Chat with Rough Cut's David Poland

Transcript of David Poland's chat with
Aidan and Paul Quinn at Sundance 1999
Friday, 22 January 1999
Film: This Is My Father

Aidan & Paul Quinn
Aidan & Paul Quinn at the Sundance festival 22 Jan 1999


TNT's DAVID POLAND: Welcome to the first chat from Sundance 1999. We'll be chatting with Aidan and Paul Quinn, the star and writer/director of This Is My Father, a wonderful family drama that was photographed by a third Quinn brother, Declan. The film also stars James Caan, Stephen Rea, Moya Farrelly and John Cusack.

DAVID POLAND: Sitting right here with me is Aidan Quinn and his brother, Paul.

Alex99TQM: Paul, do you know when the movie will be released in Australia? Do you get told that kind of stuff months in advance?

PAUL: I don't know... It will be released here in the US on April 23. So Alex, extend your vacation.

DAVID: Paul, how was seeing the film with a loving audience today?

PAUL: The audience was great. It was very exciting to come to Sundance for the first time with your first film. It's very special. And a chance to introduce your film before 800 people, but what I most appreciated was the heartfelt response to the movie afterward.

Alex99TQM: Firstly belated congratulations on your new baby daughter Aidan :-) Would you share with us her name?

AIDAN: It's Mia.

pwells228: Aidan, I read that your daughter played your character's baby in Avalon. Is that true? And does your family visit you at the movie sets?

AIDAN: Yes and yes... and yes. Meaning my first daughter, whose name is Ava, was the baby in Avalon.

Michael_Myers01: Any big stars in This Is My Father?

PAUL: Yes.... there's Aidan and John Cusack and James Caan.

AIDAN: And Stephen Rea.

PAUL: And a bunch of great Irish actors like Colm Meaney, Brendon Gleason and others.

DAVID: The casting was great... how did you make that happen?

PAUL: My background is in acting ... and I teach acting. So, we had a lot of rounds of casting calls... In Canada for the American segment.

AIDAN: We obviously offered the parts to Stephen Rea and the other well known actors. I was lucky enough to know them a little bit and they loved Paul's script, so they came on board for little to no money. So we are very grateful.

PAUL: Extremely.

pwells228: Aidan, do you surf the internet and fan sites?


Alex99TQM: To each of you - what would you change or do differently to the completed movie, given a bottomless budget and no time constraints?

PAUL: I would have made it three hours long and filled out all the backgrounds of six more characters. It would have been about the whole village and their response to the relationship. But not a lot different.

AIDAN: It's Paul's film. I would have done everything slightly differently. But then it wouldn't be radically different because it was the script that is why we were all doing it.

DAVID: Is it autobiographical?

PAUL: This is not my father. It is very loosely based on a story my mother told us.

AIDAN: And our mother did grow up on a farm similar to this in the 30s. And the lead character played by Moya Farrelly is kind of an homage to our mother.

DAVID: How did you find Moya?

PAUL: Just blessed luck. She came to one of the first casting sessions in Ireland. And from that point on it was just about convincing the producers. We knew right away that she was the one.

AIDAN: She taught me. I have never worked with someone with that little experience that was the unintimidated and relaxed with the process. There were days where I would need 9 or 10 takes and she would seem to always have it by take 3. It was great.

Daemnation: Any advice for those of us who would like to get to Sundance some day???

AIDAN: Write a brilliant script. Assemble a brilliant cast. And say your prayers.

PAUL: Hmmmm... Write about what you know and make films about things that you know and that will help out a lot.

DAVID: How has the Sundance experience been... getting in and all?

AIDAN: Harried and exhausting, but satisfying. I started as a young actor. I was invited to the Sundance institute to work for a months with indie projects and directors and had a great experience. It's good to come back 14 years later.

PAUL: It's been great, this being the first time. I wish I could stay longer. I wish the distributors could out me up for another week.

AIDAN: I have to be at work on Monday

rikkie_garcia: Did your parents get involved in the filming at all?

PAUL: No, not in the filming, but I used them as a resource when I was writing and my dad sent me many books on the subject and my mom told me all the stories she knew. I let them read early screenplay drafts and to their comments.

DAVID: I assume they have seen the film?

PAUL: Yes...

AIDAN: They are over the moon.

