James Allen is a man in control. He lives alone and works as a banker. He does his best to look after his widowed mother. What he doesn’t know is that the bank he works for is about to repossess her home. When the stress of this provokes a family crisis, James begins to question his whole life and to glimpse the ruthless, manipulative black heart behind the glossy veneer of the banking world. He decides to take action. Meanwhile, Alison Leonard, his beautiful co-worker, has her own agenda, which puts her on a collision course with James. Her actions trigger a dark spiral of deceit, revenge and death. The film explores limits imposed upon us by choices we make – limits set by our careers, desires, needs and even the choice of who we love.
with the support of the Creative Europe Programme – MEDIA of the European Union
2017; Ireland; Drama, Thriller; 89 minutes; DCP, ProRes; 1:1,77 (4:3); 5.1 mix, Stereo; Original Language: English
Alan Mulligan, Tim Palmer
Deirdre O’Meara, Dollhouse Productions
Ignition Film Productions
Taine King, Alan Mulligan, Anthony Mulligan, Tim Palmer
Ally Ni Chiarain
Director, writer and producer Alan Mulligan was born in Co. mayo, Ireland. He graduated from NUIG in 2001 with an honours degree in business. He went on to work for both of Ireland’s biggest banks.
In 2012 Alan discovered film making for the first time in his life and wrote, directed and produced his first short film ‘Trust’, which aired on Ireland’s national TV station RTE 1 after a successful festival run. Alan then became the Irish Ex-Banker who went on to make his first feature film ‘The Limit Of’. His debut feature had it’s Irish Premiere in the 29th Galway Film Fleadh 2017. Currently Alan is writing his second feature, which is tentatively called ‘Into The Black’, where an disconnected pick up artist collides with the women of the 21 century in a dark psychological drama.
IFTA 2018 Awards Nomination for Sarah Carroll (The LImit Of)
Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan and Cillian Murphy among the nominees.
IFTA RISING STAR 2018
Based on his IMDB presence and recent IFTA shortlisting, Laurence O’Fuarain, the lead actor of The Limit Of, is one to watch in 2018. He is currently on a shortlist of 7 at the moment under consideration for IFTA rising star 2018. The next step will be to make it into the final 4 selected. Previous winners of this award are Michael Fassbender, Saoirse Ronan, Barry Keoghan and Jamie Doran. Laurence is also building up strong credits, with appearances in Vikings, Black 47 and Game Of Thrones, among other roles.
EUROPEAN SALES AGENT
IFTN Caught Up with Producer Tim Palmer to Discuss ‘The Limit Of’ and securing a European Sales Agent
Ahead of the IFTA screening next Monday, December 18th of Alan Mulligan’s ‘The Limit Of’ we caught up with Producer Tim Palmer who is delighted to announce that they have signed with a European Sales Agent, Sasha Wieser’s Vienna based East-West Distribution who will handle world sales.
“We met Sasha at the Galway Film Fleadh during the summer and he immediately came on board,” says Producer Tim Palmer (Patrick’s Day, Into the West).
The film has a strong European feel to it, in directing and cinematography, and we wanted somebody with that sensibility. Alan’s directing style is influenced by European film makers and ‘The Limit Of’ has a similar visual style to Ryan Gosling’s film ‘Drive’ which was by Danish Director Nicolas Winding Refn. Both directors’ marry music and stark visuals in a classically simple way. Also, certain sequences within the film resemble the style of Oscar winning film ‘Armour’, by Austrian director Michael Haneke.
The Limit Of was made primarily by first time filmmakers. Tim went on to tell a little about what first attracted him to the film and sparked him to give his time to the project.
“The first time I saw the film was when sound designer Nikki Moss rang me saying you have to see this rough cut by a first timer. He said they were struggling with the edit and getting the film finished. There was something about the material that grabbed me. The two leads, Laurence O’Fuarain and Sarah Carrol both gave extraordinarily internalized performances which I really like – but the main thing for me was there was a sense of genuinely not knowing what was going to happen next – or who it was going to happen to! That’s very rare. I also really liked the style of the cinematography, which is a credit to DOP Daniel Balteanu.”
With roles in upcoming films such as Lance Daly’s ‘Black 47’ and ‘Don’t Go’ starring Stephen Dorf, which are due out in 2018, along with his leading role in ‘The Limit Of’, Laurence O’Fuarain is tipped by Alan Mulligan and Tim Palmer to be one of the Irish stars of the future.
