A Belturbet film-maker, who recently set off across the Atlantic to drum up support for a new feature-length movie on the life of Easter Rising revolutionary Seán MacDiarmada, is set to return to the US next week to finalise funding in order to put in place what’s necessary to start filming in early 2015.
Last year Maccana Teoranta’s Kevin McCann outlined to The Anglo-Celt the ambitious plan to secure the €4m needed to realise a big screen project detailing the life of Leitrim native MacDiarmada in time for the centenary commemorations in just over two years’ time.
He also indicated his intention to shoot the majority of the film at locations in and around the border region.
Mr McCann has spent much of the past three months in New York engaging with Irish-American business owners, cultural interest groups, historians and private investors about the development of what will be the first film on the Easter Rising.
“I’m hoping to be in a position to complete the development fund for the film by the end of this month. This is the first major motion picture on the Easter Rising and it will require a budget of approximately $6m (€4m),” said the Belturbet man, who is well-regarded for his previous works on both television and radio.
In order for a major motion picture of that scale to be produced, the groundwork, or ‘development’ as it’s known, must be put in place first.
“Writers, producers, organisers, that’s what the development fund covers, and we’re nearly at that stage. Once that’s in place and ready to go, we begin looking for the funding to make the actual film.”
Mr McCann is in little doubt, given the initial firm showing of support on both sides of the Atlantic, that the film will be ready in time for the Rising centenary commemorations. A significant coup to this was the recent backing given to Mr McCann and the project, ‘The Rising’, by Northern Ireland Screen, effectively the Film Board based in Northern Ireland.
“There has never been a feature film on the Easter Rising. Their backing has been a major coup, as has the support shown to the project by the dozens of people I have met and spoken with in the US. But for NI Screen this is the only 1916 film they’re supporting and it happens to be the one on MacDiarmada.”
Another major backer has been the United Irish Counties Association of New York, though the film is gaining momentum not just as a project in its own right, but also an extension of the wealth of feeling many within Irish America have towards supporting the Rising commemorations back home.
“To get support from them has been of huge benefit, and I’d like to think there is a lot of excitement over there about this film being made. People have heard about it, they’re talking about it over there. They want this story told, and they want to be a part of this story being told.
“This, for a lot of people is their opportunity to be part of the Rising commemorations. The Gathering has passed, and it passed a lot of people by, the Rising though is such a significant moment in Irish history that the commemoration of the people who gave up their lives is just as important.”
MacDiarmada for many remains an unknown or peripheral figure for many Irish people.
Tom Clarke’s wife Kathleen said: “As a worker he was head and shoulders above PH Pearse, but not being a writer he is not known to the people of Ireland like he should be”.
The fact McDiarmada is seemingly perennially overlooked is deemed “unfortunate” by Mr McCann, who hopes his film will help raise esteem for the Leitrim man to the levels once held by the likes of Michael Collins, who considered McDiarmada a ‘hero’.
“MacDiarmada was addressing the inequality that was present in Ireland and right across the British empire. He became the main organiser of the revolutionary movement that led to the Easter Rising,” he said.
Mr McCann will be back in Ireland later this year when the plan is to be in a position to appoint and put in place the key components to finish the development of the film.
“Over the next three to six months I’ll be finishing the script, it’s 120 pages, so its a lot of work and it costs money to pay writers to do that. There will be writers in the States, and also in Ireland, and I’ll also be attaching a UK, US and an Irish producer as well as various other staff. These are important steps which will lead then to the first day of photography, planned for early 2015.”