Conor Slattery has been a contract film-maker that slots his own projects in when finances allow. This is film-making at the sharp end: no contingency fund. We hook up with him as he nears the end of his most ambitious and satisfying project, Beau Diable.
IIZ: Lets start by getting some background. How does a nautical graduate end up making horror films?
Conor: I never graduated Nautical Science. A buddy and I, instead of going to lectures, would walk in to Cork city, stand outside the Capital Cinema, write down the times of the movies showing, pay our two pounds at the box office at about 14:00, and watch as many films as time would allow. In between movies, we’d hide in the toilets. I guess I studied film long before I went to film school – which was about 6 years after the Nautical Science course.
IIZ: According to your imdb listing you have on a large number of projects in a variety of roles since 2006. You have a family. Hardwork? Difficult?
Conor: I started working in film in 1999. It’s animal work, but, I have a family, who all help, so it’s easier. My wife used to help with production on my commercials, some of which she edited too, back when editing required a degree of skill – nowadays even I can edit. She came on board for me on Beau to shore up anything that Keith O’ Connell (Line Producer) or I couldn’t get to. Keith is my go to guy, my right hand man. He makes my productions easier too. On other films my eldest son has operated camera and edited and my two younger guys have jumped in front of the camera. So yeah, it’s bloody vicious work, but with Keith and my wife and children around it’s really enjoyable. If film was booze I’d be a boozehound and these people would be facilitating my addiction : ) .
IIZ: What motivates you and where do you draw your influences from?
Conor: My motivation is wanting to tell stories and to entertain. I have loads of stories, in detail, in my head and on paper. They arrive almost complete, usually when I’m driving or even more so when I’m showering in the morning. It’s nice to be treated to a free story every day : ) It would be nicer again to be able to share some of these stories. I love them. Maybe one or two, maybe even ten, people might like them and be entertained.
My influences would have to be everything. From the Sunday matinees at home growing up where pirates and cowboys were invited in to our living room to, well, to everything ; there are stories everywhere. Every single thing has a story associated with it, and they’re all brilliant.
IIZ: We know there is a sailing trip an abduction and a something lurking. Can you sum up Beau Diable for us?
Soon after they discover that the bad ass Drug Smuggler is a pussycat in comparison to the demon
Conor: To sum up Beau Diable I’d say ; a group of students go on a sailing trip, they get kidnapped by a South American drug smuggler who needs both them and their vessel to retrieve something from an island. When they arrive on the island they discover an underground labyrinth. Soon after they discover that the bad ass Drug Smuggler is a pussycat in comparison to the demon who possesses the tunnel complex.
IIZ: In dark places the human brain starts to hallucinate does this feature? We know something lurks in the dark but are there also implied/ hallucinated horrors?
Conor: No hallucinations. Everything that happens really happens.
Conor: The title came from an older draft of the script – I went through . . . I think it was 17, lots at any rate. It was never perfect. I wrote it, didn’t like it, got it rewritten, didn’t like it, got it rewritten . . . you know where this is going, well it went there for two years, until I was introduced to Gemma McCarthy, who I was told was a script analyst but who agreed to do a rewrite with me after reading the screenplay. About three weeks later I had a script that I loved. About a month later I started casting, why wait?
IIZ: Tell us how production is going? How much is left to shoot?
Conor: Principal photography is pretty much complete; I still have the opening scene to shoot in late September. I have a cast restriction, but it’s a restriction that I’m delighted to have because without it I wouldn’t have the cast member, who I love – he’s a relative of the world’s first indie filmmaker and is totally dedicated to anything he agrees to do and has an extremely positive attitude when it comes to life and work. I’ll tell you who it is after we’ve shot out his days : ) Apart from that I’m building a computer to cut on. I can’t afford a super duper mac, so I’ll build one, the simplest solutions are always the right solutions. Can’t afford it? Build it. Someone else did, so can you : )
IIZ: We love the look and feel of the short clips we have seen so far. Whats the ambition for the final film?
I want the final film to provide escapism and to entertain people. I hope it does. I have a very visual style and I use organic sounds to create sound tracks – the soundtrack from the second “sneak peek” over on facebook was made up mainly of Grace Kelley’s, who plays Kate in the movie, breathing slowed down. I added a bang from a 10 foot cubed metal diesel container that we found deep in the tunnels on each cut and at one point I added the creak from a heavy rusted metal door, also slowed down. So yeah, I hope my way of telling a story entertains and provides escapism.
IIZ: You have a cast of young actors which is great to see. Any stand out talents? Any future Irish scream queens?
I detest this new “trout pout” approach to filmmaking.
Conor: All of the cast in this are proper actors. I detest this new “trout pout” approach to filmmaking. I see actors literally pouting in scenes and I’m like ; “that’s not acting, acting is pretending, watch any three year old, they act, you’re posing.” So really, any of the cast could be future scream queens if they wanted to and if they got offered the roles – except for the lads maybe, although come to think of it . . . . . haha : ) Seriously though, the cast in Beau were animals for work, immensely positive whether at sea in a 1M swell or 50 feet underground, so it’s just a matter of being offered the roles for them in my opinion.
IIZ: How long has it taken to bring the film to this point?
To get to here, about two years I’d say. I have loads of scripts and stories, I’ve won awards for shorts, I’ve produced and directed about 40 – ish television commercials, my work has been broadcast to at least 1/2 BN homes internationally – I googled ; “how many homes does Discovery broadcast to internationally?” and it spat that back at me – but ultimately I’m a nobody haha : ) Plus I have zero patience. Raising budget time could be filmmaking time : ) So I sat down one day and thought ; “What can I get access to?” The answer was ; “Boats and tunnels.” I grew up in Crosshaven in Co. Cork, home to the oldest yacht club in the world and a third of Cork harbour’s coastal fortifications in the form of Camden Fort, complete with 2KM of underground tunnels. It wasn’t a far stretch to get to horror film from there. I think that idea first came to me about 2 years ago – I can’t remember whether or not I was showering at the time : )
IIZ: Was funding difficult? Have you thought of crowdfunding?
Conor: Ugh! Funding! It would be so handy to have the where with all to raise funding, or to believe that as an artist I deserve other people’s hard earned cash money. I think I’ll be poor until I start entertaining people and until people are willing to part with money to watch my stories. Beau was made by a group of cast and crew who all want to entertain and everything that had to be paid for was paid for by me. I worked as a 2nd on a feature in Dublin just before shooting Beau. They were a nice crowd to work with, and I raised my funding by working for them. Does that count as crowd funding? I’d love 50K or 100K! I have great stories, but most of them are art heavy, so I’d need a bit of cash for sets, costume and make up. Hopefully some day : ) If not I’ll keep telling my lo/no’s. Like I said; I’m addicted to telling stories on film, or on a little magic card at 1080p these days : )
This post was written by Nadia Vella