Irish director Lance Daly had something to prove with his latest feature "Kisses," which is getting a limited theatrical and VOD release next Friday. With two projects under his belt ("Last Days in Dublin" and "The Halo Effect"), Daly was set on upping the ante by directing a large scale race-car drama. But as is frequently the case in the film business, the project never panned out due to budgetary reasons. Tested by the trying process, Lance chose to fight back. The end result is his most widely acclaimed film to date.
"Coming off that experience I felt undermined as a director," Lance said, seated in the Oscilloscope Laboratories office space, the New York-based company that's handling the distribution for "Kisses." "There was an element of me wanting to prove that I could direct a film. So I made a list of things that are the hardest elements to direct."
Naturally, he wrote a script centered on two young unruly kids that come into their own in dreary Dublin. Amidst abusive home lives in the same neighborhood, the two youngsters take off and make their way to the thrills and dangers of the Irish capital's center.
"In a way it was like if I can make a film with two kids who are non-actors and shoot it on the street with very little resources but with a very clean, clear story, I was hoping to remove some doubt about was I able to do."
To make things even more difficult, Daly said he purposely chose the two worst behaved children out of the thousands he scouted in Dublin, to give the film its life and spirit.
"There was a lot of patience required, but the kids are the film. Each of their performances and the chemistry between them are the three things that make up the film."
Though "Kisses" was wracked with difficult challenges (including long night shoots during a cold Dublin winter), Daly expressed that the film marked a return to form for him personally. Though not autobiographical, he said the story's central characters all represent facets of his own personality and shades of his past.
"In my second film I kind of lost my way I think," he said. "I was dealing with getting real financing and working with established actors, so I didn’t really get to own it as much creatively. So I think I was at a point where I just wanted to do something that would very specifically reflect my aesthetic."
Daly, warm and easy going in person, admitted that it took him a long while to develop his directorial vision. Prior to directing, Daly acted professionally, tampered with the idea of life as musician, and explored photography. But he said he realized over time that directing (an amalgamation of all his passions in many ways) was the best fit for his talents.
As of late, he's been putting those talents to the test on his latest project "The Good Doctor," currently in post-production. The film is a departure in many ways for Daly. Firstly, he's working off a script written by someone other than himself. Second, the film was shot in America and stars Hollywood stalwarts Orlando Bloom and Taraji P. Henson.
"I mean it’s a cliché, but you kind of need one to do the other," Daly said with regards to juggling independent and studio fare. "You do these personal movies in Ireland but the resources are limited and it gets frustrating. If you lose some momentum suddenly everything gets quiet and you’re living under some bridge before you know it. It seems like if you can figure out a balancing act that might be the best way to go."