The Selznick of Sandymount

D4 filmmaker goes cuckoo

The prospect of making a film has always been a daunting task for those starting out in the industry. How will you raise the money? How will you promote it? Will anyone actually get to see it?

Thanks to the internet, budding film-makers have a host of new options. Sites like Kickstarter allow first-time producers to raise funds while social networks like Twitter and Facebook provide an invaluable means of promoting your work.

While in the past, film-makers often used the medium of short films to show their potential, a new generation is embracing the format of the web series, usually a set of short episodes (or webisodes) that form a complete story upon completion. The advantage of this is that it allows film-makers to get part of their project made (eg the first episode of a six-part series) without having to wait for a full budget to be raised.

One film-maker who has seen success with this method is Sandymount native Marie Caffrey, producer of the award winning web series Cuckoo. After quitting the restaurant business, Caffrey decided to follow her dream of producing films and has spent the past four years working as a production manager on movies like Charlie Casanova and Portrait of a Zombie, before producing several shorts.

Cuckoo tells the story of a teenage girl who grows to believe she’s the victim of a child kidnapping. It stars such notable Irish acting talent as Denise McCormack (Love/Hate) and Brian Fortune (Game of Thrones) and is directed by former MTV presenter Danann Breathnach, from a script by writer Nikki Racklin.

Caffrey is delighted at the reaction the series has received, even taking fourth place in the Webby Awards, the internet equivalent of the Oscars. To put this in context, the third-placed series, Electric City, has no less than Tom Hanks as its leading man.

A four-part series, the first two episodes were funded by RTÉ’s Storyland project, while Caffrey raised the remaining funds herself. “In total, the budget is around €17,000,” she tells NewsFour, “When I bring it to festivals, people are really astounded at the quality for such a low budget.”

Caffrey was contacted by Aer Lingus and Cuckoo is currently screening on all of the airline’s trans-Atlantic flights. The producer now hopes to turn it into a full-length feature film and has applied to the Irish Film Board’s Catalyst scheme, which awards its winner a €350,000 budget.

Cuckoo can be viewed online at

Pictured: The Selznick of Sandymount, Marie Caffrey (left), with Cuckoo director Danann Breathnach and writer Nikki Racklin.
Image courtesy The Lovie Awards.

By Eric Hillis