A cast with connections to the writer's heartland
When writing Smalltown, Gerard Barrett had just one actor in mind to play the father and farmer struggling with the death of his wife.
"Pat Shortt was always the person. He has that beautiful quality where he can be utterly funny and heartbreakingly dramatic. People were tweeting saying 'Pat Shortt is my father'," said Mr Barrett.
"He understands the complexities of rural life and I could trust him to go on the journey," he added.
The writer and director said it was important for him to select a cast with a connection to the heartland.
"The cast were all from Kerry, Clare, Tipperary, Cork, Leitrim and Wicklow. I didn't have time to educate people about rural Ireland.
"There isn't a huge amount of dialogue to ensure that it didn't become over-dramatic. It was about keeping it honest so that families watching could discuss the issues in their own living rooms," he said.