Location and setting play an important role in a film’s tone and were especially important to writer-director Martin McDonagh with his Inisherin’s Banshees.
According to cinematographer Ben Davis, the film, set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, offers not only great shots, but versatility by bringing together everyone and everything. in an isolated place. Ahead of the film’s screening at the Camerimage International Film Festival, which begins November 12, Davis is delving into how he captured McDonagh’s vision in a new episode of Hollywood Reporter’S Behind the screen audio file.
“It’s an incredible place. You live on these islands and you are separate. There’s something strange about how you feel up there, because you’re separated from the rest of the world by the Atlantic Ocean and it’s a pretty wild ocean,” Davis said. “So you really feel this kind of isolation, but this kind of beautiful isolation, if that makes sense.”
Undoubtedly, the island has provided countless images, but the cinematographer says there were challenges as they searched for the original location. McDonagh has a colorful memory of the islands, growing up there with his parents, but Davis describes it as a “rainy and gray” place when they arrived. He has to find the balance behind the camera between weather and accessibility.
“Where in the world we are, that movie reflects a lot of what is happening around the world. And he, Martin, felt it. … He said, ‘I want it to be sad because it’s a sad story.’ But he said, ‘I also want it to be funny, and I want it to be pretty.’ And that was our starting point, and then the storyboard,” said the cinematographer. “Like I said, they have a lot of images that are very similar to his voice. There are a lot of western images in it. I think they are very unique.”
Inisherin’s Banshees also brings Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson back to McDonagh 14 years after the Oscar-nominated film’s premiere In Bruges.
This new film follows two lifelong best friends, Padraic (Farrell) and Colm (Gleeson), whose friendship comes to an end when Colm makes an unexpected decision to end it. Padraic then embarks on a journey to mend their relationship, only to be faced with an ultimatum and escalating consequences.
“It’s like an allegory and an old movie, but it’s kind of modern, you know. There’s color in the costumes that probably wouldn’t be there, as well as in the shots and lighting,” Davis said. “Martin is very concerned that it’s beautiful because it makes up for what’s going on. … You are in this incredibly beautiful place, but you are isolated; there is a parallel. And we wanted to try to capture that, and Martin really wanted us to do that.”
Listen to the full episode of Behind the screen podcasts below.