Cork-based filmmaker: Getting long-listed for an Oscar nomination and passing my driving test are my proudest moments

Award-winning filmmaker Shaun O’Connor chats to us about his life and work and an exciting new music video, shot in West Cork
Cork-based filmmaker: Getting long-listed for an Oscar nomination and passing my driving test are my proudest moments

Filmmaker Shaun O’Connor.

Tell us about yourself:

I’m a Cork-based filmmaker. I studied Multimedia in CIT and later, completed an MA in Film Studies in UCC. I directed my first short film in 2010 and have made numerous shorts, television shows and music videos since.

In 2019, I directed A White Horse, a short film set in 1970s Ireland that won numerous prizes and was long-listed for an Academy Award.

Most recently, I directed the music video for ADT’s The Consequences of Breaking the Heart, which has just been released online. Shot in West Cork, It’s a story of love and loss that takes inspiration from Irish folk tales and the wild coastline of the area.

I am currently developing my debut feature film, and my collected work can be found at www.shaunoconnor.com

Where were you born?

Cork city. I was then immediately exported to Castleisland, Co. Kerry, where I grew up.

Where do you live?

Cork city. I came back for college and they haven’t left me back into Kerry since.

Family?

No kids. I do have two amazing sisters, one of whom is getting married (as I write this) this weekend - I’ll have to try and sneak into Kerry for that.

Best friend?

A few, but they absolutely must not find out about each other.

Earliest childhood memory?

Watching The Neverending Story on VHS. Later in life, I somehow ended up having a Twitter chat with the actress who played the Empress in the film. I sent her some of my own film work and she loved it. That made my year.

Person you most admire?

I admire the confidence of those who, without any scientific qualifications, are certain they know better than the consensus of the entire field of epidemiology. I can only aspire to that breathtaking level of self-belief.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

I spent six months travelling India a few years ago. There’s nowhere else in the world like it. 

There’s a city called Hampi that literally looks like a set from an Indiana Jones film. It’s incredible.

Also, when I was a kid we used to have holidays on Sherkin Island. I go back there often and have a lot of love for the island.

Favourite TV programme?

I’m currently watching the new Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Seinfeld for the first time. So I’m getting the full span of Larry David’s career.

Favourite radio show?

Huey Morgan’s Saturday show on BBC6. I spend most of the time Shazamming. It’s been an education in disco, funk and soul.

Also, Sunday Miscellany on RTÉ 1 is a morning-after salve.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Oh, I’ll make you a vegan three-bean curry that’ll change your life and put hair on your chest.

Favourite restaurant?

Thali Nepal. They have the best Thali (platter of different dishes) I’ve had outside of India.

Last book you read?

The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Steven King. I’ve been reading his stuff on and off since I was a teenager. 

The more I come back to him, the more I realise what a brillant, economical writer he is. Not to mention prolific. I once read someone calling him our generation’s Charles Dickens, and I don’t think it’s an unfair comparison.

Best book you read?

The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s the most inspirational book ever written on creativity, in my opinion. I read it first when I was 27, and a few months later I was making my first film, and have been making films since. I come back to it at least once a year.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Alan Daniel Tobin (ADT’s) album. It’s really extraordinary - and I’m not just saying that because I worked with him on the video for The Consequences Of Breaking The Heart. It’s incredibly cinematic, one of my favourite Irish albums of the last few years.

Favourite song?

I feel like I’ve listened to the Stop Making Sense versions of Talking Heads’ This Must Be The Place and Once In A Lifetime every day of my adult life. They just always sound fresh, I can’t seem to wear them out.

One person you would like to see in concert?

Blanck Mass. He’s a British electronic music producer, his work is incredible. He did the music for the Irish film Calm With Horses, for which he won an Ivor Novello award. His first Irish show was scheduled to happen right as Covid hit. Fingers crossed, it will actually happen soon.

Do you have a pet?

There’s a feral cat in my backyard who stares longingly through the window but then attacks me if I try to pet him. I call him Will Feral.

Morning person or night owl?

My sleeping pattern’s been all over the place since Covid, so I’m currently doing both. It’s unsustainable, but great business for Cork Coffee Roasters.

Your proudest moment?

Getting longlisted for an Oscar nomination for my short film A White Horse. And passing my driving test on the fourth try.

Spendthrift or saver?

Saver at the moment -- but if we make it to an actual Christmas without lockdown, I’ll happily bankrupt myself for January and beyond.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

Affordable housing would be only unreal, although that could be anywhere in Ireland. Also, if someone could do something about the cat.

What makes you happy?

Good food, good friends, good tunes.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a good friend who made good food and threw on good tunes.

What else are you up to at the moment?

Silently judging anti-vaxxers, writing a feature film, keeping a gimlet eye on the cat.

MORE ABOUT SHAUN

County Kerry filmmaker and writer Shaun O’Connor and West Cork singer-songwriter Alan Daniel Tobin (ADT) have joined in collaboration on a new multidisciplinary project of film and music, The Consequences of Breaking the Heart - An Irish Folk Tale, out now. See the official video at https://youtu.be/LOAsGkhJ5H8

Drawing on Irish folk tales of the Selkie, O’Connor’s music video The Consequences Of Breaking The Heart is based on a script written by award-winning Irish screenwriter Paul Cahill.

The story is about Muirín and Tadhg, a young artistic couple living and working by the Irish coast. Tadhg’s world is torn apart when Muirín suddenly disappears in the ocean. In his grief, his search for answers leads him to a stunning discovery.

This is Shaun’s second time working with producer Sinéad Barry and Director of Photography Jass Foley, after collaborating on a short film A White Horse in 2019.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130
EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more