Kerry Ann O’Flaherty
She is the filmmaker of The Woman in the Room Dollar Baby film.
SKSM: Tell us about yourself, who is Kerry Ann O’Flaherty and what do you do or have you done?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: I’m Kerry and I’m now working at Maidstone Studios, I’ve been here over a year now.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: When I was in Secondary school, I chose to do Media Studies for my GCSE, and honestly it was so much fun. I realised I had a natural talent with storytelling through film and saw an opportunity for it to become a career through a degree in TV Production at UCA.
SKSM: When was “The Woman in the Room” made? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: The Woman in the Room was filmed and made in Spring of 2022. The production consisted of mostly me and 2 assistants working at my nans flat and a hospital set in Canary wharf. It took only 2 weeks as I had planned ahead every shot I needed.
SKSM: Can you explain why you specifically chose this story to film?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: I think when it comes to adaptations especially, when you see a story that captivates you, you’ll start seeing it in your head like a film. You’ll feel that passion come in with the ideas you feel work with the story. That’s how I chose The Woman in the Room, it just felt like when you read it, you could interpret so much from it, even with it being such a short story.
SKSM: How did you know about the Dollar Baby program? Was it a wild guess?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: No wild guess. I had to ask my Lecturer about what to do for my final project. I had creative block and it was coming close to our pitch. He told me the Dollar Baby program and I honestly just gave it a chance. I was lucky that I found The Woman in the Room, because I don’t really know what I would have made for a film.
SKSM: In our previous correspondence you talk about a “Dogme 95 rule” for more depth. Can you explain what this means?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: The ‘”Dogme 95 rule” is a movement made by two Danish directors that focuses on the storytelling part of films, excluding the special effects and new technologies of the time. They said it was to “take back the power for directors as artists”. There are rules to follow ( that I did not really follow all of them ), but the point of it was to limit myself to the older style of film making and to keep the story as the focus, in turn giving a dated effect that many moviemakers do this day.
SKSM: The story itself is very old. How did you manage to modernize this for British actors?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: Honestly I did have to search what some words meant. I had to read through it a good few times to understand what was coming across even with the old American slang and wording. I then took the South London-isms of my parents and made the slang more rough, modern, and most importantly, British.
SKSM: Can you tell us something about the filming process? What is easy or difficult? What did you have in mind?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: The filming process is as all filming processes have been for me. A nervous experience with this feeling in the back of my head that I wouldn’t be able to live up to the standard that I wanted for this film. I thought working with more a “found footage” aspect may help to minimise camera work, but it actually made it harder for me. For the camera shots in the car, I was literally on the bonnet looking through the windscreen to make sure it stayed in focus while the actor was in the car. The car also was very hot as we were in a heatwave, so the actor had to take breaks. All in all, I’ve never had an easy film, and I wouldn’t want to. The difficulties make the film worth it in my mind.
SKSM: Was there a funny and/or special moment during production that you would like to share with us?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: Maybe it was the fake person in the bed next to the actor in one scene. It was just a wig on a pillow, but from an angle it looked like a person and scared my nan XD.
SKSM: Production is over. Are there thoughts that make you think now, we could have done this differently?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: I think I’m not the only person who does this, especially someone who always wants her work to come out EXACTLY how she thought it out. I just watch it now and see so many more things I could have done, as well as editing mistakes that I would never make now. I think it takes a bit of time to really take in that it is a good movie that I’m lucky people still watch at University as a good example of a final project and adaptation. I’m proud now to see it and the effort shows.
