All Day and All Night

By Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy


How to Make a Film in the Desert of the Times

There’s a little over five and half weeks to go before we begin filming our first feature. By rights we should feel nervous about this. But we’re not. Perhaps this is just a time reaction. The logic goes that anything that distance away, an appointment for a tooth extraction say or a vasectomy, is too far ahead to get worked up about. But you know in your mind that it’s just a matter of time before you do get anxious. Nerves have a time and a place and the time will come. Perhaps though, these rather medical analogies are not quite right. Whatever way you look at it, there's nothing pleasurable about a tooth extraction or the snip, but there could be a lot of pleasure involved in filming this long planned project. ‘Could’ is not the same as ‘should’ though. No matter how much planning you may have done you have NEVER done enough.

We’ve come to also realise that all the planning in the work will invariable be side swiped by ‘on the ground’ events. Weather, food poisoning, whatever. It has happened to us that these ‘things that just happen’ are sometimes welcomed as they ensure you make a film that you didn’t plan for but rather hoped for. I guess we’re planning for luck as well. It would be terrible if all we wanted was the stuff on paper to be on the film. We’re hoping for other things. Things you can’t write.

The feature film itself has come out of a body of work we’ve been engaged in now for over four years. This extended project is called Civic Life. Essentially, the endeavour was to work with local community groups in their own neighbourhoods, shoot them in narratives on 35mm cinemascope and screen the work in their local multiplex. These projects have in their social aspects been very successful. What we didn’t anticipate was the creative reaction.

In most of the Civic Life films we made errors. They are by no means perfect. At times we’ve courted a rawness in their performances of the ‘cast’; at others times it just happened. The one thing we never felt any real pressure to do was to finesse the performances and more importantly to tell stories.

We like performances very much. We can often take or leave stories, preferring instead to concentrate on HOW someone does something. I guess you would say we’re more interested in character study than plot.

But here we are now, fully aware, that a story must be told. Is that the key difference between short films and feature films? We’re convinced that we have a story we’re happy to tell but that it has the right balance with a sense of character. One commentator, on reading the synopsis, referred to it as a cross between L'Avventura and Crimewatch UK. Not so far off the mark. Although given last night’s choice of DVD from our local video shop in Hackney’s Broadway Market, we would throw Picnic At Hanging Rock into the mix.

The idea for All Day and All Night refers back like so much we have done to the material we covered in the very last short film we made. To a central story of people who get lost both physically and emotionally. The woods are a perfect (too obvious?) setting for this.

We’d be lying if we said we don’t have hopes for the film but, as with all the other Civic Life films, when it is screened next spring our central aim is that the people – from the four cities we’re filming in – who are in it enjoy the results.

The filmmakers are working with communities in Dublin, Newcastle-Gateshead, Liverpool and Birmingham and in conjunction with commissioning partners NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Tyneside Cinema, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, Liverpool Culture Company, Birmingham City Council and Fierce! Festival.