Memory – New Music Video in Aid of Alzheimer Society of Ireland

Donate to Alzheimer’s Ireland here.

Early this year I was approached by Professor Richard Roche of Maynooth University, and musicians Aural Air (Dr. Laura Rai) & Patrick McEleney. Laura & Patrick had written a song articulating the experience of living with Alzheimer’s disease. The song was a fundraiser for the incredible Alzheimer’s Ireland, and was intended to be released during the ‘Brain Awareness Week‘ event run by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland.

Inspired by a beautiful episode of ‘The Truth’ podcast, called ‘Can You Help Me Find My Mom‘ by Diana McCorry, I developed the concept of a young girl lost in the city, who doesn’t know who or where she is, until love helps her recover her memory.

We filmed the video over a week in Dublin, with incredible help from Patricia Pierce of Our Lady’s Hospice, and all the staff at the National Botanic Gardens. Professor Roche himself produced the video and even has a cameo as a put upon doctor! Laura (a neuroscientist herself) starred, alongside veteran actor and retired psychologist Professor Emeritus Mike Timms (who previously cameo’d in my video for Chris Wilson’s ‘Now I See You‘. Finally we had the immense privilege of working with renowned Irish actress Rosemary Henderson who in addition to touring with her own show about dementia, based on her experience caring for her father, is well known at home and abroad for her work on shows like Fair City and of course Father Ted.

Our director of photography was the incredible Siobhán Rose Madden, who previously worked with me on the epic video ‘Pardon Me‘ for Shy Mascot. And our gaffer was Paul Lynch of Studio 4, without who’s help we could not have pulled this together.

The video (like everything else it seems) was delayed due to the pandemic, but we’re delighted to be able to release it today. Thanks again to everyone who gave so generously of their time. Please donate to Alzheimer’s Ireland if you can. Times are hard, but this is a brilliant charity, helping some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Alzheimer’s and dementia in general affect everyone – whether directly or through their impact on fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends and colleagues. Right now my own family help care for our eldest living relative, my great aunty Anna, who’s battling dementia. With luck, and the help of organisations like Alzheimer’s Ireland, research can defeat this cruel disease.

Short Doc – The Box

My partner, artist and graphic designer Nicole O’Connor was award a commission to paint an electrical box in Dublin. The Dublin Canvas initiative offers artists from around the city the opportunity to create an officially sanctioned piece of urban art. Adding a splash of colour to these otherwise unslightly pieces of street furniture. In this short doc, Nicole describes her connection to the city and the process involving carrying her digital design to the streets.

If you’d like to see the box in person, head on down to Island Bridge in Dublin 8. The box is just a few feet down the street from the Storyboard Cafe.

Well Spun Tales

Last year my friend Shane Connelly approached me with a proposal to create some short documentaries for the Velo City festival. Velo City is a huge cycling transport policy event that happens in a different city each year. Last year Dublin played host. Shane and I are both avid cyclists. Both intensely disturbed by our cities laggardly pace in creating a usable cycling infrastructure. And by the casualties of drunk and wreckless drivers are poorly adapted roads, and lax driver safety enforcement create. We’d been bothered too by research evidencing what we as cyclists had gradually become aware of. An attitude amongst an enormous number of drivers that cyclists aren’t quite human. We wanted to emphasise the individuality of bike users. Cutting across every demographic of Dublin’s vibrant multicultural community. The organised cycling groups can at times convey the image of a helmeted, lycra clad, hyper fit faceless cyclist, unintentionally feeding into the idea of the cyclist as an obstruction, rather than a vulnerable person sharing the road with potentially lethal machines. We were lucky enough to obtain funding for the project from Dublin City Council’s Arts Office and the Velo City conference itself. We put the call out to the cycling community and found an incredible and varied bunch of Dubliners to take part. The films were finished just in time for the conference and screened at a one off event in a city centre arts space.

Covid has given me the time to return to the project, re-editing and grading each short, and adding music. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting each of the seven final ‘micro documentaries’ to the website http://wellspuntales.com/

Here’s the first one, featuring the delightful Irish writer Lucille Redmond, introducing us to the Dodder Park in Dartry.

Trying world class lenses on the Blackmagic Pocket 4K and 6K

My youtube review show ‘Hot Lunch’ took a look at the Zeiss CP.3 range of compact prime lenses, testing them out on both the Black Magic Pocket 4K and 6K. These cinema primes are a filmmakers dream, offering beautiful skin tones, silky smooth aperture and focus, and full frame coverage over the whole range. We put them through their paces in a variety of setting as Covid-19 lockdown eased up in Ireland. Thanks as always to channel sponsor http://camerakit.ie for supplying the glass (and Pocket 6K) used in this review.

Seeking Filming Locations

In association with Maynooth University Dept of Psychology, we’re creating a music video to support the single Memory by Aural Air & Patrick McEleney. All funds raised through sales of this single will be donated directly to the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland. Our production team are donating their time and use of equipment for this great cause. Our goal is to finish the video by March 12, to coincide with the launch of National Brain Awareness Week. 

We’re looking for a hospital / elder care facility, ideally in the North East of Ireland – Dublin / Wicklow / Meath / Louth etc.

We would ideally film over one evening / night in the coming two weeks. Our camera setup will be minimal and will not create any disruption to the normal functioning of the facility. Below I’ve included some information on Brain Awareness Week and the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland.

Alzheimer Society of Ireland

Currently there are almost 55,000 people living with dementia in Ireland. 4,000 of these people are under 65 and are classified as having younger onset dementia. It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia will rise to 153,157 by 2046 due to population ageing. Approximately 4,000 cases of dementia are identified in Ireland each year. There are approximately 50,000 family carers caring for someone with dementia. For each person diagnosed with dementia there at least three family members directly affected.

