Interview by Jaclyn Bethany
Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Aoife! Where are you originally from, and where are you currently based?
Aoife McArdle: I’m from Omagh, a small town in Northern Ireland. I’m based in Belfast now, not too far away from there.
JB: How did you first discover filmmaking?
AM: Through photography and art, watching films from the ‘40s and ‘70s with my parents as a kid. Eventually I went to film school.
JB: You have directed some iconic music videos. Do you have a favorite memory from working on any of them?
AM: Probably being in the California desert while shooting “Open Eye Signal” for Jon Hopkins. The landscape and the light were both so breathtaking. We had a small, madly passionate crew who were like a family. It made the shoot so unforgettable.
JB: What made you decide to make your first feature? How did it all come together?
AM: I’d always wanted to do it, but the opportunity came up unexpectedly via the Irish Film Board’s Low Budget Filmmaking Scheme for first-time filmmakers. I wrote the first 50 pages of the script, which they decided to back, and then I developed the rest of it with them. The prep and shoot were pretty short and intense, as we had so little money, but I was lucky enough to spend some time in post with the brilliant Moving Picture Company (MPC) and factory in London in order to create the world of the film. Because our budget was small, we had to make sacrifices and be quite ruthless with our expectations from the outset.
JB: Tell me a little bit about your film Kissing Candice, which screened in the Discovery section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival?
AM: It’s a coming-of-age drama about a 17-year-old girl navigating her way in a place she finds nightmarish. It’s about her dreams, desires and fears, and her longing to escape. The other characters in the world around her are drawn from her subjective perspective.
JB: What kinds of stories are you interested in telling as a filmmaker?
AM: I think I’m interested in telling outsider stories. I’ve learnt so much on this film that I really want to use on the next one. In the future, I’d love to explore other psychological genres like sci-fi and horror.
JB: What’s your favorite place to see film in London?
AM: The Rio in Dalston—it’s got so much character. I used to live at the end of the same road in London, so I spent a lot of time there. I also love Curzon.
JB: What's next for you?
AM: I’m going to put a lot of time into writing a new film script. It’s in the psychological, sci-fi, horror direction—something I’ve always wanted to write.
JB: What advice would you give to aspiring directors?
AM: Just to take a risk and go for it, scary as it is. Writing or directing a feature or a short is a brilliant way to force yourself to learn and improve as a filmmaker, and that’s always the goal. ★