Based on a Japanese novel called In Love with the Dead by Kei Oishi, Brendan Muldowney’s second feature film is a fantastical journey through the eyes of a man who has no idea who he is or why he exists in the world as he sees it. Ian Harding’s curiosity with the dead following the death of his father, which he witnessed as a young boy, is the start point for a fascination that would drive and mould Ian into the man that he would become. At age 16 when he finds the body of a young woman in the woods, he finds his obsession take control of his every waking moment and beat of his heart. He goes on a dark personal journey to find the answers he needs and in so doing, enters some very dark places, only to emerge the better for it all.
Love Eternal is part of a list of Irish movies that have blown away critics this year and is one of the best movies of the year let alone those from Ireland; it was awarded Best Irish Feature at this years JDIFF. Part of the cast is up and coming Irish actress Emma Eliza Regan from Moycullen in Galway and she kindly agreed to an interview to discuss the movie on the eve of it’s release here in Ireland.
How have you been keeping since Love Eternal premiered at JDIFF and what projects have you been working on?
“It’s been a really great year so far; right after the festival I worked with director Sean Branigan and actress/writer Amy De Brun on their new film After produced by Kathryn Kennedy for FilmBase, which is based on the aftermath of a rape. Right afterwards I shot Hollow Lands down in Wicklow with another really talented and creative couple – director Greg Colley & writer/production designer Alice Vignoles-Russell. It is based on the Yeats poem The Song Of Wandering Aengus, which describes an occult influenced ‘glimmering girl’ who is a water nymph, so I absolutely loved the whole ethereal quality of that role; they are both screening at Galway Film Fleadh this month. I also was lead actress on Mirror Tale, which is a dark but topical story of a young girl and social media, and then I shot a music video for Sony with Thomas Heffernon a few weeks ago. I’ve also got Darkness on the Edge Of Town and Get Up and Go coming out soon, and I am in pre-production on my own project, so it’s just been a very productive time.”
How rewarding does it feel that Love Eternal has been so universally well received?
“Yes of course, to be honest as an actress I was only on it for a few days, but I really admire Brendan Muldowney and Conor Barry – they put so much hard work into it over years, and I think it’s great that their dedication and talent is recognised. Also, Pollyanna McIntosh, Amanda Ryan and Robert de Hoog all gave brilliant performances, so it’s wonderful to see that their talent is recognised and rewarded too.”
When you took the part in Love Eternal were you fully aware of how dark the subject matter was?
“I always read the full script before going into a casting meeting and I really didn’t categorise it in that way. Necrophilia is obviously an incredibly dark subject, but the script was a captivating story about an isolated young man and it was a very touching story about loneliness, and the human condition. I had also seen Brendan’s previous film Savage, so I knew the subject matter was in the hands of a very talented and capable director and Fastnet had such a solid calibre of films as well.”
Did you enjoy working with Brendan Muldowney?
“I was privileged to get to work with him; he is extremely talented and very humble. All my scenes were shot out in Luxembourg so that was also a wonderful experience to work on an international feature, but at the end of the day we were all just focused on the job and getting the scenes down. I remember they put a whole jar of live insects and spiders & worms on my face and then Brendan was like, ‘ok, quickly action, before the insects go off her face,’ and I could feel them going into my hair and tickling my nose and everything but had to act completely still and dead! I love filming; I really just love it all.”
It has been a great year for Irish cinema and Love Eternal is in my top two films of the year, does the resurgence of Irish film mean you will be starring in more Irish movies or are you spreading your wings and looking further afield for opportunities?
“Yes, I have management in London now and I am here for the past few months, but I’ve been working so hard, constantly over and back, so I guess I have fingers in both pies. There is a definitely a huge energy in the industry at the moment, and a whole new generation of directors and writers with their own styles and ideas that are creating new projects outside the system and making their mark. I think with all the new equipment available, it seems really vibrant and more accessible than ever, and it’s inspiring to be a part of that. We are also really lucky to have the Irish Film Board, and the new Catalyst Project has given the industry a real fresh kick.”
What are you working on at the moment and can we expect to see you on our screen again soon?
“I have two feature films premièring at Galway Film Fleadh – Darkness on the Edge of Town directed by the talented writer/director Patrick Ryan, he was awarded the BBC Writersroom for this script and we shot it down in Kerry last summer. I’m so proud of that film! I also have Get Up and Go directed by Brendan Grant, then we are finishing up the The Second Coming, I think there is just a few scenes to shoot in Paris and then I am on to shooting my own film which I wrote called Wild Summer Nights, which will be shot in Aran Islands and London.”
Finally, if you could give any advice to aspiring actors/actresses what would you say?
“Oh god I am really in no position to give advice! It’s not an easy road, you have to be 110% dedicated and be drawn towards the career for the right reasons. I think many have this glossy misperception, but the reality of an Irish actor is you need to up at six in the morning on a freezing cold set in the middle of nowhere, with all your lines learnt and be totally focused, willing and ready to work hard; often on little money. You need to be fully prepared for auditions, even when you get them for the next day and you need to travel the country on an old bus; be committed to doing self-research on characters. Don’t ever try compare yourself to anyone else just have your own little path; get into student productions; build up your network and on screen experience; go to workshops; see what is on at the film festivals – there is no real right or wrong way. I was getting the three-hour bus up and down every week from Galway for two years just to do my workshop in The Factory on a Tuesday evening. Just to have a camera to work on; you just need that type of devotion and consistency to succeed, but if you’re dedicated it pays off.”
Dedication does pay off and you can see just how much in Love Eternal, which will be screening from the 4th of July in the Irish Film Institute.