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The journey to The Perished’s FrightFest Premiere

Hey guys, Paddy from Celtic Badger Media here.

Just wanted to drop the news here that has been released elsewhere on sites like Dread Central & Bloody Disgusting. The Perished, our second feature film and my second as director, will have it’s WORLD PREMIERE at Arrow Video FrightFest on Monday the 26th of August 2019.

The day before my eldest daughters birthday, a fact that feels both completely coincidental and also, considering the film it is, entirely pre-destined.

I wanted to take the time to write a few (meaning several hundred) words about the film & the festival as both mean more to me than you could ever possibly imagine. I’m going to start with the festival as the film was borne out of it, so that feel’s like right order for this particular story.

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In 2014 my first short film, Ensnared, was premiering in Limerick, Ireland alongside a British short film called The Tour. The Tour, directed by Damon Rickard and produced by Annette Rickard, was also premiering somewhere else that day. FrightFest in London. I received a hilarious drunken intro video from Tour director Damon (who has since gone on to become an incredible friend) and star Jessica Cameron. Watching that video, my mind was made up. I needed to attend that festival, someday.

The following year I worked on a film in Scotland, directed by my incredibly talented friend Andy Stewart called Remnant. On this set, I met a talented stills photographer named Mike Shawcross, who has worked on many, many of my shoots since and would work on every film if geography didn’t get in the way. Mike agreed to come over to do stills on my short film Retribution in November of 2015.

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Mike did an incredible job and on set we became good friends. He asked me if I was going to FrightFest in August of the following year, or if I would be submitting the film. I said I hadn’t considered it. Well needless to say August 2016, I was there in Shepards Bush. Sadly, Retribution wasn’t but that’s fine; that’s the way short film submissions go.

I was immediately enamoured with the people, the festival & the organisers. I got to see My Father Die, 31 & Pet on the opening night and the festival ended with the highly emotional Train to Busan. I laughed through The Windmill Massacre with my seat buddy Sam & watched my newfound friend, fellow director Mark Logan, jump in his seat. I shared snacks with poster designer John Lynch and his wife, Kat. I also got to meet festival director Paul McEvoy, who I accidentally pissed off asking about my short film and then tapped a cigarette off. Smooth, I know.

Luckily by the end of the fest, we hugged and made up and since then Paul has been nothing but incredible to me.

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I committed right then and there to going again every year for the rest of my life. I also made the decision that some day, some how I would have a film grace that sacred showcase.

In 2017, FrightFest returned to it’s rightful place in Leicester Square, right in the heart of London’s West End. This year was bigger and better with Victory Crowley and Mayhem both playing. These were films by some of my favourite directors and getting to see them on stage introducing the film and at the bar later was a surreal experience. I accosted Joe Lynch [Mayhem, Everly, Wrong Turn 2, Netflix’s Point Blank] outside The Phoenix Artist Club where we would congregate until late into the night/morning.

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I told Joe that my first feature film, The Three Don’ts hadn’t been as successful as I had hoped and said that I was thinking of packing in film-making. Joe looked me dead in the eyes and said “Dude, you made a feature film. You should be fucking proud of yourself. That’s such a huge accomplishment. Most people only ever talk about that shit. You did it”. I had heard these words from friends, family and contemporaries, but it felt different coming from Joe, someone whose work I had admired for so long.

His next words were where The Perished’s journey began. He looked at me and said “You need to go home and start writing your next script. This shit isn’t like riding a bike. You will forget!”. Adam also gave some insight and words of wisdom and made me realise just how difficult the industry was, but never discouraged me from pursuing my dream. In fact over the next two years, their podcast The Movie Crypt would be a constant source of inspiration and outlet for questions and advice.

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I returned home to Ireland with renewed vigour. I sat down to write and in light of the discoveries of a mass baby grave in Tuam, my mind naturally wandered to that real life horror. I reached out to a close friend, Judd Tilyard, who helped with advice and feedback on the concept and by March of 2018, Celtic Badger Media were all onboard and committed to getting the project off the ground – especially my eternal co-conspirator and heater-lifemate, Barry Fahy.

After I began writing, news came out that a referendum would be held to repeal the 8th amendment, an article of our constitution that gave more rights to the unborn, than the mother. I was so incensed when I saw members of the Church commenting on this and stating that it was awful to kill (unborn) children. The hypocrisy that this organisation would have that standpoint in light of the Tuam discovery was the cornerstone on which the script was built and I received tons of advice from women who had been through the horrific event’s of dealing with an abortion. The stigma, the shame. The complete lack of support and empathy. This became I story Barry and I needed to tell. I also saw how communication around the referendum fell apart and most on either side just shouted at each other rather than trying to show any empathy and understand other’s perspectives. This was another formulaic and deep rooted message of the film. The breakdown of communication and the horrors it can unleash.

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In April 2018 we had the script locked down and shot a concept trailer for the film featuring many of the cast members who would go on to star in the real thing including Courtney McKeon, Stephen Tubridy and Noelle Clarke. We worked on pre-production tirelessly through the summer and FrightFest 2018 approached. I was struggling to go, as my money was tied up in the film, but somehow I managed to beg, borrow and steal my way back to Leicester Square.

In 2018 the festival opened with The Ranger; a female led, female directed film from the super talented Jenn Wexler, produced by the equally fantastic Heather Buckley. I actually reached out to Jenn while working on the pre-production materials for The Perished and she was kind enough to help out. I also briefly met Rob Galuzzo at the festival, one of the hosts of another favourite podcast of mine, Shock Waves.

