Documentaries were always something that I enjoyed watching but I never thought I would make one. Feature films have been my goal for over ten years and after directing 3 I decided why not! Let’s give it a go.
I have always been interested in telling people’s stories through small profile pieces and just putting them online so I was really going into the documentary blindfolded. Learning each day.
In between work and personal projects I enjoy asking interesting people that I encounter if I can document their story or talents and just put it out there. It helped me with my filmmaking and storytelling and I would always learn something new.
I still don’t know if it’s a selfless or selfish thing to do because I enjoy taking a peek into other people’s lives. The goal for me is always to help the subject with some sort of release or maybe just help them show off their talents.
I started this with a YouTube channel over 5 years ago called “LIVESETS” at the time. I would contact bands and singer/songwriters and just shoot one-take live performances. But after a while I wanted to do profiles on people from all walks of life. From barbers and sportspeople to comedians and grieving mothers.
Eventually I was approached by Stevo (Farmer Michael). I had worked with him a few years back on a promo video for a pub in Galway and after that, asked him to play a small part in my film South, so there was a bit of a relationship there.
He was looking for someone to create a short video about him and his life so I agreed. When I sat down to interview him I really wasn’t expecting him to tell me the things he did. I felt Immediately torn on how to tell his story.
On one hand, it is a story of success, redemption and prevailing through art. I think that’s the story he wanted me to focus on originally. But on the other hand, it’s a story about a terrible tragedy and something that could change a lot of people’s’ minds on how they feel about Stevo as a real person and not just his character.
After the first interview I realized that the story was bigger than I originally thought so I decided to spend more time exploring his life. I shot more days over the course of a year and wanted to see different sides of Stevo. I wanted an ending, I wanted some sort of redemption. For me, redemption needs to be shown over the course of time, it needs to be earned and I wanted that to come across in film.
If I’m being honest I was just looking for an honest way to tell the story and I’m not 100 percent sure I found it. The cut of the film as it stands has an ending, I think it works the way I indented it too, for now, but I would eventually like to explore the idea of a longer film, hopefully we can acquire some funding for a feature-length version.
I always had a the goal of letting the viewer decide how they feel at the end and not forcing my own opinion on them. I could have easily sugar-coated Stevo’s story and tied it up in a nice little bow but there is no way I would. I have laid out as much as I could and I think that’s my responsibility as a storyteller.
If people are expecting to see a film based on a comedian and his hilarious exploits, they may be in for a bit of a surprise with this film. It is a story about a comedian, but also a story about a man with an extraordinary past.
I’m really looking forward to hearing people’s opinions and views after they see the film, I could be over-thinking everything and it’s entirely possible that I may have my head up my hole with my analysis of the film. But let’s see how it gets on.
Farmer Michael (The Life and Times of a Social Media Pariah) screens as part of the Irish Talent: New Shorts 1, Documentary Irish Talent: New Shorts 6, Fiction programme on Wednesday, 10th July at the Town Hall Theatre at 12:00 as part of the 2019 Galway Film Fleadh.
The 31st Galway Film Fleadh runs 9 – 14 July 2019.