On Thursday Scannain was on the red carpet for the Irish première of Aisling Walsh’s Irish/Canadian co-production Maudie, as it opened the 2017 Audi Dublin International Film Festival in style. We caught up with the director for a few moments to talk about her captivating film.
So how did it come to be that an Irish woman ended up directing a really Canadian story? “Well, the script was sent to me. It was one of those very lucky moments. I read it overnight. They got lucky. I was in a hotel in Cardiff and the internet wasn’t working, and they had sent me this script, so I thought I better read it! And when I was finished I wrote to my agent and I said ‘What do I need to meet these people? I want to make this film.’ So that’s where it started from. I was trained as an artist, a painter, so part of that appealed to me, hugely. They are outsiders, and that appealed to me hugely. It’s a very intimate portrait of a marriage, and that appealed to me greatly too. I knew I could get Sally [Hawkins] and then we got Ethan [Hawke], and we were off to the races.”
Over the last number of years making a film in Canada has become a route travelled by a number of Irish filmmakers, due to the support from Canadian funders and producers that comes from our co-production treaty. This meant that Walsh never like an outsider. “As a co-production, there’s huge Irish involvement. There are Irish producers, the production designer is Irish, the editor is Irish, we did all of our post-production here.” That co-production treaty was fundamental to getting Maudie from script to screen. “I feel at this level of film it’s very hard to single finance something, so you have to work with co-producers and Canda seems to be a really good partner of this country. There are a lot of similarities, and it works for them and it works for us. It’s equal and that’s why it’s so good. And you can’t make films now…you need to have partners now, willing to come in and make these smaller types of independent films that break out. So that they can reach a wider audience.”
Maudie is based on the life of Nova Scotia folk artist, Maud Lewis, and is an unlikely romance in which the reclusive Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper. Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family. She also yearns, passionately, to create art. Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love. Maudie charts Everett’s efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie’s deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter.
It is directed by Aisling Walsh (Song for a Raggy Boy) and written by Sherry White (Crackie, Relative Happiness). The film shot in Canada with Guy Godfree as cinematographer. Post-production took place in Windmill Lane, with Stephen O’Connell as editor. Susan Mullen of Parallel Film Productions produces, alongside Small Shack Productions, and Painted House Films. Financing comes from the Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann, Mongrel Media, Telefilm Canada, Newfoundland Film Development Corporation, Ontario Media Development Corporation, The Harold Greenberg Fund, and Corner Piece Capital.
Maudie will be released via Sony Pictures later this year. The Audi Dublin International Film Festival continues until February 26th.