhaps one of my favorites on this list.


It is so much fun. Dark and witty. It is Jean Pierre Jeunet at his finest. There is so much to love about this. Camera movements, the editing. Another gem from French cinema.


One of the films that scared me for different reasons. There is no gore, there is just so much suspense and the camera is just immaculate.

A Clockwork Orange/UK/1971

So many Kubrick films to mention but I went with this one. My Dad used to take me when I was a kid to the national orchestra every Sunday. My appreciation for music came from a very young age. This film is Beethoven. And the visuals are so perfect. As any of his films are. This is a perfect combination of violence, satire and beauty.

Natural Born Killers/US/1994

Oliver Stone. That is all.

Nightmare on Elm Street/US/1984

Wes Craven. The master of horror who unfortunately we just lost. I was almost eight years old when I saw this on TV. This is an 18 cert film. My brother however told me that Mickey Mouse will be on this film so I watched it. That night I slept under the bed. I didn’t envy Johnny Depp’s fate. A film that still haunts me and has also given me the love of horror.

In The Name of the Father/Ireland/1993

This film is one of my favorite films in the list. So much content. Jim Sheridan is a master in telling real stories. Extremely emotive and close to me.


Scorsese. Many people like Goodfellas. I prefer this one. Scorsese’s style is just there in every shot. The lighting is great. Acting great. Violence is graphic in a Scorsese way. What’s not to love?

Twin Peaks/US/1990

David Lynch. I did psychology for a while and man - you just gotta love Lynch. I watched this as a teen and remember thinking “Wow, this is a soap I actually like”. This man’s use of sound is so great. Not since Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Room have I ever paid as much attention to sound as with all of his films. Peculiar mind indeed.

The Nightmare Before Christmas/US/1993

Lived in Australia in 98-99 and used to manage a video shop in Melbourne. My dad always took me to the cinema when I was a kid and it was perhaps my favourite thing to do with him (I dedicated THP in his honor). This is where my calling solidified. I was watching a film in the shop and can’t remember what it was but remember saying to myself “Jeez, I could probably do better than that”. A customer was at the counter and said “well why don’t you?”. And I said “you know what, maybe I will.”

Soon after I was on my own for Xmas and there was no radio or stereo in the house. Only the Nightmare before Christmas tape. That was my soundtrack of the night. I bought the soundtrack the next day. Henry Selick’s best besides the amazing and underrated Coraline.

Naming directors and films is so hard to do. I would’ve loved to mention Alfonso Cuaron and Y Tu Mama Tambien as well as early Tim Burton movies. But maybe another day.

Check out the trailer for O’Neill’s ‘The Hit Producer’ below:

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