Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Drama group in local author's screenplay filming

The filming of a rehearsal performance by Kilcullen Drama Group on Monday night was also a debut in Kilcullen for one of the town's newest authors, Damien Aulsberry, writes Brian Byrne.

The performers in the Town Hall Theatre, under the direction of Eilis Phillips, were working with Damien's first screenplay, 'Memoirs of a Docket'. The project is to film the first 10 pages of his 92-page script, as part of an application to the Irish Film Board for financial support.

"I never wrote before 2013, when I got this idea for a story," Damien says. "So when I decided to try and develop it, I bought textbooks on screenwriting, and watched a lot of movies to work out how it was done. Whatever I did with it, I wanted to do as best I could."

He also joined a screenwriter website run by Francis Ford Coppola's daughter, on which the members critique each others' work, offering constructive advice in return for similar from their peers.

"It worked very well, and I got a lot of great tips from well-known screenwriters whom I befriended there. I went through several drafts, and won the site's Script of the Month a couple of times."

The theme of 'Memoirs of a Docket' is redemption. A former killer has had the chance to get on with his life and believed he had lived it to some level of making up for his past wrongdoing. But now he has been manipulated into doing one last job.

"It's set in the present time, but is related to the Troubles. It opens with a discussion by a group of former IRA leaders, who want to get rid of a colleague who knows too much."

The 'Docket' in the title is colloquial to the Curragh Camp. "An Army guy who lives on his own in barracks, and who spends all his leisure time in the Mess bar is known as a Wine Docket. That got shortened to Docket, and became a general term for someone who was a 'bar-fly'."

Damien entered the script in the WILDsound Screenplay Festival in Toronto, where it won the opportunity to be performed live in a 'table read' by professional actors.

"That was great, and they were brilliant. But they murdered the accents. So when I decided to develop it for production finance, I asked Kilcullen Drama Group to do it. They know the background, and they have the accents and the ability to identify with the Irish characters."

The '10-page' element is intrinsic in screenwriting development. "If you don't catch somebody in the first ten pages of a script, it goes in the bin."

Damien is pushing for development finance with a view to the screenplay being bought by a film company.

(If he lands that, it is this writer's view that there would be merit in insisting that the Kilcullen actors be considered for parts. At the filming on Monday night of the discussion around the table by the 'hard men', there was a very palpable air of menace from our well known local favourites.)

The participants in the filmed sequences are Dick Dunphy, Maurice O'Mahony, Vivian Clarke, Daffyd O'Shea, Aideen Delahunt, Bernard Berney, Lisa Dowling, Roy Thompson, Fergal Sloan, Graham Dowling, Maryclare McMahon and narrator John Martin.

Anybody watching them work on Monday night couldn't but be desperate to see how the next 82 pages turn out.