Entertainment

Friday 20 April 2018

Irish Director Jim Sheridan looks to TV as studios cut movie budgets

Jim Sheridan Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images
Jim Sheridan Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

He is Ireland's greatest director, with three acclaimed films - My Left Foot, The Field and In the Name of the Father - receiving 13 Academy Award nominations between them, but in today's movie world Jim Sheridan has a problem getting his films bankrolled.

The reason?

The age of Netflix, Amazon and online streaming services.

Asked for his ultimate wish, Sheridan said: "The ability to make a movie at a normal budget."

He added: "The whole film world is disappearing very fast and there is a whole new way of doing business which is basically TV and much lower-budget movies so it's very hard for me - being someone who was always associated with higher-budget movies - to do a low-budget movie because people are going to say 'why would I work for nothing for him?' you know. So it is getting hard for me just to do a movie. That's why I am trying to do TV."

Sheridan was speaking to the Sunday Independent from Los Angeles where he is meeting bosses of the online entertainment giants to pitch ideas for a TV series.

The director who has personally received six Oscar nominations said that even he still suffered the angst of the inner-critic.

"Of course I do. You make a movie like The Secret Scripture, which is for an older audience, and [that's] a certain marketplace that doesn't really have any commercial value and when things have no value it's easy to attack them because you can just kill them."

Sheridan said he had since realised: "I have to be careful what I make. I just don't want to put my chin out to get hit.

"It's not possible to make [movies such as] The Secret Scripture any more and certainly not The Boxer, that's just all gone. Mostly now you have to make horror or some genre movie. It's all gone to television. The studios have put all the dramas on television because now they can stream them worldwide so they don't have to pay to get them into cinemas and pay for advertising. So now it's only big movies without words, without a lot of dialogue. Action movies are what they are all about making now."

Sheridan, who will launch the Dublin Arabic Film Festival (DAFF) in association with Dubai Duty Free at the Irish Film Institute on Friday, also took time to reflect on his most memorable moments working with larger-than-life characters who needed to be handled with kid gloves.

Speaking about his friend, the late actor Richard Harris, he recalled how all filming of The Field came to an abrupt halt on the first day on set when Harris protested that the chef had given him sugar. Sheridan describes how Harris said he couldn't breathe "and a limo came across the bog in the west of Ireland. Richard got into the limo and went back to his hotel where he spoke to the nurse all day and had a great laugh.

"The cook, who was a big 6ft 5in Connemara man, was almost crying, saying 'I never put any sugar in his food'. So the next day, when Richard was running around again, the Connemara man said 'see that is sugar! It's very good for you!' I guess one of the rules of life in an army or on a movie set is don't p*ss off the cook," he laughed.

Recalling a final memory of his old friend, Sheridan remembered: "When Richard was dying - he used to stay in a Dublin hotel - and they were taking him out on the stretcher." And demonstrating his famous wit to the end, Sheridan described how "going through the lobby he [Richard] just raised himself a little bit up on the stretcher and explained to the public in the lobby 'it's the food, it's the food, don't touch the food!'"

The fourth event of its kind in Ireland, the DAFF will be held at the Irish Film Institute and the Chester Beatty Library from the October 6 to 8.

Sunday Independent

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