Small can be very sweet, as the Irish director discovered when his new film Garage was well-received at Cannes last week. He talks to Ted Sheehy.

Lenny Abrahamson's first film, Adam & Paul, is one of the most successful Irish films of recent years. And with the film's cult status assured, Abrahamson and screenwriter Mark O'Halloran found themselves brimming with creativity. 'We have generated enough ideas and projects and proposals to keep me shooting for the next five years,' the former commercials film-maker explains.

It was O'Halloran who conceived the idea for Garage - the story of a seemingly insignificant man in a village the world has passed by - and brought it to Abrahamson.

'The story of Garage is incredibly simple and bare, and the bones of it can be described in a few sentences,' says Abrahamson. 'But it is also infinitely rich and deep. It took under a year from the beginning of the writing to the end of shooting. Mark went away and wrote a first draft which was already beautiful - almost finished. After that we worked hard together between drafts - adding ideas, removing others, refining the flow and beat.

The $2.6m (EUR1.9m) project was developed with last year's Irish co-producers of the Palme d'Or-winning The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

'Ed Guiney at Element Films was involved from the very beginning,' Abrahamson recalls. 'He produced my first short at the beginning of the 1990s and we have been friends since we were kids.

'The film was financed very quickly. The Irish Film Board under Simon Perry and Peter Carlton at Film4 have been fantastically supportive all the way. The money came from a combination of Film4, the Irish Film Board, the BCI (Broadcasting Commission of Ireland) and RTE.'

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Lead actor Pat Shortt is not known outside of Ireland (where he is a popular comedian), but his performance has received rave reviews. Anne-Marie Duff and Conor Ryan co-star.

'Casting Pat was the most important and best decision I made,' says Abrahamson. 'Pat is the kind of deep comedian that comes along rarely - once or twice in a generation. He really is in the league of a Michel Simon or a Sellers or a Chaplin.'

Abrahamson's films are notable for non-verbal and physical comedy. 'There is an element of this kind of minimal physical comedy in M,' says Abrahamson. 'But the film is even sparer than Adam & Paul. Josie is a comedic character but the film is no comedy.'