I came to make this movie as passionately as I have taken to anything in my life. From the beginning, The Trouble with Aoibhe was driven by two keen motivations, to raise my standard of filmmaking both artistically and professionally, and to bring to culmination my long time dream to tell the story of an optimist who refuses to renege on her optimism in the face of adversity. And, when it came to finding the right story, all I had to do was look at the frightful campaign posters that lined Cork’s streets.
During the Summer of 2013, there was an abortion referendum in Ireland. An antiabortion government littered the street with vile images of fetuses. Women, the government claimed, would supposedly suffer if abortion was legalised. The ruse worked and the amendment was not passes; but I was angry, not at the prolife side, but at prejudice in general. From this anger came the character of Aoibhe, the embodiment of sweetness and good will. Aoibhe sees only the best in everybody and wishes only to do good. There’s just one problemAoibhe has had an abortion in 1980s Ireland.
And, so, I had a plot.
To realise this plot I needed the right team. Keenly, I longed for utter professionalism to make in order to make the best film possible. Crucially, my loyal friends and producers Adam McCarthy and Stephen Broekhuizen were the first in. They are champions of every project, and their willingness to embrace the skills of organisation that I lack make them my most valued partners in all film endeavors. In the case of Justin McCarthy, David Horgan, and Mary Ginnifer (DOP, Gaffer, and Makeup artist respectively), these were three professionals hose record in filmmaking was so great that I almost felt intimidated to approach such seasoned, award winning pros. But their warmth and humour made me feel instantly comfortable in our ability creating a “hit short.” Rounding off the production crew were the tireless and brilliant Phillip Connolly and my dear friend Emmet O’Brien.
There are stunning performances in this film. Through a production that was made uneasy by human traffic in Ballincollig National Park, and an endless parade of traffic in Ballinlough Park which threatened to derail all of our sanity, our actors were thorough professionals. Trevor Somers, a decorated TV actor, was a breath of fresh air on set. Despite this, however, he is utterly chilling as the vile face of prejudice incarnate in the film. Two incredible youths also featured in the film. Without dialogue, Leah Comiskey and James O’Conner (who was only 9 at the time of filming), communicate with simply a look what better than many adults could hope to achieve. It was truly a pleasure working with this cast on a movie that seemed just right for its era.
Finally, after over a 11 film festivals and counting, and showings both domestically and internationally, I am reminded of my gratitude to two very special women. Firstly, the star of the film, without which none of this would be possible. I was warned by Justin Mccarthy that this project need a powerful lead actress, but I could not have imagined just how incredible a star he would recommend. From my first meeting with Irene Kelleher, I was captivated. Herenthusiasm for the project equalled mine and gave me strength. I felt then that I had found a friend, and I had. Irene’s performance is nothing short of extraordinary. She would brighten our day on set and then stagger us with her performance. Irene’s portrayal of Aoibhe is the heart of the film, and I thank Denis O’Sullivan for driving our lynchpin to set without complaint.
Finally and not least, for my life’s great producer and my friend in all things, I am thankful to my partner Cristine Byrne. Aside from ghostwriting a vital moment in the film involving a flowerpot, Christine ghost writes all of the great moments of my life. Along with my ever supportive family, I love her very much.
I love that The Trouble with Aoibhe takes you into the past to view the present, I love that it pushes technical and narrative boundaries, but mostly I love that it has heart. On behalf of everybody in the Aoibhe family, I hope that you feel the same.
Watch the official trailer: