‘Open Auditions’ on a poster is always a way to catch a budding young actor’s eye.
These posters seem to be getting ever more present in Cork as the amount of productions being filmed here increases. This is also down to new production companies setting up home here, adding to the growth of the Cork Film and TV industry
One such company is Epic Productions, a cinematic media film production company,
Set up just a year ago, originally to make corporate and short films in order to fund the ‘fun stuff’ like making independent feature films. Epic has already bypassed its five year plan and is now making feature films and music videos full time. With production on their second feature film just about to start they have been displaying one such ‘Open Audition’ poster!
The film in the audition poster is ’Diarmuid and Grainne’ a modern day retelling of the famous old Irish folklore, an Irish Romeo and Juliet. Written by Irish first time screen writer Lorraine Kelleher, this new production is a 100% privately funded relatively low budget movie, being filmed entirely in Cork.
I decided to head along to the auditions at Epic’s offices in MacCurtain Street to meet Cinematographer Justin MacCarthy and Director Chris Cullen who run Epic productions and also to chat with some of those auditioning.
When I meet Justin and Chris they both tell me that they think their fast success is down to the fact that there a little bit different in their thinking when it comes to the film making process. Like with their last production, ’Jesus the Remake’ which they are reluctant to talk about due to being in talks to sell it, but they have released a trailer of it on their website.
They are both involved in every aspect of their productions from start to finish.
I sat in on the auditions, so I could see them from their point of view. Also sitting in was Colin Patrick Kelleher who is the only actor already cast, in the role of ‘Diarmuid’.
With a camera and monitor set up on the long desk and the four of us behind it like talent show judges, I can see and understand why the audition process is so nerve wracking, the big monitor lets Justin see exactly how each person will look on camera while Chris asks the questions and tries to make each person feel relaxed as they enter, I feel nervous just watching them!
As the auditionees come and go, I ask Justin and Chris what they are looking for from the auditions.
Chris: We just want to be entertained, we’re seeing so many, so its their job to make us remember them. We don’t mind if they cold read or come with a rehearsed monologue.
Justin: We just want them to feel comfortable and show us what they can do.
Chris: With this production, we are looking for the person to fit the character, if they don’t fit on the day, it’s not because we don’t think they’re a good actor, it’s just they didn’t fit, with other projects it works the other way around.
Justin and Chris came together from very different professional back grounds, with Chris studying film making at St John’s College and Justin being a professional photographer and stumbling into movies by chance, yet they make an excellent team with both providing key strengths to the company.
I ask Justin and Chris what they think about the Cork Film and TV industry and its relationship with Epic Productions?
Chris: With technology its becoming far cheaper to make feature films, why not make them here in Cork? We won’t take it for granted though, we are quite aware that the production company is still in the baby stages and still needs to be nurtured
Justin: There is a strange thing happening at the moment, there has always been a great indie culture in Cork, but now there seems to be a big switch to a lot more feature films happening, I think that when we look back in the future we will be looking back at the start of something explosive, Cork doesn’t just have potential… it’s already happening!
This view was shared when I met with a couple of the actors who turned out for the auditions.
Lochlain McKenna from Mallow told me
“I think Cork is reaching a high point right now, more film investers are coming here so that means more jobs, I’m definitely attending more auditions in Cork than I used to”
with Liam McGibbon from West Cork adding “recently there seems to be a lot more oportunities in Cork for film roles, it’s good for local actors.”
Epic Productions is now Justin and Chris’s full time job with them both knowing that it was never going to be an easy road to success. I ask what advise they would give to people looking to get into this industry?
Chris: Be different from everyone else, be original and don’t be scared of hard work!
Justin:… And be prepared to work for free at the start.
After a long day of auditions just about wrapped, I ask them what happens next?
Chris: Some excellent talent came in, now we will watch all the tapes back, see who we like and contact them again for a screen test.
Justin: We will contact everyone either way to say yes or no, I think it’s only polite to thank everyone for coming in.
Do you think you found everyone you need to fill the parts today?
Justin: No I still think there are some gaps to be filled.
Chris: There are a few other people who we know couldn’t make today, so we will hold private auditions for them.
With some parts left to fill and with actors waiting patiently for a reply it will be interesting to see this project come to fulfilment. It is clear why Epic Productions is succeeding, there is a certain chemistry between Justin and Chris which provides a great work ethic and talent, and with the growth of Cork as a film base it can only go from strength to strength for them. Epic Productions will start filming ‘Diarmuid and Grainne’ in September.
You can find out more about Epic Productions by visiting the website www.epicproductionsireland.com