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January 2016

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Page 40 of 53 37 POST JANUARY 2016 O S C A R buzz schedule would feel like an unduly heavy shooting day. One that maybe you can weather with a crew once a week, but not five times a week. So, it was a tough shoot on that level. But the fact that we got through it and it was as enjoyable a process as it was, is a testament to the quality of the heads of the departments around me and the actors. I knew it was going to be a very tough shoot, so we did rehearse carefully in advance, which gives you an advantage that when you get into a scene, you can shoot it from the ground running." Do you enjoy the post process? "I love it. I get a huge kick out of working with actors and I think that's probably coming from the theater, which is where I started. And then throw in a cameraman, which I had been working with, and it's heaven. And it's a kind of mad energy that happens on a shoot. There's nothing to match it. There's nothing in the theater world — it's great. What's lovely is, you come out sleep deprived, exhausted and an emotional wreck. And you go into a nice, quiet slightly dark room, sit with an editor, sip a cup of tea, and you can look at scenes and hopefully not be too hor- rified. At first you will be, it's always a bit scary. The first assembly is a terrible, ter- rible thing to look at. But you get to qui- etly, unpick things and begin to rediscov- er what the film is, and in a sense, almost reinvent it. You probably will end up very close to the original intention, but you're off on a different journey again." How closely did you work with editor Jake Roberts? "I would say very closely, without trying to sit on him. I was in the cutting room with him everyday. But I made it clear to him from the start that I was always very happy when an editor will say to me, 'I hear what you want, leave me alone with it for an hour or two in the morning.' Because the last thing an editor wants is a director's voice paroting on behind his or her shoulder. It's very useful to leave them alone with the problem, once you talk out what the issue is. And then there will be other times where we would sim- ply sit there and unpick the problem and do it bit by bit. But I have huge respect for Jake. It's the first time we've worked together but I have huge respect for him as an editor right from the word go. Right from when he started assemblying scenes. Also, he said the single greatest thing to me (laughs), 'There are no prob- lems, there are only solutions.' "The truth is, I had a wonderful DP and we shot and shot, but there's always the moment when you go back into the cut- ting room and you feel like such a klutz because the 'one' shot that you did shoot on the day, the one little piece you would love to have, but two weeks later, with a great editor when they rearrange those elements, you forget you missed that shot. It just sort of dissolves and that's the great thing about editing. The film gradually turns into a shape that's almost impossible to unpick." Did the film turn out the way you hoped it would? "Oh my God, yeah. To be honest, in a sense, it's way beyond my expectations. I was very happy with the film — when we finished the film, and nobody had seen it, I was very happy with it and I was sure that the film that had been made was the one I had hoped to make. Absolutely sure of it in my gut. You either know that or you don't. What I was genuinely surprised by and blown away by, was the reaction and the way that audiences, in particular, non-Irish audiences, have responded to the film. And taken ownership of the film, saying, 'Oh my God, that's my story' or 'some- body in my family's story' and sort of put their arms around it and say, 'Yeah, we welcome you in.' I was particularly nervous, for instance, in New York. It's one thing to convince people elsewhere that we're in Brooklyn, but the tough, discerning New York audience is going to be very quick if you're on their turf and they don't believe it. And to hear them laughing at some of the in jokes about Brooklyn and Long Island — it was incredible to me. So yes, I am very happy with the film we made and ecstatic with the reaction it's had as it made it's way around the world. Editor Jake Roberts cut the feature. This scene (below) was shot at the actual Coney Island.

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