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At breakfast Joan and her husband Gerry make a decision about their future.  Joan’s busy day of activity is interwoven with the thoughts of the future from other senior citizens who live in the town.

ABACUS is an intimate exploration of dreams, hopes and fears for the future.

Featuring a community cast of senior citizens ABACUS is a short film, from Upstate Theater Project and Brokentalkers, that explores the participants’ dreams, hopes and fears for the future. The film was developed over several months through a process of writing workshops with the participants and artists Feidlim Cannon and Gary Keegan.

Organised in collaboration with Age & Opportunity as part of the nationwide Bealtaine festival – celebrating creativity as we age. The early workshops looked at recovery of stories and memories. Later workshops examined the Future and how we build strategies to avoid, cope, and reason our own mortality.

ABACUS had it’s Premier at the Cork indie Film Festival and will feature in the Dingle International film festival.

For filming of Abacus I teamed up with Daniel Keane once again as we acted as joint DOP, Camera Op, Editor and Grader for the project.

Myself and Dan work very well together and have very similar ways of approaching all aspects of filmmaking. We have very similar sensibilities when it comes to style and shot choice also.

Our weapon of choice was the Canon C300 with a set of beautiful prime lenses. This was a combination of what we could afford and what we thought would perform the best on our various locations. We were filming with all natural light, our locations consisted of a field, a church, an apartment, a stairwell, a moving car and a bingo hall (including a dark cloakroom area). We had two Steadicam shots and a bonnet mount for a moving car. We felt the C300 was light enough but would also perform well in low light conditions.

We had mixed results with the bonnet mount, I’ve always found them to be very bouncy. We were able to use some of the footage from it but quite a large percentage of it was unusable.

I operated the Steadicam. I had used handheld Steadicam rigs in the past but this was my first time using the full body mount with hydraulic arm and it was a steep learning curve. Our first Steadicam shot was through a set of doors into a bingo hall. Our second one was backwards down three flights of stairs. I probably lost a few pounds on that one but my Steadicam ability has definitely come on in leaps and bounds. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to work with one.

Our Church scene was shot in St Peters Church in Drogheda, home of the head of Oliver Plunkett. This was a challenge in terms of lighting. The dark wood tones really sucked up all the light and with passing clouds playing havoc with our continuity we had to have our wits about us. We also weren’t technically allowed to close the set and had to work among visitors to the church.

Another plus to using the Canon C300 was the room for grading in Post. We wanted this film to have a very specific look and we knew with natural light and being subject to weather conditions on the day the ability to grade would be massive. We shot entirely on Canon C-Log and graded everything in Adobe Speedgrade.