Thursday 19 September 2019

Irish 'Angry Birds' director spreads his wings

Fergal Reilly in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Photocall Ireland
Fergal Reilly in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Photocall Ireland
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

The connection between insanely addictive app 'Angry Birds' and Aristotle may not seem obvious.

But citing the ancient Greek philosopher helped Irishman Fergal Reilly secure one of biggest gigs in Hollywood - directing 'The Angry Birds Movie'.

"It was my 'elevator pitch'," the Louth native explained.

"I went in and said Aristotle believed anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way ... is not easy."

A bemused producer nodded and replied: "I've never heard that before - now try making it funny."

As the name suggests, 'The Angry Birds Movie' is based on the Finnish game we were all obsessing over in 2009. Since then, the game, which involves shooting flightless birds at pigs, has been downloaded a staggering three billion times.

"I knew it would have huge brand appeal and that could have been overwhelming but I was excited to start on it rather than nervous," Reilly said.

"And the team are fantastic." He's not kidding - co-director Clay Kaytis worked with Disney for 17 years on films such as 'Frozen' and 'Tangled', while the script was written by John Vitti, whose credits include 'The Simpsons', 'The US Office' and 'The Larry Sanders Show'.


And the cast comprises some of the US's best known comedic actors, including Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Josh Gad - who voiced snowman Olaf in 'Frozen'.

"So I knew it would have that off-beat humour," Reilly said.

A graduate of Dún Laoghaire College of Art and Design (now IADT), Reilly taught at Senior College Ballyfermot (BFCE) before moving to the US in the mid-1990s. He began working on commercials before moving into the world of film and has been behind hit films including 'Hotel Transylvania', 'Spider-Man 2', 'Stuart Little 2' and 'The Iron Giant'.

Work on 'The Angry Birds Movie' began three years ago and Reilly describes it as a "labour of love".

"We had a crew of 600 people working on it. Rendering the character of Mighty Eagle was a challenge, as each of his wings was made up of six million individual hairs.

"If you had tried to do that on a home computer, I think it would have taken a thousand years," he said.

The film opened yesterday and was screened at the Cannes International Film Festival during the week.

There has been a strong Irish contingent in France this year. Monaghan native Catriona Balfe walked the red carpet alongside George Clooney and Julia Roberts to promote their new film 'Money Man'.

Whit Stillman's 'Love & Friendship' starring Kate Beckinsale and shot on location in Ireland was screened at the Marché.

Rebecca Daly's 'Mammal', Conor Horgan's 'The Queen of Ireland', and Cartoon Saloon's 'The Breadwinner' are all being represented at the festival.

And the Irish Film Board had a constant presence at the Irish Pavilion.

Irish Independent

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