6 December 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
New Rising Stars: Irish Directors
05 Aug 2004 :

In Ireland, the film and television industry is crammed with talent, every year brings new individuals who are looking to break onto the Irish and international scene. IFTN has compiled the profiles of some Irish directors who are on the move.


Lenny Abrahamson is one of this Summer's hottest tickets, after wowing audiences at the Galway Film Fleadh, his debut feature 'Adam & Paul' is poised to hit Irish cinemas on the 27th of August 2004.

Lenny began his filmmaking career while studying philosophy at Trinity College Dublin.

He co-founded The Trinity Video Society with Ed Guiney (Element Films), "when we were both babies and had hair" says Lenny. After graduating with first class honours he was torn between philosophy or film. For a time after graduation he did both; directing 16mm short '3 Joes' and studied at Stanford University in California on a PhD scholarship in 1991. '3 Joes' went on to win Best European Short Film award at the Cork Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Galway Film Fleadh and the Organiser¹s Award at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival.

Upon his return to Ireland he made a decision to concentrate on being a director. Around this time he met Jonny Speers, he describes as "the best commercials producer in the country" and their friendship developed into a successful working relationship. Lenny subsequently built up an impressive cv as a commercials director, most notably directing the popular Carlsberg Dream Nightclub and Dream Flat adverts.

Producer Jonny Speers introduced him to Mark O'Halloran, who had just completed penning the script for 'Adam & Paul', and after some time in development the film was finally shot during the winter of 2003. "It's original and brilliant and I'm very proud of it," says Lenny and after picking up the award for Best Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh hopes are high for this his debut feature.

Lenny is currently working on a number of projects including an adaptation with Mark O'Halloran for Element Films and another project with Jonny Speers.

Originally from Ballyfermot in Dublin, Jimmy moved to New York 10 years ago after spending time living on the streets in Dublin. There he worked in construction and met up with the late Chris O'Neill where they set up the Irish Bronx Theatre. He co-wrote, directed and starred in the acclaimed film '2x4' which picked up the best Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000.

Since 1999 Jimmy has been working on the movie 'Pushers Needed' which is now scheduled for production in July starring an ensemble cast including Joan Allen, Kathy Bates, Claire Danes and Brenda Bleythn. Jimmy wrote and will direct the movie which is being produced by Irish company Parallel Films who produced the most successful Irish funded film of last year 'Intermission' - starring Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy.

Northern Ireland native Scott Morgan has been working as a filmmaker since the mid-nineties. After graduating from Queen's University of Belfast in 1995 with a degree in English Language and Literature, he completed a post-graduate CSV Media Course with BBC Northern Ireland. This concluded in his directing the short documentary 'Freewheelin'

which was short-listed for the 1997 Lloyds Bank Film Challenge.

The majority of his work has been in micro budget short films shot on DV Cameras, wrapping a total of nine short drama's since 1997. His is described as a 21st century auteur, taking the writer, director, cinematographer and editor credits on all of his movies. His short entitled 'Johnny Baxter's Head' won the Audience Award, Belfast Independent Film Festival in 2001.

An inspiration to the new generation of 'guerrilla' filmmakers in Ireland, Scot is currently working with Dublin based production company Samson Films developing his debut feature film 'Baby Baby' which is scheduled to enter pre-production this Autumn.

A former copywriter, John Simpson is the writer/director of the recently released 'Freeze Frame.' This, his debut film, has received acclaim from Irish and international audiences with particular praise lopped on the production design and performances from comedian Lee Evans and Sean McGinley. John Simpson is another new director who honed his craft in

advertising, working at the BBC for many years directing many award winning promos.

In 2000, John directed the short film 'Mysterious Ways' collaborating with most of the production team who would eventually work on 'Freeze Frame' four years later, including Green Park Films producer Michale Casey . John is currently wowing festival audiences with 'Freeze Frame', picking up the Grand Jury BNL Award. He is also busy working on a new thriller script.

David Gleeson's directorial debut feature 'Cowboy's & Angles' has just been released in Irish cinemas. Having already received awards and praise at festivals around the globe it's producers hope it will become the Irish hit of the Summer season. Gleeson, who also wrote the film, has emerged as a rising hot commodity in Irish cinema, yet despite his

family background in Irish cinema (his father and grandfather both involved in the industry since the 1940's opening the first cinema's in Limerick) David has not had a straight and narrow road to success.

