We’re crowdsourcing a movie at Web Summit – Interview

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With new Summits on Sport, Music and Food at Web Summit 2014, we’re all about celebrating and exploring how technology is changing all kinds of industries.

The same is certainly true for the film industry, with the likes of Netflix and Volta transforming how movies and TV shows are released and distributed, while special effects continue to evolve and take greater precedence in filmmaking too.

We sat down with one film director who is fully embracing the possibilities of new technology in film – Nick Ryan is a founding director of Image Now Films, and was producer and director of the acclaimed feature documentary, The Summit, which went on to win awards at Sundance and featured in festivals the whole way from London to Vancouver. (And, no, The Summit was not about a tech conference, but the treacherous ascent up K2).

Nick will be coming to Web Summit to talk about his latest project, Six Days of the Rising, a dramatic account of the 1916 Easter Rising that promises to be brutal, honest, violent and uncompromising. It will be a film of the epic fight for Irish independence and the destruction of Dublin as never before seen.

If that’s not exciting enough, the film will use state of the art visual effects and, in harnessing all the possibilities of the internet, it will be funded through Indiegogo, with fundraising kicking off at Web Summit in just a few days time.

Production will begin on the film early next year, with its release set to take place in 2016 to mark the centenary of the events it depicts. Here’s what Nick had to tell us about Six Days of the Rising:

Web Summit: Could you summarise the project – how will it differ to other films set in a similar era? What is the angle/emphasis of the story?

Nick Ryan: The approach is to tell of the 6 days of the 1916 Easter Rising as seen through the eyes of a man whose journey across the divided city places him at the centre of the conflict, in the style of Bloody Sunday and The Battle of Algiers.

1916 photo 2

WS: Why have you decided to use green-screen technology to do a recreation of 1916 Dublin rather than using sets or filming on location? Can you tell us a bit more about how green screen will be set up?

NR: The Dublin of 1916, both before and after the events of the Rising, no longer exists, with the exception of some of the Georgian squares. The area which suffered the most devastation was the O’Connell street area and the logistics of filming around [the iconic GPO building] and removing the modern street paraphernalia would be prohibitive, so it would be better to utilise a separate location.

To bring a complete accuracy to the film, the best way would be to rebuild the entire area, so we are going to map out an exterior stage which would have a section of the footprint of O’Connell Street and surround that with 100-feet high green-screens. The ground would have the relevant cobblestone and tram-track features as well as paving. This would be dressed with the appropriate debris and rubble and the main structures digitally created and composited into the the scene.

WS: How has technology changed film? Can its effects ever be negative?

NR: For the most part, what we are discussing doing here is what are called invisible effects, or effects that are not apparent as such. To enable us to tell this story with a truth we believe the audience needs to be embedded in the story, surrounded by the city and the explosive events of the Rising. The epic scale of the destruction was such that to show that we need to utilise technology that enable us.

For as long as films have been made, techniques such as glass matte paintings have been used to place us in the story. Where technology no longer adds to the essence of a project is when it becomes apparent, and the story is led by making it a virtue, and features it.

Nick Ryan

WS: With a historical picture like one based on 1916 events, authenticity or accuracy can be key – how will your experience making documentaries like The Summit translate to that? Will the two styles inform each other?

NR: In the same way that The Summit placed the audience firmly in the boots of the climbers on K2 during a tragic 48-hour period, we want to put the audience at the centre of what it would have been like to witness the events of 1916.

Our approach to this film is similar to that used for The Summit, in that the narrative and emotion of the story is central to engage the audience and that the truth informs that. With The Summit, the events were contemporary and, you would believe, more accurate for that, but within all periods of major struggle there are different stories and opinions that become the story. With 1916, nearly a century has passed and we aim to portray the events as accurately as is possible in a film which will engage an audience and shake them to their core.

WS: You’re crowdfunding the film via Indiegogo at Web Summit – can you tell us any more about it?

NR: We have some really exciting perks lined up. We can’t give much away but it will all be announced at Web Summit!

Stay tuned to the blog on Thursday for more info on exciting film events at Web Summit 2014

Read: From House of Cards to UFC, an Eclectic Mix of Great New Speakers

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