8 August 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network
Mark Noonan talks with IFTN ahead of 'Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect' Irish release
13 Oct 2017 : Nathan Griffin
IFTN caught up with Irish director Mark Noonan (You're Ugly Too, They Shoot People) about his new documentary ‘Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect, ahead of it's Irish release this Friday, October 13th.

The film charts the life and work of Kevin Roche - the "greatest living architect you've never heard of". Roche, now 95, is Irish-born but has made the most impact in the USA with many of the world's most famous buildings.

The documentary was co-produced with Wavelength Pictures and has just enjoyed a sold out premiere. The documentary made its world premiere at the IFI Documentary Festival in Dublin – Sunday, October 1st, and will feature at a number of other festivals in October including: Offline Film Festival; Kerry Film Festival and the New York Architecture & Design Festival in November.

Irish Director Mark Noonan's debut feature film You’re Ugly Too featured Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) and Lauren Kinsella (Albert Nobbs) and premiered at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) where it was nominated for Best Debut Feature. Completed in Summer 2017, Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect is his debut documentary feature, and was filmed at locations in New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Indiana, Oakland California, Paris, Madrid and Dublin.

IFTN: You yourself have a background in architecture, can you tell me a little bit about that and how you got into filmmaking from there?

Mark Noonan: “Yes, I would have studied in the same University as Kevin Roche; I would have graduated from UCD in 2007, Degree in Architecture. I went straight from architecture to working in a film production company called ‘Venom Film’, in a production assistant capacity and then over the next few years I compiled some film work so I was dipping my toe in both worlds for a number of years until I made my first movie ‘You’re Ugly too’ and then I went full-time with filmmaking.”

IFTN: Was this documentary a passion project of yours or how did it come about?

Mark: “It’s actually an unusual one because I didn’t know about Kevin’s work because he’s not widely taught, he certainly wasn’t taught to us at University so I was completely unaware of his work actually. That’s actually one of the things that drew me to this project, this project was not my idea so I couldn’t claim it as a passion project, it was really the producer who knew about Kevin Roche, he read an article about him in the Irish Times I believe it was about his 90th birthday and he had a huge interest in architecture and had never heard of this guy either.

So he got in touch with me because he knew about my background and I was surprised and amazed that I never heard of this guy, and then the more I researched him, the more intrigued I became about who was this guy as an architect? How come I never heard about him? Yet, he built all these incredible buildings across the world. I suppose his personality came across the more we researched, and he seemed like he was quit unique amongst architects in general.”

IFTN: How different did you find the process of making a documentary compared to your previous feature film ‘You’re ugly too’?

Mark: “Completely different, to be honest, 100% different... I suppose with the documentary I was expecting it to be less structured so it really is more like a puzzle, you have the pieces as you shoot, as you make the documentary you get all the pieces together but you don’t quite know what order they are going to go in. I suppose you do have an idea but it’s not until you are in the edit that you start working on the puzzle so this was of course completely different to my dramatic movie where you have the script, you shoot the script, and then in the edit you play around and experiment but you do always have that really strong, detailed blueprint.

Whereas in the documentary there is a lot of trying things, chopping and changing, and trying to find a movie in the edit almost, which is very exciting but also quite nerve-racking because you aren’t 100% sure of it until you are quite a long way into the edit. The process was very, very different I must say.”

IFTN: Has Kevin Roche seen the documentary, and if so what did he think of it?

Mark: “He has, we are going to meet with him at the New York premiere next month. He sent us an email to say that he thought it was wonderful, he was very grateful for us taking the time to film all his buildings and to show such an interest. I mean, he did think it was far, far, far too long. He thought we could have done it in twenty minutes, so I think that’s in itself (an example of) his self deprecating nature. He doesn’t really see why anyone would want to watch a cinematic portrait of him, which we found quite funny but we are trying to do something that will live on the big screen so a twenty minute piece wasn’t something we every really considered, despite his input!”

'Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect' goes on cinema release in Ireland - Friday, October 13th.

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