Corp + Anam is a dark Irish crime drama with strong themes enforced by the squirm-worthy images that director Lorcan Finnegan used for his opening titles. Shot in a day-and-a-half using DSLRs, Finnegan says he saw some incredible places in Dublin. And he got to set a car on fire. Not bad for a title sequence made on a budget. Rani Nugraha reports.
Using snippets of footage combined with choppy and sudden edits, distress and turbulence are obviously strong themes in the Irish mini-series, Corp + Anam, that ran from 2011 to 2012. Pronounced corp agus anem, which means “Body and Soul”, the 4-part mystery and drama follows a television crime journalist as he delves deeper into his work, only to have his life and that of those around him become entangled in the grim and murky Dublin underworld. “Most of the images are just metaphors for other things, like the gritty underbelly of Irish society at the time,” comments Finnegan.
Commissioned by Irish broadcaster TG4, the series was written and filmed entirely in Gaelic, the native tongue of the Emerald Isle before the English language was introduced.
“The series director wanted something that reflected the world of stories rather than anything specifically to do with the series. He told me about his background getting into the series, it was all based on real events that happened in Ireland, real corruption and these horrible stories that were breaking in the news and how he took them and adapted them and evolved them.”
WORKING WITH GAELIC
“We all have to study Gaelic in school, but the thing is, it was taught really badly, so even though we do it for about 12 years, very few people speak it. There are some coastal regions called Gaeltacht areas where it it still alive, but it’s a tricky language.”
Asked to use a Gaelic hip-hop track by local Irish musician MC Mupéad, Finnegan used the rhymes as a springboard for his wish list of shots. “I had to get a translation of the rap song so I could understand that,” Finnegan continues. “It was a similar process to making a music video. Then I just wrote a shot list of images that could reflect that story world.”
After finalizing a realistic shot list, it took a mixture of planning and improvisation to come up with the footage that made it for the final cut. “I went out with a cinematographer, he had a 1D, I had a 7D and the two of us just ran around Dublin for a day-and-a-half.”
When asked about a couple of key shots in the titles, Finnegan has a few interesting tales.
“The shot of the woman in the wheelchair, she’s an extra we got in. We found the wheelchair in this insane, massive abandoned hospital. We put her in a room, then we got a wheelchair that we had found and used that as a dolly.”
And as for setting a car aflame, Finnegan assures that everything was above board.
“We rang the fire dept. and asked them if they had anywhere where they did training for their cadets. They said that they had a place nearby… I asked ‘Can we burn a car?’ and they were fine with it. So we picked up a car, and we got another extra, a kid, and shot him throwing rocks at this car. Then we set the car on fire.”
“It was a little adventure. We got to see some incredible places in Dublin that we normally wouldn’t see,” adding, “if people are interested in seeing more of these gritty locations around dublin, I go running around around the city nearly every day, take pictures and put them up on Instagram.
Additionally, another metaphor was neatly woven into the sequence, using tilt-shift techniques.
“We shot a lot of tilt-shift stuff to reflect the idea that we were lifting a stone up on society and seeing all the people running around like ants.”
“I was with the DOP driving to the next location when I saw a hobo walking along the quays with the government buildings in the background. I loved the juxtaposition so I shot him from the car window,” Finnegan recounts.
“I put it into the edit and everyone really liked it but we didn’t have a release form. The producer had to walk around the city trying to find the hobo, and when she did, he didn’t speak any English,” Finnegan additionally stresses, “and he wouldn’t sign the form.”
“She spoke some Italian and he spoke Spanish, so eventually he understood what it was all about and he accepted the payment and signed.”
“I tried loads of different typefaces and I experimented with type,” Finnegan says.
“I screen printed onto glass, I smashed the glass, shot it slow motion and composed it back I. And I did different things with the text being scribbled out and torn apart.”
“In the end we just wanted to go with something simple, handwritten, a bit like a notebook, because the lead character is a reporter, and he’s running around with a notebook… we wanted to keep it within the image, as opposed to making it feel like it was on top of it, or revealed underneath.”
RELATED TITLE SEQUENCES
Gritty titles using a custom designed font, combined with live action footage.
Article: Rani Nugraha, © Submarine Channel June 28, 2012.
Year of production
About Lorcan Finnegan
Lorcan Finnegan is a Dublin-based director specializing in movies, music videos and commercials. Finnegan works in a wide range of styles and genres, including (stop motion) animation and live action. After earning his Bachelor of Design Communication in 2001 from the Dun Laoghaire College of Art Design and Technology, he moved to London and was there for two years. Finnegan moved back to Dublin in 2004 to establish his own production company, Lovely Productions, with his creative collaborators Steven Courtney and Brunella Cocchiglia.