Doing it with Passion! Writers in Ireland: Shane McCabe

Shane McCabe was born in Dublin and graduated with an honours degree in economics from Trinity College.  He is also a graduate of the Gaiety School of Acting, and has been involved in the industry for a number of years. His short film LUCKY ESCAPE screened at numerous Academy Award® accredited festivals worldwide and sold to NBC Universal, (Italy), HBO, (Central and Eastern Europe), top comedy website Atom.com, UK Broadcaster Channel 4, NBC Pan Asia, Shorts TV in the United States, and all of Latin America and the Caribbean via the Latin American Discovery Channel.  Lucky Escape has over 2.3 million views on YouTube and Shane has just signed a deal which will see both Lucky Escape and his most recent short THE PRESCRIPTION hosted on Amazon, Amazon Prime and Hulu. The Prescription, his three minute comedy, set in Dublin, had its World Premiere at the 2014 Edmonton International Film Festival and recently sold to HBO and his feature, KOPKILLER, a supernatural thriller, won Best Crime/Mystery category at the 6th Annual GSIFF Screenplay Competition 2012.  Shane’s Latino-themed thriller, NEXT OF KIN, was a Quarter Finalist at the 2014 AMPAS Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting, and has recently attracted the attention of Colombian actress Sofia Vergara. His latest script, MONEY TALKS, has just received development funding from the Irish Film Board.

 

How long have you been writing, Shane, and when did you get your first break into film?

In and around 2000/2001 and the first breakthrough came in 2005 when the Irish Film Board produced my short film, Never judge a book under their Short Cuts Scheme.

Do you write everyday?

No. But I will try to sometime. I don’t structure my day when writing. I write when I feel the time is right.

Is there a genre that you prefer to work in?

I write in many genres, from comedy to dark thriller, but I do tend to favour supernatural thrillers.

And how long does it take you to finish a script?

It depends on the project. I wrote my last script in eight days, but I did have a well fleshed out treatment to work off. I am currently working on a project I started three years ago. The lead-in time is always different. But the average time from Fade in to Fade out is three to four weeks.

On negative reviews – ever had any?

Luckily I haven’t been too often in that position. My short film Lucky Escape has over two million views on YouTube and there are negative and positive comments so I just take the rough with the smooth.

Do you have an agent, Shane – or think it necessary to have one?

No and Yeah, I am currently talking to various reps in the US and UK.

Do you engage in your own PR?

One hundred per cent yes. I do all my own marketing and spend as much time as possible on it. Social media is a good tool if it is used wisely.

Did anyone, famous or not, inspire you to write?

Yes. Quentin Tarantino. I loved his structure in Pulp Fiction and in Reservoir Dogs.

What’s your opinion of the film industry right now?

It seems all the good writing is gravitating to television now. Film is more and more about the franchise or super hero/comic book genre.

And on competitions and awards?

I rate competitions highly. The reason is twofold. Winning or being placed is a great shot in the arm and winning or placing in the big ones opens doors to getting your script read and/or representation. I was an Austin FF finalist in 2010 and a Nicholl Awards quarter finalist for the last two years.

What about Indie Film and publishing?

Indie is tough. You need a knockout hook and/or a name to get the finance. Also, I have considered crowdsourcing for film and I have self-published one of my scripts, Breakthrough, as a book.

Any advice you can offer to emerging talent, Shane?

Never give up. Write, then rewrite, then write again. Personally I like to have two projects going at once. Time spent away from a script is as valuable as time spent writing it.

Write what you know – agree or disagree?

Yes and No. Write what you’d love to see on the screen.

Is there a script by another writer that you would have liked to have written?

Yes, LA Confidential. This is beautifully structured, plotted, and executed.

Want to share what you are working on now?

Yes. It is a film called Money Talks a thriller with some very dark humour.

And finally, Shane, anyone, famous or not, you would like to share your favourite beverage with?

Only one name comes to mind: Nelson Mandela. He is one of the greatest leaders of all time. His ability to leave his twenty-seven years of captivity behind him and embrace those who imprisoned him is a lesson for all human beings.

Check in with Shane on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shane.mccabe.75

 

Of terrible and splendid things…

In 2016, the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising will take place in Ireland. A rebellion that raged swiftly and momentarily in an era when the First World War was raging on (a war that, under British rule, many Irish men had already signed up for and were fighting in…and dying for) and when ordinary citizens of the time frowned upon, and indeed spat upon the rebels on their capture and surrender.

Only after the execution of so many of those young leaders, Patrick Pearse, Joseph Plunkett and Thomas McDonagh amongst them; teachers, poets and artists, did the general public take heed of what WB Yeats described as the terrible beauty born…and the quest for independence raged on through the youth of the Irish Volunteers…

Through the medium of film and cinematic exploration, there has been little made in the telling of the stories of the male and female insurgents of 1916, Michael Collins being the exception. Interned at the age of 25 in Frongoch in Wales, for his part in the Easter Rising, upon his release, Collins went on to mastermind the guerilla war against British Rule, which resulted in a truce that enabled him to lead a delegation to London to sign the Treaty in December, 1921…a move that divided a nation and culminated in the Civil War of 1922. In August of that year, Collins was dead, and Ireland was changed, changed utterly.

Now, with the centenary beckoning to offer us all a time to reflect on how far we have come as a nation,  it is no surprise, that in the writing world, a plethora of ideas for novels and scripts are circulating already. So, it was interesting for me to go along to an event recently organised by the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, and co-hosted by the Irish Film Board,  to see the five finalists of the UNTITLED Screenwriting Award pitch their film projects.

All exploring some aspect or theme of that historic year, the award to the winning project, a first draft development loan from the Irish Film Board, would be €12,000 for a single writer applicant, and €16,000 for a team, ie, writer and director. In my humble opinion, all five shortlisted pitches, each presented to an audience and in front of an industry judging panel, had potential for support towards further development.

Anne Marie Casey pitched a biopic she is writing with her partner, author Joseph O’Connor…Grace 1916: The story of Grace Gifford, woman, artist and icon of a revolution…the only project to look with any real depth at a compelling aspect of a woman’s life during the period, and one I would definitely want to see!

Hugh Travers gave a very entertaining pitch with his project, The PlayersA black comedy about ex-IRA members who join an amateur drama group to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Rising. Jasmina Kallay presented her drama Das Irland: A tale of what if.  What if promised German help had materialised in 1916? and Virginia Gilbert pitched her drama The Boys: Everybody remembers a great teacher but how many are willing to die for one?

The winning pitch came from Jamie Hannigan and Michael Kinirons with their noir thriller Come Monday, We Kill Them All April 1916:  A down on his luck smuggler reluctantly agrees to help a wealthy politician find his missing daughter only to become embroiled in murder, conspiracy and rebellion…potentially fascinating…trench coats and tribly hats at the ready!

Each project was very different, and as alluded to earlier, there is a wealth of varied ideas out there that have the potential to create exciting, dramatic insights into the lives of not just the key characters of the rebellion, but also, to be a window into the lives and struggles of the ordinary people who lived through those turbulent times in Dublin, 1916.

Which begs the question…if they could see now what they fought for, what they suffered for, and what they died for, what would those men and women of 1916 think of Ireland, one hundred years on?

Featured Image: The Women of 1916, Cumann Na Mban, sourced from http://saoirse.21.forumer.com/a/