Tim arranged to meet up with the Producer/Writer/Director Alan Mulligan. They spent 2 weeks in a holiday home in Foxford, Mayo working on the edit.
“Those 2 weeks editing was the most fun I’ve had on a film in a long time. We focused in on the heart of the story, which is essentially a very strange love story. The edit quickly started to come together. After that, the original score, the soundtrack, the grade and sound design started to fall into place and I think Alan’s vision emerged from the material. It’s a very accomplished first feature made on a small budget and everyone who worked on the film did an amazing job.”
Laurence O’Fuarain has recently signed with United Agents in the UK, who represent clients such as Tom Hardy and Eddie Redmayne. Stateside he has obtained representation with Authentic Talent and Literary Management in New York. His Agent here is Lorraine Brennan Management.
IFTA are hosting a member’s screening of ‘The Limit Of’ on Monday, December 18th as part of their pre-season screenings. It is in consideration for ‘Best Actor’ ‘Best Director’ ‘Best Screenplay’ ‘Best Film’ among others.
BIGGEST IRISH FILM OF 2018
Today FM radio show speaks with IFTA nominee and Director
IRISH FILMS TO WATCH 2018
These are the Irish films we’ll be talking about in 2018…
Banker to filmmaker
I left a safe career in finance to follow my dream of becoming a movie director, writes Alan Mulligan.
IN A CORPORATE driven society where dreams are the size of our monthly salary, I was one of those chasing that particular dream.
Amid maxed out gold cards, late night fancy parties and growing depression, there were two particular incidents that led to me leaving a safe career in finance and gambling everything on the dream of becoming a movie director.
Something was missing
I graduated in 2001 with an honours degree in Commerce and quickly became the youngest qualified tax consultant in the country. I got a job as a finance manager with one of Ireland’s leading banks.
I had made it, but yet I felt something was missing.
In 2004 the first incident occurred that made me start to question things. After a long struggle with cancer my mother passed away. A personal downward spiral began.
The parties got bigger, the amounts I was gambling got bigger. They needed to get bigger as I was looking for a distraction. A distraction from the infamous black dog that was creeping into my life.
One Christmas, after spending two weeks alone in bed, I asked myself: “What have I done in the last year that I’m proud of?” I couldn’t think of a single thing. I couldn’t think of single achievement from that year or the previous ones. It was then that I gave up drinking, partying, dating and gambling. I wanted to achieve something in life.
In 2011, after a lot of failed searches, I applied for a short filmmaking course. It was just eight evenings long but the obsession was instant.
When you are from a small town in Mayo, a movie director is not seen as an obtainable career, it’s not even on your radar. But I made a short film called “Trust”, that I wrote with my brother, Anthony. It aired on RTE in 2012. Finally I had an achievement hat I was proud of and my desire for more was growing.
My mind was elsewhere.
I began writing a feature film. It was about a young banker who is disillusioned with life and feels limited by his career. My goal was to get the audience to empathise with James, instead of judging him when he goes against the corporate system and starts to break society’s rules. The film is called The Limit Of.
I was still working in the bank while writing it, but my job was beginning to suffer as my mind was elsewhere.
Then, in the midst of the recession, the second incident happened. A long-standing customer, who reminded me of my own father, sat down in front of me. He was looking for a loan of €5,000 so himself and his wife could go to America to see their daughter get married.
I had to say no.
He was a loyal customer and had borrowed money on numerous occasions for cars and for his family home. All loans had been paid back. I had to decline him. He started to cry in the office, it was awkward and hard to watch. I didn’t agree with the bank.
He then wiped his tears away and asked: “Can I just borrow €2,000 so that I can send my wife to see her daughter get married?” Again I declined. I decided it was time to leave my career and gamble on my dream.
Financially it was a nightmare. I started to lead a minimalist lifestyle and spent my days writing while figuring out how to actually go about making a film. I thought it would take two years, but it took five.
The Limit Of premiered at the 29th Galway Film Festival in front of 400 people and received a standing ovation. IFTA then screened it as part of their private screening season for their academy members.
There were so many struggles during the last five years. These included everything from raising finance to finding and convincing over 60 cast and crew to give their talents to the project. It took nearly nine months of searching to find a suitable lead actor.
There was one moment in particular that was extremely tough. My brother and business partner was diagnosed with a brain tumor just weeks before shooting was to commence.
