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We talk horror, genre and MEDIA development funding with Tailored Films

Producers Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde, Tailored Films
Producers Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde, Tailored Films

We continue our series of profiles on Irish companies who have received Creative Europe MEDIA Funding awards with a profile of Tailored Films. In 2017, Tailored Films received their first MEDIA award of €50,000 under the Single Project Funding strand for their feature, Winter Lake.

Since the launch of the Creative Europe 2014-2020 programme, Irish companies have been awarded a total of €6.5m which is a major achievement. The next deadline for Single Project Funding is 23 November 2017 and the next TV Programming deadline is 16 November. If you need help with your application, you can come along to one of our Producer Workshops in October.

About tailored films

Tailored Films, an award-winning production company based in the heart of Dublin, was established in 2006 by film degree graduates Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde. In 2010, the company produced the web-series, Zombie Bashers, winner of the prestigious RTE Storyland prize that year. They co-produced their first Irish Film Board funded feature film in 2012 - Stitches, a comedy horror directed by Conor McMahon and made with Fantastic Films (read their profile here).

Tailored Films have also produced five children’s TV series for RTE - Life Lessons, Tim's Tactical Tips, Spooky Stakeout Season 1 & 2 and Miss Mogul. Spooky Stakeout was subsequently made into a feature film in 2016. Their latest feature film, The Lodgers, a supernatural horror, had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival 2017. Earlier this year, Tailored Films received development funding from Creative Europe for their feature, Winter Lake.

The Digital Film School is an initiative of Tailored Films that facilitates training in filmmaking. Workshops for teenagers and adults have been successfully running throughout Dublin since 2005. The Digital Film School coordinates two national youth filmmaking competitions as well as well as running TY workshops nationwide.

Tailored Films | The Founders

Julianne Forde

Julianne is head of production at Tailored Films. She has an honours degree in Film Production from the National Film School, IADT Dún Laoghaire. Coming from a background of cinematography, she works overseeing a lot of the technical side of film production extending the VFX. She is a graduate of the IADT’s Enterprise Ireland CREATE programme.

Ruth Treacy

Ruth is head of development at Tailored Films. She holds an honours degree in Film Production from the National Film School, IADT and a Post Graduate Diploma in New Business Development (DIT). She is also a graduate of the EAVE European Producer’s Network which is supported by Creative Europe. Ruth currently oversees the bulk of Tailored Films’ development slate of TV and feature films.


2017 Winter Lake | Single Project Fiction Development €50,000

Interview with Julianne and Ruth

1. Tell us about setting up Tailored Films back in 2006. Was it difficult to get a foothold in the business?

When we set up in 2006 we were straight out of college. YouTube had just been invented in 2005 so we started our business by making promotional videos for the newly formed online platform. Back then people couldn’t make videos on their phones - things have changed so much in that time! Something that I’ve realised in the 11 years that we’ve been going is that it gets so much easier the more experience you have behind you. The hardest thing is to convince someone that you are capable when you don’t have much to back that up.

2. Your slate of projects shows a healthy interest in many different kinds of genres. Have both of you always had an interest in horror and gothic genres?

We’ve both always liked horror but to some extent our involvement in horror features came through working with writer/director Conor McMahon. We won the RTE Storyland competition with Conor for Zombie Bashers in 2010 and we went on to collaborate with him again on our first feature film, Stitches, in 2012. Even our children’s slate has a scary feel to it with Spooky Stakeout season 1 and 2 and Spooky Stakeout the movie following them.

We’ve always wanted to make a gothic horror which is why we approached writer David Turpin to write a gothic script for us. The subsequent script turned into our most recent feature, The Lodgers. For us the story of The Lodgers is not so much one of horror but actually a story about female empowerment with our lead character deciding whether to fulfil expectations and succumb to her family tradition - no matter how horrific that may be - or to carve her own path and determine her future herself. Like any other good filmmakers we are primarily interested in the story so it's an added bonus for it to be set in such a sumptuous gothic setting which compliments the story so perfectly.

3. You also specialise in children’s programming and the The Digital Film School you set up facilitates training workshops for teenagers and adults. What appeals to you about young people’s programming and training?

