Next year already promises to be one to remember, but for award-winning producer Kevin McCann and writer Colin Broderick it may also be a creative high water mark. The talented pair have teamed up to work on "The Rising," the first feature film to look at how the 1916 rebellion led to a new republic.
“We are making history,” McCann, whose last film "Volkswagen Joe" won eight international festival awards, tells the Irish Voice.
“I’ve known it since the day I started researching in 2012. And now is the time for an investor to join us and back this movie for next year’s anniversary. With 2016 on the horizon, the time to do it is this fall. Other countries and cultures celebrate their heroes in cinema over and over again, and rightly so, and now, where is the Irish birth of nation story?”
McCann has won the support and endorsement of the relatives of all the 1916 leaders, a remarkable feat considering the diversity of opinion that followed on from the civil war. Building on that momentum – the film has been development since 2012 – McCann scored development funding of €50,000 in December.
Now the film board in Belfast is also supporting the project, and actor Stephen Rea, writer Pat McCabe, and musicians Paddy Moloney and Paul Brady are among the many names voicing their support.
It's worth noting that the ongoing challenge of raising their budget begs the question of exactly how Ireland will choose to remember the Easter Rising in 2016? A number of smaller scale television projects are scheduled to tell creation story of the republic in an event that is, after all, the most defining in Irish history. But why the strange reticence to address its real scale and legacy?
It's a question that only McCann and Broderick have attempted to seriously answer to date. Their plan for "The Rising" is a film that will play in cinemas, not television.
“There are three main reasons why we are making this movie,” says McCann. “The first is personal – my own tears in 2016. I foresaw myself upset for doing nothing to remember those who fought for my freedom 100 years ago.
“The 100-year anniversary is happening on our watch. It is my duty as a filmmaker to tell this story of our ancestors, and to tell it now, no matter what challenges are along the path, personal or political. I know that there is some person out there with a similar strong sense of their Irish identity, as well as an eye for a good investment, who will contact me.”
The second reason is that the story of 1916 is uniquely powerful, McCann says.
“Our film will dramatize the remarkable story of great Irish patriots like Sean MacDiarmada (SyFy's Colin Morgan has been attached to the role) many of whom were executed by the British Empire. McDiarmada was the mainspring of the 1916 revolution and the hero of Michael Collins.
“People across the world have heard of 1916, but very few know actually what was involved and why it happened. I believe the Irish, especially those in America, will proudly embrace this powerful movie next year,” he says.
The global focus on Ireland in 2016 will certainly help "The Rising" find an audience. In fact the film’s development has already received global attention across social media. With over 15,000 Facebook fans, development funding from 35 different countries was successfully raised on a recent crowd-funding campaign.
The latest script draft by Broderick and McCann was written in Estonia, and the casting director is attaching stars to the main roles with shooting aimed at October of this year.
“The next step is for the producers to meet investors and secure a $3 million investment,” says McCann. “Back in 1916, the Easter Rising itself was funded by the Irish in the U.S. and now a century later, the remembrance of that heroic event must be funded by their descendants. A movie 100 years in the making is upon us.”
McCann's passion for the project is tireless. He's returning to the U.S. to hold investor meetings between April 12 and May 12, traveling to New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.