Low Budget Lance is Suckin' Diesel

Children's Express reporters talk to filmmaker Lance Daly

Today’s high budget blockbuster movies use an array of clever techniques such as computer generated imagery and have millions of pounds to fund their productions. They can hire crews and actors. They have easy access to equipment for special effects, as well as other luxuries most filmmakers have to go without.

Of course this is not a bad thing for the average movie buff, or if your name is Steven Spielberg. However what if you’re an up-and-coming moviemaker trying to make a low budget movie?

Lance Daly, a filmmaker from Dublin, recently hosted a workshop at the 18th Seagate Foyle Film Festival.  He is one of a select few people who have succeeded in completing a feature length movie with a budget of less than £10,000.

Daly started his career in the industry as an actor, but soon realised his ambitions lay elsewhere: 'There was a time when I was an actor and I pursued that seriously. Then I realised I hadn’t got it at an early age, but I was always interested in making films as well. There is something about being a director, whereby you have to have some severe emotional problems (laughs) and I ticked all those boxes. Something about the control and making it all happen is exciting.'

Daly started off making music videos for Dublin-based bands, but soon found himself in the early stages of his first feature length film, Last days in Dublin, where he had to use all his powers of persuasion to encourage others to help him.

As Lance explains, the pressures of working on a low budget can make the creative process quite frustrating. 'That is the biggest problem I have found with the job. There is very little career satisfaction because you start off with a great idea, but then you don’t have enough to achieve this, so your expectations drops down a little and then that kind of goes wrong, so the idea drops down a little more and by the time you get to the end it is always a shadow of what you had planned it to be, but it's still probably good enough.'

He is also very aware that success in the movie industry is only measured by your last film. 'Partially success is measured on how much money is made, as you don’t get to make another movie unless you do some business. The way I feel about my projects really is the most important thing now. I like bits of the ones I have done, but I am still just trying to get it right.'

Despite his frustrations with certain aspects of his field of work, Daly couldn’t see himself doing any other type of job. 'I don’t like saying that office jobs are boring and crap, as a lot of people have to do office jobs in order to let us go out and make movies. I probably would have been bored in an office job, but I would have quite liked to have been an architect or a musician or a thing where you are using your brain and trying to create stuff.'

Having already completed two major features, Last Days in Dublin and The Halo Effect, which featured Northern Irish actor Stephen Rea, he has now been allocated €750,000 for his next project, 'Suckin’ Diesel', which is an Irish bratpack movie set in the high octane world of Irish motor racing.

His increased budget will enable him to experiment with different styles he has not yet worked with, which he hopes will help the film appeal to a wider audience. He also appreciates that being so young when he first set out it was difficult for investors to take him seriously, but his naivety was an advantage in other ways.

'There is a certain age when people are not interested in you making a movie. They see you are a kid. You do have to really work hard and even when we made our first movie people were looking at us. We got a kick out of it too though because we were so young and people were willing to help us out.'

He has the following advice for any potential young directors out there. 'Just get out on set as much as possible, learn the language of people who talk about films, learn to walk the walk and get tuned into it.'

When asked about what he believes to be his best project, he gave us a short answer, which explains very clearly the mindset with which many filmmakers have to live. 'The next one!'

Brian Smyth and David McReynolds