The cast and crew of 'The Stars Above and the Frogs in the Grass' on the set of the film
The audience at the IMC Dundalk were treated to a wonderfully diverse variety of short films which were created by students from the BA in Film and Television Production course last week, as Dundalk Institute of Technology held their annual film showcase.
The third-year students produced three short films of exceptional quality, and The Stars Above and the Frogs in the Grass was one of them.
The Stars Above and the Frogs in the Grass was written by Tessa Coburn. Terry Creagh was the director, Robyn Mills produced and Jane Meehan composed and performed a traditional Irish score on the fiddle. Kayleigh Moran was the costume designer, Yousuf Al-hadhrami was the head gaffer and Sean Donnelly and Laura Wheelan were the sound team.
Adam Martin-Connolly and Sarah Murphy were the production designers and the director of photography was Laura Fey.
The Stars Above is a period drama set in 1950s Ireland. Nora runs away from home in the middle of the night and she meets Delly. Their friendship grows over the length of the film. The film is eight minutes in total.
Ann-Marie Lally and Leanne Devlin played Delly and Nora superbly. Nora’s father is an abusive alcoholic, and she escapes her hardships at home by spending time with Delly. The pair spend their nights stargazing and their days chasing frogs in the grass.
Delly and Nora’s friendship develops slowly and innocently and is a source of great comfort to both of them. The camera work is excellent, and the subtle focus on Nora’s facial expressions when she is with Delly prepares the audience for the inevitable shy kiss. It feels like Nora is looking for love after being in an abusive environment.
The two girls are nearly always filmed out in the open among fresh air, which represents their freedom to be themselves. When watching the contrasting dark scenes shot in the confined space of Nora’s family home, the atmosphere is immediately tense, and one can’t help but feel very afraid when her father begins to shout and abuse her.
A very poignant theme in the film is abuse and absence of Christianity. The focus of the picture of Jesus and the Sacred Heart in Nora’s house is deliberate. We are reminded of abuse in Catholic Ireland during the 20th century.
This contrasts with Delly and Nora’s pure and happy friendship. Tessa Coburn from Dundalk wrote the film and was the assistant director.
“I wrote it the summer before third year and I gathered a few people who wanted to work on it. The script went through a few drafts, and I experimented with the ending and structure.
“Although I’d like to think my script was completely original, films like The Virgin Suicides and Country Girls did inspire some themes. They are big films that revolve around women, which is exactly what I wanted,” she adds.
“I’m a big fan of the pre-production part of films. Getting to experiment as a writer and hearing other people’s opinions of the script is also great. We spent about six months in pre-production for only one week of shooting… it really does put into perspective how much work goes into a full-length feature,” Tessa says.