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Tribeca ’10 | From Theatre to Screen: Winters’ Narrative Comp Film, “Snap”

Tribeca '10 | From Theatre to Screen: Winters' Narrative Comp Film, "Snap"

A constant air of mystery pervades the mesmerizing psychological drama “Snap.” As Sandra (Aisling O’Sullivan, “The War Zone”) divulges her side of the story to a documentary crew, the film flashes back to an incident involving her 15-year-old son, Stephen (Stephen Moran), who abducted a toddler and held him captive in his grandfather’s home. We don’t know why Stephen took the child, nor what he will do with him–we only see them playing games and watching old home movies. As the film oscillates between Stephen in the past and Sandra in the present, their stories begin to unravel, and soon the puzzle pieces fit together to reveal the full picture of the abduction.

First-time writer/director Carmel Winters brings a quiet intensity to her debut, creating an unsettling but tantalizing atmosphere. A successful playwright, she brilliantly flushes out her characters using visual devices such as documentary video, Super-8, and mobile phone cameras that gives an immediacy to their emotional states. O’Sullivan gives a candid and brave performance that elicits the anger, humiliation, and relief of Sandra, and Moran confidently plays Stephen as a conflicted adolescent trying to make sense of the past that is driving him into the future. [Description provided by the Tribeca Film Festival]

World Narrative Feature Competition
Director: Carmel Winters
Primary Cast: Aisling O’Sullivan, Stephen Moran, Pascal Scott Eileen Walsh, Mick Lally, Adam Duggan
Screenwriter: Carmel Winters
Producer: Martina Niland
Editor: Mary Finlay
Director of Photography: Kate McCullough
Co-Producer: Cathleen Dore
Executive Producer: David Collins
Production Design: Padraig O’Neill
Interests: Drama, Family Issues, Female Director(s), Psychological, Social Issues, Theatre
86 minutes; World Premiere; Ireland

[Editor’s Note: This is one interview in a series profiling directors whose films are screening at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.]

Director Carmel Winters on “Snap”‘s theater roots, transforming it for film and finding Sandra…

I started out as a playwright but discovered a film trapped in one of my plays. It seemed it was my job to let it out!

“Snap” also started out as a theater play but the character of Sandra, (the lead in the film) was such an enigma that I felt she would really sustain and reward the deliciously intense scrutiny of the big screen. I love the way she doesn’t unravel easily – the older we get we don’t…

I performed “Snap” first to a theater audience and that gave me the living, pulsing “organs” of the screenplay. I went about the skeletal structure of the film then. I think like an architect when I’m writing for film. What I’m trying to do is chart an emotional current that will move first through the characters, then through the audience. It’s such a privilege to take an audience through a feature film – I don’t want to waste a single beat of it…

I told my casting director I was looking for a diamond for the part of “Sandra,” [and] I found that in Aisling O Sullivan. She’s the most honest and courageous mirror you could hold up to human nature – a true artist. The teenage role was so demanding it was almost uncastable and then we found Stephen Moran. Another gem…

I’ve tried to use the camera almost as a surgical instrument to investigate the hidden chambers of the human heart. The audience are deeply implicated in this cinematic story. Sandra is watching you watching her and asking, “What do you think? What happens next?” I think Tribeca audiences will enjoy the heart-to-heart partnership that “Snap” asks of them.

Influences and looking ahead…

Technically, I was very interested in how the Dardenne Brothers have evolved a style of realism (from their documentary work) that makes their fictional characters so intensely real that they’re also a little unattainable. And the film “Festen” always buoys my spirit. The way it balances a dark story with an exuberantly courageous and innovative form reassures me that film can be a work or art as genius as any other, while ultimately being more democratic.

Ahead, there’s a film germinating about two outsider-oddballs who manage to fall in love while their worlds are falling apart. It’s a kind of Irish road movie in which the characters travel, oh, about two fields…

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