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I was also lucky to encounter Jonathan Barkan, the editor in chief of Dread Central and over many drinks in The Phoenix we became fast friends. By 2018 I had gained even more FrightFest friends/family and the post fest blues were heavy, but knowing I was going home to shoot a film that I NEEDED to screen at that festival helped lift me out of it.

In September 2018 we began the process of table-reads, rehearsals, costume fittings, make up tests and all that fun stuff. Barry and his (then) girlfriend (now fiancee) Vachn were super supportive and helpful every step of the journey as we locked locations in and got the supplies we needed. We knew our window. We would be shooting from the 5th of October through to the 2nd of December.

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The day before we rolled camera’s my beloved pet/friend Stitch died in complications during labour. It was a sadly prophetic moment. I was crushed and to this day that pain hasn’t gone away. Anyone who has lost a pet that was their best friend will know how deeply that pain can hurt, but I couldn’t grieve there and then. I had to move on with the shoot. It was what Stitch would want I told myself.

Over the next 8 weeks the team would absolutely knock it out of the park. Courtney was not only playing Sarah, but working a full time job and also acting in a two person play called Tan in Limerick. Paul Fitzgerald who plays Davet in the film had given up his job at Live 95fm at the time to pursue acting more seriously and boy did he deliver. Fiach Kunz and Lisa Tyrrell both travelled down from Dublin for the shoot and were also leads in an incredibly heavy play that was running called Extremities. Conor Lambert travelled from way up north for his scenes, while Noelle Clarke travelled from way down south.

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Barry’s camera team consisting of Matthew Blayney [Additional Cinematography] and Martin Nee [Assistant Camera] really helped Barry in every aspect of his role as DOP. Bekki Tubridy was incredible at running her special effects make up department which consisted of herself, Vachn Gill, Marie Hourigan and Lynn O’ Doherty. This was not just a prosthetics job but a full on creature suit. Bekkis brother, Stephen, had played two creatures in one of my previous short films, An Beanshi and I knew he had the physicality and depth to bring that creature to life and he did not disappoint.

Mike Shawcross came on for two weekends to do stills and captured something truly incredible. His work was used in John Lynch’s original teaser poster and as the template for Christopher Shy’s official poster. He also had a team consisting of Matt Dillon & Robbie Milton, who were both fantastic. BTS Video duties were held by Graham Lillis for the first two weekends and then Niall O’ Hagan and Stephen McGuane for the remainder of the shoot and they all captured SOOOO much amazing footage. The BTS doc for this is gonna be awesome.

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Aaron Walsh who has worked on nearly every film I’ve made did an incredible job on DIT and had an assembly edit ready to go almost as we finished filming. He also cut the rough cut by February 2019. Absolute gem that he is. Marie Hourigan was assistant director but she wore many hats, helping Bekki with the makeup and Vachn with the catering among other duties.

It was brilliant to get to work with longtime Celtic Badger mainstay Brian O’ Regan in one of my favourite scenes in the film where he plays the “Portent of Doom” character ala films like Friday the 13th. Likewise it was fantastic to get to work with Tim Hourigan, even briefly, as he’s an actor I’ve wanted to work with for a long time. Nikki Fahy came on to help with Catering as required and we were hugely thankful for the food and hydration.

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My beautiful wife Kathy Murphy was our costumer, but so much more than that has been at my side through every element of this process and tried to be there for me when it was all getting too much. Kathy has had to put with a lot, as have my two daughters, when I’m in “Production Mode” but days out with them always manage to bring me back to reality and out of myself.

It was brilliant having Jon Barkan and his wonderful girlfriend, incredibly talented journalist Ariel Fisher on set, as well as Paul McEvoy. They gave some fantastic advice and helped shape some of the films later scenes. They were always willing to give suggestions and I was always more than willing to listen. Massimiliano Borghesi came onto the project as our sound mixer and designer, through another FrightFest connection, Stewart Sparke.

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I had attended the premiere of Stewarts first film at FrightFest 2016, The Creature Below and was lucky enough to also see the world premiere of his second feature, Book of Monsters at FrightFest 2018. I asked Stewart who did their (incredible) sound and he pointed me towards Max and I’m so glad he did.

From January 2019 myself, Barry, Aaron, Evan and Max worked on the film’s post production. Evan began composing and I would sit in with him and give feedback and advice but by the end of our time together, I was so proud of what he had achieved and think it’s his best score to date.  Barry helped with some additional editing to tidy the film up and Max just knocked it out of the park with the best sound we’ve ever had in a film to date. I hit the submit button on FrightFest 2019, tentative- but excited. I really felt that this was my best film to date and the film that most deserved to play at the Festival.

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When we received the news that the film had been selected to screen at FrightFest, I completely lost my shit. This was the festival that gave me the kick to go make the film in the first place.

This Festival means everything to me. This film also means everything to me. So together, they’re like peanut butter [Tubz] and chocolate. They go together perfectly. The fact that my FrightFest family and my Badger Family get to collide is incredible and I couldn’t be any happier. I’ve been shaking and smiling since the announcement yesterday and cannot wait for everyone to see the movie.

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If you’re still reading this ball of emotional word vomit, I commend you. Thanks for taking the time to and if you can, please check out our trailer for the film and our Facebook page. If you happen to be going to FrightFest, please come and check the film out. Thank you all so so much.

I’m gonna go back to my foetal position and shaking from the sheer joy of it all.

Much love,

Paddy Murphy

Writer/Director, The Perished.

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