The Forty Foot, a screenplay and film project written by two MetFilm School Berlin graduates; Caolan Flood, and Brian Hose was selected for the 2021 international Junior Entertainment Talent Slate (JETS) Initiative. Only 27 potential film projects were selected.
The JETS Initiative brings together talented up-and-coming producers/directors for their debut, second and third feature films with international producers, sales agents, financing, and distribution companies.
The Forty Foot is a coming-of-age story, set in Ireland. Written by Caolan and Brian, who come from Ireland and the USA respectively, the story is very close to both men’s hearts.
Caolan is originally an Economics graduate, he spent his summers teaching English in Spain then, after his degree he taught in Spain full-time for a year.
He explained: “I really enjoyed teaching teenagers, I enjoyed their energy much more than teaching the younger kids – I didn’t have the sort of patience and energy for 5–6-year-olds, but the cheekiness of teenagers was fine by me.”
There was always a part of Caolan that wanted to make films, he said: “While I was studying Economics, I realised that I really did not want to do business and economics, I always loved English and writing, and storytelling when I was at school. So, while I was studying economics I started to teach myself about screenwriting because I knew that’s what I was passionate about, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
“But, I just didn’t know how to do it when I was at school. I didn’t understand that it was a tangible position – I was passionate about English and writing, but at 15, 16 years old I just couldn’t make the leap to say, ‘Oh you can use this to go and tell stories and make films, and do the things that you love doing.’
“So, I got involved with the Dublin Film Festival as a volunteer and I met other like-minded and we started making our own little films, they weren’t very good, but they were fun to make.
“When I came back from Spain, I started to take screenwriting a little more seriously; Dublin is quite an expensive place to live and I was ready to experience something different. I chose to study my Masters at MetFilm School Berlin, because I was looking for a film school that taught in English but could give me the lifestyle and the culture that I really wanted to experience. Berlin ticks all of those boxes.”
Caolan explained which films had inspired him, he said: “There have been a few Irish Films that I’ve enjoyed, for me, ‘Adam and Paul’ was a big influence but the first time that I remember watching something that I’ve watched a lot since was ‘Submarine’ by Richard Ayoade.
“It came out in 2010, so I would have been 16 or 17 when I saw it. It’s a coming-of-age film, really stylised, and it was different to all the American coming-of-age films that I’d seen.
“I was a really awkward teenager and this film really connected with me. It was really relatable, and I’d love to see more of those kinds of stories told.”
Brian’s route to film school was a little different to most other students, his first job was working in a hair salon as a hairstylist, then he went to study Marketing. His first marketing job was with a start-up in New York.
He said: “While I was working in marketing, that’s where I got exposed more to video and cameras and I ended up working as a content producer, that’s what piqued my interest in doing it more professionally. At some point I got really tired of Marketing and the grind of living in New York City, and I thought it was a chance for me to go and study Film and I went to Berlin and studied BA Practical Filmmaking at MetFilm School.
Brian chose Berlin because he was looking for ‘something different’, he said: “I had lived in the US my whole life, my mother is from Denmark and I always thought that I would live in Europe someday, and I really love European films and I wanted to get a European perspective on cinema.”
He said: “Right after we graduated from MetFilm School Berlin, we were looking for a new project, I had seen Caolan’s graduation film, and I really liked it. It was a coming-of-age story, and I had worked on a coming-of-age stories too, my own graduation film was about teenagers in a physical education class, and we kind of connected around those themes and decided that we should try and write something together.
“We met up several times over a few weeks and shared our own memories from adolescence, we didn’t know whether we would create a short, or a feature or a series…”
Caolan added: “It kind of organically grew I guess. We just chatted about stuff that we knew, the different experiences from growing up with our families, school and adolescence really. Despite growing up in a very different countries there were a lot of similarities and that helped guide and focus us on what we were going to make a film about.”
The more Caolan told Brian about Dublin, the more interested he became and that’s why The Forty Foot is set in Dublin.
Caolan added: “The more we talked, the more we knew that we were going to write a feature film.”
Brian said: “While we were talking through our project, one theme that was really important to us was dealing with mental health, and how, especially in young boys it’s not so easy to talk about mental health struggles, and I think that was one of the reasons that we wanted to set it in Ireland. There’s been a big conversation there about mental health.”
Caolan agreed he said: “Yes, it’s something that’s not talked about really, not to put Ireland down or anything, but suicide rates are very, very high, and yet, internationally people look at Ireland as this very happy, fun culture which it is, but there is this other side that people don’t talk about.
“People don’t talk about simple emotions. People don’t say if they‘re happy or sad, and that’s kind of basic stuff and if you’re a teenager you can’t stretch to simple emotions that you need to express. And then there’s consequences to that, the consequences are there for everyone to see. And, only now are people really taking about it, only now are people trying to bring about change but it’s very, very slow.
“It’s a topic that we’re both very interested in and it’s something that I’ve had personal experience with, particularly while teaching and working with teenagers.”
The film is a story about a teenager (Sean) who is living in his own world and is trying to figure out his own issues. He is oblivious to what is happening inside his family with his mother and with his grandmother, and the whole dynamic.
Brian explained the film’s title, he said: “The Forty Foot is an historic swimming area in Dublin, it’s very well known. People jump into the freezing water at Christmas time. It’s an important filming location throughout the film, ‘Sean’ visits it with his grandmother, his mother and with a friend and it takes on a bigger, more symbolic meaning.”
Caolan came across the JETS initiative the Screen Ireland funding website, and they decided to apply.
The JETS process was an intense two days last month. Beforehand, the team had pitch training and they had to pitch their project during the two days to a jury that consisted of some sales agents and producers from all around the world. The duo were able to have meetings with individual teams and jury members and other film makers to talk more about their project.
“We made so many connections, and we learned so much – it was a really a valuable experience.
“We’re in early development stage, we are still developing the script, so we are applying to certain script development funds in Ireland, and maybe in Germany. One of our next steps is to find an Irish co-production partner.
“We will be filming in Ireland and it’s an Irish story so it’s only natural to work with an Irish production company.”
Besides Germany, the partner countries are currently Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Norway, Great Britain, and the USA, and the aim is to support young talents in an ever-growing international film market.
Traditionally, the JETS Initiative takes place during the Berlin International Film Festival.
JETS: More information here: https://wepfilms.com/2021/01/jets-2021-selected-participants/
More information about Caolan and Brian can be found on their respective websites: