Galway City of Film have announced the return of the Short Film Commission Scheme a partnership scheme with RTÉ and Galway Film Centre. Writers are invited to submit a story idea and the best three ideas will be selected and receive a prize of €500 each. These three writers will go on to be mentored by an experienced Script Editor to bring their idea from a story outline to a finished script. From this, one script will be selected and made into a short film.
New and up-and-coming directors are also invited to submit a short CV to be selected through a competitive process to direct the winning script. The directors will be mentored by an experienced director through prep, casting right through to being supported on set
New and up-and-coming directors are also invited to submit a short CV to be selected through a competitive process to direct the winning script. The directors will be mentored by an experienced director through prep, casting right through to being supported on set. The directors mentoring panel will include Dearbhla Walsh (Penny Dreadful, Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot) and Paddy Breathnach, (Shrooms, I Went Down) and, depending on the shooting schedule, one of these will mentor the director.
Writers are now invited to submit a short film story idea by January 31st.
For full details on entry guidelines please see the APPLICATION FORM:http://www.galwayfilmcentre.
For full application details for Writers, Directors and Producers please see wwww.galwayfilmcentre.ie
Galway City of Film has announced details of its upcoming seminar ‘The Business of Documentary Making: An Irish & Nordic Perspective’ in association with Galway Film Centre, Screen Training Ireland and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
This one day seminar on Wednesday 12th October in the Harbour Hotel in Galway City will look at different aspects of the business-side of documentary making. It will examine both Irish and Nordic experiences; though many miles apart, both areas face similar challenges. The day will be an insight into how both regions do the business of documentary and what we can learn from each-other.
The first session of the day from 10am to 11.30am will be Producing People, Swedish Style. This panel will discuss Producing People, a new initiative from Film i Skåne, where four emerging producers from the Skåne region (South Sweden) will be mentored and supported for one year to springboard to the next level. The four producers will talk about how they navigate the career pathway of a producer in their country and in Europe in general. There will also be a presentation of the Nordic Film Fund and the work of Film i Skåne. as a regional film fund and some insight into funding structures for creative documentaries in the Nordic countries. Lisa Nyed from Film i Skåne will talk with Ann Lundberg, Caroline Drab and Sofie Palage, three young Swedish Producers from the Producing People Scheme. The session will be chaired by Irish filmmaker Niamh Heery.
The second session The Irish Funding Model will run from 11.45am to 1pm. This panel will briefly look at the Irish funding opportunities for documentary makers with representatives from the Irish Film Board, TG4, RTÉ and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. The panel will feature James Hickey from the IFB, Ciarán Kissane from the BAI and Proinsias Ní Ghráinne from TG4 and the session will be chaired by Paddy Hayes of Magamedia.
A Networking Lunch will take place from 1pm to 2pm and the cost is included in the ticket price of the event.
The final session of the day from 2pm to 3.30pm will feature Atlantic: A Case Study of an Irish/Norwegian/Canadian Co-Production. This panel will examine how the award winning documentary, Atlantic, was co-produced and Risteard Ó Domhnaill Producer/Director of both Atlantic and The Pipe will be in conversation with Karl Emil Rikardsen, Co-producer, Atlantic. The panel will be chaired by Irish filmmaker Ross Whitaker.
For more information on the speakers and details of the day please see:
Tickets for the full-day event are priced at €30 (waged) and €25 (unwaged/members of Galway Film Centre).
TO BOOK: please email email@example.com or call 091 770748.
Have you got some spare time? Do you possess a talent for writing? Then why not consider entering The Junior Galway Film Fleadh Storytelling Competition in association with Galway Film Centre and SpunOut.ie.
This is the ninth annual Story Pitching Competition and it is open to young people between the ages of 10 – 18 years old at primary or secondary school.
If you are interested in competing, you are invited to write a short (max 500 words) idea for a story. Your idea can be for a feature film, short film, TV series, documentary, web series, video game, animation or even a combined media project.
Begin by drafting your idea then practice it in front of family and friends. Become comfortable relaying the story outline. Because, should your idea be one of the 3 shortlisted, you will be invited to present it in the Town Hall Theatre to an assembled audience and jury during the festival on Friday 10th November 2016. Stories and scripts featuring spooky themes are especially welcome but really just use your imagination.
This year’s prize – a drama or animation summer camp sponsored by Galway Film Centre which will include 1 year’s membership to the Centre (allowing entry to the RTE short script award ) + weekly newsletter.
Cait Ni Niallain was the winner of the first script competition, and according to the budding film-maker the Junior Film Fleadh Script Competition had a bearing on her future, “I went on to the BA Connect with Film Studies at NUIG where I studied film as well as English and history. As part of our semester abroad programme I went to Drexel University in Philadelphia where I studied Film & Video. This school of film provided me with two more screenwriting modules which helped me produce other creative work. Based on all of this, you could definitely say that the Junior Film Fleadh pointed me in the right direction”.
Offering some advice to this year’s competition entrants, Junior Film Fleadh programmer Gar O’Brien said, “With its spiralling budgets, massive CGI landscapes, digitally realised superheroes and multimedia tie-ins it’s easy to forget that Cinema, above all else, still relies on a good story to be successful . If this summer’s terrible blockbuster season taught us anything it’s that a film is only as good (or as bad) as its story. The art of good storytelling is a powerful skill and one that needs to be cherished, developed and shared, if for no other reason than to bring us better films, with novel stories, and from new voices”.
The closing date for all entries is Wednesday 26th October 2016. You can post or email entries to: Junior Galway Film Fleadh Storytelling Competition , 36D Merchants Dock, Merchants Road, Galway or email: firstname.lastname@example.org (subject box Storytelling Competition). Entry forms are available from www.galwayfilmfleadh.com
Galway UNESCO City of Film with Galway Film Centre, in partnership with CÚRAM, Centre for Research in Medical Devices and Science Foundation Ireland have announced the two film commissions for the Science on Screen 2016 project.
Mending Legends produced by James Ryan of Stationhouse Media and directed by Paul Webster will explore the physical and psychological impact of tendon injuries amongst sports players and will visit the team of Galway-based scientists who are trying to design a new type of tendon implant – in the form of the world’s first 3D cell assembled tendon prototype. Sports fanatic and seasoned sports presenter, Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, will present a number of informative interviews with scientists involved in this field of research and through the personal experiences of amateur and professional sports people, this documentary will highlight the progressive attitudes towards scientific research in Ireland – and what it could mean to the world of sport.
The ‘Science on Screen’ project is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. Commenting on this, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government said, “supporting projects like this is part of our aim to create greater public debate and knowledge on challenges we face as a society and how scientific research and discoveries are helping to find solutions. By supporting Irish film and TV production we hope to make these stories accessible to a wide audience in an entertaining and engaging manner.”
Declan Gibbons, Manager of Galway Film Centre, said “We are delighted to present these two new science-themed documentaries. The research that is being done in CÚRAM is at the cutting edge of modern science and we hope that this work will inspire filmmakers to make films that are informative, creative and the start of a whole new wave of film and science projects. It also fits perfectly with our remit as a UNESCO City of Film, a core aim of which is to promote educational film projects.”
“We hope that the project will encourage greater collaboration between the research and filmmaking communities in Ireland” said Prof. Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM “there are a great many stories to tell that originate or are influenced by what happens in the laboratory and we look forward to working with filmmakers to bring them to the fore”.
The two 26-minute documentaries will premiere at the Galway Science & Technology Festival in November 2016, during the Science Foundation Ireland supported National Science Week.
Talking Documentary, Galway Film Centre’s annual Film and TV seminar will take place on January 15th and 16th, 2016 with special guests Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna) and Sean McAllister (A Syrian Love Story‘). It will consist of 2 days of talks, panel discussions and screenings on many aspects of documentary and will be run in association with Creative EuropeGalway, the BAI, TG4, the IFB and Screen Training Ireland. The seminar will open with a UNESCO City of Film gala screening of A Syrian Love Story on Thursday January 14th, with director Sean McAllister in attendance.
Venue: The Harbour Hotel, Galway City
Tickets: €70 to attend both days. €40 for single day tickets.
Book a place: To book a place, email email@example.com or phone 091-770748. Tickets to this seminar are limited.
Friday January 15th/Dé hAoine 15ú Eanáir
European Documentary Network (EDN) Seiminéar in association with Creative Europe DeskGalway
09.30 – 11.30: The Do’s & Don’ts of Pitching – Paul Pauwels (EDN)
11.30 – 11.45: Break /Sos
11.45 – 13.30: The European Documentary Landscape – Paul Pauwels (EDN)
13.30 – 14.15: Lunch/Lón
14.15 – 15.30: Documenting Personal Stories
–Daisy Asquith (After the Dance)
-Ken Wardrop (His and Hers)
-Keith Potter (Irish Film Board)
-Chair: Ross Whitaker (Unbreakable)
15.30 – 15.45: Break /Sos
16.00 – 17.30: The Loneliness of the Self Shooting Observational Documentary Maker
Sean McAllister (A Syrian Love Story, Liberace in Baghdad)
Facilitator: Felim McDermott (GMIT)
17.30: Networking Reception
Saturday January 16th/Dé Sathairn 16ú Eanáir
10.30 – 11.30: Documenting the Arts
Richard Curson Smith (Stronger than Death)
Facilitator: Paula Kehoe (Deargdhúil: Anatomy of Passion)
11.30 – 12.00: Science on Screen Official Launch
12.00 -13.00: Lunch/Lón
13.00 – 15.00: Asif Kapadia: Documentary Maker in Profile
Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna)
Facilitator: Pat Collins (Silence, Living in a Coded Land)
UNESCO City of Film Screening of A SYRIAN LOVE STORY
With Director Sean McAllister in Attendance
Thursday January 14th / Dé Déardaoin 14ú Eanáir
Venue/Ionad: An Taidhbhearc, Middle Street, Galway City
How to book: http://antaibhdhearc.com/
Business & Production Skills in Animation & Digital Media is an intensive course aimed at individuals in production and creative roles within the animation and related industries. The principles taught will benefit those who are interested in establishing their own production company or are looking to learn more about the management practice of animation development and production. Participants will be immersed in the business and day-to-day operations of a typical contemporary animation production studio. Whether the studio produces for a client or creates its original intellectual property, similar production pipelines must be efficiently established in order to meet tight schedules and even tighter budgets
By the end of the course, the participant will be familiar with industry nomenclature, marketing, financing, co-production, funding sources, common production software for budgeting and scheduling and basic contracts.
The tutors, Deirdre Barry and Clifford Parrott, have experience with many companies including HBO and Disney.
When: May 25th to 27th (9.30am -5.30pm TBC)
Where: Galway Film Centre
How much: €150. Please apply by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for Applications: Thursday, 21st May.
The Galway Film Centre’s Talent Talks series continues this season with a talk with documentary-maker, Ross Whitaker. Ross will discuss the lessons learned from the documentaries that he has made over the last ten years. The session will be hosted by Documentary-maker and GMIT lecturer, Donal Haughey. Having worked across feature-length documentaries, short documentaries, sports films, current affairs and formats, Ross has insights into all aspects of factual filmmaking and will talk about:
- accessing funding
- differing approaches to documentary-making
- interview techniques
- visual storytelling
- festival strategies
- choosing the right type of distribution.
Filmmakers will be welcome to ask questions and discuss their own projects. Ross’ past films include Bye Bye Now, Home Turf, Saviours and When Ali Came to Ireland. Ross’s new feature documentary, UNBREAKABLE, is due to be released in October 2014.
Date: 1pm -4pm, Saturday October 11th, 2014.
The Galway Film Centre has announced, in partnership with the Western Development Commission (WDC), a Feature Film Script Mentoring Programme.
The aim of the programme is to provide professional script development for six participants over a period of six months, from Treatment stage to a First Draft screenplay, to create a fiction, feature film script (90-110 pages).
This year the Galway Film Centre’s Talking TV Drama Series features a workshop and an interview with Jimmy McGovern in Association with GMIT & Screen Training Ireland.
Both take place on Friday, 6th June 2014 at the Harbour Hotel, Galway City.
The workshop with Jimmy McGovern begins at 11am, in which McGovern will delve into the creative process behind his first commissioned feature, Needle. This film was commissioned by BBC and it imagines an alternative contemporary history in which a pilot scheme to decriminalise heroin has been launched in Liverpool in order to combat the rising tide of criminality and disease associated with addiction to the drug.
Apply: Email email@example.com with a brief writing CV.
The interview with Jimmy McGovern begins at 2pm and will be conducted by lecturer and former GMIT FILM & TV course director Patsy Murphy. This in-depth interview will examine McGovern’s approach to writing on some of his greatest works including THE LAKES, DOCKERS, THE STREETS, THE ACCUSED and CRACKER. His current slate of projects including BANISHED and COMMON will also be discussed.
Contact: 091-770748 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.
The Talent Talks Series showcases the work of documentary producer Aisling Ahmed.
