25 June 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
IFTA Q&A Series: Darach McGarrigle on Writing
15 Apr 2024 : Luke Shanahan
Darach McGarrigle
To mark the 21st anniversary of the IFTA awards, we are showcasing Irish talent who are blazing a trail across our industry, working in front of and behind the camera.

Hosted in association with IFTA, this Q&A Series connects with Irish talent who represent a range of disciplines across our industry.

We find out about their approach to craft, working on the projects they’ve been nominated for, and the best piece of advice they’ve been given in their career.

Darach McGarrigle is IFTA-nominated for Best Script - Film for Double Blind. McGarrigle has previously collaborated with Double Blind director Ian Hunt-Duffy on short films Gridlock and Low Tide. Gridlock was IFTA-nominated for Best Short Film in 2017.

IFTN: How did this project first come about?

DARACH: “I'd been talking to Ian, the director, about doing a feature together, and we both wanted to make a one location, ensemble thriller. I really liked the idea of a drug trial as a setting, and exploring the kind of people who would sign up for something like that. Then we wanted a strong hook, and ‘don't fall asleep or you die’ seemed to me like the perfect minimalist threat. I always think if you can make something ordinary terrifying that's scarier than any monster or special effect.”

IFTN: How would you describe your writing process? What conditions help to produce your best work?

DARACH: “It's a lot of trial and error. I tend to overwrite initially and end up with a lot of notes and excess material, then the challenge is to try to refine it and get the important parts into the script. Having time and space is the most important thing, and trying to avoid distractions. Disconnecting the internet definitely helps!”

IFTN: What differences were there between the initial script and the completed film?

DARACH: “Too many to list! The script went on a real journey from where it started and where it ended up. Lots of different ideas and directions were tried and then discarded. I think the core of the story always stayed the same though, and that gave me a solid foundation to experiment and figure out what worked and what didn't.”

IFTN: How did you first get into writing professionally, and what have you learned through your experiences that would be of use to aspiring writers?

DARACH: “I always wanted to write, and have been writing scripts from when I was a teenager. My first produced work was a Storyland series, which was also where I started working with Ian, and we've been working together since then.”

“My advice to aspiring writers would just be to read as much as you can, and write as much as you can. Try to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are as a writer, and don't just play to your strengths but work on developing the weaker parts of your writing too. Don't shy away from collaboration, and working with people with different tastes and points of view. Two different visions coming together often yields the most interesting results.”

IFTN: We often are our own worst critics. What is your approach to combating this as a writer when developing work?

DARACH: “This is a real cliche answer, but I try to remember that writing is rewriting and you have to write a bad script first in order to write a good script. A lot of times, stuff that I thought was brilliant when I was writing doesn't seem so great when I look over it the next day, and stuff that I thought was terrible doesn't seem that bad when I look back over it. So I feel like if you keep working it all evens out.”

IFTN: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?

DARACH: “Probably to simplify my stories, and that emotionally engaging the audience is more important than being clever.”

IFTN: Writers are often told to kill their darlings. How do you learn when to let something go or to fight for it?

DARACH: “That's a tough question, I'm not sure I've learned it yet! All you can really do is trust your instincts, and nothing is final until the film is on screens, so oftentimes ideas that were cut end up finding their way back into the script in a different form.”

Bloomsday Film Fest: Director Martin Turk and Line Producer Jeremiah Cullinane discuss Kino Volta
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