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An Interview with Fiona Graham, Director of The Nixer

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2013

Films directed by Fiona Graham on (re)Search my Trash


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Your movie The Nixer - in a few words, what is it about?


Beyond the obvious gangster capery stuff, it's about not being happy with where you are in life and wanting to do better, but may be not having the ability to get where you want to go.


What were your inspirations when writing The Nixer?


It's been so long since I wrote it I'm not sure I remember. I started writing it when I was in college so at the time I would have been watching things like Spaced, Black Books, a lot of Tarantino films and whatever weird things I could get my hands on. I do remember that originally it was a very different script, bigger, with car chases, explosions and all sorts of stuff. That was all scaled back when I realised I'd have to pay for it. But the video store was always in it, I always loved the idea of working in a video shop that wasn't part of a chain.


With The Nixer being at heart a gangster movie - is that a genre at all dear to you?


I do love gangster films, it's one of the genres that just fascinates me. I think it's because it's a genre where the characters are less black and white than others. There are rarely clean cut good or bad guys, it's one big grey area which allows you more directions to take the story. Plus it's fun and there's lots of guns.


The Nixer features a cast of quite colourful characters - so who do you identify with the most?


Well as a writer you have to be able to identify with all your characters otherwise they're not going to come across as believable but which one do I identify with most? I think I'll cop out and keep that to myself, it might reveal more about me than I'd like it to.


What can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?


I auditioned the cast upstairs in a pub in Dublin city centre, the process took two days and the cast I picked were just the ones that stood out as the best for their respective roles which is a bit of an obvious answer.

I suppose the auditions did change my mind about some of the characters, like Daniel was originally supposed to be younger then Michael who was supposed to be more of a mentor to him, but during Ray's audition for a different part, someone who knew him suggested I have him read for Daniel and after that I rewrote the part.


I think the only people I didn't audition were Neill Flemming and Rory Mullen, I had been working with them on the set of Portrait of a Zombie a few months before and loved their performances. Since filming I have worked with a lot of the cast again on various projects, they are an incredibly talented bunch and it helps that they are all lovely people and so easy to work with.


Do talk about the film's look and feel for a bit if you can!


Well firstly it was important for me to have the film not only set but shot on the North side of Dublin city, it has such a unique character to it that can't be replicated anywhere else. Also being from there I wanted to shoot the areas I grew up in.

With the look we were going for, a sort of gritty realism for want of a better phrase, I think the word gritty is a bit overused but I can't think of another one. So that and the pacing are what I think really made the film for me. Because it is a low budget indie film it was important that it be fast paced and there be no opportunity for people to lose interest. This was made possible by two things, our DOP Padraig Conaty who has a great style of shooting and the fact that it is very hard to get Irish people to talk slowly.


A few words about the actual shoot, and the on-set atmosphere?


It was surprisingly relaxed considering we shot the whole thing in ten days. Of course I'd have to give all credit to my producer Lisa McNamee, the whole thing would have fallen apart without her. But the cast and crew were incredible, everyone got on so well. It was like a weird little hippie commune with a bag full of fake drugs and money.


What can you tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie?


So far the movie seems to have been received well, people seem to really like it. I think the best screening we did was in Mexico City in CENTRO – Diseño, Cine, y Television, the crowd really took to it there.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


At the moment there's a few things I'm working on, I've got another feature called Whitewash that I'm trying to raise the funds for as well as a six part TV series Flats and a sci-fi graphic novel Nemesis in the works.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and what can you tell us about your formal education on the subject?


When I was 11 my uncle got Pulp Fiction on VHS, so me and my brother were sent out of the room while the grown folk and my two older brothers watched the film. However the door separating the TV room from the kitchen was glass so I lay on the floor and watched it through the glass. I didn't know who Tarantino was or exactly what a director did but after seeing that film I knew I wanted to do it. So I spent four years in The Dundalk Institute of Technology and then went on to do my masters in TV and radio production in The National University of Ireland Maynooth. But I got my first job on a film set when I was backpacking in Australia called Sleeper which was directed by Dru Brown


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The Nixer?


Prior to The Nixer I had been a freelancing continuity supervisor, which I still do now as well as camera op and focus puller. It's important for me as a director to be familiar with everyone else's job on set but being able to work in different departments it also means every job I do is different so I never get bored.


As far as I know, The Nixer was your debut feature film. So what caused that big step, and what was the exerience like compared to your earlier work?


The big step was caused by impatience and boredom. There wasn't a lot going on at the time work-wise for me and I didn't want to wait around so I thought why not do it now?

Before The Nixer I had done a few music videos, documentaries and a short film called Deadline - none of which were anything like The Nixer. I shot my first short film about four months before shooting my first feature, and I can safely say it didn't prepare me in the slightest. Still I don't think there is much I would have done differently.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I'm not really sure how to describe myself as a director, I'm just happy I get to make stuff up for a living.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


I think everyone has films they watch and think I'd love to do something like that or where they admire the talent of the filmmakers, but I get most inspired by the people I work with on a day to day basis. You'd be amazed at what comes out of a conversation on set or down the pub.


Your favourite movies ... and of course, films you really deplore?


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My favourite movies I always find the toughest question cause the list is soo long as soon as I say anything I change my mind. So taking into account were not including TV here's a few of my favourites, The Godfather, Star Wars (original trilogy), Casino, Almost Famous, Serenity, On the Waterfront and Chumscrubber.


I'm not going to name any films I deplore as I'd like to believe every film has some redeeming feature even though that's not true, but saying that am not a fan of horror films.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Company website:

Film website:

Facebook page:

Twitter: @thenixermovie



Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


I can't think of anything else at the moment but if you have any more questions or if I didn't give enough info on anything let me know!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


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Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


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Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD