Ian Hunt-Duffy has just finished directing his first a full-length feature film, the horror-thriller ‘Double Blind’ starring The Walking Dead actress Pollyanna McIntosh and Millie Brady who featured in The Queen’s Gambit.
This is the latest project by the Blackrock native, who has won numerous awards for his work since graduating from the National Film School.
"I’ve been doing short films for the last number of years which were the stepping stones as I worked towards this,” he says.
The script for ‘Double Blind’ was written by Darach McGarrigle and Ian says that as soon as Darach pitched the idea to him, he was hooked.
It follows seven strangers taking part in a paid drug trial who become trapped in the lab after the side effects of the study escalate the situation into a nightmarish scenario - if they fall asleep, they die.
"I loved the fact that it has taken something so innocent like sleep and made it into something deadly. It was that hook, that premise, that got me excited.”
“Darach wrote the first draft and submitted it to Screen Ireland and we developed the script with them..”
"We then took it to a co-production marketed in Montreal in 2019 and it was one of ten projects selected and that was when Epic came on board.”
It was, he said, great to get the support of Screen Ireland and Los Angeles-based Epic Pictures Group, who are producing the movie.
“It was in the development process for two years which became four years because of Covid,” he continued.
Shooting had originally been planned for Dublin in November 2021 but when that was put back because of the pandemic.
They then found that locations in Limerick had become available, which Ian describes as “a blessing in disguise as the locations we found were fantastic.”
"Everything happens for a reason.”
One of the main locations for the film was the Innovate Limerick building in Rathkeale, while other scenes were shot on the campus of the University of Limerick.
Ian describes the films two main stars Pollyanna McIntosh and Millie Brady as being “brilliant to work with”.
The cast also features Brenock O’Connor (Game of Thrones), Abby Fitz (The Cellar), Shonagh Marie, Diarmuid Noyes, Frank Blake, and Akshay Kumar .
"It was great to have such a talented cast working on my first feature film.”
They have just finished five weeks of shooting, which was somewhat fraught as one of the actors came down with Covid and had to isolate for a week which meant that the shooting schedule had to be changed.
"We were complying with all the health and safety regulations around Covid, wearing PPE masks and getting tested a couple of times a week,” he says.
The film industry is being very careful as a Covid outbreak among the cast or crew could set back shooting for weeks.
”We started post-production last week and will be doing this for the next couple of months.”
Production company Epic will launch sales at the upcoming Cannes Marche du Film.
"We are working towards releasing it at the end of the year," Ian says, adding that they hope to bring it to a number of film festivals.
Having grown up in the ‘80s watching films by directors James Cameroon and John Carpenter, Ian has been interested in film from a very young age.
He set up Failsafe Films in Dublin with producer Simon Doyle, producing the IFTA Nominated and Academy Award longlisted ‘Love is a Sting’ in 2015, written by Academy Award winner Benjamin Cleary
Ian’s short film ‘Gridlock’, which he made with screenwriter Darach McGarrigle , has won 60 awards at over 150 film festivals worldwide, including Best Director at the Savannah International Film Festival, Best International Short Film at DC Shorts, and a Young Director Award (YDA) in Cannes.
Ian took part in the prestigious Berlinale Talents in Germany in 2018 as a director, being the only Irish filmmaker chosen amongst 250 candidates from 81 countries.
He received funding from Screen Ireland for his short film ‘Low Tide’, which went on to win top awards at horror film festivals across America and Europe. In 2019, Ian won the Discovery Award at the Dublin International Film Festival.