Now 35, David began his career at the age of 19, writing and directing his first short film 'Class Control'. In 1988 David went to Scotland to study Communications where he continued to write and direct theatre plays and several short films. After his studies David worked on an oil rig in the North Sea, initially there to fund his next film project, the smell of money was too sweet to resist and he stayed for seven years. In 1997 he left the oil business and enrolled at the New York Film Academy where he wrote directed the award winning short film 'Feels Like Home' which debuted on RTE in September 2002. Here he met wife and 'Cowboys & Angels' producer Nathalie Lichtenthaleler.

David's last short film, 'Hunted' - which he shot just prior to 'Cowboys & Angels' - was released nationwide in cinemas before the No1 Irish movie of 2003 Joel Schumacher's 'Veronica Guerin' and finally he began shooting his debut feature 'Cowboys & Angels' in Limerick at the end of 2001.

Having just returned from a research trip to the Congo, David's next feature will be 'The Front Line' which he also wrote. The film centres around an African immigrant bank security guard who turns the tables on Dublin's criminal underworld when they force him to take part in a robbery at the bank and is scheduled for production in early 2005 with Nathalie Lichtenthaeler resuming her role as producer.

37 year old Northern Ireland native Terry Loane, has just completed posting his debut feature entitled 'Mickybo & Me' at Shepperton studios in London. Terry adapted the film from Owen McCafferty's play 'Mojo Mickybo' and attracted the attention of some of the industries finest producers. Mark Huffin (The Hours) and Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) at

Working Title Films, financed the £3million production that promises to be a comedy smash, as recent test screenings suggest, both at home and abroad.

Terry graduated from the Belfast University of Ulster on York St with a Masters Degree in 1994. Having specialised in Photography, Terry did not have an instant rapport with the moving image. After graduating he worked as a designer for theater and commercial work and was designer on the Academy Award winning film 'Dance Lexi Dance'

Continuing to work successfully in theatre commercials and shorts Terry directed his first short film 'Cluck' in 1997.

In 1998 he began adapting the play and took it to the Moonstone screenwriters lab in 2001 and again in 2002 at the directors lab. Here he benefited immensely from the time given to experimentation, casting and rehearsing and working with a professional crew. Once funding was secured from Working Title, pre production began on 'Mickybo & Me'. Describing the movie making process as a "rollercoaster ride" Terry believes he had an easier road to travel than most debut directors. He says it is always "a case of two steps forward, one step back" for first time directors like himself and "in a business that likes to make lots of money and take no risks" it was a "big risk" for producers to take the project on.

'Mickybo & Me' will be world premiere at the forthcoming Edinburgh Film Festival on the 24th of August 2004. Terry is currently taking some time out to relax with his family and plans to begin work on a new script later in the year.

Conor began making short films using his dad's video camera at the age of 15. Using his brothers and friends as actors he experimented in making drama, action, kung fu films and finally his favourite genre, horror. "It was always fun to come up with new ways to kill your friends off" says Conor.

In 1998, Conor directed three short films entitled 'Tales of Terror' that won him 2nd place at the Limerick Fresh Film Festival, following this he enrolled at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology to study film. Throughout his studies he remained loyal to horror and made feature film 'Braineater' for his graduate film. This went on to win 1st place at film festivals in Spain and Turin and took 2nd place at the Dead by Dawn horror film festival in Edinburgh. Unfortunately 'Braineater' was rejected by the Galway Film Fleadh that year for being "in bad taste."

Conor soon came into contact with fellow horror fiends Ed King and
Michael Griffin, who run the Horrorthon festival in Dublin. The three decided to make a horror feature and began developing the script for zombie film 'Dead Meat.' The film was funded by the popular Irish Film Board micro budget scheme and has just finished post-production. "The idea was based around mad cow disease infecting humans, and turning
Them into flesh eating zombies. Nice family entertainment," says Conor.

Conor hopes to continue developing horror films with is producing partners and is currently working on a feature written by Cornelius Browne.

Pearse Elliot has just completed principal photography on his debut feature film 'The Mighty Celt.' Starring Robert Carlyle and Gillian Anderson the film is a coming of age comedy set in the world of Greyhound racing.

32 year old, Pearse grew up in West Belfast with six siblings and a wagon load of lurchers, terriers, pigeons and ferrets. After being expelled from school for "misdemenaours, university was a non starter so Pearse began working his way around the United States and Europe. In 1996 his writing career finally kicked off when he won BBC Young Playwright of the Year Award for a radio play which was later nominated for a Sony Award.

Since then his career as a writer, and now director, has continued to gather momentum. He has most recently received critical acclaim for self penned and directed original 10-part television series 'Pulling Moves' and his feature script 'Man About Dog,' and produced by Rob Walpole and Simon Channing-Williams, is scheduled for release in the coming months. Another feature script 'The Holy Holy Bus' just been commissioned by '28 Days Later' and 'Trainspotting' producer Andrew McDonald of DNA Films.