The Alzheimer Society of Ireland works across the country in the heart of local communities providing dementia specific services and supports and advocating for the rights and needs of all people living with dementia and their carers. Our vision is an Ireland where no one goes through dementia alone and where policies and services respond appropriately to the person with dementia and their carers, at the times they need support.

Brain Awareness Week

Love your Brain is an awareness campaign led by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland to coincide with National Brain Awareness Week March 16th to 22nd 2020. The campaign aims to promote greater awareness and understanding of the brain and brain conditions as well as the need for more investment in services, research and prevention. Love your Brain is supported by nearly 30 patient organisations and research groups which will be involved in organising events for Brain Awareness Week throughout the country. 

There are 4 parts to the Campaign: 

1. Understand your Brain: Promoting greater understanding and knowledge about our brains and how they work

2. Keeping Your Brain Healthy: Raising awareness of brain health and how you can protect and strengthen your brain

3. Living with a Neurological Condition: Calling for more investment in services for the 800,000 Irish people living with neurological conditions 

4. Promoting Brain Research: Highlighting the need to support research into the brain and brain conditions 

Campaign for Wicklow Sudbury School

Wicklow Sudbury School is an experiment in Irish education. The first  curriculum ‘free school’ in the country. A school where students spend all day long, pursuing their real interests. The Sudbury Valley model, pioneered in Massachusetts in the late 1960s, puts children in charge of directing their own education. A few years ago I organised some events along these lines in Dublin. Learning and teaching as self directed fun. Those experiences, and my time volunteering at Exchange Dublin – the democratically organised art space in Temple Bar forcibly shut down by Dublin City Council in 2014 – have shown me the power of learning as play. The  importance of genuine ‘third spaces’, where people can explore through play to offer the kind of deep personal enrichment that bureaucratic curricula and educational measures cannot hope to define, let alone measure. These spaces are so rare in our contemporary societies, where every inch is commodified and defined, every intervention tailored, every creative work moulded and marketed to a constructed audience, that they can seem fantastical. They are spaces that literally remind us what it means to be human. Connection, creativity, love in action.

Last year I made a radio documentary, following a year in the life of the school – exploring in a small way the opportunities for more libertine forms of education in Ireland in general. This year, as I moved out of radio and into video production, I offered to head back to the school, to help with their crowd funding campaign. I spent a day at Wicklow Sudbury, shooting interviews and capturing the decidedly unconventional educational environment. I combined short interviews with three staff and five students with footage of the learning through play that makes this place unique. The end results are a ten minute mini-documentary and a two minute promotional video. Unlike the documentary this campaign is decidedly partisan. I’ve worked as hard as I can to convey the enthusiasm of staff and students for this new kind of education. 

Hopefully these videos capture a little about what makes this school so different. This really is a place where kids can be themselves. A place to develop the kind of diverse talents that our rigid bureaucratic education system cannot accept, let alone promote. These kids are passionate, creative, and above all independently minded. They give me hope for a future less rigid, heartless and polarised than the present. This is the kind of place that any misunderstood, creative kid might have imagined into existence. It’s the sort of place that makes having kids worth considering. It’s that revolutionary. If you’re interested in learning more, Wicklow Sudbury staff frequently offer talks about setting up your own community school, and you can find information about these, and if you’d like donate towards the school (which naturally receives no government funding), at their website

Pardon Me – Shy Mascot (Music Video)

There’s a long tradition of puppet music videos, from Gabriel Byrne’s cameo in the Rubber Bandits’ ‘Fellas’, to Ed Sheeran’s muppet of muppet. But as far as we know this is the first time someone’s remade ‘Smack My Bitch’ up with marionettes. Inspired by the tough guy lyrics of Shy Mascot’s new track ‘Pardon Me’, we imaged a puppet on an odyssey through Dublin, leaving a trail of mayhem and broken hearts behind him. An off the wall idea turned into six months of preproduction, as special effects guru Frances Galligan created uncanny wood and plaster replicas of Shy Mascot’s Jamel Franklin and Fia Gregg. We shot these diminutive rebels everywhere from sex shops to jewellery stores, Dublin buses to cat sanctuaries.
A tiny crew headed up by writer / director Gareth Stack and DOP Siobhan Madden combined storyboarded action sequences with improvised guerrilla shooting. Whenever a location lent itself to leprechaun scale hijinks we found a way to take advantage. Volunteer performers mixed with season pros to seduce and battle lil’ Jamel’s bad ass homunculus. Probably the most ambitious scene features a bloody dustup between Dublin based performance poet Raven (playing a cassocked street preacher) and Jamel’s balsa wood hard nut. We shot in the crumbling remains of O’Devaney gardens while dozens of local kids milled around and cars pulled donuts between abandoned tower blocks. We fought everything from tangled strings to reluctant sex shop proprietors to get this video made. Our action packed finale even had to be reshot when a memory cannibalised itself This happened after we’d snapped off one of lil’ Jamel’s feet and broken his back flinging him through the air first time around! Fortunately, after a short operation this little legend soldiered on.
Our favourite scene features a date between marionette Jamel and our moonlighting DOP Siobhan, shot in Dublin’s only barcade ‘Token’. To sex up this smokey seduction, we used the golden-age Hollywood technique of stretching cotton stockings over the lens for a poor mans glamour filter. All in all, the shoot took nine days, and the edit another three weeks. But the memories – bench pressing Ireland’s largest sex aid, laying half naked on the floor of the Glimmerman’s ladies while a marionette vomited, fighting allergies to give a puppet a chance to visit a cat sanctuary were absolutely worth it!
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