Created as a statement about how we live our lives today and a way of portraying the idea of a clash between humans and nature, Lorcan Finnegan’s (Brother of Fear of Flying’s Conor) Foxes is a dark and moody tale of isolation and unusual happenings. Adapted from a Garret Shanley short story with the same name and set in a ‘ghost estate’ (abandoned government housing projects) in Ireland, Finnegan’s tale takes its viewers on a journey into the bizarre, as we witness his protagonist develop an unusual relationship with a skulk of foxes.
Conceptually unique and tonally intriguing, Finnegan’s film hooks its viewers early on in proceedings with unexplained exploding cafetiere’s and things quickly go from odd to odder, as a group of scavenging canines enter the world of the short’s segregated couple (James & Ellen). As Ellen becomes more and more obsessed with capturing the foxes on camera, a transformation takes place and as she’s dragged into their world of nocturnal activity, we’re left unsure as to whether she is descending into a place of insanity or the paranormal.
Funded by the Irish Filmboard’s Signatures scheme, Foxes is a short of outstanding production values as Miguel de Olaso’s (Blinky) dark cinematography blends with atmospheric sound design by Neil O’Connor and Gavin O’Brien. However, the success of Finnegan’s short was always going to lie in the hands (or paws) of his on-screen foxes, with their believability being critical in the audiences engagement with the film. Using a combination of real and CG foxes (after also ruling out the possibility of animatronics), the filmmaker explained the challenges of the shoot in an interview on Directors Notes – “The foxes couldn’t stay still for a second. All crew would have to be far away and very quiet in order for the foxes to relax for a few seconds. They were also on leads that were painted out in post, so there was a lot of tricky wire removal involved too. Some shots, like the fox looking back at Ellen as she gazes down from the window, were shot in plates. Other times we got lucky, like when Ellen was taking photos at sunset and the fox appeared between the two houses, paused and then ran on.”
Now developing Vivarium, a feature film based in a world similar to that of Foxes and with new short The Hare to begin shooting in Spring, 2014 looks like being a big year for Lorcan Finnegan.