Lights, camera, action: Youghal students make the cut

Students from a Youghal school are among the participants in an upcoming festival to encourage young filmmakers, writes Ellie O’Byrne.

It’s something of a tall tale: a Transition Year student gets locked in a school supplies cupboard and is helped out of her predicament by a kindly ghost.

Students at Youghal’s Pobalscoil na Tríonóide are explaining the plot of their short film, Locked, which will be amongst a record number of films made by young people to be screened at First Cut Film Festival in the east Cork seaside town.

Alex Nunn, Rachael O’Driscoll, Liam O’Leary and Michael Briers are amongst the teens who took part in Cork Young Filmmakers workshops, held throughout Co Cork, in their local secondary school and are now looking forward to screening their film and working as volunteers at the festival, which celebrates ten years of youth engagement in film this year.

“At the workshop, we all got a chance to try all the different roles,” Alex, 16, explains.

First we all came up with our own ideas for scripts and then we chose one. Then we had little auditions for the roles. I enjoyed doing the sound the most, because you can just hear everything that’s going on and it’s really amazing

Liam, 15, had already been interested in filmmaking and had even done his work experience with Frameworks Films in Cork city, so it wasn’t a surprise to him to discover his directorial flair.

“I really enjoyed directing,” Liam says. “I think I like having control over where the story goes, even though it’s hard to convey your message sometimes. I found it easier than I expected: now I know that this is something that you can just decide to do.”


Starring just two actors and shot in one school day with the help of Cork Film Centre staff, Locked is yet to be seen by the students involved in its production: for time reasons, the editing is not done by the students, but by a professional.

For Michael Briers, 17, his father Jeremy’s career as a cameraman, editor and TV producer for South African television is his main inspiration for wanting to work in film and he’s showing a strong inclination to follow in his father’s footsteps following the family’s move to Ireland: while shooting Locked, his favourite role was that of cameraman, while he would have liked to get the chance to try out some editing too.

I’ve always been interested in camera angles but I learned about white balancing, which I didn’t know about before

says Michael

Several students were involved in producing stop-motion plasticine animations for the festival, too: Rachael, 15, worked on an unnamed two-minute short whose plot is as quirky as Locked’s is. “It’s about a wasp who steals a lamp because he’s lonely,” she explains to smiles all round. “I did the background and the wasp: we had to learn to move them around. I really enjoyed doing the backgrounds.”


So much fun was had during the workshops that all four students now say they’re interested in pursuing a career in film in the future. This level of engagement is nothing new: previous First Cut winners have included Christian Tierney, who won the Youth Music Video competition, and who now works as a full-time videographer for Conor McGregor.

This year’s First Cut Festival will screen animations and short films from a variety of age-groups, schools and youth groups as well as playing host to acting workshops, panel discussions and a music video competition.

For the first year running, Cork Film Festival is partnering with First Cut and offering submission for consideration for the October event to the winner of the inaugural Cork Film Festival Award, which is open to 18-24 year olds. First Cut also welcomed on board Ballymaloe House as their lead sponsor for 2019.

Festival director Mary McGrath says she’s “bowled over” by the creativity of this year’s entries.

“The feedback we get from young people is amazing,” she says.

“A lot of work goes into the four days of the festival and none of us are doing it for the money: it’s incredibly rewarding to see the quality of the films that are being made and just how capable and talented young people are.”

First Cut takes place at the Mall Arts Centre, Youghal, Co Cork, from Wednesday to Saturday.

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