Wednesday 28 September 2016

Irish director inspired by family urn propping up door in home for new film

Published 12/01/2016 | 17:32

Damien, who now directs episodes of Doc McStuffins, said that he has been overwhelmed by the reaction to the animated feature.
Damien, who now directs episodes of Doc McStuffins, said that he has been overwhelmed by the reaction to the animated feature.

A family urn that was propping up a door in his home gave Damien O’Connor an idea for a short movie about Dublin doormen.

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Damien, a director with Brown Bag Films, was intrigued by an antique that had been in his family for many years and began to tease out a story for a short.

“The idea came from an urn in our house. A distant relation of ours died many years ago – it wasn’t our immediate family – but their urn was moved from house to house.

“The ashes were gone but the urn sat around for many years, holding a door open in my house. Bare in mind there was no ashes, so it stopped being a vessel for someone’s remains,” he said.

“I just started to think about the urn, I knew nothing about the person, but I wondered what they would think about their urn holding open a door.”

Damien said that the relative might have been perturbed if they were actually a doorman and their urn was holding the door even after they had gone.

“The first draft that went to the Film Board was that the individual hated being a doorman, but I though I would expand it out more than a punchline to the end of a joke,” he said.

“The one thing that would upset a doorman would be a threat to their job, the arrival of the revolving doors.

“So it stopped being a gag and became this sweeter story about the doorman and the changes that we all face. It is a universal worry – while progress has been great, there’s a fear that we will be replaced by something like a revolving door.

‘After You’ charts the life of a doorman of the Metropole Hotel in Dublin over 60 years with an unexpected ending.

The short, which was produced by Cell Division, was made three years ago but Damien hasn’t been able to show it online for three years. It was shown at festivals around the world and then a distribution company in Japan bought it and it had to stay offline.

Damien, who now directs episodes of Doc McStuffins, said that he has been overwhelmed by the reaction to the animated feature.

“I found it was quite organic and it spread beyond my circle of followers quite quickly,” he said. “I found people telling me stories about how it reflected on them.

“We always make stories like this for audiences, so I’m delighted it is being so well received.”

The film ‘After You’ can be viewed here:

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