John Butler recounts brilliant story of nearly quitting on his first day as a director 1 year ago

John Butler recounts brilliant story of nearly quitting on his first day as a director

It can be a bit overwhelming.

Irish director John Butler is best-known for his movies The Stag and more recently, Handsome Devil, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016.

He's also responsible for directing the very popular comedy sketch show Your Bad Self, which originally aired on RTÉ Two but has lived and grown in popularity over the years on YouTube.

Butler has established a well-earned reputation as a director of significant renown in recent years, but while speaking on this week's Ireland Unfiltered with Dion Fanning, he revealed that it hasn't all been plain sailing behind the camera, particularly on his first day directing The Stag.

He explains the chaos that unfolded below.

John: I remember the first day. The first scene was like an eight page fight scene between Andrew Scott and Hugh O’Conor’s characters, where everyone was naked in the woods in November. Myself and the cameramen were on adjacent ladders, leaned up against the bough of a tree maybe 30 feet off the ground shooting the top shot that you’d only use at the beginning and the end of the scene.

And we ran a take of it – and this is the first scene of my film debut, or whatever you want to call it – and we ran the whole scene and then the cameraman Peter Robertson, who is a great cameraman, turned to me and said ‘we can’t use any of that’, and we were already late.

I remember being up the ladder, we weren’t able to use it because there was fog on the lens so we had to get down and change the thing and clean it and get back up and re-block it and put the leaves back where they were.

We ran the next take and this was up in the woods in Glencullen and out of nowhere, a little dog, a lovely dog, arrived on set and started running around and making shit of it, like running around with our props and you know, disturbing everything and the actors got distracted and were like calling the dog and petting him and feeding him and I was up the ladder with Peter Robertson and I remember thinking like ‘what are the mechanics of resignation here?’

Firstly, I would have to have to turn to Peter and go ‘I’m not making this, I don’t want to be a filmmaker’ but then I’d have to get down off the ladder and go to, and who would I go to first? Is it the producers, it’s probably the producers, and then I would have to go through the cast one by one and it was only because I couldn’t imagine shaking 30 people’s hands and saying ‘my apologies’ that I am now a filmmaker.

You can watch the interview in full below.

Ireland Unfiltered, brought to you in partnership with Carlsberg Unfiltered, will be available everywhere you get your podcasts and on YouTube every Tuesday.