Just Celebrity was lucky enough to get an interview with Gridlock’s director Ian Hunt Duffy, who’s film has been selected as ‘short of the week’
JC: What inspired the story behind Gridlock, and how did you come up with the twist ending?
I love high-concept thrillers that are set in a single location and I always wanted to do my own version. One day I was stuck in traffic and I thought it would be interesting to set a thriller entirely during a traffic jam and see what kind of suspense you could create in that restricted environment. From there I had the idea of a father whose daughter goes missing from their car, and that was the jumping off point for ‘Gridlock’. As for the ending, I don’t want to spoil it for viewers who haven’t seen it, but we just wanted to create an exciting mystery for the audience to solve with lots of different possible suspects. So we tried to think of a satisfactory and hopefully surprising reveal to that mystery
JC:How did you end up working in film
I’ve had a love for film from a very young age. As a child my brother and myself would spend hours making short clips with an old camcorder, or recreating scenes from our favourite movies. When I was older then I went to the National Film School in Ireland to learn all about film and television production, and after graduating I decided to set up my own production company in Dublin. It’s called Fail Safe Films, and over the last few years we’ve been creating a range of different films and content.
JC:You have an amazing cast, how did you end up working with them?
‘Gridlock’ was an ensemble piece, so I knew the success of the film would depend upon the actors and their performances. I wanted actors who were excited by the material and who could work well together as a team, so my producer Simon Doyle and I really strived to get the best cast possible. We definitely aimed high with our cast, going after my ‘wish-list’ for the roles, but thankfully they all really responded to the script and were excited to come on board. That’s something I would always advise other filmmakers- don’t be afraid to approach an actor, even a bigger name. Often you will find that if an actor is available or has some free time, they would rather be working and acting. So it’s all about timing.
JC: The film features a young girl, how was it to work on a thriller when she was involved?
Robyn Dempsey played the role of Emma in the film. This was my first time working with a child actor so I was a little bit apprehensive initially about how it would go. But I needn’t have worried, because Robyn was a true professional. She only has a small amount of screen time, but she was full of energy on set and really took direction well.
JC:Who are your main inspirations as a filmmaker?
There are many film directors that would be big influences for me personally. I grew up watching the work of James Cameron and John Carpenter, and I’m a great admirer of David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, and the Coen Brothers to name but a few. But inspiration comes from all manner of films and directors, of every genre. I also follow various TV series at the moment, as some of the best and most exciting drama is now happening on television.
JC: What films have you seen recently that you enjoyed?
I haven’t seen that many films lately actually, I’ve mostly been catching up on TV if I’m honest. I recently went to the cinema to see ‘Baby Driver’ though, Edgar Wright’s latest, and I really enjoyed it. Before that. I think the last film I watched was a documentary called ‘The Seven Five’, which is really entertaining, almost like a Scorsese film.
JC: Being a filmmaker yourself, what do you look for in the “perfect film”?
For me it’s always about a good and engaging story. Personally I’m a sucker for a high-concept, so I love films with an exciting hook or premise that you can pitch in one line. After that, I look for interesting and relatable characters you can empathize with, and where possible a strong visual style. Unique compositions and shot choices, dynamic lighting and colour schemes, a good score- all those elements that elevate a film and make it stand out from the crowd.
JC:Are there any actors you would like to work with in any future productions you make?
Ireland has such a wealth of acting talent at the moment, it’s incredible. Not only are there lots of international stars already like Saoirse Ronan, Ruth Negga, Domhnall Gleeson, Jack Reynor- who would obviously all be great to work with- but there is also a huge wave of up-and-coming talent destined to be the next big thing. Seána Kerslake, Barry Keoghan, Sarah Greene, Moe Dunford, Cillian Scott…the list goes on and on! So it’s a truly great time to be making films in Ireland, and I’m hoping for some exciting collaborations in the future.
JC:What are your future plans?
I’m currently developing my first feature film, and I’m working again with writer Darach McGarrigle. We’re big fans of ‘siege’ style movies, where a group of people are trapped in a single location and must fight to survive. Movies like ‘Assault on Precinct 13‘, ‘The Thing‘, and more recently ‘Green Room‘ are all brilliant examples of taut and efficient thrillers set in one location, and Darach came up with a great idea for how to do our own spin on it. It will also be another opportunity for me as a director to work with an ensemble cast, so I’m very excited about it.
Thank you so much for your time Ian!
Find Gridlock on:
IMDB Page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5180990/