A Cell of Film-makers Meets Up to Create Movies, Fast

“I was kind of lost in it,” says Robert O’Meara.

The film-maker and producer from Dublin said he didn’t know anybody when he was starting out in 2009, making music videos. “I didn’t know any other film-makers.”

Then, at a film festival, he met a woman who introduced him to the world of Kino. On her advice, he went to an event in Germany, where, he says, he “got hooked”.

Kino is a worldwide movement of film-makers that started in Canada in 1999, says O’Meara.

Now, O’Meara is one of the organisers of a “Kino Kabaret” in Dublin, which aims to bring together people involved in all aspects of film-making this weekend, to see what they can create.

The Kino Movement

When O’Meara learned about the movement, there’d been a Dublin Kino group, but it seemed to have run out of steam, and so he founded Kino Spraoi. It’s one of about 70 Kino “cells” around the world.

These groups often organise “Kino Kabarets” like the one set for this weekend. The concept is simple: film-makers of all kinds – actors, directors, make-up artists, writers – gather in one place for a couple of days to make a film.

People are divvied up according to interests and skill level, and these small groups exchange ideas on how to make a film.

“In order for it to be very good, the script has to be very tight,” says Karl Mooney, who went to the November kabaret.

“You need to cut your cloth to suit that 48 hours that you’ve got to make it. So if you overstep and try to do something too much, you won’t meet the target,” says Mooney, who heard about Kino from a friend on Facebook.

Mooney had had recently completed an acting course run by the director Terry McMahon, and was looking for the next step, he says. A Kino Kabaret was it.

There are a lot of logistical challenges involved in making a film in 48 hours, says Mooney. You don’t have much time to spend on a script, actors don’t have much time to learn dialogue, and there might be restrictions with regards to the set too.

It’s all part of the charm of making a film during a Kino Kabaret. There’s a knack to it “that I’m still trying to master”, says Mooney.

A Typical Weekend

A Kino Kabaret generally starts with a coffee.

People arrive, mingle and then sit down. Directors, or whoever might have a pitch for a film, present their ideas.

Each idea is written on a board, along with a title, duration, and what would be needed to make it.

Then people move around and talk to each person who pitched an idea and see if they want to join their group, says O’Meara.

“The first day is an ice-breaking session,” he says, “and it’s free for people to come and get a feel of it.”

Each team should have a director, a camera person, an editor and actors. The second day, they’re given props and a couple of hours to shoot the film before returning to edit it. The film is screened that night.

For Kino Spraoi, the next Kino Kabaret begins on the Friday at the Tog Hackerspace in Blackpitts, in Dublin 8.

This weekend, they have a special screening of Cardboard Gangsters, followed by a question-and-answer session with lead actor John Connors.

An Immersive Experience

People come from all over for these Kino Kabarets, says Mooney.

Thirty-five people attended the last one, in November, he says. People travelled from around Ireland to attend, and a couple of people came from other parts of Europe.

“I’m just back from living abroad for a long time and it was just a great way to immerse myself within an artistic culture in Dublin after being away for 17 or 18 years.”

Generally with Kino Kabaret, the sessions can last anything from a week to a weekend, and participants from the host city host people travelling from abroad and help them plug into the local network.

“Usually you pay around €50, €60 and that gets you somewhere to stay for the week. They put you up and they feed you and you’re kind of plugged into the local network,” says O’Meara, of the Kino experience in Europe.

Does this sense of conviviality create a relaxed atmosphere, or is there a sense of competitiveness running through the weekend?

“Well,” says Mooney, “I imagine the directors are pretty stressed but everybody else is, you know, very unstressed.”

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Sean Finnan: Sean Finnan is a freelance journalist. You can reach him at [email protected]

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