Talking to a movie producer
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A Chat With A Cork Based Movie Producer
Amanda Ferriter began working in Theatre Production in 2004. She has worked as a Production/ Stage Manager with various companies including Cork Opera House), Guiness Jazz Festival, St Patricks Festival, Opera 2005, Yew Tree Theatre and Cork Midsummer Festival. In 2005, she working with the Scottish production company GridIron in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She recently stage managed a national tour of Verdant Productions ‘Guerilla Days in Ireland’. Amanda has also produced the award winning short films ‘Heart’ and ‘Partly Cloudy’ by Mark Cogan, ‘Gemma?’ by Kevin O Neill, ‘Mutt’ by Shaun O Connor. She was also co-producer of Liam Delahunty’s ‘Tom’s Sceadu’. Her current project is ‘The Nymph’ by Damian Byrne.
What is the best part of the job?
I honestly can’t pick one part of the job that I prefer over another! I love being on set and seeing what is on the page come to life, from the very first take to wrap its great watching the story unfold in front of you. Being the producer, most of your prep work is done so you have time to be on set and soak up the atmosphere! Another part I love is having the first public screening. Sure its nerve-racking not knowing how it will be received but ultimately people getting to see the short is one of the reasons why we make them. There’s no point in working hard for a project to sit on your computer for no one to see.
What is the worst part of the job?
The worst part for me is asking people to either work for free or at a reduced rate. There are so many talented people in the film industry in Cork but unfortunately there are not enough funding resources for everyone or for the amount of work being produced. Yes there are things like Fundit and kickstarter but it seems to me that the majority of projects are self-funded. I’d love to be able to pay everyone what they deserve, sometimes that’s just not possible. You do the best you can with your budget, but there can be times where you have to postpone the project and wait until you raise a bit more funding or you can scrap it… That’s never an option!
Leading up to a shoot – how much preparation do you do?
I would do a lot of the preparation leading up to a shoot, from finding locations, crew and sometimes cast (usually directors have some actors attached already or have people in mind for the roles) to organizing the schedules, logistics, catering, dealing with budgets, hiring equipment and arranging insurance. I’d liaise with each HOD to ensure that they have everything they need before getting to set. A lot of people say I’m crazy for liking the production side of the shoot but there’s a huge sense of satisfaction when you can make something come together.
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What do you want from a Director? What is the ideal relationship?
Mutual trust and understanding. It’s so important to have that in the director/producer relationship. For a director, you are trusting someone to bring all the elements together. As a producer, you want to do the best you can so that what ends up on screen is what the director envisioned. Yeah there are times where you have disagreements where one person doesn’t want to budge on something, whether its a creative or budgetary issue, so you look at the bigger picture, find a compromise and do what’s best for the project. The Director and Producer want to create something that people will enjoy and they have to be on the same page for that to happen. They spend a lot of time together and talk numerous times a day in the lead up to a production so you have to get along on a friendship level too. I’ve worked with some really great Directors and I’m glad to call them my friends.
What was the biggest challenge regarding your most recent film?
The short film I’m currently producing (The Nymph by Damian Byrne) is proving to be the most challenging! It’s a night shoot with a few effects so making sure every detail is thought through carefully and planned properly is essential. We have an extremely small budget but its such a great story that it needs to be put on screen. We’re filming over 2 nights in an amazing location but if it rains, we’ve no choice but to postpone until early 2013. My main challenge on this however is having a tiny budget so we have to beg, borrow and steal in order to get it done. There are some amazingly talented people attached to it so as long as the rain holds off and I can put everything in place, I know something great is going to be created, despite the lack of a big budget!
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At what point does the producer divorce themselves from a project?
For me, I’d take a step back once a project has been screened in a few festivals. After a film has been completed, I’d discuss with the Director what festivals to submit to. We’d work towards getting it screened in as many as possible, that can take longer than a year but once we feel that its had enough screenings, I think its time to put it up online for a wider audience to view it. With ‘Heart’, I wouldn’t let Mark put it online for at least a year and it was quite successful on the festival market but the online views have so far exceeded over 80,000, its far more than we could of hoped for and we are delighted with. You can stop working on a project but you never really divorce yourself fully as there’s always a sense of pride in something you’ve worked so hard on.
Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world?
What inspired me to get into film was (and people may laugh at this reply but..) Lord of The Rings. I was in New Zealand in 2009 and went on a daylong tour of the filming locations around Wellington. It was really fascinating to see how they took a patch of green by a housing estate and turned it into the gardens of Isengard! I’ve always been a huge LODR fan ever since the movies came out and I used to watch the ‘making of’ more than the films themselves. When I got back to Cork, I started looking at my options and as film had always interested me, I decided to enrol in the St John’s film course. As for any favourite Producers or Directors, I don’t have any, as there are so many that I like. I don’t have a favourite genre either but I am fan of sci-fi and fantasy books and films and would love one day to be able to produce or be involved in making that genre of film here in the south of Ireland. Its great to have favourites but I like to be open to all films and genres.
What is your impression of the film industry in munster, and in particular in cork at present?
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The film industry in Cork is great at the moment! There are so many talented cast and crew producing amazing things. For a county that doesn’t have much funding available to us, the output of good quality work is incredible. I could list people but I’d be here for ages! There’s a great ‘can do’ attitude among everyone at the moment and a lovely camaraderie with people willing to help each other out too. I think its going to take another few years before we see big budget films frequenting the city and county but I hope it will get there eventually. The ‘important’ people are beginning to take notice of the talent and facilities available here and as long as we keep going as we’re going, its for our and future film makers benefit.