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Irish director Fergal Reilly talks ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ – in cinemas now
13 May 2016 : Seán Brosnan
‘The Angry Birds Movie’ director Fergal Reilly at the Light House Cinema
With ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ in cinemas worldwide today, IFTN caught up with co-director Fergal Reilly to talk about his debut feature as a director.

Reilly co-directed ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ with Clay Kaytis with the films’ budget said to be in and around $73m. The film, a 3D animated adaptation of the popular mobile app of the same name, is set to be a box office hit; Reuters are predicting it will make over $43m in its first weekend when released across the US on May 20.

Early reviews have also been resoundingly positive; Tara Brady from The Irish Times and Harry Guerin from RTÉ are among the film’s champions and international acclaim comes from the likes of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

“You never know how people are going to respond,” Reilly tells IFTN. “Especially comedy as it to every person’s particular tastes. But this film makes me laugh and I have seen it a thousand times! So, it’s really good to see that the responses have been so positive.”

The film’s fantastically colourful animation, aided by Reilly’s years of working in the animation industry as a Story Board Artist, are complimented by the voice-over prowess of Hollywood A-listers such as Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader and two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn. With such a big budget film resting on his shoulders, did Reilly feel any pressure making the transition to director?

“Not really, I have been a Story Board Artist for the longest time”, says Reilly, who is a graduate of IADT. “I think that job is very close to being a director and I have worked with some fantastic filmmakers such as Jon Favreau, Sam Raimi and Brad Bird to name a few. I think it’s a natural leap to go from Story Board Artist to director. You go from being the director’s weapon essentially to being the primary storyteller.”

The story of ‘Angry Birds’ has been in development since the app launched to worldwide success in 2009. Reilly, who has been working on the film since September 2013, was not concerned about the games inevitable wane in popularity in recent years.

“We always had this idea that this movie would stand on its’ own – we were making a story regardless of when the game was made. We wanted it to live in its’ world. I mean if you look at ‘Transformers’ based on a toys in the 1980’s and ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean’ based on a Disney ride that has been around for years, you realise these films can live on their own.”

Both ‘Transformers’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ have spawned four films apiece; does Reilly think ‘Angry Birds’ has the same lasting appeal?

“Hopefully! I don’t know if I will be involved but I am sure if the film is successful and the characters grab people the way they grabbed me, then I am sure there will be more films.”

The rise of animation in Ireland in recent years – success that has spawned Oscar nominations and Emmy wins – has not gone unnoticed by Reilly who is based in LA.

“There was a generation of us that started here and moved to the US, says Reilly, who hails from County Louth. “And that means now that there is some great, great Irish talent working in the animation industry in LA at the minute. Now it’s Ireland’s opportunity to grow its’ indigenous filmmakers. It was bound to happen because we always produce great filmmakers as the Oscar’s this year proves. So, it was bound to extend itself to animation too sooner or later.”

Could this Irish success herald a return to Ireland for the filmmaker in the near future for a collaboration with some of his country-men and women?

“Who knows?! If it’s the right project,” says the director, who has recently signed with United Talents Agency (UTA). . “Story always drives me – it doesn’t matter where the film is or whether it’s live-action or animation – it’s all about the story.”

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