Interview, Magazin

»He’d created something special.«

An interview with Dave Tynan, director of HEARTBREAK and which got a special mention at the Weimar Poetryfilm Competiton 2017. 

Dave, can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you get into filmmaking? Which projects did you work on before you started with Heartbreak?

Dave Tynan: I went into film school straight from secondary school. Since then I’ve been scrapping along, making a lot of short films and more recently commercials and music videos too. Heartbreak is the third short I’ve made with Emmet.

When did you meet Emmet Kirwan and how did you come about his texts? Did the text already exist when you developed your film idea or was it a collaboration?

We met because my cinematographer JJ Rolfe suggested him for our short Just Saying in 2012. The text for Heartbreak already existed: Emmet had developed it as part of a theatre show, Riot, produced by thisispopbaby at the Dublin Fringe. 

The biggest decision was to represent YoungOne on screen and to give her a voice in the climactic scene. But yes we sat down and worked out broadly what parts of Youngone’s story is shown and what parts are told.

Emmet Kirwan (left), Dave Tynan (right) at the set

The film looks as if you were working with a professional team. What kind of support or funding did you get?

It was self funded. We wanted to move fast. With Heartbreak we felt it needed to be made and shown in a different way to the more traditional routes. But it’s the same crew I would use on a funded short or a commercial so yes, hopefully the quality of cast and crew shows. You’re only as good as your crew.

Apart from being a shortfilm, Heartbreak is also being perceived as a poetryfilm. Were you aware of this fact during production? Did you know about this format? Or wouldn’t you define it as a poetryfilm?

We’d done some similar work before but I’m not too concerned about labels when you’re making a film. You can’t escape your taste. The gift with Heartbreak was it’s exactly my tastes but I couldn’t have written it. It is one of those projects I like where it doesn’t make sense as a script but it does as a finished, realised film. There’s something in that. That’s where things might live a bit more. Film’s a synthesis, film’s editing, so maybe it should only really live when it’s all put together. 

I’ve found that true of any project I’ve worked on that could be considered a poetryfilm. They can be dense and fast, they can contain so much, that there’s a way to make properly cinematic work that can move as fast as life is.

The way text, image and the rhythm of the edit communicate with one another is very impressive. How did you work on that specific film language?

It’s very dense, even more than other times you’re working with voice-over. It’s got more than twice as many words as Just Saying, in some ways a similar project. We went fast because the text demanded it. I knew that towards the end we wouldn’t need to do very much; just leave the camera on Emmet. There’s nothing else you want to see. 

Heartbreak became very popular in the social networks already shortly after its release . It has also won the Irish Shortfilm Award. Did this success hit you unexpectedly?

It’s unusual for a film that got attention online rather than a film with festival success to win the IFTA so that felt great. We weren’t sure if that could go against us. In terms of the success, I think anyone who saw Emmet perform it as part of Riot would know that he’d created something special. But good work can get lost. So we’re very appreciative of all the attention.

Was it important for you to give a visual answer to the text? Or is it something else that you were aiming at with this film?

I didn’t want it to be just illustration. It had to serve some of that at the same time, it’s finding the balance. It was important to give Youngone her agency by letting her speak. That felt like the crux of it as an adaptation from a piece for stage. We can’t make the film and not let her speak at the end, it would dismantle everything we’ve built. 

One reason of the film’s success is due to the drama which is part of the story. What was the motivation for you to chose this particular topic?

I don’t feel I chose a topic so much as Emmet chose me: he asked me would we make a film from the piece and the minute I heard that I knew that was a great idea.

Can you tell us about the next project your are planning?

I’d like to make something longer so hopefully that can happen soon. 

About the Author

Dave Tynan is a writer/director from Dublin. He attended the National Film School at IADT and the MA in Filmmaking in Goldsmiths. In 2012 Just Saying was viewed over 250,000 times in the first week of it going online. It has since been seen over 500,000 times. In 2013 he won the Kinsale Shark for Most Promising Irish Director. 

His Film Board Rockmount has won the 2015 IFTA for Best Short Film, and numerous other awards including Tiernan MacBride Best Short Drama at the Galway Film Fleadh, the Audience Award at the Kerry Film Festival, Best in Cork at Fastnet Film Festival and two Kinsale Sharks. It was also chosen for the Nuits En Or tour run by the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma.

He is represented for commercials by Sweet Media in Ireland and by Mad Cow in the UK.

Outside of film work, Dave’s first short story was shortlisted in the Sunday Business Post / Penguin Ireland short story competition and was published in the June issue of The Stinging Fly.

He also wrote the text for Luke Franklin’s project, which won 1st Place at the Nova Awards and a Future Map Prize.