Her recent feature, directed by Liz Mermin, Amazing Azerbaijan! will be screened. It will be preceded by winner of Best Short Documentary at Galway Film Fleadh 2013, The End of the Counter (Director: Laura McGann).
After the screening, Galway native, Aisling will discuss the making of the films, as well as discussing her overall approach to documentary making and the challenges that it poses.
Date: Saturday May 10th (12pm-4.00pm)
Amnesty International Galway, Galway Film Centre and the Huston School of Film & Digital media are screening Under the Hood by Galway-based filmmakers Mark Byrne and Rob Dennis about life in Belarus.
In Belarus, some battle for democracy, social justice and civil rights, while others struggle just to survive. The feature documentary, ‘Under the Hood,’ brings us on a journey through a country where the secret police is still known as the KGB, and innocently gathering in public is considered a crime.
Filmed in secret, Under the Hood takes us from the protests and secret opposition meetings of the capital, Minsk, to the horse-drawn carts and hand-tilled fields of the countryside. In 2013, this film was officially selected for Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival, Nordic Film Days (Lübeck, Germany), Ireland on Sunday at the IFI, and received a Mark of Distinction from New York City Indie Film Festival. So far this year, it has been officially selected for Dingle International Film Festival and Kino Pavasaris – Vilnius International Film Festival.
The screening will be followed by a Q & A with Mark Byrne.
Date: 7pm, Wednesday, February 5th, 2014.
The screening will be followed by a Q & A with Mark Byrne.
Cost: Free event.
Venue: Huston Film School, National University of Ireland.
Broken Song screening hosted by Galway Film Centre.
This feature documentary asks whether art and artistic expression can allow us to look beyond the facts of someone’s past and see into their soul. Street poets, hip-hop artists and songwriters GI, Costello and Willa Lee from north Dublin are the main subjects of this film which premiered at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in February 2013, where it won both the audience award and also the Michael Dwyer Discovery Award. The director, Claire Dix, will take part an in-depth discussion about the making of the film afterwards.
Date: Monday February 24th
Galway Film Centre will be hosting two short documentaries, made on the recent weekend documentary-making course tutored by filmmaker Jill Beardsworth. The films will be shown at Upstairs in Kellys, Bridge Street this Thursday evening at8pm and all are welcome. The screening will just take 15 minutes in total….so don’t be late!!!!
Date: Thursday January 23rd
Time: 8 pm
Venue: Kelly’s bar, Bridge St
The short, Kids Who Code, is about Galway’s Coderdojo, where every Saturday morning, kids are taught to programme computers. This was the first coderdojo set up in Galway. There are many more in other parts of Galway, Ireland and rest of the world.
The next film, Drawing Memories, looks at people’s memories of Salthill. Salthill is an area whose facade has changed greatly from it’s glory days as a seaside resort. This film mingles the physical changes in Salthill with people’s memories of the area.
So come along and bring your friends and join us afterwards in the bar for a coffee or a drink.
Dearbhla Walsh, Stuart Carolan, David Caffrey, Tom Vaughan Lawlor on the Love/Hate panel
The Galway Film Centre’s TV drama seminar this October featured a Love/Hate panel – attended by series creator/writer Stuart Carolan, director David Caffrey and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. Gemma Creagh was there to find out about RTÉ’s most successful drama.
As the rain pummeled on the window panes of the Harbour Hotel, Galway on the Autumn afternoon of the 17th October, those of us clutching our teas inside for the Love/Hate section of Talking TV Drama were about to be steeped in some inspiring Irish talent. It was Dearbhla Walsh who introduced the panel to the eager crowd of filmmakers and fans. Now household names, David Caffrey (Director), Stuart Carolan (Writer) and King Nidge himself – the surprisingly well-spoken – Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, talked to us open and honestly about one of the most popular Irish TV Dramas in recent history.
The origin of Love/Hate was Dearbhla’s first question, she queried Stuart and David as to who made the first move, had it been RTÉ or themselves? Originally the pair had gone in to pitch an alternate show, however at the very last minute Stuart decided to mention his ideas for Love/Hate, which himself and David had been discussing for quite some time. Dearbhla followed up with an enquiry about the show’s topic: ‘Are you interested in exploring the world of crime, of the family?’ Stuart took some time formulating his response: ‘I’d had an obsessive interest in it. The themes are there, it’s grief and love and hate; that’s what it’s about. It’s a heightened world… Love and death. Who’s not interested in that?’
Speaking about their past, David and Stuart brought up the first time they’d worked together on popular RTÉ drama, RAW. One of three writers, some of Stuart’s scenes had ‘sat up just a little bit more’ for David. This opened dialogue between them, and they began to talk about Love/Hate but made the decision to approach it more like an independent film. David worked closely with Stuart in order to really get inside his thought process and shared: ‘The look, the feel, the tone – all of those kind of things didn’t go through a lot of people. It went straight from his head into mine.’
Stuart cited Shameless as one of his major influences, which also happened to be one of the many shows Dearbhla had directed episodes for. He noted how the programme, along with a number of massive US shows, had kept the writer at the heart of it. Previous to penning Love/Hate Stuart shared his heartbreak of writing plays – and quite a few things in other areas – that just hadn’t gotten made: ‘I was nearing the end of my tether, to be honest with you.’ So pitching Love/Hate was his final chance – but he knew he didn’t want to work with the old model and lose too much creative control. Quite bromantically, Stuart spoke about how he was in the doldrums before he met ‘Caffo’ and praised the director’s sense of fun.
The well-deserved lovefest continued as David shared his esteem for the rest of the Love/Hate team: ‘When you’re in a situation where you’re with people you really like, you’re able to make mistakes. I feel comfortable and confident enough with both of these guys to make a fool of myself and go: “What about this for an idea?” Stuart can instantly just go: “Pfffft… that’s bollix.” I’m not going to take offense to it. That’s the sort of trust in the relationship we would have. Same with me and Tom on set; he can basically try anything he wants.’
Declan Gibbons (Galway Film Centre Manager) and Stuart Carolan (Love/Hate Writer) share a pose
Casting director, Maureen Hughes, was credited by Tom for landing him the role of Nidge. It was her who sent him on a copy of the script. Although doing a couple of films previously but no TV, Tom was completely blown away by it and added: ‘One of the testers for me is running lines with my family. They are a really good barometer of what they think is crap or not. So I was running lines with my sister, and she was saying: “What the hell is this? This is really incredible!”’ Tom talked about meeting David for the first time, and the director’s alternative take on auditions: ‘One of the great things he does for an actor is, when you audition, Maureen comes out and says: “Look you’re not going to go in there and have a chat… you’re just going to do the scene. You might get a note and that’ll be it.” So David didn’t want any preconceived notion of who you are.’
