by Damien O’Connor, Writer/Director of After You
In early 2010 I was awarded a grant by the Irish Film Board, RTÉ, The Arts Council and the BAI to make my short animated film After You.
The idea for the film was to tell the tale of a Dublin doorman over sixty years. The storyline allowed me an opportunity to show off the great buildings of Dublin and as anyone who lives here will know, I was spoilt for choice. The first decision was to bypass the better known buildings. As lovely as the GPO, Trinity and College Green are, I wanted to show the less recognisable greats – Newman House on St. Stephen’s Green (tweaked for technical reasons, it now represents the hotel in the film); 46 Fitzwilliam Square (which is rumoured to have the most photographed door in Dublin); the sweeping curve of Harcourt street; Grattan Bridge with the Sunlight Chambers building opposite; and last but not least, my favourite building in Dublin: The National Library of Ireland on Kildare Street.
With public access to the front courtyard between the two wings limited, I had to rely on photography and archive material to begin drawing. The first stage was to sketch out a layout for 3D computer set. Again, slight changes had to be implemented for technical reasons – the railings in front of the building would have blocked the characters from view and detailing on the roof and pillars had to be simplified.
This was the blueprint for the Library set modeller, Eoin Kavanagh. He took this drawing and began the painstaking task of modelling. Fortunately the repetitive patterns adopted by the architect Thomas Newenham Deane made the task somewhat easier, but every element still had to be made into a wireframe replica.
The wireframe creates a virtual surface. When the wireframe is hidden, the grey scale surface remains. This allows us to see a physical representation of the 3D set and tweaks in geometry etc. can be carried out at this stage:
Only the front façade of the building was modelled to keep costs down.
Once the grey scale set has been finalised, every element in the set has to have a texture applied to give the impression of stone, copper etc.
This basic textured version was used for the animation stage of production. Once the animation was complete, the scene then had to be lit to give it depth and richness and this is the version seen in the film.
To give an idea of how long all the above takes, the seven minute film had a crew of twenty plus people based at Brown Bag Studios in Dublin, and took about two years to produce from start to finish. Showing 60 years in the life of a city was an ambitious proposition, but I hope I have done the featured buildings justice. As the film travels around the world on its festival circuit, I am delighted to be able to tell audiences that the featured buildings are real locations and I encourage people to seek them out to enjoy them in reality.
Bean an Phoist says: Have a look at the After You trailer – I defy you not to fall in love with Eli the doorman and with the beautiful buildings of Dublin (not just Library Towers!). If you’d like to catch this small, but perfectly formed film, it will be on RTÉ TWO on Monday 4 March – Shortscreen at 11.25 pm.
P.S. After You was nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award 2013 and was screened as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival on 20 February at the Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin.