A loner suffering from partial memory loss, placed with the responsibility of caring for a psychologically troubled woman living in an abandoned house on an isolated island. A sense of restriction, a game of cat and mouse, and intrusive flashes of things half-forgotten.
Filmed in West Cork, and starring a cast of actors and creatives based in Cork city and county, ‘Caveat’, the debut full-length of director Damian McCarthy after a number of awards for his work in shorts, was a natural fit for the grand opening of this year’s IndieCork festival.
McCarthy says his milestone film was rooted in a desire to further explore his form, developing a connecting tissue of story and context between sequences he’d imagined.
“I had been writing feature films for years, but this is the first one I’d made. I’d made a lot of shorts. Very simple in their story, more of a horror sequence than anything else. I was trying to think of a way to make a feature like that, in one or two locations, keeping that same suspense, but spread over 90 minutes. To keep the same attention as a short, but over that time, was the challenge.”
‘Caveat’ might seem ambitious for a debut feature, but while it certainly aims to make the most of its format and plot, material and experience constraints necessitated a minimal approach, that lends the film a stripped-back feel.
“In truth, we had been working on this much larger film, I had the script written, and it would have taken a lot to do. We were trying for a while to get funding for this, and when it didn’t happen, I had to sit down and say, ‘I know how much I could make it for’, or ‘how much money my producer could get.’ So when I looked at it, and I stripped things away, I was left with this central idea: a guy in a harness, and a long chain, trying to escape a haunted house.”
Releasing a film on an independent basis is difficult enough, especially in Ireland, and especially a debut. To get it out to festivals and land an opening-night screening in the middle of a pandemic, then, is an especially impressive feat - one that speaks to the support and trust IndieCork has placed in the county’s film community.
“In the grand scheme, it’s not a huge problem - there’s much worse things happening than not having a full cinema. In some ways it’ll work for us. The film will be showing at ScreamFest in LA, one of the biggest horror film festivals they’d have in the States. Their plan is to have that online, and maybe more people will watch it at home. Fright Fest in the UK is happening in person, but they’re keeping an eye on numbers. The organisers have really liked it, they’re very eager to show it, and given us some great slot, and to have Mick and Úna pick it to open IndieCork is a huge honour.”
- IndieCork Film Festival 2020 runs in Cork from Sunday, October 4, to Sunday, October 11, at the Gate Cinema (limited social-distanced events) and online. For more information and bookings, head to indiecork.com.