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Actor & Cinemagic Patron Ciarán McMenamin on his move to Writing
02 Aug 2017 :
IFTN caught up with Ciarán McMenamin as he wraps on Cinemagic’s ‘Grace and Goliath’, to talk about being the festival’s latest Patron, his book ‘Skintown’ and working with Blinder Films.

IFTN: Ciaran, good to talk to you – you’re a busy man! Tell us about the response your new book (Skintown) has been getting.

Ciaran: "I've been trying to ignore that end of things as the artist. I think it's doing okay. It's certainly doing well in Ireland and yes the reception's been amazing.

"I'm really proud of it. I'm glad that it's the humour that's coming out of it that everyone's responded to, because it's got that really dark northern humour in it which was my intention. That seems to be the thing that people enjoy the most, so that's great.

"It's something I've always wanted to do, it's something that I wanted to do before the acting came along. I've gone to the Edinburgh Book Festival to read and chat. I've been informed that it’s a big honour for a debut novel. There’s loads of stuff at home in Ireland which is lovely to be honest and it's just based on a real connection with Northern Ireland as well again.

"I opened the Belfast Book Festival a couple of weeks ago and it was just great, and there were people there just because they enjoyed the book in a sort of entertaining way and others who wanted to talk about all of the serious aspects of the book. It was great, it was a really good day."

IFTN: I don't know when you had time to write, because you just seem to be working non-stop on the acting. So many recent projects and of course you're doing some work with Cinemagic as well now as their new Patron.

Ciaran: "Yes, I've had a connection with Cinemagic for a long time. I've done bits and bobs for them and sort of seminar type stuff and helped them out with acting workshops for youngsters in Dublin, back when I was doing Primevil. Then last year, I did one of those shorts and they asked me to come and be in their feature. I said yes before I read it, because I loved the ethos of what they're doing and then it turned out I really liked the script.

"They've asked me recently to be Patron which I'm really genuinely honoured by because their Patrons tend to be mostly much more famous people than me! They just said, "We love the way you connect with the kids and the energy that you bring to the production.

"They're doing something that nobody else is doing. There's quite a lot of reach into the performance side of things for young people. In terms of how do you go about getting into the crew or being a runner or working at the science department-- you tend to come out of it from a different angle. To see all these youngsters here just mad about film, been interviewed, go through the process and then spending a month working on a feature, working in tandem with a professional crew of the children's department.

"Joan [Burney] and Shauna [Shivers] are just such a set of genuine -- I know it's an overused term but the pair of them are a genuine force of nature. They're open and have genuine fun and aren't afraid to ask people. It works, people respond to that, people go, 'Okay, yeah why not?' Joan really gets stuff done, she's an impressive woman. I look forward to helping them and working with them on many things in the future."

IFTN: Tell us about the Cinemagic project you’ve just finished on?

Ciaran: "It’s called ‘Grace and Goliath’. We had a real laugh. A great cast of people so it’s been really good fun. I'm playing a character that I wouldn't normally be cast in, I'm having such a ball with it. Yes, it's great and now it’s done, my ass belongs to Blinder Films for the next year to get this script finished."

IFTN: Blinder is a great team to work with.

Ciaran: "I love them. I've worked with them loads as an actor. (Kieran J) Walsh and myself are also very genuine old friends. Katie (Holly) is great, so she produced for us. They wanted to option the book and they wanted me to write the script to protect the voice of the kid in the book. I thought about it, and I thought yes why wouldn't I? it's in perfect hands. It's a good Irish Indy company which is what the production should be.

"Bigger companies wouldn't want me to write the screenplay, so it's an opportunity for me to do something different and they'll help me develop it and I'll be able to make the film I want."

IFTN: That's great. Of course you worked with them on '100 Mornings' too with Conor Horgan, and 'Jump' with Kieron J Walsh.

Ciaran: "Absolutely yes. And Kieran has directed me in loads of projects - we must have worked together five or six times over the years. We met many, many years ago as the two young guys on a big show called ‘The Young Persons Guide to Being a Rockstar’ which was my breakout role. Kieron was directing and we really bonded because it was our first in the world. I've been in previous films Jump notably which he displayed in that I think the sarcastic northerly humour.

"Yes, so Kieran has shown an aptitude for that material before, so he's perfect to direct Skintown. As I was saying we've been finishing each other's sentences at the dpub for years, so we may as well have a go at it on screen."

IFTN: Great. What other work have you been doing now recently you're working mainly in the UK?

Ciaran: "Most recently ‘Paula’ [Conor McPherson’s BBC drama]. But then last year was mostly writing the novel. Once the publication was announced you have to sit with your editor and type final drafts. Then the start of the year was writing pitches for the Irish Film Board, who've come on board now. I've been kind of 70% writer, 30% actor man. I'm sure it'll change back in -- people keep asking me if I'm going to do one or the other and I'm like, 'I'll do both.'

"I'm really going to focus on the writing, but I do love acting so I'm not going to stop doing that if I get the opportunities. But it's not always a full time job anyway so it's a perfect scenario to have both."

Skintown is published by DoubleDay. ‘Grace and Goliath’ is produced by Cinemagic.

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