Partizan's Gary McKendry is the latest commercials director turned Oscar nominee, with his 20- minute film, Everything in This Country Must, nominated in the category of Best Live-Action Short. The film is an affecting tale of the intersection of violence and humanity set within the framework of the Northern Ireland conflict. Based on a short story by Colum McCann that McKendry discovered by chance, the film centers on a British soldier who is involved in an accident in Northern Ireland that destroys a local family, only to have chance bring him back to the remaining family members when he happens upon the father and daughter trying to rescue their horse. McKendry shot the film, with DP Jim Whitaker, on location in Northern Ireland-in McKendry's home village of Ballyclare, 15 miles outside of Belfast. The film employed the skills of some other commercials suspects as well, including editor Paul Martinez of Lost Planet, and Ring of Fire, which handled visual effects-that, though not apparent, were "amazingly difficult," says McKendry. Effects included removing water-splashed tethers used by wranglers on a dangerous scene with a horse trapped in a river, shot in the driving rain (the horses themselves were spot veterans-stars of the classic Guinness "Surfer"). Titles were done by Graham Clifford.
McKendry is eager to get his teeth back into some meaty spot boards. "So many people have asked me how I could do such a demanding short film-the whole reason I could do this is because I shoot commercials!"