“The pandemic allowed time for development, in myself and my own projects”
Industry Report: Documentary
Evan Horan • Producer, Blinder Films
The 2022 Emerging Producer from Ireland discusses his approach to documentary, his hard work during the health crisis and his current projects
Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Evan Horan: I have always been drawn to documentaries, the majority of my earliest achievements in film were all documentary projects. I am interested in producing documentaries with distinctive subjects, giving audiences a greater amount of access into their minds and creative process – from working on documentary projects with the likes of Grace Jones, PJ Harvey and Slavoj Žižek. On the other hand, working on the LGBTQ+ documentary project Lesbian Lines by Cara Holmes absolutely illustrates the power of documentary to bring about necessary change. The project follows a community of lesbian activists who, in 1979, set up a network of underground telephone helplines across the island of Ireland at time when a very deeply religious Catholic society where sexuality was rarely discussed. Although their actions are from the past, we will be determined to bring about social and political change with Lesbian Lines through its impact campaign. When it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, we cannot be complacent, and with a greater knowledge of our history will come confidence.
The pandemic had an impact on the entire sector. How did it influence your work as a producer? Have the projects that you work on changed?
Just as the pandemic hit in early 2020, I was starting to produce my own projects at Blinder Films – so having the whole industry shut down was not very convenient to be honest! But what it did allow for was time for development, in myself and my own projects. Over the course of this time, I have taken part in numerous mentorship and training programmes including Berlinale Talents, Screen Skills Ireland’s Screen Mentoring Scheme and, of course, Emerging Producers – thanks to Screen Ireland for their support to attend. It’s been incredibly enriching to meet with other producers and filmmakers on these schemes, to share ideas, learn from each other, and find out that you’re not alone out there!
Shooting in the pandemic has obviously been challenging, and in Ireland we have been very fortunate thanks to Screen Ireland in their support for COVID production funding to help productions get off the ground, ensuring safe working environments which allowed us to move forward with productions such as About Joan [+see also:
interview: Laurent Larivière
film profile] (Laurent Larivière), Mr. Malcolm’s List (Emma Holly Jones) and Sunlight (Claire Dix).
Lesbian Lines had to adapt quite considerably due to the pandemic as the majority of our contributors are now aged 60+, meaning they were in the high risk category. In shooting our teaser just as the second wave started to hit, this meant that our access to the Lesbian Line founders was rather limited, and for the most part interviews were forced online.
What do you think is the future of the distribution of documentary films?
It’s a tricky one to predict really – the convenience of streaming is obviously growing from strength to strength, and at times, it can feel like the distribution of documentary film in cinemas is going in the other direction. But in saying that, there is such great impact for documentaries in the exhibition space, to educate, to connect and crucially, to entertain. Despite all of the challenges that came with the pandemic, it has been really encouraging to see a number of Irish documentaries released in cinemas, and performing well – projects such as Phil Lynott: Songs For While I’m Away, Love Yourself Today, The Dance, and The 8th. It is fantastic to have distributors in Ireland that really champion documentary film and I’m hopeful that this trend will continue.
What projects do you have underway?
In terms of documentary projects – as I’ve already mentioned, I’m in development on Lesbian Lines, Cara Holmes’s debut feature film, which was recently selected for the When East Meets West Co-Production Forum in January; and I am also working on The Pervert’s Guide to Utopias, the final part in the Pervert’s Guide trilogy by Sophie Fiennes and Slavoj Žižek. I am also in development on Breed, a genre project that will be the next feature from Kate Dolan, whose debut feature film You Are Not My Mother had its world premiere at TIFF 2021 and won the Jury Prize award at the Festival de Gérardmer. Breed was selected as one of ten projects for this year’s Talent Project Market at the Berlinale Co-Production Market.
EMERGING PRODUCERS is a leading promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.
Deadline for applications to the EMERGING PRODUCERS 2023 edition is 31 March 2022.
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