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Q&A with Brendan Canty, director of Jam

Friday 29 January 2021, by Abla Kandalaft

I notice the film was directed by yourself and written by Sam Lazar. How did that collaborative process come about? Did you develop the idea together or where you involved as a director after the script was written?

I came on board after the script was written so had no correspondence with Sam. However, he kindly trusted me to edit the script and so I re-structured it a little bit to work within my vision and I also made some of the language more "Irish" (Sam is American).

Did you have the lead actress record the voice over we end up hearing in the car? Was that an awkward process?

Yes! Danielle Ryan was so fun and relaxed to work with so it wasn’t awkward at all. We recorded it before the first rehearsal and Shane Connaughton (who plays her grandfather) arrived midway through recording. Before he met her for the first time he had heard her talking about her explicit dildo usage. That was hilarious.

How would you say Jam differs (or not!) from your other films?

Jam is very different from my other films and this was something that actually drew me to the project when I read the script. I was eager to try and challenge myself to make something with a more slick and commercial tone. My style of filmmaking is a lot more naturalistic than Jam but I’m always eager to push the boat out and try new things - it’s the best way to grow as a director and I definitely learned so much from making this film.

As a filmmaker you’ve tended to paint quite in-depth, three-dimensional portraits of your main characters, which is no mean feat in shorts. What do you enjoy exploring in your work? What do you like to share with your audience?

Thank you - that’s so lovely to hear. It’s so important for all my characters to feel completely real to the audience. I am always very conscious that no one in my films ever feels like a device. The more three-dimensional your characters are, the more immersed in the world your audience will be. I find the best way to do this is in the smallest details. It’s a process that happens best over time, organically building these people bit by bit.

Any projects in the pipeline that you can talk about?

I’m currently developing my first feature film with BBC Films and Scott Free Productions which is incredibly exciting! It is set in the world of my previous short film Christy. Hoping to shoot it in the summer!

What do you think the future holds for short films?

Although it has been a shame not being able to physically attend festivals this year. I really hope that festivals continue to screen short films online alongside cinema screenings when things return to normal. I’ve been able to watch so many more short films this year as a result. The most difficult thing with short films is how to get them in front of people and I feel like these online platforms have really helped to do that.

If we were to go back into lockdown, what cultural or artistic delights would you recommend to alleviate our boredom?

It’s an obvious one, but I’ve never watched so many films in my life than I have during these lockdowns. Who’d of thought that watching loads of films would be very inspirating to a director?? Haha. I’ve also enjoyed politely trolling the facebook page of a local Cork radio station which has alleviated my boredom. You can see some of my finest work on my instagram page @brendanfeelgoodlost which might alleviate yours (or it might not).

Jam is selected in the 2021 International Competition (I12 programme).

Any message or comments?

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