Since its inception just two years ago, the Richard Harris International Film Festival has made no secret of its support for emerging Irish filmmakers.
Halfway through the weekend-long event, the festival reaffirmed its commitment to young Irish talent with a networking evening on Saturday night. The festival joined forces with Behind The Scenes, a group of film professionals in the Mid-West, to host the event in the striking Shannon Rowing Club. Attended by directors, producers, writers and other film creatives, the night was an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded people and test new ideas. It was also a chance to catch a glimpse of the burgeoning filmmaking scene in the Mid-West.
Behind The Scenes has been active in Limerick since January 2011, and works to bring people together to learn about film, television and video production. The group has also been working with Limerick City of Culture 2014 on a number of exciting projects this year. The event was also attended by Richard Harris’ son Jamie, who said he and his family were delighted with the festival and particularly struck by the friendliness of people in Limerick. Jamie also encouraged those present to make the most of the opportunity to meet others in the filmmaking industry.
Philip Shanahan, a Limerick-based filmmaker, said that the regional filmmaking community has continued to expand greatly in the past few years. “It’s like wildfire. There are loads of people who are after jumping into the community who are really talented,” he said.
Philip also cited the impact of Limerick’s status as National City of Culture on filmmakers. “It got us all thinking: ‘Well, this is our chance to put Limerick on the map,’” he said. “More importantly, to put Limerick filmmakers and the Limerick community on the map as well.”
The evening was not solely limited to film professionals from the Mid-West, however. Caroline Farrell, a scriptwriter based in Dublin, attended after her short film Adam was selected for the festival’s competition. Caroline said the fact that people collaborate well in Ireland helped the country’s filmmaking community stand out. “We help each other out, which is really important – particularly when you’re making your first film,” she said. “You know you need to get good people around you.”
Adam was nominated for Best Drama Award at the Dare Media Underground Film Festival in Cork this year, and was selected to screen at the Underground Cinema Film Festival in Dublin in September.
“I hope that people connect with [Adam] in some way, that there’s a little bit of empathy for it because I think that’s what short film is about,” Caroline said. “You only get that little window of five or ten minutes to connect with people, and if you’ve done that, you’ve done your job well.”