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ONDINE

About The Production
As 2007 came to a close, Neil Jordan found himself in Los Angeles, a writer/director caught amid the uncertainty of the Hollywood writers strike, preparing a studio film that looked like it would be postponed. Without a foreseeable end to the strike, Jordan decided to head home to Ireland to work on a new screenplay. "I had this idea for a story of a fisherman who catches a girl in his nets. I wasn't sure where it would go, but I just decided to write it,” he says. "So the story of ONDINE evolved from that first image: a fisherman who finds a body in his nets that seems to be dead but turns out to be alive. There was something in those initial images that suggested both a fairytale and an awful, harsh reality. I just let the ideas go where they would.”

The story Jordan wove is a contemporary interpretation of a classic fairy tale that tells the lyrical story of a fisherman, his estranged daughter, and their encounter with a beautiful and mysterious stranger. The film creates its imagery and mythology from a realistic series of events taking place in the lush and haunting landscape of the remote Southwest Irish coast. The enchantment, darkness and mystique of the story come from the sea and the vistas of an Irish fishing village as viewed through the eyes of a sick child with an unwavering belief in the miraculous.

One of the first people Jordan showed the script to was Colin Farrell, whom he has known for a number of years. "I read ONDINE and loved it,” says Farrell. "It's a really beautiful story, a really magical piece.” 

Farrell immediately agreed to play the lead role (the fisherman Syracuse), which proved to be the crucial piece of casting. "We needed a considerable budget,” says Jordan. "So we basically needed Colin to get the film made.” With Farrell on board, Jordan set out raising finance for ONDINE.

In early January 2008, the writer/director contacted James Flynn at Octagon Films. A conversation about financing film in Ireland culminated with Jordan asking Flynn to help produce ONDINE. "Within a day of talking to Neil I read the screenplay,” says Flynn. "My first thoughts were: this is classic Neil Jordan. It worked on all levels.”

One of the first stops in Flynn's quest for financing was producer Ben Browning at New York-based Wayfare Entertainment. Browning first read the screenplay in February 2008. "I had always been a fan of Neil Jordan's writing and when I got ONDINE I read it that evening and passed it on to my business partners Peter and Michael,” he says. "We made an offer on the film the next day and flew to Dublin to meet Neil.” The remainder of the budget was raised through local incentives including state tax incentives (Section 481) and the Irish Film Board.

In March, Flynn and Browning travelled to Jordan's house in Castletownbere to discuss the film. "When we first spoke with Neil,” Browning says, "he explained that he had a house in the southwest of Ireland and he had written the script in order for it to be shot within five kilometers of his house in any direction. When I came down to Castletownbere it felt as if we were walking through the script: everything from McCarthy's Bar, to the street in Castletownbere and up to Poulin Harbour – everything that we saw seemed to come to life in terms of the screenplay.”

Making the movie in Castletownbere was important to Jordan for a number of reasons. For one, he knew the place intimately so that every location in the screenplay existed in real life. "On the recce when people found that scenes matched up with real life locations they were surprised, but it wasn't a coincidence. I wrote it that way.” The other major factor was the rugged physicality of the Beara peninsula. "I wanted the film to be about the landscape, for it to have a very intimate relationship with landscape,” says Jordan. "Of course it could have been filmed w

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