FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
IFTA AWARDS 2024
When an experimental drug trial goes horribly wrong, seven young test subjects must face the terrifying side effect of the drug - if you fall asleep you die. Trapped in an isolated medical facility, they must find a way to escape, and somehow manage to stay awake.
Director: Ian Hunt-Duffy Writer: Darach McGarrigle Producers: Simon Doyle
Q: What was the genesis of this film, and how did it evolve over the course of development to production and completion?
- Darach McGarrigle (Screenwriter): "I wanted to write a horror film, and something with a strong ensemble. A drug trial was always a setting that fascinated me because it attracts people on the margins of society and it's like a mini world unto itself with its own rules and hierarchies. I was inspired by films like The Thing, Wages of Fear and Southern Comfort, where a group of rough but sympathetic characters are stuck together, facing an implacable external threat but also dealing with their own paranoia and distrust of each other. I always loved in horror when the threat comes from something commonplace, if you can take something normal and make it deadly that's scarier than any monster or killer. So the story's hook-- don't fall asleep or you'll die-- seemed to me the perfect minimalist threat. The script went through a lot of changes over time but I think we all had a strong belief in our core concept and the tone we wanted so that helped keep us on track."
- Ian Hunt Duffy (Director): "I knew for my first feature film that I wanted to tell a story that was self-contained, but high-concept. I love ensemble films, where a group of mismatched characters are trapped together in one location, and I’m also a fan of horror films with a clearly defined rule that cannot be broken. So when Darach had the idea of “If you fall asleep you die” I just thought it was so evocative and memorable, taking something everyday and innocent like sleep and making it sinister. The script went through many drafts throughout development and was constantly evolving during production and post-production, with different characters or backstories coming to the fore, or certain plot points becoming more refined. From a practical point of view, it was a very tight schedule with only 23 days, so scenes were always being adapted or tightened as we went along to meet the demands of the shoot."
Q: What did you feel was the most fulfilling element of working on this film?
- Darach: "The big two that come to mind are being on set during filming and seeing my script come to life and seeing the finished film for the first time with an audience. I think I wrote a pretty ambitious script for the budget we had and it was incredible seeing how Ian and the cast and crew all came together to pull off miracles and make these elaborate set pieces I'd imagined actually happen. And a film like this is made to be seen with an audience so getting to experience that for the first time in a full screening at the Galway Film Fleadh was really something special."
- Ian: "It was a long journey, but to be able to realise a lifelong dream and direct my first feature film was incredibly fulfilling. I remember when I first walked onto the set during pre-production and saw this large crew of people-- the props and art department, the camera and lighting team, stunts, costume, hair and makeup-- everyone working incredibly hard to create a film that had been living inside my head for years. That was a really humbling and exciting experience. And to work with a lot of the same collaborators that I had worked with for years on my short films was really rewarding. Even though the shoot was extremely challenging and stressful at times, I tried to take a moment to stop and appreciate how lucky I was to have this opportunity."
Q: Can you speak to the growth in the Irish film industry in recent years and how it helped your film get off the ground?
- Darach: "There's so many great films being made in Ireland at the moment, it's really inspiring and forces you to step up your game or be left behind. I think quality breeds quality and the more great films are made in this country the more will be made. It feels like there's been a wave of Irish horror in recent years which is very exciting to be part of, and the success of films like Hole in the Ground and You Are Not My Mother was definitely a big inspiration for us. Screen Ireland were the main backers of the film and so supportive of the project from the very beginning, particularly Dearbhla Regan and Eimear Markey whose guidance was incredibly important during the development process."
- Ian: "The Irish film Industry has had phenomenal growth in recent years, with some of the best crews and talent in the world working here right now. Ireland also has a strong reputation for horror films in recent years, so it’s really inspiring and encouraging as a filmmaker. In terms of support, Screen Ireland were instrumental in getting Double Blind made, believing in us from the very beginning and helping guide the project from script to screen."
Q: Why is it important to see your work represented at the IFTAs and to be acknowledged by your peers in the Irish film community?
- Darach: "I met Ian back in college and we've been working together for over a decade now. We first went to the IFTAs when our film Gridlock was nominated for Best Short, and that was the film that really set us on the path towards Double Blind so it would be an amazing full circle moment to be back with our first feature. I feel proud to be an Irish filmmaker and I think the Irish film industry has nurtured and supported our careers so much. I think everything we've done so far has been with the aim of making this film and it's a dream that it's actually now real and out there. The honour of getting that acknowledgement from our peers and going to the IFTAs with it would be the icing on the cake."
- Ian: "The IFTAs is such a prestigious ceremony, representing the best filmmakers that Ireland has to offer. It would be a huge honour to be recognised by the Academy and included alongside such incredible talent. Everyone worked so hard on “Double Blind”, going above and beyond to make it a reality, so it would just be an amazing experience to see all their hard efforts acknowledged."