CinÉireann Issue 9 - Page 26

26 CinÉireann / Issue 9

I'd never experienced midges before and they were really aggravating. And the horses didn't like them either, and I was on a different horse for that reshoot as well. Which was a tragedy because I had built up such a bond with my steed, which was part of why the filming experience was great. I had such a bond with the horse and the horse would do anything for me, because by that point I was completely in-tune and in-sync with it. And this day was probably the hardest day I've ever had on any job. Only out of the sense of ridiculousness. It had such heavy content.

It was the scene where Feeney returns home and originally we had shot that scene at a stone house out in Wicklow, but it didn't land right. Lance wanted me to arrive on a horse and be up there looking down for a second. When we shot it Andrew Bennett had to leave, so the next day when they did my coverage they put Craig [Kenny], the first A.D., in Andrew's costume, with a big hat. I'm doing my lines as gaelige and Craig couldn't look at me in the eyes because he was too intimated. So Craig was looking off, but he was also moving his lips like a hand puppet, not looking at me, while Lance was feeding the dialogue. And then to revisit that character after a time-break with a glued-on beard, in front of a green-screen house that's not real, with an A.D. who can't look at me in the eyes and is pretending to mouth the words while someone else is saying them...and midges. It was a great challenge.

The glamour!

It's such a rewarding process to do what I do for a living and that's where the challenge is great. Learning how to roll with the punches. And while that was difficult, as it had a level of absurdity that I'd never quite encountered before, and then to try and centre yourself among all of those midges and trying not to swot at your face to try and get them all off, because that's your responsibility to try and make that land, to make it look like "God this is what you have done to my childhood home after I've been gone all of this time". And there were moments of levity while shooting it. Because it was just quite extreme conditions and content. There's just a natural release in things like that. I would have eaten two fistfuls of black pudding every morning. And I could get away with it too because the costume was thick! I was just eating soup and bacon sandwiches. I had to use the energy. It was exhausting, completely exhausting, but it was such a great experience. I've never had a better working experience. The challenge, meeting my own perceived skill set...I just felt like I was in a flow state for a few months.

There's always been a great connection between the Irish and the Australians. Especially given that many were deported from here to there during the famine period.

Including some of my own family. They were from Kinnegad I believe. It's important. For instance the song that I sing by the campfire was one that was passed down through Peadar Cox's family. He recorded his mother signing it, and it had been passed down from those times. That song is a children's song and it's about a hen and a cockerel that are walking down from Galway to Athenry and are wing-in-wing and in love. Life is good. Then the second verse is about some women coming from over the hill and grabbing the cockerel and wringing his neck and smashing in his head and plucking him and chucking him in a pot for their dinner. Then the third verse is about this hen who is sitting up crying for the love of her life who is dead in a pot with a stone on top. That's how they would have gotten through a long night by the fire, singing songs and telling stories.That sense of Irish storytelling is still pretty unmatched. I've had the best most rewarding time making this movie and it just keeps giving. I've made some amazing friends and its great to hear how people are responding to it and what it means to them. I'm just really blessed to have been involved in something like this. Hopefully this opens the market for more films like this. There are lots of stories out there.

Black '47 is out now in cinemas.