Anthony underwent two brain surgeries. I relocated home to Mayo to help my father care for him. We had to cancel the film shoot.
Thankfully, everyone involved was very supportive and six months later, the very same cast and crew came back to shoot the film. Post Production almost killed me. It took 12 months longer than expected.
It’s been a dream come true to make it and I’m looking forward to the next part of this journey.
Alan Mulligan’s film will be released later this year.
BOOMTIME BANKER SAVES SOUL
Alan Mulligan walked away from a high-paid banking job to try his luck as a filmmaker, along the way dealing with death and disillusionment. With his debut feature to be screened at Galway Film Fleadh this week, he spoke to our reporter about his odyssey
“Frankly Mister Shankly, this position I’ve held, it pays my way, but it corrodes my soul, I want to leave, you will not miss me, I want to go down in celluloid history” – The Smiths, Frankly, Mr Shankly
When the economic crash razed and cleansed Irish society it was widely presumed that the only people who had lost their shirts and their souls were the luckless borrowers who had overstretched themselves.
The bank workers were portrayed as the bogeymen, the debt collectors, the mercenaries of the crisis.
As stories of repossessions and hard cases attracted headlines, we wondered if they had forgotten their humanity. Some of them maybe wondered the same thing.
A decade ago Alan Mulligan had a big job with a bank in Dublin, a girlfriend, and an apartment in Blackrock. He drove a BMW Z4 and could lend millions to big-eyed investors with little more than a nod.
By the age of 25 he had three gold cards – all maxed out. He was convinced of his own financial wizardry and even toyed with the idea of becoming a professional gambler.
His hubris seemed justified: He had come from a large family in Mayo and was seen as “the successful one”. Yet somehow it all seemed a little hollow.
“I do think I lost myself along the way a bit,” he recalls. “My mum passed away and had been sick with cancer for a lot of years. That had happened when I was 24. Then I was doing this accountancy career but only doing it for the suits and the money, all the time kind of thinking it’s what I wanted. I was the eldest boy. My family was working-class, my dad was a butcher, a very hard-working man who put five kids through college. Achievement and making a good life for yourself was very important.”
Stepping off the carousel was never going to be easy because Mulligan was in debt to the hilt and had a fairly decadent lifestyle to maintain.
“The credit was so easy to get, particularly when you worked for the bank. I was gambling and going out drinking a lot and flying out of the country every third or fourth weekend. Putting €300-€400 on a horse would have been normal enough – I thought I was going to be a professional gambler. Looking back I realise I was looking for an outlet and a distraction.”
The work itself bored him. “I’d go out and meet the bigger clients. There were clients who had millions out with the banks. We’d have credit in place for them, pre-approved. It was all about relationships, really. It felt like a big job but a lot of it was just filling in boxes.”
When the crash came he saw the appalling double standards of the bank from the inside. “I said to one of the managers at one stage, the way we lent was a little reckless, and he got annoyed with me. They never accepted that the big loans they allowed people to take out were a joint risk, a joint investment.
“I remembered the moment this guy came in and I knew him and he was a hard-working man who had paid back a few hundred grand to the bank already and he was looking for a few thousand to go to his daughter’s wedding in New York. He got so upset and told me “you have to give it to me, I need to go over”. I had to tell him it wasn’t possible. He said “at least give me half of it so my wife can see her child get married” and I had to say no, and it was awful. I found the whole thing so depressing. And even when I went home I thought, ‘I’m in so much debt I can’t leave’.”
And yet he knew there was no other choice. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt any joy in his life. When he heard a rumour of redundancies at the bank he decided this was his moment. He began to ruthlessly strip back his life.
“I became almost monkish. I stopped going out, stopped throwing cash around. I decided I would just try to clear my debts and get out. I was at that stage in life where if I’d met someone and they asked me what I was doing I wouldn’t have even been able to think of something to say. I had no pride in what I was doing, no passion. Then I discovered film, and everything changed.”
He had been due to go to America with his now ex-girlfriend – but instead spent the €5,000 he’d set aside for the trip on film equipment. He put an ad online and found someone to tutor him in editing and began work on a couple of short films. He spent every spare moment learning new skills for filming and grooming contacts in the industry.
A boss in the bank got wind of this and tried to talk him out of it. “He was like ‘you’re on good money now but do you not want to earn more?’ and I said ‘not really, I’m happy with what I have’, and that was a bizarre answer to him because the idea of not being motivated by money was alien. That is literally all they have to keep you going.
