Synopsis: Susan loves gardening – it’s her happy place. Breda, her next door neighbour, likes to relax in the sun with a good book and a cream bun. So far, so neighbourly. But Breda has a small dog, Barry. Barry likes to bark. Any passer-by is fair game. Susan tries to ignore his incessant yapping – apparently Breda has no problem doing so – but it takes all her will power. When Barry escapes out the front gate chasing a big dog, Susan initially thinks it’s hilarious. However, when Breda realises her precious pup is gone she goes to the front path and calls him. Barry? Barry! Barry!! BARRY! It’s worse than the dog! Susan can’t take it… and things take a rather unneighbourly turn.
Miriam Devitt (Susan)
My main intention with Barry is to make the audience laugh out loud. To make this film work well as a comedy it has to be grounded in truth, so the audience can relate to the situation and characters. We, as an audience, rely on feeling Susan’s stress and disdain for her neighbour, which is ultimately be the relatable factor. Truth however, doesn’t mean it has to be realistic in setting. The aim is to have an honest world but equally a crazy enough world where this can happen, which will help the final comedic pay off at the end of this short.
We are seeing the world through Susan’s eyes, from her point of view. In terms of visual style a big inspiration for this project would be the work of British photographer, Martin Parr, who is known for intimate, satirical and anthropological looks at aspects modern life. His work often has a humour in it, by showing a very normal situation but having the ability to make it absurd.
The style of Parr bends into Breda’s world, which is overpowering everything else living around it. Creating a kitsch aesthetic of Breda, and having that blend in with the cinematography with an oversaturated colour palette, helps the audience see her as Susan does, over the hedge, from the same viewpoint. Her dislike becomes our dislike for the character, which helps sell the ending.
Similar filmmaker’s tone and style that could be an apt reference for this is, Todd Solondz, whose comedy is very dark and satirical and looks at middle class America suburbia. His lead characters are often “bad” people but he manages to influence the audience to feel empathy and ultimately want them to win. This style will be considered throughout and as we want to enjoy those moments of calm with Susan, giving us a release and a belly laugh and not disgust or shock, which is the perhaps the natural human reaction.
Of course I should mention Barry the dog! It is always a little tricky to get an animal to perform so, even though we had a wonderful canine actor – we used the edit to increase the dogs intensity. Using the reaction shots and having his barking as a constant undertone lessens the work load of the dog but also help tell the story of the tension building up inside Susan. So, win win.
John is an Irish writer/director/editor based in London.
His most recent short film, YOUNG MOTHER, premiered at the 64th Cork Film Festival as well as playing at Dublin Film Festival and at Palm Springs Shortfest.
Before that John made, MY FATHER, MY BLOOD, which stars Barry Ward (JIMMY’S HALL) This had a very successful festival run in Ireland, including The Belfast Film Festival, Cork Film Festival and Galway Film Fleadh as well as playing in the East End Film Festival amongst others.
John has a background in professional photography and has been making short films since 2011 and these earlier films have screened at festivals worldwide and most notably his short PROMISE was shortlisted for the 2014 Venice Film Festival.
John also works extensively for charities producing and directing documentaries and commercials and travelling the world to do so. In particular he works often in India and Africa. His most recent work has included filming in Uganda, Gambia, Sierra Leone, India, Kashmir and Nepal.
He is also a photographer BA(hons) and specialises in travel portraiture often shooting campaigns for charities.