Paul Carey and Kurt Dean Darby are film makers based in Northern Ireland. 

They recently won the inaugural Cork Film Festival Award at First Cut Youth Film Festival with their film entitled ‘A Bitter Sweet Deal.’ 

We got the chance to chat to Paul and Kurt about their film, how they got involved in film making and what inspires them.

What is your award winning film ‘A Bitter Sweet Deal’ about?

Paul: It basically just makes fun of the old detective Noir movies from the fifties.

Kurt: Do I have to say a bit now?

Paul: Nope. That's pretty much it summed up.

Speaking about ‘A Bitter Sweet Deal’ by Paul Carey & Kurt Dean Darby, Don O'Mahony, CFF Chief Programmer said: 

Making full use of its black & white photography, A Bitter Sweet Deal manages to humorously undercut the well-worn clichés of the genre and successfully works as both homage to and cheeky pastiche of film noir. “

Tell us what inspired you when writing it? Where did you get the idea from?

Kurt: Back in school during my designated study time, I'd write these wee Noir-ish monologues with a load of surreal characters and descriptions with Brian McCarley, who plays the dashing protagonist, Teddy in the film. Then Paul and I met in university and knew we wanted to make a film.

Paul: We were both big fans of the Noir genre and screwball parody films like Airplane and Naked Gun. Plus I just wanted an excuse to use blood squibs. (A practical effect, used to create an explosive blood splatter.) So we just decided to mesh all these things together and this short film is what we ended up with.

What process did you go through to make your film? Who did you collaborate with etc? 

Kurt: The characters came first. Or rather, a list of stereotypically gangsterque names came first.  We wrote the screenplay between coffee shops, pubs and Facebook messenger. 

Paul: Once the script was done, we threw together a budget as big as you would imagine the budget of a student short film to be.

Kurt: The cast and crew were made up of our very talented yet naive friends who probably had no idea what they were getting into. Most by trade are not actors. Paul is in it. We had about 16 unusable shots of him staring directly down the lens. But we got there in the end.

Paul: We then shot it in and around our gaffe when we were in final year of Uni, over three separate weekends. 

Kurt: At one stage we had to repaint a large portion of the living room roof after the final squib blasted fake blood across it. For those not clued in, fake blood looks like real blood, and from an interior designing perspective is not the best look.

Paul: Thankfully our limited film knowledge came to good use for once, as we realised if we lit the room a certain way we could hide the absolute mess on the roof from the landlord every time he visited. 

Kurt: He was such a lovely man too, which made it that much worse.

Paul: Once we finished shooting the post production was done, between the houses of our kind mates and Glasgowbury studios in Draperstown.

Have you been involved in any other film festivals or events?

Paul: I was lucky to have my short script "Bring Back Laura", nominated for best screenplay at last year's Waterford Film Festival. Then this film was screened at 27th Devour Short Film Festival in Belfast's Black Box, were we ended up winning the Audience Award. It was all a bit mad.

Kurt: At Devour, we were both incredibly nervous at this point because nobody outside friends or family had seen it. We had a lack of confidence in the project after having filmed it so long ago and the lengthy post-production process during and after our studies definitely did not help. Which of course made it that much more of a surprise when the audience responded in such a positive way. 

What’s next for both of you? 

Paul: I'm currently finishing off a short film called "BOB" which I wrote and co-produced, alongside Emmett O'Mahony, who also directed the film.  

Kurt: I'm writing a few bits and pieces. I have a screenplay I'm looking to make sometime early next year. 

Paul: We also just finished the script for another short film, which we've written together. We’re aiming to start shooting over the summer.

Kurt: Without giving too much away, it is another surreal comedy. It's in the same vein of incredibly stupid humour 'A Bitter Sweet Deal' came from but on a grander, sillier scale. I can't wait to get that gang of misfits back together and start filming it!

Paul and Kurt’s ‘A Bitter Sweet Deal’ was featured at First Cut Youth Film Festival in March 2019. 

Spotlight is the First Cut! open call programme dedicated to filmmakers in their early twenties either in film school or working independently. These gifted emerging directors are ones to watch out for!