With his superlative Irish crime drama Cardboard Gangsters out now on DVD and VOD, Scannain caught up with director Mark O’Connor to talk about the film’s journey so far and hopes for the home release.
Directed by O’Connor and starring John Connors (Love/Hate, King of the Travellers), Fionn Walton (Out of Here, What Richard Did) and Kierston Wareing (Fish Tank, Eastenders) Cardboard Gangsters follows a group of wannabe gangsters as they attempt to gain control of the drug trade in Darndale, chasing the glorified lifestyle of money, power and sex. Jay Connolly (Connors) is a part-time DJ and low-level drug dealer. When his welfare is cut off he decides it’s time for him and his gang to enter the big leagues. This attracts the attention of the local King Pin and sets Jay down a violent and bloody path.
Cardboard Gangsters was the Irish hit of the summer at the box-office earning more than €500,000. “It was amazing to see it get to the half million. The word of mouth was extraordinary.” And it wasn’t just a success in Ireland. “I was surprised that people understood it in Manchester and then in Newport Beach in L.A. I mean this was about Darndale, it was about Dublin.” The film did well in areas where Irish films have struggled a little bit in the past. “It’s impossible to tell how a film will take-off. Obviously, the marketing campaign and the amount of money you can push it with is important. But it’s a combination of several things. It has to be a good film first, and then the actors will help. John Connors is pretty well known. And it had a lot of build-up as well as it had been in the pipeline for a long time. So people had heard about it. And then there was a community spirit. The mad thing was that it grew and did better in the weeks after.”
Now that the film is available on DVD and VOD, O’Connor hopes that even more people find it. “You remember I made a film a few years back called Between the Canals? That actually did really really huge business on DVD. The feedback that I got, I just knew that it was all over the place. Even the Film Board guys were in a taxi and the taxi driver was asking them if they’d seen the film. Cardboard probably has a wider appeal. Its visuals are on another level.”
The DVD is now out just in time to be the family film for Christmas. “Hopefully! 20,000 copies have been printed so hopefully if we can get them all sold it’dl be big for Christmas. You know the Stalker DVD is an amazing seller. It sells loads, which is really weird for such a tiny film. I think based on that Cardboard should sell a lot. I think people like to buy Irish films on DVD. Love/Hate is huge on DVD and The Young Offenders is really big. Like at Christmas if you’re buying a gift for your family it’s great to give an Irish film. Like The Field for you dad or His and Hers for you mam. And Cardboard Gangsters for your brother!”
So what’s next? “I’m working on Darklands with TV3 at the moment. It’s a six-part crime drama. I just finished writing the sixth episode. They’ll be one hour each. They’re looking at it as their main thing…a game changer for the whole TV channel…for Virgin Media. In my head, I’ve 8 seasons, but it’ll all depend on the first one.”
Cardboard Gangsters is out now on DVD and VOD.