The story of the four one minute films. Show n Tell

The four films are poor quality copies from TV dubs of 1 minute films I made on SP video for charity back in 1992. They were initially made at the request of some of the local 'Lions Club' - the idea was about fund raising for the RTE (national television) telethon. Joe from the local Lion's club committee asked us if we could create a short 1 minute film to enter into a telethon competition for such 1 min films/videos. All in the hope that a film would be featured among the others during the broadcast and maybe assist in raising awareness of the plight of our own border town and the charity work that was on-going. He also told us RTE said there would be awards or prizes for the winners. Doc Darcy and I decided to devote a week to making something !

We used a single prosumer video camera, two VCRs and an Amiga Computer to make the 4 videos - each edit became an individual frame tracking pain. We had to create everything from scratch, the simple Dundalk graphic took hours to set up and render - something that can be done in a couple of seconds with today's tech - a whole night if I remember correctly. We somehow learned to make them by trial and error, without the aid of a safety rope, manuals or any tuition/instruction. I have little idea where most of those individuals that I cajoled into taking part have ended up in life. The first 'Dundalk' film is perhaps notable for the anonymous street reference to the LA riots in the previous month of April and for the (first) footage of the Harp Larger Brewery's automated Kegging plant - allegedly then costing £3 Million to create ( which was just a couple of hundred yards from their Brewmaster's club - where, after some enquiries, serious 'liquid dynamics' research was conducted - the only pub I've ever been in that didn't have a till ! - surprised we got any work done back then)

The kids in the second 'Miss D'Targot' film were part of an education program hosted in the community initiative 'The House' in the (in)famous' Coxes Demesne' part of Dundalk. After working with the wonderful Paddy & Elish Mullen in the Dublin/National Youth Theater - I went into 'The House' to use drama to help the kids explore their own ideas and freedoms - I taught in 'The House' helping to get it off the ground - again Doc & I made this video as part of the RTE fund raiser telethon competition. I asked the kids did they want to spend one afternoon making it. My now legendaries powers of persuasion began to emerge.

The standard Irish primary education system had totally failed these kids and in the case of one energetic and entertaining young boy nicknamed 'Giggles', society as a whole failed him completely. ( He has the "I'm Not " role in the film) 'Giggles' was killed in a joyriding incident only a few years after we made this short video. It broke my heart when I heard it. There were some really wonderful and rewarding moments working with, what some called 'challenging kids' - which to me said more about the 'challenged' then the kids. I used comedy ideas here to start them thinking about what they might do when we would produce proper 'drama/theatre' they themselves later devised and wrote under my guidance. The end of year show was a true revelation for their parents and families. The kids were around 10/11 years old in 1991/2 so those that have survived / prospered are in their early thirties today. I trust they will enjoy seeing their 'formative performances' from almost twenty years ago.

The third, Dream Dog sees my old mate and acting buddy Tommy Carroll (before he gave it all up for life on the land in the West of Ireland - & now with a young family) playing a star turn. I can't forget the coaching and gentle persuasion required to get him to agree to run around that greyhound track - and then with a number on his back, almost as much negotiation and persuasion required with the management for me to get permission to do any of it in the first instance - pity the quality of the video has really degraded. The greyhound track itself has since been replaced by a state of the art, all weather, all singing all dancing, multi-million pound stadium - so there's another nostalgia factor involved there LOL.

My forth 90's one minute film, 'Paddy Reilly' began as an idea to riff on the semi traditional county song Come Back Paddy Reilly To Bally James Duff (I know I'm serious it was a song that made me question so many aspects of Irish Cultural values) - Our premise began as, we'll find him and take him to ballyhjamesduff and that might just shout up all that feckin' singin' about him. It began that way, as in, where is, and we had such fun with the various people and characters of Dundalk doing it, that we had hours of footage we could have used - the word went around town that we were doing it - hence the scene in Anne street where a guy actually stops his car and asks us... innocence, idiocracy, enthusiasm and mad for craic - the essential ingredients in making anything happen.

Like all stories, the overall frame story of the four 1 minute films has an ending, an odd ending but an ending none the less. Doc and I managed to get the films couriered in on time for the competition deadline in RTE. After all sponsored 'Video equipment' worth £1000 was not to be sniffed at. Now in her pre - Riverdance success days - Moya Doherty was the producer of that year's telethon - (Wow.. Yes.. Ireland's media industry can really be that small and hegemonic ) the reason I know this, is because she sent us a letter, let me paraphrase:

Dear Doc & Mick,

Your four films were really great and of a much higher standard than the other single entry we received.

which is five entries total for three prizes

so...

We have therefore decided,

that we are canceling the contest,

thanks for your interest in RTE.

best of luck in your future career.

yours.... MD.