“He told me ‘I feel like you sit in the meetings and look at us like we’re robots’ – and I hadn’t thought about it like that, but he was probably right.”
When redundancies finally came around he was ready to jump, but he feared how it would go down at home. “I hinted at it for a while but my dad never thought I’d do it. We were all around the table at Christmas dinner and everyone was saying to me ‘Dad doesn’t know’ and I was saying ‘nah, he knows, it’s unspoken but he knows’. But I think when I actually told him it was still a bit of a shock. It was hard for him, but he became my biggest champion. He could see the weight had lifted off my shoulders.”
Mulligan’s film is called The Limit of… and stars Laurence O’Fuarain. It has clear biographical overtones; the plot deals with a young financier who loses his soul during the boom. Mulligan says he was influenced by movies like Shame, Secretary and Drive in the making of it.
“It’s a psychological drama. It’s about an isolated guy who struggles with himself. Like Drive it’s very much a music driven film (acclaimed singer Mick Flannery wrote and performed much of the score) – the character drives around Dublin listening to music looking for emotional release.
“I only met Mick for a few minutes but from his music I get that he’s a little bit of a tortured soul and in some ways I am quite tortured myself. His voice is the voice of the character, sung. This is not about the sexy glamour of banking. You might go into the meeting in a glamorous room with a view, but you’re told how to sell. There’s a point in the film where one of the managers says ‘one in five people will get sick before the age of 45, it’s important that we tell this to our customers’. I was told that stuff in the bank because we sold life assurance. We’d be quizzed on the stats on who gets cancer, they would check we knew the script.”
If the ideas came easy the practicalities of filming were overwhelming at times. Mulligan became “the Don Juan of coffee meetings”, using all the charm he had learnt in his banking days to persuade professionals in the film industry to work for free or nearly free. But even then there were crises. Ten days before filming was due to begin he ran out of money and it was only the miraculous intervention of the film’s fairy godmother – actress Deirdre O’Meara – which righted the ship.
“We met her in Sligo. We made our pitch and after a few minutes she said ‘what do you want?’ I said ’10 grand – and I can’t guarantee I will be able to pay you back’. She said ‘I believe in this and I like the two of you. I’ll give you the money and if the film makes it back you can pay me back’. My brother, Anthony, who was with me, started crying and I felt like doing the same. Her generosity was huge. She has her own family and responsibilities, it was just incredible what she did.”
Anthony Mulligan was a champion footballer – he had been Mayo footballer of the year in 2013, was written up adoringly in the local press, and seemed set to be part of that generation of county footballers who have challenged for All Ireland titles in recent years. He had helped and collaborated with Alan through the pre-production for the film but during that time another major crisis struck and Alan’s voice wavers with emotion when he looks back on it.
“We were due to shoot the film in November 2014. We had been joint best men for another brother’s wedding and we made a video for it that went viral (garnering 50,000 views on YouTube).
“Two weeks later Anthony was dizzy and went to visit a consultant and when he came out of the meeting he was crying on the phone. He told me they weren’t giving him a life sentence but they had said it was very serious. Two weeks later he had brain surgery and there were a lot of complications afterwards. He had epilepsy, which they couldn’t control and the ambulance was at the house a few times. We ended up working on the film in the hospital room together. I think it was a good distraction for both of us. He rang me during filming to say that he would have to go in for surgery. And I had to turn around and go back to a crowd of people who were ready to work. It was very hard.”
The film was made over 17 days in Meath, Wicklow and Dublin with Alan sleeping only 2-3 hours each night as he coped with the daunting shooting schedule.
“I don’t really know how I worked through it when everything was happening. I was at home minding my brother for some of the time. My sister came home from London as well – she is kind of like the mother of the family now. I borrowed her car for a few hours and four weeks later she still didn’t have it back. I didn’t have a spare minute, ever. I had long hair and a long beard then – there was no time for any normal stuff.”
Despite having no big name actors involved, the story of the film, interwoven as it seemed with Alan’s personal narrative, was an alluring prospect for the organisers of the Galway Film Fleadh. They decided to take a punt on him.
“I sent them three minutes of the film and I got a call one Sunday and they said they loved it and they would put it on in the big hall with the big films, which had been made for a couple of million. I don’t get excited externally, I don’t do the shouting, but inside I was so happy, I couldn’t believe it was all coming together.