SKSM: Today’s world takes photos and/or videos of everything. We see this again with “Johnny”. Was this a conscious choice?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: I think alot of people like to express themselves more using phones, such as content made for YouTube and Tiktok, as well as how technology has just become so good that these days you could film a movie with just a latest iPhone. I made it seem like it was filmed off a camcorder, which was more used to film moments that you would now film on a phone. Which does relate alot to the Early 2000s era where people started filming themselves and their lifes, and posted about it on YouTube or Facebook. With the “camcorder” and 4:3 aspect ratio, It helped to understand this film is more of a “found footage” type mockumentary, as if it was not meant to be watched ever. I felt that someone like Johnny would not be the type to write his feelings. He barely had enough time to himself and if he is able to just turn on the camera and speak for a few minutes about his feelings, it would feel like he was getting it out of his head and letting off this baggage he has carried since he was a child. I just think filming it as is he filmed it himself helped the audience connect more to him and feel his emotions more.
SKSM: Were any movie fragments cut out that you now miss?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: I feel any movie fragments I did not include had there reasons. I know sometimes you film more then you need and you can see that sometimes it feels like just too much. We always believed in my course that less is more, Especially in scenes where it comes off as more “filler” and unnecessary. It can distract from the focus of the story and you can lose an audience. So I don’t miss nothing I didn’t include.
SKSM: How does it make you feel knowing that many Stephen King fans will never see your film adaptation? Do you think this will change in the near future due to an internet/streaming release maybe?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: Well if there were a chance for my film to reach a wider audience, I’d hope they would see it in an art perspective and not your typical short film. I understand it won’t be reaching many people this movie, but I do hope it comes across to people who it would matter to. It’s a deep story and a dark one too, but it relates to real life situations that many have been through. Maybe one day a streaming release would come out. But if it does I will need to re-edit a few bits XD.
SKSM: Can you describe the feeling when the film was finished and how the film was received after viewing?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: When it had its viewing, I saw how everyone was so focused on the movie and the praise afterwards was astounding. I really think the audience saw the message of the short film and felt a connection to Johnny and his story. I’m happy I achieved that.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: The reviews related most to the style of filming. I was the only person to do this style of filming for our projects and it was received well. I do think there were no bad reviews except from my own thoughts of what I could have improved.
SKSM: What was your main goal you wanted to achieve about this film?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: The goal was to honestly be proud with what I made. I researched so much on found footage and mockumentary because I just knew that some can come off quite boring at times, and that was important that people could feel attached to the story the whole time and not drift off halfway through. Johnny’s story needed telling, and I’m happy to have told it in my own way with my own views.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: A fan of Stephen King I cannot claim. I don’t read books alot and I’ve only ever seen adaptations of Stephen King’s work. One thing I am is a horror fan. I love horror, and I know Stephen King’s work just brings out the crazy, gorefest that I love in horror. The adaptation I liked best was The Mist. It just gave me the creeps and that’s what I loved most about it! It had such a great story and amazing actors you could get behind.
SKSM: If you could make another Stephen King story into a (Dollar Baby-)movie, what would it be and why?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: Alot of Stephen King’s goes down this supernatural path. Although they are cool, I really liked the more phycological horrors and dark themes that The Woman in the Room gave. Something that could actually happen and something people relate to, even if they don’t want to. So I would do another one of the Stephen King stories that give that effect.
SKSM: What do you think about the existence of a Dollar Baby community? Were you aware of this before?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: It’s not something I’m aware of, but it’s important to know it as a filmmaker, because it helped someone like me who didn’t have a story that she could think of in her head that would be something she could work with. It helped me to create a story my way with my interpretation and alot of filmmakers like me need these sorts of opportunities to help us branch out into the industry and to make something were proud of with a story we can get behind.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: I’ve worked on TV shows in the UK such as Catchphrase, Blankety Blank, Family Fortunes and many more. I also was helping with Wes Anderson‘s new short “Henry Sugar“. I am continuing to work on more productions and hopefully I can work abroad too in the future.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: Probably that I fake my confidence 99% of the time.
SKSM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: Hopefully working on big blockbusters abroad or even just some big film credit to my name.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: Just don’t stop and keep going. Somehow I’m where I am because I never gave up even when I felt so bad. It works in good time.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Kerry Ann O’Flaherty: Hire me Hollywood XD