Director of the award-winning short movie about the Titanic is the voice of new Ireland and made for great things.
Ireland is famous for its world-renowned playwrights – Keats, Yeats, Sean O'Casey etc – as well as famous film directors like Oscar-winners John Crowley (Brooklyn); Lenny Abrahamson (Room); John Carney (Once and Begin Again), and Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot).
You can now add another Irish film director making his mark as well: Shaun O'Connor. Since 2009, he has been directing more and more short films (8 minutes or less), and all of his eight films have been accepted at worldwide film festivals. But the one film that garnered 11 acceptances and three awards were “Uisce Beatha”, (Water of Life) a film about the Titanic.
This short film captured awards from the Filmmaker's Choice at DC Shorts in Washington, DC; Best in Cork at Cork Film Festival, and the Audience Choice in the Chicago Irish Film Festival. Even though there have been numerous full-length films about the Titanic -- and James Cameron's Oscar-winner comes to mind -- this incredibly poignant eight-minute film will not let you go. It grabbed me and tugged at my Irish heartstrings, and spoke clearly and distinctly. The photography is mesmerizing and is a joy to watch.
Even though O'Connor was born in County Kerry, he considers himself a Cork man now. This creative film director was blessed at a young age with a creativity and musical ability that included guitar; he was good enough that he got jobs playing in pubs. Later, he attended Cork Institute of Technology in 2004 and studied media, journalism a, d film – a subject near and dear to his heart. The film has played a huge part of O'Connor's life in that he remembers seeing the first film that transported him to another world – Steven Spielberg's “Jurassic Park” at the age of 12. It was from that moment on that he knew the arts were his calling.
He graduated from University College of Cork with a Masters in Film Studies. After graduation in 2009, he bought a super cheap camera and directed his first low budget feature – for less than 300 euros. And, it was accepted to the Cork Film Festival for screening in 2009 – Grandmaster Cash. His next artistic progressions included music videos, corporate videos, television, and theater.
In 2011, he totally focused on short films “Tearing Strips; Scotia's Grave; Nietzsche No. 5; Rest my Bones; Pat; Disappear, and his most recent, Mary”. Many have been screened at the Cork Film Festival, Fastnet Short Film Festival, Galway Film Festival, Charlie Chaplin Film Festival, and across the pond at the DC Shorts Film Festival in Washington, DC.
When asked who he feels is the greatest director of today's Irish films, he unequivocally answers: Lenny Abrahamson, who won an Oscar for the 2015 movie, “Room”.
Conal Creedon, critically acclaimed writer, documentarian, former Writer in Residence at University College Cork, and author of “Begotten Not Made” had this to say about O'Connor:
Shaun O'Connor is a filmmaker, photographer and writer. His work presents a new voice for 21st century Ireland. Shaun's delicate balance of poignant humour makes for deliciously attractive narratives – narratives that are made all the more captivating due to his dual prowess in breathing life into fully formed characters be it through the lens of a camera or the nib of a pen."
Never one to rest on his laurels, O'Connor is presently working on a play – as well as various other short films. Visit his website at www.shaunoconnor.com.
Since many Irish directors got their start making short films and videos, keep an eye out for Shaun O'Connor.
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