“The Young Offenders was in the same slot last year and look what that went on and did. Pilgrim Hill was another low-budget film that started in Galway, and Gerard Barrett (its Kerry-born director) is working in Hollywood now.”
The Limit of… will be screened this Thursday night at the Galway Fleadh, and Alan says he won’t really feel the release of tension until the screening is over.
His father is very sick with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy and radium treatment. “I would say if there is one person’s opinion which matters more to me than anyone else’s, it’s his,” Alan says, his voice wavering. “I’m dying for him to see it. We all hope he is well enough to attend and that would make me so happy.
“I know the front row is not the best seat in the house but that’s where I’ll sit because I don’t want to see anyone’s reactions during the screening itself. It’s going to be a big moment. I hope all the hard work will be worth it.”
Celluloid history awaits.
The Limit of… will be screened this Thursday, July 13, at Galway Town Hall Theatre. For tickets call (091 569777) or go online to www.tht.ie
‘NO REGRETS’ – on The Limit Of filmmaker
Mayo man Alan Mulligan spent 12 years building a career in banking before walking away from it all to pursue a career in film – and the gamble has paid off.
On Monday IFTA are screening his film, The Limit Of, as part of their pre-season screenings for their academy members, alongside films such as Oscar-tipped Ladybird, in the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar.
The filmmaker (36) told Independent.ie that his decision to walk away from his career in lending came after a tumultuous period.
“When I finished college, I did commerce in NUIG, I went into banking and I was a bit under whelmed with the career and with the job satisfaction,” he said.
The job “felt very monotonous” he said.
“I didn’t feel like I had anything to say or do that was individual,” he said.
But it wasn’t until his mum passed away in 2004 that he began to look at what he wanted from life he said.
“I started to party a lot… and that kept me entertained for a while but it didn’t last long,” he said.
Spending three or four nights partying and also gambling saw Alan accumulate debt.
“I was in a downward spiral for sure – I was probably depressed,” he said.
Alan then decided to change his lifestyle and stopped drinking and socialising.
He said he began to look elsewhere for fulfillment, trying his hand at various courses and even started a degree in psychology.
But it was a “random” decision to participate in a six week introduction to film course at the Irish Film Academy which set him on a whole new path.
“All of sudden I just fell in love with it, it kept me up day and night, wanting to write stories,” he recalled.
His passion was well-placed and in 2012 his first short film, Trust, aired on RTÉ.
He worked on the film with his brother, Anthony, who was also new to the world of film.
Creative careers hadn’t featured as a possibility for the brothers growing up in their hometown of Charlestown, Alan said.
But he was still working in banking, as a lending manager in Bank of Ireland, saving and paying off his debts.
“I had an idea for a feature film, it wanted to come out of me but I didn’t have the time,” he said.
“I was sitting in the office trying to write a feature film, so I just bit the bullet and said in the next two years I’m going to write and make a feature film – which was a bit naive of me because it ended up taking me five years,” he said.
That was in December 2012 and the process was much more difficult than he had anticipated but there were other difficulties too.
While working on the film his brother and writing partner Anthony was diagnosed with a brain tumour and underwent two brain surgeries.
“After we shot the film, I moved back to Mayo to become his carer,” he said.
Thankfully his brother’s health is on the up and he is doing very well, Alan said.
And now the family have a significant achievement to celebrate and a New Year which holds the promise of their film hitting cinemas nationwide.
“It’s a good end to the year,” Alan said.
Alan managed to convince many of those involved in the film to give their time and talent for free to help get the film made.
This helped him keep focused on getting it across the line when things were difficult, but he said being happy in what he does also helped him face challenges in his personal life head on.
The film which is about a banker and his beautiful co-worker who are put on a collision course when the bank tried to repossess his mother’s home.
“The film explores limits imposed upon us by choices we make – limits set by our careers, desires, needs and even the choice of who we love,” Alan said.
Looking back on his journey over the past few years Alan said he happier then ever before.
“I have no regrets at all. I’m happier than I’ve ever been – even though I wouldn’t have the same lifestyle… I refer to myself as a minimalist now,” he said.
TV chat show interview
31st January, 2018 – Actress Sarah Carroll on The Today Show – RTE
Tommy Marren morning show – MidWest Radio
Ray D’Arcy Late Lunch show – RTE Radio
Dermot & Dave morning breakfast show – TodayFM