About the Film
Written by Academy Award® winner Benjamin Cleary and directed by Vincent Gallagher, ‘Love is a Sting’ is a film about a struggling children's book writer named Harold Finch. At his lowest point Harold gains an unexpected house guest in the form of an ageing hyper-intelligent mosquito named Anabel.
Anabel has literally been the fly on the wall throughout history, but has never managed to communicate with a human being. One failed attempt after another to get through to Harold leaves Anabel weak and desperate. In a final bid to have her story heard, Anabel will teach Harold that the smallest voice can make the biggest noise.
The film stars Seán T. Ó Meallaigh (An Klondike) as Harold, Ciarán Hinds (There Will Be Blood) as The Narrator with an appearance from Barry Murphy (Apres Match) as The Exterminator.
How did the film come about?
I had been working with Fail Safe Films doing music videos and I had read Ben’s script. So it was a natural progression into looking to get it made. We did a lot of redrafting on the script and got it to a place we were all really happy with. From there we got funding from Filmbase/RTE to set us off into production. With a huge amount of favors and a silly amount of ambition, about 2 years later we had Love is a Sting in the can.
What was the budget for the film?
We always knew that the film was more ambitious than your average low budget short film. We had a total of 77 VFX shots (12 more than Jurassic Park!), so we were basically giving away half our money to that, but still wanted the production value of the live action elements to be outstanding. So with funding from Filmbase/RTE we threw a big warehouse party to raise money as well as taking on all manner of commercial work in our day jobs to fund the rest of the film. Our budget for everything was just €10K.
Who did the music?
The composer on the film was Barry Gorey. Music was an important element in the film. I was fascinated at how mosquitos find partners by shifting the frequency of the buzz produced by their wing beats. When two mosquitos find perfect harmony in the frequency they know they’re compatible. We wanted to reflect this in how Anabel communicates and we needed a simple but memorable tune for Harold to be working on. Barry based the music around the central instrument of Harolds piano, and then used strings to reflect the colour and tone of mosquito wings. Each instrument we see on screen plays a part in Harold’s main theme at the end of the film.
We were fortunate enough to get singer/songwriter Lisa Hannigan involved and we got the opportunity to use two of her songs, Safe Travels and Lille.
How long did you shoot for?
We shot for 5 days in February and then another half a day for the opening sequence in december. It was good having the time during animation to really nail down everything we needed to make the opening sequence stand out as much as possible.
Where was it filmed?
We shot in a few different locations around Dublin. We didn’t want Harold’s world to feel set in any particular time or place, just that it felt urban and old. We shot the exterior and interior in separate locations and stitched them together in post production. We did the same thing at the end of the film to give it a bookend. We start outside, look into Harold’s world and we don’t leave until the end.
How did you do the opening shot?
The opening sequence was something we had planned from very early on. I wanted it to have this grand opening that also told us a lot about the main character, the things Anabel finds interesting, The fact that a mosquito flies wherever it wants presented the biggest challenge. We needed the freedom to move the camera from great heights to very low to the ground and back again and never have it feel like something was getting in our way.
I had originally envisaged the shot as a drone shot, attaching the camera to a remote octocopter, but due to airspace restrictions in the city we had to scrap that and think of another way to get the same effect. We came up with a slightly more complicated system that involved a cherry picker, a DJI Ronin and a lot of handing the camera over from operator to operator in the shot. This actually worked out better for us as we were able to get closer to the action than an octocopter would have allowed.