Being a writer, director, producer and actor, Liam O Mochain has had a lot of experience working on productions including this year’s release of Lost & Found. With the movie being shown in cinemas across Ireland, Lost & Found is soon to have a UK release and has won Best Foreign Feature at the Arizona International Film Festival. Answering our questions, Liam tells us about working on Lost & Found, winning the award at the Arizona Film Festival and his upcoming projects.
Can you tell us more about Lost & Found?
Lost & Found is a feature film with seven interconnecting stories set in and around a lost & found office of an Irish train station. All segments are inspired by true stories, share a theme of something lost or found and have characters that come in and out of each other’s lives. Some of the stories happened to me, others to people I know, some I was told about or I read or heard about. I amalgamated lots of the stories and incidents together to make it work for a film.
How did you come up with the idea to write the film?
I had worked on a feature film in 2007 called WC which was set predominantly in one place, the toilets of a late-night jazz bar. I really liked that idea, being somewhat confined and having to come up with stories, ideas and sub-locations to keep the viewers’ attention. After I made WC I wanted to get a break from features for a bit so I made a short film called ‘Covet’. We spent two days in a cottage in Co. Laois. It was such a great experience trying to create something in such a short time and short form. I loved the area in Co. Laois and decided that I wanted to go back and do something else there at some point. Laois is less than an hour from Dublin but you get a great mix of both urban and rural. I have also loved trains from a very young age and wanted to do something in and around trains. Over the years I had seen numerous anthology films ‘Shorts Cuts’, ‘Paris J’taime’, ‘7 days in Havana’ and ‘Tickets’ which was set on a real train, but no anthology film or portmanteau films had been made in Ireland. So, I decided to combine all those elements and put a collection of real stories set in and around a train station in a rural and urban setting. I also had wanted to explore the idea of a lost & found office. What kind of things people leave behind on trains and in train stations!
How long was it in the works?
It was filmed in seven segments of three to four days per annum over a five-year period from 2011 to 2016 in Ireland. I spent the first six months each year researching the stories and characters, three months working on the script and three months was spent on the production itself from prep, to filming to post work. A good part of the year was also spent looking for and raising money to cover the next film segment. Each year we brought in most of the key production team and core crew three to four weeks before the filming began, depending on how many segments were to be filmed. Each year’s segments were only done after the previous one or ones were paid for and finished. Doing it over this long period gave me a lot of time to think about all the different stories, characters and ways to interweave them together in the overall project. ‘Lost & Found’ completed principal photography in Summer 2016 and post-production in April 2017.
How different is this to your previous work?
I had just spent three years working on a feature film called ‘WC’ which was released in 2009. It was a tough film to make, dealing with a lot of serious social issues, so I wanted to do something next that was a little lighter in tone. I had made a short film in 2011 and really enjoyed the experience. I wanted to try and replicate that experience with a feature film project.
What was it like being the writer, director, producer and actor of the production?
It is always difficult no matter what job you do on a film. You never have enough time or money and it is a pressure zone. I was as prepared as I could be beforehand. I do a lot of prep on all the jobs and it is great to be surrounded by a great team who let me know how things are going.
Did you attend the film festivals Lost & Found was screened at?
Yes, so far I have managed to go to most of them. It is really good to get the reaction direct from an audience. I’ve been lucky enough to attend most of the festivals, including Arizona and Austin.
What has the response been like to the film since being released in Ireland?
Really great. The response has been amazing – the film has had some fantastic reviews and the audiences seem to really like it.
How was it seeing the film released in cinemas by Eclipse Pictures?
Really good. They are a great company and know the business really well, as does Martin in Miracle Communications in the UK and Impressive PR who are working on the UK release.
Without giving spoilers, how would you describe your character Daniel?
Easy-going. Not quite got everything figured out in life yet. But who has!
What are the future release plans for the production?
The film is released in the UK in October. It looks really good for Australia, New Zealand and North America for next year too.
How did it feel winning Best Foreign Feature for Lost & Found this year at the Arizona International Film Festival?
The Arizona film festival is a great film festival. I have been going to the festival for many years so it was nice to get an award from the festival. It reminds me a lot of the Galway film fleadh. They have complete focus on films and the filmmakers. The award has helped a lot with getting press attention and distributors interested. The film has also just been selected to screen at the prestigious Austin Film Festival in late October. It is a great festival that highlights writers and of course is the home of Richard Linklater amongst other filmmakers.
The film is classed as a comedy drama, is this the genre you most enjoy watching?
I love watching all kinds of films. If it is a good film it doesn’t matter to me.
How different would you say your work is now to when you first started?
Very different technically. There has been a huge advancement in digital technology. I still am more interested in telling stories and revealing characters and not so much into blockbusters.
Are you currently working on any new projects?
A con movie. I love the Steve Martin, Michael Caine and the late great Glenne Headly film ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’. I have written a film that is along the vein of that film but set in the west of Ireland.
Lost & Found is in cinemas on October 19, certificate 12A.
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