At this stage David cheerfully added: ‘I met Nidge before I met Tom!’
In the beginning stages of Love/Hate, David and Stuart discussed the character of Nidge in great detail – and had decided on a particular picture of exactly who they were looking for. They were a tad cagey about revealing who the subject was – and rightly so – but they admitted the mystery man was very distinctive. It was thanks to Maureen, David shared, that they found what they were looking for when Tom walked through their door.
On the subject of scripts, Stuart praised Paul Abbott’s writing technique; he was enamored with the joy and movement in Abbott’s work. Dearbhla agreed. During her time working on Shameless, she was always able to recognise the scripts that Abbott had written himself – giving credit to the flow to his writing and the fact nobody else could properly write Frank Gallagher: ‘Part of all of that is because Paul knew those characters. It was his story.’ The crowd couldn’t hold back their laughter when she revealed that Shameless was heavily influenced by the Waltons – right down to the closing voiceover.
Love/Hate’s previous gangland boss was played by the heavyweight Game of Thrones actor, Aidan Gillen, and Tom cited Aidan’s professionalism as inspiring: ‘The first week of filming was my apprenticeship in screen acting really. I think being thrown into the deep end – but also working with Aidan, being in scenes with him and seeing his technique – it was mind blowing. I remember thinking: “he’s not doing anything… I’m acting my balls off!” Then you look back on the footage and it’s all going on – so the penny starts to drop.’
Bringing up the controversial nature of the show – and the infamous cat scene – Dearbhla questioned RTÉ’s role in editorial censorship. Stuart commended RTÉ Drama commissioning editor, Jane Gogan and her unwavering support and trust in their work: ‘We have conversations with her the same way we have conversations with each other, about the importance of it, about the morality of it, about getting to the heart of it and going with what’s important to the story… It’s about being true to this world, even if we’re going to lose the audience. And that’s pretty amazing to have.’
When discussing the rape and murder that takes place in the opening episode of season three, Dearbhla revealed that the bar where ‘the’ scene was filmed was the Irish Conservatives’ Club. For that episode Git had been a tough character to cast; according to Stuart, a lot of the actors who read for that role were over the top. He wanted someone who could provide a sense of violence without having to shout. The creators had originally agreed on Mannix Flynn for the role, but Mannix had ended up stalling his acceptance until his friend Jimmy (who eventually got the part) was able to do the audition.
With the panel relaxed and chatting away, David admitted it took eight days of shooting to record each one-hour episode, and how he generally only reverted to storyboards for the more intricate, expensive scenes. He also confessed that to adhere to a quick set up, himself and Tom would often do their run-throughs on the set – but this wasn’t quite the norm and was mainly done only because the pair had developed a trust.
After a screening of the scene in question, the talk was diverted to Dano breaking the necks of his father’s pigeons. This was actually based on a true story, which happened after the father of Stuart’s friend had passed away. Stuart thought it was very meaningful moment – and asked could he use it for the show.
Love/Hate’s soundtrack owes much to the powerfully atmospheric compositions of Ray Harmon, but David also disclosed how Stuart chooses eighty percent of the music tracks – even for the promos and trailers. Stuart added how the music comes into his head as he’s writing: ‘I think that’s my favourite bit sometimes, the music will make something come alive.’
Much like the rest of us (Dearbhla included), Tom was in awe of Stuart’s writing: ‘It’s great. Sometimes you get scenes from this with this great weight behind them. Very little seems to be happening, but everything is happening… these little moments.’ Tom added how, when the show is all over, that the shooting scripts should be released – mainly because the stage directions are so incredible. When asked for specifics Tom continued: ‘There’s a love scene coming up later. I can’t give too much away but it’s a three-page description… this incredible journey of these two people together. Just reading it as an actor, it’s not just: “they have sex.” It has an arc and flow and is just a real gift to an actor.’
To illustrate the surreal nature of his newfound fame, Tom had us in stitches with a funny experience he’d had on the tube last year: ‘It was quite a full tube and I was sitting reading a book, when a group of maybe six Dublin teenagers got on… and I hear someone going: “Oh my god.” “OH MY GOD.” “Nidge. Nidge!” They all started going mental. They came over for photographs and were chatting away, and when they all got off at Leicester Square, everybody on the train turns and looks at me.’
The questions were then opened up to us on the floor and one young female actor asked Tom talked about preparing for his role – especially the emotional scenes. We were thrilled when he began regaling us with another Aidan Gillen anecdote: ‘I remember working with Aidan. They would cut and say: “We’re moving on.” Aidan would say: “I could do a better one”. His status would allow for that. [Chuckles] He’s a very generous man. I remember doing a scene with him and it was on me. They were moving on and he went: “Are you happy with that?” [Laughs] I was going… oh god, Aidan Gillen thinks I’m crap in the scene! … What he said was: “Look, if you’re not happy with it yourself, say it now because you’re never getting another go at it.” It was a great lesson.’
The next question was on research, something Stuart does quite a bit of, be it talking to the Gardaí or just investigating the boring mechanics behind money laundering. Ultimately he advised us not to rely on it too much: ‘It’s all made up. If you look at this room, I guarantee you that most of you have experienced loss or that type of thing… All the research aside, as a writer you’re haunted by something. It’s just a sense – but it can be the smallest of things.’ He added that what he finds most surprising of all is how the stereotypes of who is involved in drugs, who dies from overdoses, it’s never who you think.
As the superb talk came to an end – and as a first-rate show is concluded for another season – those of us in the audience were at least consoled by the copious glasses of tasty wine and sandwiches waiting for us outside.
Galway Film Centre’s annual seminar on Writing for TV Drama takes place this year on 17th & 18th October.
This event is run in partnership with Screen Training Ireland, the BAI and is supported by TG4, the Irish Film Board/ Bórd Scannán na hÉireann and RTÉ. Galway Film Centre is funded by The Arts Council. Past guests have included Vince Gilligan, Hans Rosenfeldt and Bryan Cogman.
This year’s panels are:
Thursday Afternoon, October 17th
Writing for a Younger Audience – 2pm – 4pm
There is a great demand for writing in this area and this panel will examine the challenges of writing for this genre.
Tom Bidwell (Writer) – MY MAD FAT DIARY
Bryan Elsley (Writer) – SKINS, DATES, THE CROW ROAD
Melanie Stokes (Company Director) – Kindle Entertainment
Máire Ní Chonláin (Chair) – (Commissioning Editor) -TG4
The Evolution of LOVE/HATE – 4.15pm -6.15pm
An in-depth look at this award winning Irish crime drama.
