Project Description

Questions & Answers.

Name: Jennifer Shortall
Job title: Director of Poison Pen

What inspired you to go work in the Film Industry in Ireland?
I love telling stories and entertaining people. I particularly love finding interesting
new ways to tell a story and films offer so many possibilities to do that.

What has been your career path to date?
As a kid I used to love performing onstage in plays and musicals. In college I studied Drama and
Film Studies at TCD and there I discovered that I loved directing theatre.
When I left I was involved in a couple of Fringe shows but I really wanted to
pursue film further so I decided to just start making little films with my
friends. I made a documentary about a friend of mine and a music video
and then I got accepted into the MSc in Digital Feature Film Production at
Filmbase, where we made Poison Pen.

Who inspires you?
I am inspired by people who follow their passion and
who see set-backs as problems to be solved rather than impediments.
There’s no particular individual that I look to for inspiration but I have
learned a lot from watching my parents and family and how they deal with
the world.

What does Copyright mean to you and your career?
Copyright law is there to protect artists from having their work or their ideas
stolen. The only way that I or anybody else can have a career in film or
entertainment in general is if we can be paid a fair wage to do it.

Tell us a funny work story…..
On our first day shooting in London we ran into a bit of difficulty because
we hadn’t realised that we needed a specific permit to shoot in a certain
public park. Our tiny skeleton crew arrived at the park first thing in the
morning to set up and the actors were due to arrive within a half an hour of
us. We had a long day’s shooting ahead of us and we wanted to get off to a
good start. It was slightly drizzling and overcast so we knew we would have
to move fast to get the shots and continue to the next location. No sooner
had we stepped through the gate than a rather brusque man motored up in
a little park ranger jeep and sternly informed us that we would have to pay
him £50, that the permit would allow us no more than 20 minutes of
shooting time, and that there was no guarantee that he could even issue us
with a permit that day as we ought to have applied for it weeks in advance.
He ordered us not to move from that spot while he dealt with another film
crew on the far side of the park so we dutifully laid down our equipment
and sat by the park entrance to await his return. As the minutes ticked by
and the weather worsened we began to get anxious. The actors arrived in
costume, ready to go but there was still no sign of the exasperated
custodian. Eventually we managed to flag down a security car that was
winding along the pathway and found the occupant to be quite agreeable.
He radioed the angrier man to let him know we were still awaiting further
instruction but (without wishing to seem impertinent) we were concerned
about the maturing morning getting away from us and were hoping to get
started at his earliest convenience. The response was curt and to the effect
that we would be dealt with when we were dealt with. The pleasant security
guard seemed sympathetic to our plight but was apparently outranked in
this instance and apologetically continued on his way. With pressure
mounting and time slipping away from us we decided that we could at least
scout out the location and give the actors an opportunity to walk through
the scene while we were waiting. So the crew split into two groups with one
contingent making their way up the hill to a bench where the scene was to
be played out. Not more than five minutes later an angry buzzing signalled
the return of the mini jeep which was whizzing its way on wings of fury up
the hill towards us and bearing an extremely irate and red-faced park
attendant. Much of what he actually said has been lost to the annals of
history but the gist of it I’m sure you can imagine was uncomplimentary.
Strangely though, as it turned out, he told us we had twenty minutes to pack
up and get out of the park. No money changed hands and no paperwork
was signed but when he had spent his ire, he left us to it and we got the
scene. Success!

What’s your favourite film?
My favourite film changes on a daily or
sometimes hourly basis. But the short answer is probably Casablanca.