How High The Moon

March 28, 2011

RTE Guide, Wednesday 16 March 2011

Michael Doherty catches up with Marc Ivan O’Gorman, whose short feature, Blood Coloured Moon, is being screened next week on RTÉ Two

Carlow-born Marc Ivan O’Gorman is an award-winning filmmaker who has won numerous awards for his output over the years including student BAFTAs, a Fuji film Award, a Filmbase/RTE Short film Award and several Arts Council of Ireland Film Bursaries. His films have regularly been screened at festivals throughout Europe and he is well known for his keen visual sense. Over the past few years, Marc-Ivan has divided his time between Ireland and India and he has produced several audio and video works in the sub continent. His photographic exhibition, Long Shots & Cutaways, examined urban phenomena from Dublin and Delhi and Reflected Light Exhibition displayed a decade of video art work.

Next Monday night, RTÉ Two will screen Marc-Ivan’s short, Blood Coloured Moon. Already a staple on the festival circuit, having screened in Derry, Cork, Belfast Galway and Brooklyn, the movie is written by award-winning playwright Barry McKinley and co-stars Ronan Leahy, Olga Wehrly (the teacher in Michael Creagh’s Oscar nominated The Crush) and Frankie McCafferty. A bittersweet and poignant tale, the events of Blood Coloured Moon take place over one Good Friday evening in rural Ireland in 1967. An unnamed stranger (Leahy) arrives at an isolated pub and attempts to woo the wife (Wehrly) of a publican (McCafferty) with poetic words of love and desire.

Michael Doherty: Before we talk about your short film, Marc-Ivan; you have so many strings to your bow, how would you describe yourself in one media-friendly bite?

Marc-Ivan O’Gorman: I would describe myself as a filmmaker and a visual artist. I started out as an actor and then I was writing and directing for the theatre. Then I became more interested in screen and I did my degrees in film and TV. I’m very interested in conceptual pieces and short pieces but it’s all film at the end of the day. I’m a magpie in terms of my personality but filmmaker and visual artist would sum it up, I suppose!

Talk to me about Blood Coloured Moon. . .

I first saw it performed as a one act play in Los Angeles. I was taken by the fact that they made it work. It was short but it had depth. It’s not cinematic in the classic terms of mise-en-scène and all that stuff we do in film school, but in this business it’s very much a case of horses for courses. When it comes to budgets for these projects, you need a good concept and good actors and we had that. The period aspect was interesting in terms of a plot device because you have no mobile phones and here’s this guy wandering about looking for a pint on Good Friday, but that’s just a Maguffin. The key thing here is the incommunicable space between husband and wife, the contrast between the spoken and the unspoken. Could someone get to the point in their life where they would throw off their life and head off with someone if this romantic scenario presented itself? Will they do the sensible thing or will they respond to the poetic impulse? That’s the key dilemma in this film.

How did you find your cast?

I had worked with Ronan as an actor and I also shot a short film with him so I knew his capabilities as an actor. In a naturalistic piece, if someone starts reciting a poem that could seem weird, it’s like those musicals where people suddenly burst into song, but I knew Ronan with his theatrical background could handle it well. I had no one in mind for the other two characters but I was delighted when Orla and Frankie came on board. Frankie’s performance was so full of humanity; it changed how the film was shaped at the editing stage. The husband was supposed to be a cuckold but your sympathy changes because of Frankie’s performance, after all, some guy has just turned up in the night and he’s trying to make off with his wife!

You mentioned Maguffins earlier and there are clearly echoes here of Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps (1935) here. . .

That’s exactly what I had in mind, I’ve always loved that scene with the Crofter’s wife because you have this young wife [Peggy Ashcroft] living in this isolated country scene and she is suddenly faced with this handsome young guy [Robert Donat] from a cool, urban background. That sequence was a real reference point for me. And I love that guy from Dad’s Army [John Laurie], too!

The Dead (1987) is clearly a reference point, too . . .

Yes, these references are going to sound a bit pompous, as if I were making Citizen Kane 2! The Dead reference arises from the fact that it hinges on a married couple, there’s a third party involved and there’s also a poetic element. At the end of The Dead, you have this lyrical, poetic reverie that’s moving, yet shot so beautifully and so simply, with Donal McCann staring out of the window. That’s one of the few movies where the transition from literary classic to screen classic worked seamlessly so I suppose we were trying to get a little of that Huston/ Joyce magic in Blood Coloured Moon.

See for yourself if Marc-Ivan and his team succeeded next Monday at 11.25pm, when Blood Coloured Moon is screened as part of RTE Two’s Shortscreen series


So far, 2011 has been very eventful for the cast and crew of Blood Coloured Moon.

Our lead actor, Ronan Leahy, received a Best supporting Actor nomination in this year’s Irish Times Theatre Awards as Tutor/Messenger in Medea , written by Euripedes in a new version by Robin Robertson. (You might recall our writer, Barry McKinley, receiving a nomination for best new play the year before).

Our lead actress, Olga Wehrly, starred, as Miss Purdy, in the Oscar-nominated short film ‘The Crush‘ and director/composer Marc-Ivan O’Gorman, scored his first feature film ‘Charlie Casanova‘, which receives its world premiere at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas this month.

However, the big news is that ‘Blood Coloured Moon’ screens on RTE Television, as part of the channel’s SHORTSCREEN programme, on monday, 21st of March. Airing time has yet to be confirmed but we’ll post details here when they become available, alternatively check out or Shortscreen FB page or RTE listings.