Síofra Campbell (34) hails from Swords Co. Dublin. She was a member of the National Youth Theatre in 1988 and went on to study Theatre and English at the University of Ulster at Coleraine, graduating with first class honours.

In the three years that followed, she was

involved in starting up two experimental theatre companies in Belfast, producing new work and undertaking large-scale community theatre projects. She was also at that time a founding member of Catalyst Arts (Belfast), which continues today to be one of the most cutting-edge artists' groups in Ireland. Síofra moved to London to take up the postion of Assistant Director at The Bush Theatre, the only theatre in Britain which produces solely new work. She subsequently worked as assistant director to internationally renowned theatre director Robert Wilson at his Long Island artists' enclave.

After a stint in the play development department at The Joseph Papp Public Theatre in New York, Síofra again took the position of Assistant Director. While working there, she retained the services of cinematographer Michael McDonough (Bowling For Columbine and Sundance 2004 winner Down to the Bone) to create an effect for a show. Despite the fact that she had no more than a passing interest in film per se, and absolutely no experience in filmmaking, Michael persuaded her to test her skills behind the camera. Guerilla-style, they shot a feature-length film which was ultimately never finished through lack of finance.

However, Síofra caught the bug and has since written and directed ten no-budget short films. An art-installation film she collaborated on with Irish artist Gerard Byrne has been shown in Bristol, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Sindelfingen, Limerick, and at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. It has also sold into the collection at FRAC, Calais, France. She has a number of other film and television projects in development and is warming up to direct 'Farmers On E', which marks her offical debut as a feature film director. Canadian based company Temple Street Productions are producing with Robert Carlyle and Ewen Bremner lined up to star. Shooting is scheduled for 2005.

Dubliner Karl Golden, graduated from the Dublin Institute of Technology, Angier Street in 1997. Since then he has worked on a number of projects including writing and directing his feature film debut 'The Honeymooners.'

Karl has a long running relationship with

David Collin's Samson Films and has directed short films 'Beached' (2002) 'Dogsbody' (1999) with the company. He has also directed 'Love and Death on Rapid Transit' (1997) with the DIT and 'Still Rain' (1998) with Jack Armstrong (Indi Films). His debut feature 'The Honeymooners' starring Jonathon Byrne and Alex Reid was also produced by Samson Films in conjunction with Karl's London based production company Utah Films. 'The Honeymooners' was released in March 2004 and saw a successful return at the Irish and UK box office. Karl is currently working in London on many new projects including feature film 'Lifestyle' written by Howard Schuman.

34 year old Oda O'Carroll is a well known figure in the Irish entertainment industries, having worked here for a number of years. Taking on roles from researcher, presenter, writer, director, producer, promotions manager to travel writer; Oda has performed well in every challenge she has come across in her professional career.

Oda has a mammoth list of credits to her name and has worked with RTE, Magma Films, Frontier Films, Dreamchaser Films to name but a few. She graduated from the College of Commerce, Dublin with a Diploma (Hons) in Communications Studies and has since trained as a director on Martin Duffy's 'The Boy From Mercury,' Noel Pearson's 'Frankie Starlight' and Ronan O'Leary's 'Driftwood.' In 1997 she won a screenwriting award from Women in Film and Television for her script for the short film called 'On the Pig's Back.'

Oda O'Carroll is currently working with Wildfire Films on the TG4-commissioned documentary about weather prediction called 'When Pigs Carry Sticks.' Now in post production, the film is scheduled for transmission in December. Oda also has a number of pilots and short films in development.

Armagh native Brian Kirk holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Film and Television from the University of Bristol, and an MA Hons in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh. Whilst studying he wrote the short film Brotherly Love that won the Carlton Television Award for Best Screenplay in the 1994 Fuji Film Scholarships. In 1996 Brian was nominated for Best Director in the BAFTA Scotland 'New Talent' awards for 'Here's Johnny' a short which he wrote and directed.

Since then he has worked on a number of television and film projects and was nominated for another BAFTA in 2001 for television series ' Hearts and Bones.' Most recently he has been working on the popular BBC television series 'Pulling Moves' and 'Murphy's Law' and is currently developing a number of feature projects, 'Middletown' with Greenpark Films & The Irish Film Board, 'Sin Spree' with Greenpark films and 'Hand Me Down' with Blair Breard and Nick Hershkom.

Compiled by Tanya Warren.

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