I’ve worked on film sets for nearly half my life now so the travelling circus is almost all I know. The family of disparate nomads - tradesmen, technicians, actors – have always fascinated me, two hundred people from all walks of life forced together for an intense amount of time all working towards the vision of one person – the director.
There’s no question that one of those visionary directors, perhaps the visionary director of the last 100 years of cinema, is Stanley Kubrick. Obsessive in detail, relentless in perfection his films remain some of the most respected works of cinematic art since film began. Killers Kiss, Paths of Glory, Lolita, Spartacus, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut – all of them benchmarks of direction, design and writing.
So…when I sat down to write a short film about a film crew filming in a small Irish town the stories I had heard of Stanley in Ireland during Barry Lyndon instantly came to mind. A famously long shoot in stunning Irish landscapes that was mysteriously cut short by a threatening phone call that sent Kubrick back to England overnight and the production not long behind to complete the principal photography of Barry Lyndon.
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful films ever made I knew the reality of production would have been mud, bacon sandwiches, Woodbine cigarettes, toilets and scratching arses and that dichotomy, the dichotomy of the film industry in general, came together to become Kubrick by Candlelight. Once I had figured out a Romeo and Juliet style love story between two young lovers from different sides of the camera tracks – one a local Irish kid who has a job as an British Redcoat soldier extra and one an English assistant director – I knew how their story would interact with the myth and legend of Stanley’s departure.
Set up in the downstairs of Costa Coffee Piccadilly, I set about working on the short with the Film Offaly competition in my sights. This wasn’t long after the U2 Apple debacle so all I had on my Iphone was their album Songs of Innocence which they had given away/forced on 500 million Apple users. In the end I hooked on to the track “The Troubles” and that got the story going.
I toyed with various titles – First Positions, Candles for Stanley, Women of England before landing on Kubrick By Candlelight. It was not long after that I discovered Pavel Barter’s excellent radio documentary “Castles, Candles and Kubrick” in which he interviews cast and crew of Barry Lyndon about filming, Kubrick and the abrupt departure from Ireland. It’s very good and well worth a listen.
So I entered the Film Offaly/ Filmbase competition and moved on with my life. Until…I got an email saying I had been shortlisted! And I had to come to Tullamore for an interview….