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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Feb. 10, 2009 | 3:16 PM

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An interview with filmmaker Steph Green writer/director of NEW BOY

How did you first become interested in film?

I think it might be because I watched a lot of TV and wanted to climb in.

What films influence or inspire you creatively?

There are really too many to name which is a fancy way to tell you I have forgotten a lot of them.  But the films that influence me make me laugh or cry or both and it’s the feelings I remember instead of the title.  Some people like getting anxious but if I’m anxious through an entire film, I’m usually not very entertained or hopeful about the world.  I like feeling hopeful at the end of the film.  Sometimes very sad films can do this too.

What inspired the idea for your short film?

I had never thought about adapting a short story, which was a massive oversight.  I read NEW BOY in Ireland’s multicultural newspaper Metro Eireann as well in McSweeney’s short story collection.  It was a fifteen minute experience with depth and simplicity, authentic characters and dialogue.  I wrote Roddy a letter and he was generous.  In my experience, writers are some of the most generous people in the world.  And in this instance, it was contagious.  The Irish Film Board and the national broadcaster RTE were then generous with the financing and the cast and crew were generous with their time and ideas.

How did you get the funding?

My producer, Tamara Anghie, loved the story as much as me was set about looking for financing.  We felt that we had a strong chance of getting some support because Roddy is so well known and respected in Ireland, but I still had to turn in a good script.  We applied to the Irish Film Board for a production loan through a program they ran called Short Cuts, with the national broadcaster, RT?.  This program specifically existed for emerging film-makers and provides an opportunity to go through all the negotiations and deliverables required for feature film-making but on a smaller level. We had to present a strong application, including my previous work and had to undergo several interviews before we got the green light.  We’re grateful to our financiers for their initial support and for the support they’ve continued to give us as we’ve traveled with NEW BOY.

How long did it take to get made?

From acquiring the rights, writing the script and then to delivery took about 12 months.  In reality, by the time we’d contracted to the Film Board we had about 4 months to prep, shoot and edit because part of the deal was that we had to deliver the film for it’s premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh, one of the major Irish festivals.  Prep took longer than we thought because the casting process for the kids ended up being so intensive.  It was really important to find authentic kids: Hazel’s precociousness, Christian’s insecurity, Seth’s alienation. Eventually we had everyone but Joseph and the search extended all across Ireland and parts of the UK. The search for a suitable location to shoot Ireland for Africa also proved a time-consuming challenge.  In the end, the extra time paid off as we found Olutunji Ebun-Cole and transformed a former army barracks into an African schoolhouse (which is a real credit to my production design team).  The actual shoot was 5 days, with one day shooting “Africa” and then 4 at the Irish school.  The editing took awhile as Tamara had cut a deal with top post facility Windmill Lane in Dublin, but it meant we had to work around the availability of our editor and the edit suites.  Some of the best edits happened during the overnight sessions at 4AM.  I try to use my tiredness to help me think less and feel more.

How have you gone about getting the film seen by others?

Really through the main option available which is film festivals, and then from there - putting it online.  You hope to get the buzz going at a film festival in order to push the film through and get momentum going.  As part of the short program by the Film Board, they and our sales agent, Network Ireland Television, submitted NEW BOY to 20 of the top international film festivals but beyond that, Tamara has worked hard in its promotion on the festival circuit for over 12 months. She budgeted ahead of time to keep money aside for festival entry fees, screeners etc and we’ve now screened in over 70 festivals worldwide from places as far apart as Uruguay to Iran, Nigeria to Sweden, and Australia to Belarus.  Antarctica is the only continent that hasn’t screened our film so we’re still trying to get it there.  We’ve been honored with wins in over 20 festivals which is humbling, but I think most film-makers would agree that the ultimate reward is for your film to be seen widely, so it’s gratifying to know we’ve had this worldwide coverage and that people have responded. 

What are your goals and upcoming projects for the future?

The stock but accurate answer is that I have a few features in varying stages of development.  I’m excited and terrified about continuing to be a filmmaker.  So I guess the goal is to keep evolving and being creative in a brave way.  Everyone always talks about how in this industry, you’re only as good as your last project.  Maybe that pressure is a good thing.  You’re never out of the weeds.

To preview the film, go to their official website