PJ Dillon on Rewind

An article from today’s iftn about tonight’s IFTA screening of Rewind which I edited in the lighthouse cinema in Smithfield

The Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) will host an exclusive screening of PJ Dillon’s ‘Rewind’, his debut as a feature film director. The screening will take place on Thursday, October 28th. The director will attend the screening along with lead actors Amy Huberman (A Film With Me In It) and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey).
‘Rewind’ marks PJ’s debut into feature directing. The director of photography scooped an IFTA award for his lensing of both ‘32A’ and ‘Headwrecker’ (which he also directed) alongside a 2007 Hamptons International Film Festival win for his camera work on ‘Kings’. His other notable projects include ‘An Ranger’ which he shot and directed in 2008 and Timbuktu’ in 2004, both of which led to IFTA nominations. His recent television work includes a role as director of photography on TV Movie ‘Little White Lie’, ‘The Big Bow Wow’ and recent comedy series, ‘Val Falvey TD’ which he also directed.

The film stars Amy Huberman as a mother whose life is thrown into turmoil when an old boyfriend, in the shape of Allen Leech, turns up unexpectedly to reveal a past she has kept secret from her now husband. The past invades and shatters her idyllic present, and she must confront the person she once was but thought she had buried forever. Ghosts must be laid to rest, and horrors acknowledged, before the perfect surface of her life will be restored. The pair’s other cast members include Simon Delaney (Happy Ever Afters), Owen McDonnell (Wild Decembers) and Simon Hubbard (Inspector George Gently).

PJ tells us that a previous project let him know that his two leads had it in them to take on their respective ‘Rewind’ roles: “I’d actually worked with both of them before on a short film called ‘Deep Breaths’ in 2006. (Or 2007 possibly)” He explains. “After that then I knew what both of them were capable of. So then when we were coming up with the story for the film I had Allen in mind from the get go and then, as we went through the writing process, Amy’s character came more to the fore and the film became more of a two-hander.”

‘Rewind’ is one of three films that came about as a result of the Catalyst project of 2007/09. An initiative of the Irish Film Board, the training and production scheme provided the majority of the funding (in partnership with the BAI, the Arts Council and TV3) for three feature films to be made on ultra-low budgets. A total of €825,000 was awarded to selected teams of filmmakers to enable the production of three feature films with a maximum budget of €275,000 each. PJ and his team began work on one of these, a feature initially titled, ‘Redux’.

The fact that the feature was PJ’s first as a director, paired with such a small budget would appear to be hugely challenging, but PJ tells us it was quite the opposite: “Yes, it is enormously challenging,”he starts. “But the upside of it was that what they were able to promise us complete creative control. That, if we were to take the money, there would be no pressure from financiers and we wouldn’t have any of the creative pressures that filmmakers usually have. As my debut that was the most important thing – that I could flex my creative muscle any way that I wanted. In a way it took off a lot of the pressure that a first feature usually brings with it.”

The filmmaker was equally unfazed at the prospect of overseeing and directing his first feature film. “I’ve shot dozens of low budget features so I knew what I was getting into and I knew what it would involve. He explains. ” We didn’t take on anything that we didn’t think we’d be able to pull off – it was very much done on that basis.” PJ’s previous experience in the field of directing was of shorts such as the aforementioned ‘An Ranger’ and ‘Deep Breaths’ and he reassures us that ‘Rewind’ does not mark his permanent departure from short filmmaking. ”Absolutely not,”he says. If the right short came along I’d definitely do it. I mean you won’t make any money from doing a short but then again you won’t make any money from most features either but you have a slightly better chance! But I am primarily a director of photography, that’s the day job. I will continue – hopefully – to direct stuff if the right project comes up.”

PJ is hard at work at said day job as we speak, he is working on what are now the final days of the Irish ‘Primeval’ shoot which is set to wrap on Friday, October 30th. He tells us he has had a surprising amount on fun on set: “It’s been absolutely great,”he gushes. ”I’ve been involved for the last four or five episodes and it’s great fun to work on. There are absolutely loads of Irish people involved with it too, which is brilliant. The Irish cast have been doing us proud and of course Robert Quinn was directing a few episodes.”

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