Dublin-born, L.A.-based director Ciarán Foy is looking to Irish myth and folklore for new movie ideas.
By Nora Scally
The glamour of Hollywood is something that captivates most people in their youth. Many have aspirations to be involved with the silver screen, even to be immortalized on film forever. This is a difficult goal to reach, of course, and even more elusive if you are from outside of the United States. Irish filmmaker Ciarán Foy, however, has achieved that seemingly impossible objective.
Foy has risen to prominence in the horror genre. In 2012, he wrote and directed the psychological horror film “Citadel.” He followed this up with directing “Sinister 2” in 2015. “Sinister 2” is a sequel to the first “Sinister” movie, produced by Blumhouse.
Born in Dublin in 1979, Foy grew up watching films in the 1980s and ’90s. The “Star Wars” movies, in particular, were a huge influence.
“I've always been in love with movies that deal with the extraordinary. My dad took to me to see ‘Return of the Jedi’ when I was 4 and it had such a huge impact,” Foy said. “I wanted to live and visit those places, places you couldn't visit in the real world. So creating stories, whether it was through play or drawing or reading or watching movies, was how I got to go there.”
This described love for the “extraordinary” lead Foy to focus his talents in the horror genre.
“I'm a bit of geek. I love horror and science fiction,” said Foy, “Horror always costs less, because a lot of the best of them are about what you cannot see, and so they're easier to get made. I haven't made a sci-fi movie yet, but I'd love to.”
Foy is an alumnus of the National Film School in Dublin, and that education lead to funding for his first film.
“It was super hard. I spent most of my 20s pretty broke. If not for the Irish Film Board, filmmaking would still be a pipe dream.”
He described his own background as “humble,” whereas many of his peers were close to being “independently wealthy.”
“Had I not had access to free college back home and then [backing of] government funding body for the arts - I would be working at something else right now.
“Off of the back of that producers wanted to meet me and my first feature film ‘Citadel’ came out of those conversations,” he recalled.
After the success of “Citadel,” Foy went onto make “Sinister 2”, produced by Blumhouse, known for its focus on the horror genre with films such as “Get Out,” “The Purge” and “Paranormal Activity.”
Foy reflects on the experience, making the jump from a small movie to a major American production.
“It was daunting at first, there was three times the mount of people on set. But once you get moving, you realize it's very similar and you rely on the same core group of people,” he said.
Looking ahead in his career, Foy wants to focus on horror, and looks to his roots for inspiration.
“I have a few ideas that I'm toying with connected to Irish myth,” he said. “We have such a wealth of great folklore and most of it hasn't really been brought to the screen before.”
Foy, who currently resides in Los Angeles, believes that Ireland will have a growing impact on the film industry.
“With new studios like Troy [near Limerick] keeping busy with huge productions, all signs tell me that the industry is continuing to expand,” Foy said. “Also, as more and more content is required for the various streaming services being created, more productions are going to be going to Ireland and places like that that can accommodate them.
Ciaran Foy’s latest film “Eli” will be available for streaming on Netflix from Oct. 18, in time for the Halloween season.