David Caffrey (Director) – DIVORCING JACK, MONARCH OF THE GLEN
Stuart Carolan (Writer) – RAW, LITTLE WHITE LIE
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Actor) – HOWIE THE ROOKIE
Dearbhla Walsh (CHAIR) – (LITTLE DORRIT, SHAMELESS)
Friday, October 18th
THE JOURNEY OF AMBER – 10am – 11.30am
AMBER is a 4 part series, which has sold to US, Australian, Canadian and Scandinavian broadcasters and will be broadcast on Irish TV in January 2014 & BBC4 in April 2014. This panel examines the genesis and the journey of this TV Drama.
Rob Cawley (Writer/Producer) – AMBER
Gary Duggan (Writer) – AMBER
Paul Duane (Writer/Producer) – AMBER, SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL
Muirinn Lane Kelly (Chair) – Writer
In Conversation with US Showrunner, Frank Spotnitz -1.30pm -4.30pm
Frank Spotnitz (creator of HUNTED and writer and executive producer on The X-FILES) will discuss his approach to writing for TV. He is currently writing a series adapted from the TRANSPORTER hit movie franchise, and is writing and co-producing an adaptation of Philip K Dick’s THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE for Ridley Scott.
Frank Spotnitz (Writer) – HUNTED, THE X-FILES
Shane Perez (Chair) – Writer
More info or to book a place, phone 0035391-770748 or email email@example.com www.galwayfilmcentre.ie
Felim McDermott in conversation with Vince Gilligan
Shane Perez reports on the Galway Film Centre’s 2012 interview with celebrated American TV-writer Vince Gilligan.
The Galway Film Centre recently hosted ‘Talking TV Drama: Breaking Bad in Galway’, a two-day event featuring a variety of industry professionals from Ireland, the US, the UK and Australia. The centrepiece was an interview with Vince Gilligan, the creator, head writer, and occasional director of Breaking Bad, the American series that has gained a rabid following worldwide.
Mr Gilligan proved remarkably self-effacing and down-to-earth, graciously deferring the success of Breaking Bad to his six-person writing team, the brilliant and unselfish cast, and the crew. His unassuming nature aside, Gilligan did provide great insight into the entire creative process, from the brainstorming of each new series to the filming in New Mexico.
The peek into the writers’ room was perhaps the most fascinating aspect. The attendees each received a shooting script as well as a reproduction of the ‘the board’, the large corkboard the writers use to tack up index cards comprising all the important moments of an episode. Gilligan detailed the process of ‘ breaking’ a story, a methodology learned during his seven years on The X Files, in which every detail is planned out. That said, Gilligan admitted that flexibility is also an integral element and has allowed some of the more inspired moments of Breaking Bad to materialize. The goal is to always create a safe environment to ‘allow the craziest, stupidest ideas to come forth.’
Being a member of the writers’ room can involve brainstorming sessions sometimes lasting twelve hours – ‘a sequestered jury that never ends.’ Getting the board developed to the show’s exacting standards can take as long as three weeks per episode. From there, a ten- to twelve-page outline is written, a step imposed by the AMC network (American Movie Classics) on which the show airs. Gilligan initially bristled at the outlines, but has since come to appreciate them as a valuable part of the process, allowing for the timely anticipation of production necessities as well as clearing any network hurdles ahead of time. Though the show has gone to some truly eyebrow-raising extremes, Gilligan praised AMC for trusting his instincts. To date, they have never forbid him from filming or airing a single scene.
The most important rule throughout the whole process is to always stay true to the characters. The writers might have several big moments of drama in mind over the course of a series, but it is essential to arrive at them organically and not to do anything to insult the intelligence of either the viewers or the characters they have worked so hard to create.
One audience question in particular, about the irrepressibly shady lawyer Saul Goodman, led to some comical revelations about the true mindset of the writers’ room. Being huge Godfather fans, they have all looked upon protagonist Walter White as a bargain basement Michael Corleone. Therefore, at some point it was determined he would require an appropriately low-rent consigliere, as well as an attorney. Both were folded into the one character of Saul, who also became a perfect vehicle for the pitch-black humour the show has become known for. As Gilligan put it, they knew they were turning Mr. Chips into Scarface, so Goodman’s clownish lawyer is the ideal counterpart.
This article originally appeared in Film Ireland Magazine, Issue 140 in 2012.
Talking TV Drama 2013 (17 -18 October, The Harbour Hotel, Galway City)
This year’s panels include:
The Evoution of Love/Hate: Stuart Carolan, David Caffrey, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor in conversation with Dearbhla Walsh
Writing for Teen/Young Adult Drama: Tom Bidwell (My Mad Fat Diary), Bryan Elsley (Skins) and Máire Ní Chonláin (TG4) examine this challenging area of writing.
Showrunning and the Writers Room: Frank Spotnitz (creator of Hunted) and writer and executive producer on The X-Files) will discuss his approach to writing for TV
This event is run in partnership with Screen Training Ireland, the BAI and is supported by TG4, the Irish Film Board/ Bórd Scannán na hÉireann and RTÉ. Galway Film Centre is funded by The Arts Council.
Cost: €80/€90 This event sells out every year so early booking is advised.
Where: The Harbour Hotel, Galway City
More info or to book a place, phone 0035391-770748 or email firstname.lastname@example.org www.galwayfilmcentre.ie
The Junior Galway Film Fleadh Storytelling competition in association with Foras na Gaeilge, Galway Film Centre and SpunOut.ie are currently accepting entries.
This is the sixth annual Story Pitching Competition and is open to young people between the ages of 10 – 18 years old at primary or secondary school.
If you are interested in competing, you are invited to write a short (500 words) idea for a story. Your idea can be for a feature film, short film, TV series, documentary, web series, video game, animation or even a combined media project. Your entry can be in English or Irish.
Begin by drafting your idea then practice it in front of family and friends. Become comfortable relaying the story outline. Because, should your idea be one of the 3 shortlisted, you will be invited to present it in the Town Hall Theatre to an assembled audience and jury during the festival on Thursday 14th November 2013.
The Prize – a drama or animation summer camp sponsored by Galway Film Centre which will include 1 year’s membership to the Centre (allowing entry to the RTE short script award ) + weekly newsletter.
Closing date – Friday 18th October 2013
Post or email entries to:
Junior Galway Film Fleadh Script Competition
36D Merchants Dock, Merchants Road, Galway
Email: email@example.com (subject box Script Competition)
Entry forms will be available from www.galwayfilmfleadh.com
Following on from the success of last year’s Talking TV Drama seminar, Galway Film Centre, in partnership with GMIT, Fás Screen Training Ireland and the BAI, will be running the event again this October and is delighted to welcome Bryan Cogman, Executive Story Editor and Writer on HBO’s Game of Thrones to Galway to take part in a seminar focused on writing drama for television. Talking TV Drama 2012 will comprise panel discussions, workshops and public interviews and is run in partnership with GMIT and the BAI.
