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Colin Broderick Speaks With IFTN About New Irish Production 'A Bend In The River'
13 Mar 2018 : Nathan Griffin
With production set to begin in April, IFTN journalist Nathan Griffin caught up with Director Colin Broderick ahead of his anticipated return home to Ireland, to speak about his new project - ‘A Bend in the River’.

Based in New York but hailing from Tyrone, Colin Broderick has followed up the festival success of his debut feature film, ‘Emerald City’, with a new project he has written titled ‘A Bend in the River’, and will see Broderick make the trip back to film in his hometown where the story is based. A number of key additions to the cast and crew have been made over the past couple of weeks in the run up to production beginning including acclaimed DoP Shane F Kelly (‘Boyhood’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’), Producer Julie Ryan (‘The Young Offenders’), and IFTA winning actor John Connors (‘Cardboard Gangsters’).

IFTN: Having finished your first major feature, Emerald City, last year, will ‘A Bend In The River’ be your first time working in Ireland, and are you looking forward to it?

 Colin: “It is, this will be my first feature in Ireland. I am from Co. Tyrone so it’s my home town and it’s special going back there with Shane Kelly because Shane Kelly and I grew up three miles apart. He grew up in Sixmilecross and I grew up just outside the village, and we are the same age, and didn’t know each other as kids but I actually worked on his house as a kid with my father.  Since then, I’ve watched him become one of the top cinematographers and certainly became fascinated with his career, and then when I announce that I was going to do this movie, he reached out to me through my website and said he would be interested in shooting it, which was amzing.  We’ve done a lot of talking since then and he’s a great dude and it’s been nice to get to know him in this way.”

IFTN: That’s quite incredible, given the subject matter of the film, that the connections between yourself and Shane ran so close to home..

Colin: “It is, and thats’s sort of the reason he wants to go back and do it also, because we both have this same idea of what the movie should look and feel like, and of course being from the same area gives us a rare opportunity to go back and make a movie that captures the essence of what Tyrone is, and what it has become through the eyes of this character who has been gone for 30 years.”

IFTN: The movie already boasts a strong leading cast with Emerald City’s John Duddy and IFTA winner John Connors leading the way, how exactly did they both get involved?

Colin: “I am actually on my way to Manhattan here to meet him (John Connors).  He is in New York; I am going out to dinner with him this afternoon.

“I have done a couple of plays here in New York, and John Duddy has been in both plays I’ve done in the last 5 years, so we had worked together.  Then we did Emerald City together so he was an obvious choice for the lead, and then this is his first ever lead role in a movie, and I just feel like he is ready, he’s that guy.

“And then I heard John Connor’s speech at the IFTAs and it just blew me away. It’s almost as if he said everything that all filmmakers like myself have been feeling, and I felt like he spoke for a generation of filmmakers who have felt like they are marginalised, and not really taken care of by the Irish Film Board.  Both my scripts for ‘Emerald City’ and ‘A Bend In The River’ have been rejected by both North (Northern Ireland Screen) and South (IFB), and it is nice that we are marrying the ‘Cardboard Gansters’ and ‘Emerald City’ crews on this one with John Connors, because I feel like there is a new rebel Irish filmmaker guard approaching, and we are just all about making the movies and telling the stories regardless of the establishment help.  And hopefully in forging ahead and doing this, the establishment sees that we are making movies that matter, even here in the States as well, they will recognise that something has shifted and that they need to pivot a little bit and adapt to what is happening in Irish film, and  catch up a little bit.”

IFTN: A question that you have already touched upon, is in relation to the budget for the film. Could you tell me a little more about your efforts to secure funding for this project.

Colin: “Emerald City was rejected by both the Irish Film Board and Northern Ireland Screen, I tried several times and couldn’t get any help there. They said the script wasn’t good enough, in fact they said they couldn’t see a movie in it. So I went ahead and made the movie. So when I went back with this one and said you know I did make a feature movie and we have screened in almost every major city, here in the States and have gotten glowing reviews, and won the Manhattan Audience Award, and we’ve had this amazing experience with this movie – here is my second movie. They rejected me on the grounds that I don’t live in Ireland.

So I think now, I am hoping when they see the likes of Julie Ryan, who produced ‘The Young Offenders’, is producing this movie, and that once more I’ve gone out and gotten private money here in America to go shoot this movie because people believe in me as a filmmaker, and the Irish community believes in me as a filmmaker, and want to see us continue – hopefully the Irish Film Boards, both north and south, will recognise that and perhaps there will be an opportunity before we are in post work on this move to lend some support.”

IFTN: And can you tell me a little bit about how you and Julie Ryan got in contact about making this film?

Colin: “Julie Ryan and I met at the Irish Film Festival in Chicago about four/five months ago. She was screening ‘The Young Offenders’ and I was screening ‘Emerald City’ so we hung out a lot that weekend and we talked and we really just hit it off.  We did a lot of radio interviews together, and spent a day driving around Chicago together, and she had really enjoyed ‘Emerald City’ a lot, and she said take your time on your next movie, I think your next movie is going to be an important movie for you, and when I got back I emailed her asking if she would be interested in reading the script. She read it, and said if you are doing this, I want to be a part of it, so that is how she got involved.

Then Shane Kelly came onboard and the cast, it just keeps growing from strength to strength, and all, sort of out of nothing, so I’m leaving New York this Friday, and meeting Shane & Julie on Monday and then we begin shooting in two weeks!”

IFTN: For someone who wouldn’t know about the premise of this project, can you give us a little insight about what ‘A Bend In The River’ is about?

Colin: “Sure!  The film follows Northern Irish writer Matt Donnelly as he returns home to Tyrone having not been back for 30 years, to face the ghosts of his past. The film uses the character of Matt Donnelly as a vehicle to convey how Northern Ireland has changed over those 30 years, and all the work that I have done, all of my writing so far is about identity, Irish identity.  I am fascinated with that and I feel like that is really the core of my books and my movies, and that is what I want to explore and Shane Kelly felt the same way, he felt like it was a worthy movie to invest his time, for way beneath his pay grade.”

IFTN: It seems like there is serious potential from all corners now with the likes of Shane Kelly, Julie Ryan, and John Connors all onboard...

Colin: “I think so too, I feel like there is already a great energy building in Tyrone because we are doing this rebel filmmaking project and it also gives me great creative freedom to go over and do a movie that can’t be categorised.  It’s not a genre movie, it’s not a romantic comedy, it’s not a thriller, it’s a people’s story like ‘Emerald City’ was, and I think there is a great need for movies like that.  Those movies are very hard get funded in Ireland.”

Filming on ‘A Bend in the River’ begins early next month in Co. Tyrone.




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