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Monday 22 October 2018

I'm selling ... my movie

First-time director Glenn McQuaid, from Artane, tells Garret Murphy how to make a funny, scary movie

MOVIE MAKER: Glenn McQuaid got Ron Perlman and
Dominic Monaghan to star in his film I Sell the Dead
MOVIE MAKER: Glenn McQuaid got Ron Perlman and Dominic Monaghan to star in his film I Sell the Dead

IT sounds like the script of a far-fetched movie: young aspiring director writes a script then uses his connections to get a couple of famous actors (Hellboy's Ron Perlman and Lost's Dominic Monaghan) involved, paying them next to nothing.

The result, a $450,000 (€352,000) horror comedy, I Sell the Dead, is already winning favourable notices at international film festivals. A hit at Toronto After Dark, it was described as a "deliberately wonky throwback to the Roger Corman pictures of the 1960s, with more than a dash of broad, Monty Python-esque absurdity".

So, how did Glenn McQuaid, a young man from Artane, manage to convince the moneymen to finance his movie?

"It wasn't easy," laughs the 35-year-old Dubliner.

"I probably aged 10 years in the process. But it wasn't a huge budget so that helped. Although $450,000 is a lot of cash in anyone's language, in terms of the average Hollywood film, it represents the catering budget.

effects

"My background is in special effects and I've been working with an independent film production company called Glass Eye Pictures for a few years. I wrote the script then twisted their arms into letting me do it."

Working as a second unit director on another Glass Eye film, McQuaid struck up a friendship with leading man Ron Perlman, probably best known for his work in the Hellboy movies.

"I worked with Ron on a film called The Last Winter and I got to know him. When I finished writing my own script, I sent it off to him and got word back that he really liked it," McQuaid says. "We got it off to Dominic Monaghan and he liked it, too.

"Since we were such a small production, there were a lot of false starts and delays.If the actors had something else going on, we had to wait.

"We had shot three-quarters of the movie and Ron had to leave the movie to start work on Hellboy 2, so that meant us waiting around for five months until he finished that film."

Set in an unidentified 19th- century country, I Sell the Dead follows grave robbers Arthur Blake (Monaghan) and Willy Grimes (Larry Fessenden), who are apprehended for their crimes.

With the guillotine looming over Blake, he confesses his sins to a priest, Father Duffy (Perlman) telling of his 15 years of grave robbing.

"The film isn't set in Ireland but there's a bunch of Irish actors in it, which gives it a bit of an Irish flavour, even though we filmed in New York. There's a nice sense of humour running through it, which I hope people get."

Humour may be the great leveller, but how did McQuaid feel, as a first-time director, dealing with actors who had more experience than him?

"The night before we started filming, I lay awake thinking about that. I was pretty nervous.

"But as we had to do everything on such a tight budget, there simply wasn't time to let worries creep in. We shot I Sell the Dead in just 22 days. Plus, the actors were professional. They were very collaborative."

While McQuaid's experience is largely in horror movies, he doesn't want to limit himself to that genre.

comedy

"I'm interested in pushing myself as a director. I'd be eager to direct other people's scripts. I love the horror genre but do not want to stay in it exclusively. I'd rather do a decent romantic comedy than a slasher movie I couldn't care less about."

In the short term, McQuaid will continue taking his film to festivals around the globe -- recently to Barcelona, Spain and back to the United States, where he has lived "on and off" for the past decade.

"It's a great way of seeing the world -- taking a movie on the festival circuit! There are a couple of festivals in South America that I'd love to take the film to. But more than anything, I hope the film gets a theatrical release in the United States shortly. When that's finalised, I'd like to show it at home. I think it'll really appeal to an Irish audience. They'll connect with the sense of humour."

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