As well as Cogman, there will be an array of writing talent from around the world participating in this two day seminar. Wallander UK, Torchwood, Kumars at No. 42, Waking the Dead, Raw and Primeval are some of the many shows worked on by those attending this exciting two day event. Organisations represented at the event will include Disney Channel UK, Sky TV, Channel 4, Kudos, TG4, RTÉ and the Irish Film Board.
The series Game of Thrones, which is based on the bestselling fantasy book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, has acquired huge acclaim since its inception. The show which was recently nominated for 11 Emmys, is shot mainly in Belfast. Bryan Cogman is also author of Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones. An in-depth interview will be conducted with Bryan on Saturday, 6th October by GMIT lecturer, Felim Mac Dermott. The Hollywood Reporter called the show ‘an amazingly ambitious worldview with a vast array of complicated and nuanced characters’ while Variety described it a the ‘spiritual heir to The Sopranos‘.
Galway Film Centre Manager, Declan Gibbons added ‘last year’s event with Vince Gilligan from Breaking Bad generated a huge amount of interest from script writers, both emerging and established so this year we wanted to look in more depth at certain areas such as Script Editing, as well as putting certain key shows under the microscope. We’re delighted with our line-up of speakers this year and we have a few more very special guests still to announce, so watch this space! ‘
This event takes place on Friday, 5th October and Saturday, 6th October in the Radisson Hotel in Galway City. Attendance to the full event costs €95 waged /€85 unwaged. Early booking is strongly advised as places are limited and this event sold out last year.
Further details of the event will be available at www.galwayfilmcentre.ie later this week. If you have any queries or wish to book, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 091-770748.
Jameson Dublin International Film Festival
Other Presentations: JDIFF Shorts
Friday, 24th February, 6:30pm, Light House Cinema
The fabulous final JDIFF weekend got off to a top-notch start with a fantastic feast of fresh films – of the short variety, of course. These six hand-picked gems showcase the crème de la crème of Ireland’s talent, all the while making the audience laugh, tugging on our heartstrings and documenting some amazing characters.
First up was another excellent short, shot by the talented crew over at IADT. The Centre of the Universe tells the story of a young airhostess with the power to save the universe. This quirky sci-fi is written and directed by Brian Dunster and stars Michelle Beamish, Rosemary Henderson, Sophie Peacock and the fantastically funny David Michael Scott.
Following this was Frontiersman, which provided quite a contrast. This documentary follows the incredible stories of rugged individualists, sole traders, and entrepreneurs from Donegal; Arsene, Paddy Toye, Liam Grier, Alphie McCollum, Pat Gillespie, Eamon Friel and James McDaid. Heartfelt, eccentric and truly inspiring, this (quite long) short was created for the Sharing Stories project by director Derek O’Connor.
The tone got a bit heavier next with Thomas Hefferon’s Switch. This Galway Film Centre/RTÉ funded short tells the tragic tale of a man trying to atone for hit and run, where he fled the scene two years earlier, leaving a man dead and his daughter seriously injured. This piece is put together well, but the performances from Barry Barnes, Lesley Conroy and Jane McGrath are simply amazing.
This was succeeded by a rom-com to lighten the mood. Directed by Shimmy Marcus and supported by the Goethe Institute, Rhinos is absolutely gorgeous romance that is certainly not lost in translation. Escaping her tumultuous relationship, the vivacious Ingrid spends a day with quiet, reserved Thomas. He takes her sightseeing around Dublin for where they share a deep understanding ¬– despite their fundamental language barrier. * I’m sorry other shorts, you were really very good, but this was without doubt my undisputed favorite. Perhaps ever.
Up next was Still Films’ observational documentary Rats Island. This quiet, original piece showed a day in the life of Eddie, a man who was unemployed and homeless until he moved to a small island in a river estuary with his son, Andrew. Directed by Mike Hannon, this film subtlety emphasises the hardship of daily life for this odd charismatic character.
And the final film of the evening was Pairs and Spares, a light comedy about feuding bowlers in a strike-fuelled showdown. Philip Kelly directs a fun Warrior films’ short featuring Rachel-Mae Brady, Paul Halpin and Jack Hickey.
A lovely balance of drama, romance and comedy, these shorts really hit the spot and made me forget about the many longs I had left to watch.
Filming began in Dundalk, Co. Louth on Saturday 11th of February on Atrophy, a short film funded by RTE/Galway Film Centre.
Principal photography is now complete and post production has begun.
The story centres on a farmer who loses his way of life, due to a compulsory purchase order (CPO) of his land by the NRA. The farmer Eugene is played by Monaghan native Pat Deery (Leap Year, Puffball).
Also featured are Brian Fortune (Game of Thrones, Derelict), Dave McConnon (Aisling’s Diary) of Drogheda and Alvarro Lucchesi (Mattie, The Count of Monte Cristo) from Dundalk.
The film touches on real themes of social exclusion and the lack of corporate social responsibility, but it does so with wry humour and empathy.
Atrophy was produced by Blackrock, Dundalk based producer Fearghal Duffy, directed by Mairtin de Barra (Tart, The Club) and written by Matt Roche. Director of Photography was Eleanor Bowman (Aisling’s Diary).
Filming was located around Ardee and Dundalk, Co. Louth. Speaking from his office yesterday, Fearghal Duffy said “Louth was the perfect location for us as we found everything we needed within a 10 mile radius of Dundalk. The people of Louth are always very welcoming which makes our job a lot easier, plus for once we had perfect weather.”
Many of the crew and extras were also sourced locally. Atrophy will be broadcast on RTE during the summer and will be submitted to film festivals in Europe, Asia and USA.
Galway Film Centre are delighted to announce an exciting 2 day event in October 2011 for those interested in Writing for TV Drama. The event will feature writers/directors/producers from the US, Australia, the UK and Ireland.
One of the many highlights of the event will be an in depth interview with Vince Gilligan, creator and writer on Breaking Bad and also writer of multiple X-Files episodes. Breaking Bad has been named one of the best shows of 2011 by the American Film Institute and Stephen King hailed it as ‘the best of the 21st Century’. Other interesting events will include a workshop style session with Emmy winning director, Dearbhla Walsh and writer Fiona Seres focusing on The Silence, which attracted 5 million viewers in 2010.