BlueEyes64155: One of the characters in your movie is named Father Quinn. Is there any significance to this?

PAUL: Yes. It's a joke on our dad because he studied to be a priest.

DAVID: Either of you consider the seminary?

PAUL: Uhhhh... no.

AIDAN: Mmmmmm no.

PAUL: Declan has... as a little kid.

rikkie_garcia: Aidan (I'm not ignoring you Paul!), I was just wondering whether you being at Sundance means you're done with 50 violins?

AIDAN: No... I work very early Monday morning and then I finish next week.

pwells228: Do you have an address for fan mail?

AIDAN: CAA, somewhere on Wilshire Blvd.

amazingLOGBOY: Do you guys fight about parts in movies? Which one gets which?

PAUL: It's hard to answer that, Aidan is primarily the actor. Paul is the director and Declan is the cinematographer.

AIDAN: Does not apply.

PAUL: I used to lust after roles that Aidan got.

DAVID: The cinematography is very dark... how did you make that choice with Declan?

PAUL: Definitely Declan's input. The cinematography in the film is only on the 1939 segment. We did a bleach bypass process on the 1939 period to create that effect. And also to honor the fact that there weren't a lot of lights back then. This is more true to how it looked. And Declan's input in that was essential. He tried various degrees of the bleach bypass process before we found the one that was true and beautiful.

Kirsty Wheeler: Hello, Aidan. Great to 'meet' you. When you were in Ireland filming, did it make you want to go back to live there? Perhaps you would consider moving back to Ireland when you retire (hopefully a long way off). I live in England and go to Ireland from time to time so I know what a great country it is.

AIDAN: Yes... I'm immediately comfortable in Ireland and love spending time there. However my wife has veto power and though she loves to visit, she doesn't want to live there right now.

DAVID: Any thoughts on retirement?

AIDAN: I would love to have a place in Ireland to retire to or before.

PAUL: I had spent time in Ireland before. I lived there a few years. It has inspired my wife and I to think of buying a house when we get into a situation where that is feasible. But I don't understand retirement.

DAVID: Has your dad retired?

PAUL: Just recently. While we were in pre-production.

thumbsup3_99: Have any of you stars been starstruck at the festival?

AIDAN: Yes, today we got to meet Robert Redford and he was so...

PAUL: ...gracious...

AIDAN: ...and enthusiastic and sweet. It was kind of shocking how outgoing and complimentary he was.

rikkie_garcia: Who would you both most like to work with in the course of your careers?

PAUL: Well, Brando has always been a dream. I think Robert Duvall for me. Gena Rowlands. So many... DeNiro and....

AIDAN: I feel very lucky because I've worked with everyone he mentioned. And right now I'm working with Meryl Streep. So I feel very blessed. I'd love to work with Scorsese as a director.

PAUL: I want to work with Don Cheadle.

AIDAN: He's great.

amazingLOGBOY: What new and exiting projects will you be working on in the future? open to both.

PAUL: I'm very close to directing The Gingerman, which is a PJ Dunleavy novel. And I'm working on a project with my wife called Redemption's Song, set in Yosemite and South Central L.A. And a film called Wilburt Bloom, set in NYC about a bunch of older people in their 70s in NY.

AIDAN: And after this I'm unemployed and I'm looking for really strong parts that are a full meal.

DAVID: Was your part in In Dreams cut a lot?


thumbsup3_99: What is a bleach bypass?

PAUL: It's when they are putting the film through the chemicals... one of the steps is the negative gets bleached. So, what we are doing is bypassing much of that process by 50%. So we are using 50% less bleach. And it tends to saturate the colors and things fall to black sooner.

AIDAN: Declan was one of the first to do this.

PAUL: It was his idea.

Q: Aidan, weren't you supposed to be in Stanley Tucci's The Imposters?

AIDAN: Stanley Tucci is one of my best friends and I was supposed to do the Billy Connolly role and luckily for Stanley and the audience, I got a big job that paid big money because I would have never been as good as Billy Connelly. And that's rare for me to say. It's very rare to say that another actor would be better in a part than me.

rikkie_garcia: Aidan and Paul, what are your all time favourite films?

PAUL: Last Tango in Paris, Tender Mercies, The Seventh Seal, Fanny and Alexander. I love The Celebration.

