Meet Tracy O’Riordan, a rising star on the UK production scene. Tracy began working in production in 2002 and already has an impressive number of credits (Little Angels, Song Of Songs, The Queen, Of Time And The City). Most recently she produced The Arbor, Clio Barnard's multi award-winning documentary feature. Tracy founded Moonspun Films in 2008 and has several features in development, of which The Selfish Giant - developed with BFI and Film4 - is due to shoot this autumn.
What's your connection to the British Council?
I’m grateful to The British Council for their work in the cultural promotion of The Arbor (Clio Barnard’s debut feature) recommending it to a host of international festivals. There were festival screenings in Bulgaria (Sofia), Armenia (Yerevan) and Iran (Tehran) where they assisted directly; helping to expose the film to international audiences in the more obscure corners of the globe. The British Council recently chose me to represent the UK at the Cannes Film Festival in a programme called Producers on the Move. It was a great opportunity to showcase my projects and raise my profile at the Festival.
Your current project/s?
I am currently working with writer/director Clio Barnard on The Selfish Giant; a coming of age tale about two boys who get caught up in the world of metal theft. We are being supported by BFI and Film4 we are hoping to shoot in Bradford in September 2012. I have several features in early development and another documentary idea that Clio and I are developing.
What/who originally turned you onto film?
Whilst at University in Dublin, RTE (the National broadcaster) used to show classic/arthouse films every Tuesday night at 10pm and my flatmates and I used to tune in every week. This is the first time I saw films like Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver and I particularly remember watching Life is Sweet; it was so different to any British film I’d seen before, it really made an impact. Due to my degree requiring very few hours of attending lectures, I used to sneak off to the cinema on my own in the middle of the day and had the guilty pleasure of watching films like Thelma and Louise and Reservoir Dogs on rainy afternoons. I also discovered the Irish Film Institute and so was able to broaden my taste in film by having access to less mainstream and foreign films.
What has been your career high so far?
The first day of The Arbor shoot and then being nominated for a BAFTA along with director Clio Barnard.
What was your first job in the film industry?
Whilst a student I was an extra on the set of Michael Collins - I was dressed as a nurse tending to wounded soldiers beside the blown up GPO - but I’m not sure if that counts. My first industry job following college was as a runner on The Big Breakfast following which, I tried for years to get my foot in the door of the film industry and didn’t have much luck. I continued working in TV but moved into TV drama and in my spare time I worked unpaid on shorts and low budget features. Line producing Song of Songs by Josh Appignanesi, produced by Gayle Griffiths was my first paid job in film.
If I knew then what I know now…(a key piece of advice you'd give to someone starting in the film industry)
Ask me in 10 years, I’m still learning.
What is your favourite British film? Why?
It’s very difficult to chose a favourite British film. Certain aspects of certain films will always stay with me: from the haunting score of The Mission, the cinematography and choreography in The Red Shoes, Imelda Staunton’s performance in Vera Drake and Ryan’s Daughter because I spent my childhood holidays in Co. Kerry and David Lean captures the wild beauty of the place so vividly. Other films I love are Hunger for making me think, Withnail and I and The Life of Brian for making me laugh and Project Nim and Kes for making me cry.
If you could have been involved with any film ever made, which one would it be? Why?
Oldboy by South Korean auteur Chan-Wook Park; the second instalment in his revenge trilogy and the winner of the Grand Prix in Cannes in 2004. Oldboy is a deeply human story of love and double revenge; it tells the the story Oh Dae Su, a womanising drunk past his prime, who is mysteriously imprisoned in a bizarre motel for 15 years where he learns about the murder of his wife and daughter. It is a film in which each department seems to have played a key role in collaborating and ultimately delivering a film, which is a perfectly executed visual spectacle. The use of patterns in the production design, the daring cinematography, the brilliant score, the quality of the acting and editing and even the style Oh Dae Su’s crazy hair, all contribute to make this a wonderful film.
What's the first film you remember seeing? What was so memorable about it?
The first film I remember seeing in the cinema is Grease. I was under 5 and I think I was brought along because my older sister wanted to see it. I remember being too little to see the screen unless I stood on the seat and fidgeting through the talking bits. I was too young to appreciate what a great film it is, but I’ve have seen Grease so many times over the years and it lead to my love of musicals and dancing.
What's your favourite line or scene from a film? Why?
Either Dolly Parton in Straight Talk playing a no nonsense Radio Agony Aunt – “Get off the cross, honey, somebody needs the wood” or Tyler, the precocious little sister played by Rebecca Griffith, in Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank - Michael Fassbender’s character is trying to charm her and her response is “I like you: I’ll kill you last.”
Who's your favourite screen character (can be hero or villain), and why?
Marge Gunderson, a 7 months pregnant police chief who investigates a series of homicides in the Coen Brother’s Fargo. She’s played by Francis McDormand in a truly brilliant and funny performance.
Who would play you in the film about your life? Why?
We’re entering the realms of fantasy, but in my fantasy world I would be played by Francis McDormand, Catherine Keener or Monica Dolan.