Many other talented writers will also give their insights into various areas of TV Drama Writing. On Thursday evening, there will be a MEDIA reception evening. Screenings of some of the shows of the featured writers will be held over the 2 days.
Galway Film Centre Manager, Declan Gibbons added “we’re delighted that so many high calibre writers are attending this event and that there is so much Irish writing talent doing well in television internationally. These days the best screenwriters are arguably working in TV rather than in Film so this is a great opportunity to hear them speak and get an insight into how they work. As for Breaking Bad, it is quite simply essential viewing. Nail biting drama with great characters, it’s up there with the best of US Drama like The Wire or The Sopranos.”
Full programme is below. (Full Biographies of all attendees are on our website.) This event is run in partnership with GMIT, Fás Screen Training Ireland, the BAI and TG4.
Dates: 20th and 21st October, 2011.
Fee: €75 unwaged/ €85 waged. Please note places are limited for this event. Please send an email with your name, address and contact number to email@example.com. We will then hold a place for you for seven days. Full payment by cash, cheque or postal order (made payable to Galway Film Centre) will then secure your place.
More info at: 091-770748 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow event on: Facebook (Galway Film Centre) or Twitter(@galwayfilmcentr #tvdramagalway)
Thursday October 20th
2:00 pm: Talking Nuts ‘n’ Bolts: What do agents/producers/broadcasters look for from writers?
Steven Wright (Acting Head of Drama) – BBC Northern Ireland
Liz Lewin (Producer at Company Pictures) – Playing The Field / Teachers / Beaver Falls
Ligeia Marsh (Literary Agent) – The Agency
Declan Croghan (Writer) – Waking The Dead / Murder Prevention / The Body Farm
Mícheál Ó Meallaigh (Commissioning Editor) – TG4
Ciarán Kissane (Head of Contract Awards) – BAI
3.45pm Main Interview: Deconstructing Breaking Bad: An in depth look at the approach to writing on Breaking Bad.
Vince Gilligan – (Writer & Executive Producer) Breaking Bad / The X Files
Felim Mac Dermott Chair: GMIT Lecturer
6.45pm Fáiltiú MEDIA /MEDIA Networking Reception
Pick up a copy of the European TV Drama Guide
Friday October 21st
9.30am Creative Writing: Thinking Inside the Box: An exploration of writers’ creative approach to TV Drama Writing.
Declan Croghan (Writer) – Waking The Dead / Murder Prevention / The Body Farm
Vince Gilligan (Writer) – Breaking Bad / The X Files
Muirinn Lane Kelly (Writer) – Raw / Mistresses / Waterloo Road
Darach Mac Con Iomaire (Writer) – Corp + Anam / Peadairín na Stoirme
Lauren MacKenzie (Writer) – The Clinic / Pure Mule / Na Cloigne
Lisa McGee (Writer) – Being Human / Raw / The Things I Haven’t Told You
2:30 pm The Writer & Director Relationship: Focused on The Silence: A workshop style session looking at specific scenes & the challenges faced for writer & director while working on The Silence.
Dearbhla Walsh (Director) -The Silence/ Shameless / Funland / Custer’s Last Stand Up
Fiona Seres (Writer) – The Silence / Tangle / Love My Way / Dangerous
Galway Film Centre and FÁS Screen Training Ireland are running a two-day Engine Room Pitch Workshop workshop on 23–24 June in Galway. It is a project development and pitching event for documentary/factual filmmakers seeking Irish and international commissions and market intelligence.
Created by leading international pitch trainer Christina Burnett of Wide Eye Pictures, the format has had great success in the UK, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Intense, friendly and focused, Engine Room Pitch Workshop develops real projects, which are then presented to two Irish commissioners for feedback.
Delegates range from award-winning senior producers and directors to first-timers and the structure enables professionals at any stage of their career to understand what makes a project succeed. Attendees can come with a project or simply as an observer.
The event costs €150 and those wishing to partake in the course must send a one page proposal for a documentary or a factual project and a CV to Criona Sexton at email@example.com by Tuesday the 7th of June will be considered and those which are selected to pitch will be notified in advance of the workshop.
(Pic: Passing, A 2009 Galway Film Centre RTÉ short winner directed by David Freyne)
The Galway Film Centre recently hosted an information session for this year’s Short Film Awards, co-sponsored by RTÉ. The two winning projects will receive €9,500 in funding as well as equipment and facilities provided by the Centre.
The afternoon kicked off with a screening of some of the recent winning films and was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Declan Gibbons, GFC manager. The speakers included a number of past winners: Keith Bogue (writer, The Day Trippers), Thomas Hefferon (co-writer/director, Switch), David Freyne (writer/director, Passing), James Phelan (writer/director, The Ottoman Empire), Conor Ferguson (writer/director, The Wednesdays), and AnneMarie Naughton (producer, The Wednesdays). Also featured on the panel were Eilish Kent (RTÉ Development Executive Drama), script reader James Finlan, and Galway film doyenne Leila Doolin.
Each of the filmmakers gave a brief account of their background as well as how their project came together, and then the floor was opened up to questions. The nuggets of advice dispensed revolved not just around effective approaches to the application process but also how to generally go about crafting a successful short film.
While many complain that there is a sameness to the body of short films that get made each year, Eilish Kent stressed that they are indeed always looking for the offbeat and unusual, but too often a great idea is undone by poor execution on the page. Voluminous numbers of scripts are submitted each year, and the primary criticism, echoed several times, was poorly written scripts that haven’t had enough work poured into them. The revision process was stressed, as was the need for getting as many people as possible to read one’s script. Cut out all fluff and superfluous elements, and strive for clarity at all times.
Typos are an obvious pet peeve that always bears repeating. Too much dialogue is another recurring problem. Film is a visual medium, particularly in short film, and wall-to-wall dialogue tends to put off readers. An overreliance on film jargon or camera angles can also work against the piece. The visuals should be conveyed in the writing. By the time a script is submitted, it should be honed down to a finely tuned piece of work
Another issue is length. For years, upwards of fifteen minutes was acceptable in short film/festival circles. According to Eilish Kent, however, the trend lately has been towards films with a maximum ten minutes running time. This is of particular importance when considering the handful of television broadcasters that programme short films. Accordingly, writers should endeavour to keep their script in the 10-12 page range, if not shorter.
A thick skin is also required. Rejection should be looked upon as part of the process, not the end of the road. Many of the projects had been submitted once or twice before finally succeeding. Some of them had even proceeded to the interview stage. One should learn from the application/interview process, then go back and rewrite their script again.
