Ultan broadening musical horizons with foray into filmJuly 26, 2012 - 7:00am
As a musician you have to be open to opportunity, because you never know where it’ll bring you. That’s certainly been the case for Oranmore based singer/songwriter Ultan Conlon, whose songs were used in the film Songs for Amy, which had its European premiere this month at Galway Film Fleadh.
The feature was a sell-out at the Fleadh, having previously won the Jury Award at the Newport Film Festival in California.
Ultan explains how he became involved in the project.
“I was doing a gig, two years ago maybe,” he says. “And Fiona Graham, who wrote and produced it, just approached me and said she’d got a script for a film she’s hoping to make. At the time it was called Seven Songs for Amy, and she told me the basic idea that Seán, this Irish songwriter, meets this girl in Galway and they fall in love. She moves away to New York, and he writes these songs to send to her.”
As well as Ultan’s work, Songs for Amy also features the work of Kinvara-based songwriter Jim McKee.
“Fiona had a couple of his songs in mind for the film too. So it turned out that almost half and half of these seven songs were mine and Jim’s. Seán [Maguire, lead actor] sings them as if they were his own.”
In addition, there is one the two co-wrote.
“Fiona needed one more for the film,” adds Ultan, whose musical influences range from Leonard Cohen and John Martyn to The Stunning, Neil Young and Bob Dylan. “Jim had a song and I came along and helped him finish it, we co-wrote one. We’ve become good buddies; it’d be nice to do a bit more promotion with him.”
Working on Songs for Amy was demanding, but Ultan thoroughly enjoyed the process.
“I produced the soundtrack, and showed Seán Maguire how to sing the songs,” he says. “It was great, six months really; between being on the set and in the studio doing all the music. You’ve got a full-length film, but you’ve also got a full-length album to be made as well.”
With the film finished and ready to be promoted around the world, Ultan, Jim and the Songs for Amy team headed for the USA.
“We went to California, to Newport,” says Ultan. “Fiona took us there to promote the music. It was a great experience. It won an Achievement in Filmmaking award there, and it won an Audience award as well. So it really cleaned up.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.