I am a 25 year old director living and working in Dublin, Ireland. Having left school, I studied business marketing at DCU for 4 years before going on to complete a Masters in film production in 2013. I always knew that I wanted to direct films and commercials, however upon graduating just under 2 years ago, I had to make a decision as to how to start my career. Instead of working my way through the ranks of the industry, I decided to take a risk and back myself. In 2014, I founded Banjoman Films, a production company that I hoped would give me a platform to direct content, commercials and films. I started out making online video for free and was very much a one man band. I recall marching into Louis Copeland and FlyeFit gyms, negotiating deals for a free suit or gym membership in exchange for their bespoke online video. I am lucky in that I have steadfast self belief and I knew that the more I learned through work, the better I would become as a director. Before long, I began introducing myself to agencies and brazenly tried to win TV commercials, despite the fact I was a one man team without a huge amount of experience. I wasn’t very succesful. That said, in 2014 we booked our first online commercial through an agency, a milestone in my career. I took the budget and invested 100% of it into the production, not paying myself, in order to make it stand out from other similar pieces. Thankfully, this worked and we went on from there making numerous pieces of online content for agencies & brands. It was at this time that the team grew by two, a family friend came in as executive producer and a friend of mine, anxious to use his production and business experience, came in as producer. This growing of the team allowed me to learn the role of a director and whereas before I had been producer, editor, director etc, now I could really think about vision and how to tell a story. As we continued to fight for online content business, I took to reading extensively about the difficult craft of directing, while vastly increasing the amount of content and film I watched.
As 2015 kicked off, my team and I were learning a huge amount about the industry: The various agencies, the competition, the awards ceremonies, the crews and the talent etc. Through some serious graft, I was now directing online content for some recognisable brands: Tiger Beer, AIB, Lucozade Sport, Nissan etc. Within just a year, I had gone from being a one man band, producing online video for free, to directing content for these brands, supported by the production team at Banjoman Films and the talented crews we have met on our journey. It was around this time that I realised how difficult directing really is. I recall presenting our content reel to a large agency in Dublin and I was really proud of the work. The creative director told me that it looked great, but there was not a huge amount of ‘directing’ on the reel, i.e. there was nicely composed films but little work with actors. He went on to tell me that to be considered for TV commercials and Film, I would need to develop some work that demonstrated acumen to work with and draw performances from actors. Although I had huge self belief, he was right and I knew it, I needed to get some work with actors. Unfortunately, in the commercials industry, this issue is very much chicken and egg. No agency will really give you a commercial if you don’t have an existing reel and to get an existing reel you need opportunities. It was therefore that I decided to pursue a spec commercial. I got in touch with one of the agencies we had met and they were kind enough to hand over the keys to a spec commercial one of their copywriters had worked on. Although there was no money, my team and I managed to gather together talent and we produced the piece. Thankfully, the agency were delighted with it and it went on to be picked up by the brand. I was just recently nominated for an award for the film, entitled: Blind.
As I began to further learn what it means to be a director, through experience and research, I endeavoured to try and shape my work to concentrate on story, so that without a tagline or dialogue etc the piece would communicate a message on its own two feet. I have continued to direct content for brands and continue to pursue commercials, though I am now conscious to go after projects that involve actors and visual storytelling. One such example of this was in December just gone. So dejected was I, with pitching on numerous christmas commercials and not winning any, that I wrote a short film set at christmas and went about directing it. I pulled together some close actor friends and a skeleton crew to tell a childhood story of mine. We made the short and instead of submitting to festivals, I decided to just post it online in the spirit of christmas and thankfully, it went down really well. The short, ‘Runner-Up’, was picked up by Lovin’ Dublin, Joe.ie, Her.ie and other online forums, receiving glowing write ups on each. This is something I am really proud of. It is a memory told with pure visuals and I hope it demonstrates my ability to work with actors to tell a story.
Ultimately, my goal is to follow in the footsteps of many great commercial directors and work directing feature films. Currently, I am working on several pieces of content, a commercial and a short film.
This award would go a long way to help me succeed in this industry and to compete with the established directors working for the bigger production companies.