Children's TV and horror films seems like an unlikely combination for a production company’s slate but they’re more alike than they seem. Both genres allow for a great scope of creativity and fantasy which we love playing around with.

The reason we set up the Digital Film School was that it was something that we would have loved to have done when we were younger. Working with teenagers can be so refreshing because the turnaround is so fast. It can take quite a long time to develop TV and film projects so it's great to see a film made in a day. In spite of the brevity of their creation, the films made during the workshops are great with some of them even going on to win international awards.

4. Ruth attended EAVE Producer Training course (EAVE is funded by Creative Europe) in 2014. Did you find it helpful for your career and company development to make those European connections at EAVE?

Absolutely. I think the most important thing that I gained from EAVE was an amazing network of producers at the right level all across Europe. Suddenly attending festivals went from not knowing anybody to being welcomed and catching up with people I knew. I still keep up with so many of the people that I met on EAVE. Relationships are everything in this industry.

5. Congrats on The Winter Lake, receiving Single Project development funding from Creative Europe! Was this your first funding application and how did you approach it? Some companies find it daunting…

We were absolutely delighted to receive Single Project Development funding from Creative Europe! This is our first time ever receiving the single project award, though we'd applied for it before. The application process wasn’t too difficult - it's just important to understand what Creative Europe are looking to fund. To make our application we broke up the different sections and used a folder on Google Drive to collaboratively answer different sections of the application. Then we copy and pasted the answers into the main PDF. The more applications we do, the easier it gets and now that we've been successful with The Winter Lake, it gives us confidence with further applications going forward.

6. The trailer for your feature, The Lodgers, came out in September and the film itself had its world premiere at TIFF 2017. The cinematography and production design looks amazing! Tell us a little about the project’s development.

We were absolutely delighted that The Lodgers was chosen as part of the official selection for TIFF! The story of how the script came to be is not your average one. We were in first year of college with the writer David Turpin before he left to pursue his music career. In 2014, we shot a music video for David and to repay the favour we asked him to write a treatment for a gothic ghost story. David is a professor of gothic literature in Trinity College and is an incredibly talented writer so when we read the first draft of the script, we fell in love with it. Being the multi-talented artist that he is, he was also one of the composers on the score for the film.

We spent a year developing the script with David before we attached the director, Brian O'Malley. This is an approach that worked very well for us and one that we continue to use for all the projects on our feature film slate (including David’s latest creation, The Winter Lake). Epic Pictures are the sales agents and financiers for The Lodgers along with the Irish Film Board. Epic Pictures actually showed interest in the project from a very early stage. We met them when we were in the 'seeking director' category of the finance and co-production market Frontiers in Brussels. We have had a very successful collaboration with Epic Pictures - they’re great to work with. We asked the Galway Film Fleadh to invite them this year and now they are now working on several other Irish films which is great to see.

7. Tell us more about The Winter Lake project and how the Creative Europe development funding will help its evolution. It’s another story from the writer David Turpin who wrote The Lodgers.

We’re really excited about The Winter Lake as the script is really strong. It tells the story of Tom, a teenage boy who has relocated from the UK to a rural Irish town with his Irish born mother. While exploring the dilapidated farm where he now lives, Tom discovers a dark secret at the bottom of the farm’s turlough (seasonal lake) that will pull Tom into a violent confrontation with the darkest parts of human nature in his mother, his neighbours, and himself. As you mentioned, the script was written by David Turpin who we’re delighted to be collaborating with again. It will be directed by Phil Sheerin who has been nominated for a student Academy Award (Oscar) and has been long listed and screened as part of the BAFTA new talent showcase. His short films have won at numerous international festivals and have screened around the world.

The Creative Europe funding will really help the evolution of this project. Anyone who works in film will know how tough it can be to get funding at the early stages of a project so having Creative Europe come on board so early has been crucial in helping us secure other sources of funding. This has helped to propel the project forward towards production in the early part of next year.

Getting the funding also was a real vote of confidence in ourselves as a production company and really enhanced our image.

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