If one does make it to the interview stage, preparation is key. The style notes submitted along with the application should be as well thought out as script itself. Thomas Hefferon was particularly insightful on this matter, recounting how he showed up for his interview with ninety pages of notes that included detailed storyboards. Furthermore, he deconstructed his script to such a degree that he felt there was no possible question that he wouldn’t be ready for. Not surprisingly, he got the film award.
Finding a producer for a project can prove problematic, even for a shortlisted piece. In one instance, over fifty producers were queried. James Phelan approached an up-and-coming production company in the area where he envisioned shooting the piece. David Freyne and Keith Bogue both utilised production companies they had set up with colleagues. There is no hard and fast rule except one must be persistent and creative.
As far as the actual production, perhaps the most salient piece of recurrent advice was, despite budget restrictions, always aim high. Approach the name actors and well-regarded DPs, as well as other top behind the scenes personnel – the worst they can do is say no. They may actually come on board for any number of reasons, from wanting to keep busy or expand their CV, to simply having an affinity for the script. Favour trading or calling on friends are also time-honoured practices. Finding locations that need minimal dressing up is also a time and money saving advantage. Again, preparation, persistence and creativity are all key.
The deadline for this year’s Galway Film Centre/RTÉ Short Script Awards is 11th March. Guidelines and application info can be found at www.galwayfilmcentre.ie
The Path to Distribution
Making a feature length film takes a long time, sometimes years. When the film is completed however, the journey is just beginning. The road to successful distribution of your film is difficult and many films don’t complete this step. A panel of industry experts will discuss film distribution in Ireland, looking at the type of work being distributed, securing distribution abroad, current trends and the importance of festivals. These are:
- Conor Barry, Producer of Savage
- Siobhán Farrell, Eclipse Pictures
- Felim McDermott, Former Artistic Director, Galway Film Fleadh
- Audrey Shiels, Element Distribution
Dates: 11am to 1pm, Thursday, 9th December 2010
Course Fee: €5. Places are limited so reservation is necessary.
Venue: The Studio, The Town Hall Theatre, Galway City
Contact: Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 091-770748 for more information.
The Galway Film Centre and FÁS Screen Training Ireland are running a directing workshop with Dearbhla Walsh in Galway 18–19 November 2010.
Taking place over 2 days, this workshop aims to strengthen participants‚ drama directing skills, as well as getting an insight into Dearbhla’s approach to directing. Participants will also work in small groups to direct scenes with actors.
Dearbhla Walsh is an Irish TV and film director with over 20 years experience. Last year she won an Emmy for her direction of the BBC’s multi-award nominated Charles Dicken’s Little Dorrit, adapted by Andrew Davies. She has directed the BAFTA winning Shameless, Funland and Custer’s Last Stand Up.
This workshop is aimed at emerging and experienced drama directors and costs €150.
Applicants for this course should apply online to www.screentrainingireland.ie before 3rd November 2010.
The Galway Film Centre will run Animation and Live Action Drama Workshops/ Summer Camps this summer. These take place from 10am to 3.30pm 19–23 July and 9–13 August in Cluain Mhuire, Monivea Road, Galway.
At the end of each workshop, young filmmakers will receive a DVD of the films produced by their group. The films will also be submitted to Galway Junior Film Fleadh and the Limerick Fresh Film Festival.
Summer camps will cost €250/child with a 10% discount for families with more than 1 child attending. For more information contact Nuala at 091 77 07 48, email email@example.com or log on to www.galwayfilmcentre.ie
Galway Film Centre manager Declan Gibbons talks to a cross-section of people about working in the film and television sector in the West of Ireland.
The Galway Film Centre celebrates its 21st birthday this year. I remember when we started we had a borrowed Bolex camera and an old Steenbeck editing suite that rté had discarded. For a resource centre we had very few resources! Over time the audiovisual sector in the West has become the largest outside of Dublin. We now have over 25 independent production companies with specializations including drama, documentary and animation and over 200 skilled freelance audiovisual technicians and practitioners. We have state-of-the-art facilities in Telegael and Studio Solas, our own broadcaster (TG4) and even our own soap opera with dedicated studios. We also have the Film Fleadh, two film and television schools at GMIT and the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, and, very importantly, (BSÉ/IFB) have their headquarters in Galway.
In spite of all this progress, working in this industry is always a challenge, so I set off to talk to a cross-section of people working in the West to see how they got started, what keeps them here and what the challenges are that face them.
How did you get started in the industry?
Pat Comer, filmmaker: There was very little if anything happening in the West of Ireland back in the ’80s. I ‘hustled’ it a bit in Dublin, door-stepping different production companies but only got encouragement, not employment. Then, in 1988, the Galway Film Resource Centre started up. You had to be on the dole to qualify, but back in the ’80s that was pretty much everybody. We had a wind-up Bolex camera but little film. Gradually new people became involved – Film West got published, the Film Fleadh started and eventually a network of people with growing levels of expertise and ability began to establish themselves in the West. I didn’t care if I worked in drama or documentary. What was important to me was the chance to work in filmmaking, which is essentially a form of storytelling.
Moe Honan, Head of Animation at Magma Films: One of the first projects I worked on in the television medium saw me buried in a dark studio for nights on end making war documentaries. This was quickly followed by running around like crazy with a crew, filming almost every gig for a documentary about the Galway Arts Festival. This was by Justin McCarthy and called In The Shadow of Galway Cathedral. I knew then I could never grow tired of a job that offered me the privilege of working with so many different kinds of stories and people.
Pierce Boyce, Managing Director at Abú Media: I got my break in this business when Roger Corman opened his Concorde Anois Studios back in 1996 in Tully. I started off as locations assistant on what I think was a Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson film, Bloodfist VIII: Trained to Kill. I worked 6 days a week, doing 17-hour days for small money but I loved it and got hooked. We set up Abú Media in 2001 and whilst everyday has its challenges, I still love every (well, almost every) day of it!
Ciarán Ó Cofaigh, Managing Director of ROSG: I always had an interest. When I was in University I got the opportunity to work as a trainee with Muiris Mac Conghail on Mórchuid Cloch agus Gannchuid Cré, a feature documentary he directed for RTÉ in 1988. When I graduated from UCD in 1990, I was accepted on a producer/director course funded by Údarás na Gaeltachta and run by the RTÉ training centre. It was a comprehensive nine-month course, which included both single-camera and multi-camera production. At the time we all believed TG4 would be six months down the road as opposed to the six years we had to wait. It was, however, a great display of initiative by Údarás na Gaeltachta, who, through a series of similar courses, had developed a core of trained professionals by the time TG4 was actually established in 1996.
The full article is printed in Film Ireland 130.