AIDAN: Very similar.... Quaxter's Fortune Has An Uncle In The Bronx is a film that was shot in Dublin and stars Gene Wilder. And is very, very funny.

DAVID: Why have we never seen that?

AIDAN: I don't know.. it's really funny.

PAUL: And Dr. Strangelove.

Alex99TQM: Paul, is there a lot of footage you haven't included in TIMF final cut that you may include later on LD/DVD format?

PAUL: If the producers let me recut the film, the changes I would make are very slight, so it could change minutely. But I am very happy with where it's at now.

pwells228: Aidan, you have been in several films that deal with social issues, like Early Frost...are you drawn particularly drawn to or seek out that kind of film?

AIDAN: Yes...

scherri98: Aidan, have you ever looked at any of the websites that are dedicated to you?

AIDAN: No. But, my assistant showed me a couple of pages off one for a laugh once.

thumbsup3_99: Are you guys going to do any skiing?

AIDAN: We'd love to, I'm not allowed to by contract.

PAUL: They have me doing press until I get into the taxi to the airport.

thumbsup3_99: What are the benefits of an independent film, and is the line becoming blurred?

PAUL: I think the line is becoming blurred. Everything is called an independent film nowadays, but the benefits are still great.

AIDAN: It's the freedom to not have the mediocre minds of meddling studio executives involved in creative decision making.

raffleboy: The Wilburt film is it going to be shot in NY?

PAUL: Yes.. in NY and one week in Los Angeles.

rikkie_garcia: Aidan, did you enjoy your time in England when you were filming Haunted? Ever coming back???

AIDAN: Ummm... I always enjoy working. England is not my favorite place in the world on projects that interest me. But there is a small island close to it that I dearly love.

rikkie_garcia: And when will This Is My Father be released in the UK? We get near to no info here!

PAUL: On BSkyB in August. And it has already opened in Ireland.

AIDAN: It will never be released theatrically in Ireland or Scotland or Wales either because the producers desperate to repay some overdue bank loans sold it to BSkyB for exclusive premiere. And it will be showing there in August. This is a terrible shame, I think. but, there you have it....

PAUL: If ever there was a piece of cinema meant for the big screen, this is it.

BlueEyes64155: Did Declan enter the industry first ?

AIDAN: Declan... yes... he says he did, so I won't argue. About the same time as I started acting classes, he was in film school at Chicago's Columbia College.

pwells228: Aidan, what role or character is your favorite and why?

AIDAN: This role is certainly one of my favorites. I like the character in An Early Frost. The one I play In The Fields Of The Lord. The Assignment. Some of those.

rikkie_garcia: So, Paul, your turn now: what are you up to these days?

PAUL: We've answered that.

AIDAN: Yes. (laughs)

DAVID: Can you say anything about Avalon, one of my favorite films.

PAUL: There was a great moment with me. That was the first film I ever did. But if you blink you'll miss me.

AIDAN: It was an example of another film that where the director got to do what he wanted. And that's rare in the studio system. Because of the mega-hits he had done before that, I was cast. I wouldn't have been allowed to be cast by the studio if it weren't for Barry's previous hits. So, I loved working on that film. It was a great experience.

gierschie:  If you could chose a part or character who would it be?

AIDAN: Hamlet.

PAUL: Bozo The Clown.

DAVID: Let's take one more question.

BlueEyes64155: Do you three always get along so well?

PAUL: We got on very well in the filming of this and in post, but we live 3000 miles away from these guys and we only see each other a couple of times a year. The film has changed all that.

AIDAN: We see you about 10 times a year. As you can see, we can't agree on how many times we see each other. There is certainly tension between us as brothers as with all brothers. We try not to deny it and we are very different, but we try to respect each others differences.

PAUL: And this film has been helpful in getting to know each other better. A lot better.

AIDAN: We've had to spend a lot of time together.

PAUL: For the first time since college, we had to talk as artists about the work.

AIDAN: I would never use that word, "artists."

DAVID: Well, I'd like to thank 2 of the 3 Brothers Quinn for coming by tonight. It was a great chat. And I want to thank you all for coming by to read it. Thanks to the Quinns. It's a terrific movie....Good night from Sundance.

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Thanks to Alex from The QUINNtessential Man for finding the photo!.