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Celtic Sole Brother
Oscar-winner Terry George is one of the most important – and creatively successful – film directors in Ireland. Now, with Whole Lotta Sole, he is moving into a new phase of his career.
Craig Fitzpatrick, 25 Jul 2012
“I have a house in the North and I go back and forth,” says the man who has spent over three decades in New York. “So just seeing the changes in the place, I wanted to document or capture that. It also marked a point where I’d done an awful lot of Hollywood work. I was working with Spike Lee on Inside Man 2 and that wasn’t happening. I’d also done a TV pilot for NBC which ended up not going ahead. So it was a frustrating period where we ended up with a lot of ‘script by committee’ and the whole studio network thing. I just wanted to get away from that.”
He prefers the dominion he’s afforded on smaller projects. “I don’t fit into the ‘action hero remake’ model that’s out there now. Any of the films that Jim and I do need us as directors to be in control and you don’t ever get that. So I’d rather just pick up a scriptwriting job in the US and then stick to the independent stuff in Ireland that I know better.
“I think that’s the way to go. If you have a singular vision, a lot of the time it doesn’t initially make total sense or seem terribly unique to a collective group. Nor does it seem to be commercial. God knows Jim would never have gotten My Left Foot made and I would never have gotten Hotel Rwanda made if we hadn’t bucked the system and said, ‘This is what we’re going to do’. Push it down the road yourself... or up the hill!”
Luckily, he has actors willing to go with him.
“There’s Colm, there’s Brendan Gleeson and there’s Ciaran Hinds. Great actors that get work all the time around the world. But what’s great is that they’ll come back and do the local stuff for way less than they would earn anywhere else. Ciaran did The Shore for free. And to a degree that’s true of Whole Lotta Sole in terms of Brendan Fraser and Colm, they’re not getting a payday out of it but they like the story. That’s what’s great about actors, if you come along with a great story they’ll work hard for you.”
Another help is Ireland’s attitude towards filmmaking. More specifically, the financial backing. “It’s a great set-up,” he nods, “And obviously Hollywood has copped on to it. They have Game Of Thrones going on up there and two or three big-budget films, the likes of Your Highness and City Of Ember. It’s the same in the South. You’ve got the Irish Film Board and the Northern Ireland Screen and between the tax incentives and the development funds, you’ve got something that you don’t get in the States. There’s money there to get a project going, you can say to film companies, ‘look, here’s we’re a quarter in the door’. That’s fantastic.”