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Co. Cork native Sharon Brooks, now living in Brooklyn, works in the film industry in New York. Photo by: Handout

In Focus: Sharon Brooks - from Clonakilty, Cork now in the film industry in New York

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Co. Cork native Sharon Brooks, now living in Brooklyn, works in the film industry in New York. Photo by: Handout

Background: A Brooklyn resident, Brooks is originally from Clonakilty, Co. Cork. She is currently working in the film industry in New York.

When did you move to the U.S.? 

“Before I went into filmmaking I practiced as a barrister in Dublin. In February 2011 I sat the New York State Bar exam and when I passed I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to move out of Ireland for a while.

“So in August 2011 I moved to New York City for two months in search of criminal defense work. At that stage I was still at the bar in Ireland. After a month and a half of vigorous searching, intensive interviews and an almost job offer, I made the difficult and abrupt decision to leave my legal career. I returned home, tied up many loose ends, packed two bags and in January 2012 I moved to New York City to do a one year documentary filmmaking course at the New York Film Academy. 

“Really, it looked like I was suffering some sort of quarter life crisis! That said, even during my time as a lawyer, I always took writing classes or acting courses, anything that would allow me some creative release.”

Where are you from in Ireland?

“I’m originally from Clonakilty in West Cork. I moved out of there when I was 18 and went to Limerick to study history and politics. I lasted a year before moving to Dublin to study law and stayed there for seven more years before moving to New York.” 

After passing the New York State Bar exam, how did you end up doing a documentary filmmaking course at the New York Film Academy?

“That’s a difficult question! I’m not actually too sure how I ended up doing it. It’s honestly all a bit of a blur. One day, I just knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore, or at least for a long while. I was living in the East Village and I happened to walk past NYFA.  So I went, chatted to the chair of the program and signed up that day.” 

What are you working on?

“I’m really interested in highlighting stories about the prison system both at home in Ireland and abroad. I’m currently working on a documentary about solitary confinement in the United States. It has been so difficult to gain any access but I feel like I am finally making some progress.”

Can you see yourself practicing law again in the future?

“Never say never, but I’m really happy making films and doing what I’m doing. It’s evident, even with my prison film, the law hasn’t left me, really, it has just taken a different form.”

Describe your life in New York in three words.

“Challenging. Rewarding. Exciting.” 

Interview by Molly Muldoon

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