Cork student’s film  is a tribute to his beloved dad

Mark Lynch lost his father during the first lockdown. He tells CARA O’DOHERTY how he coped with the grief by making a documentary about him, revolving around his father’s car, which has now won awards
Cork student’s film  is a tribute to his beloved dad

DETERMINATION: Mark Lynch, whose short film His Car won Best Overall Film in the First Frame category at this year’s Dublin International Film Festival.

A STUDENT filmmaker from Tower is gaining awards and attention for his latest work, His Car.

The short, which won Best Overall Film in the First Frame category at this year’s Dublin International Film Festival, is a profoundly moving and personal tribute to Mark Lynch’s father, Mick, who passed away during the first lockdown in 2020 from illness.

Making the film was an emotional process for Mark, but one he was honoured to go through in tribute to his father. The film was an assignment for his degree course at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.

“In the first year, we had to do an end-of-year film with the theme of a Covid personal project,” he explains.

“We had to find something to tell a story that reflected how we were experiencing the pandemic. I wanted to make a film inspired by dad and the car I inherited from him when he passed.

“As it happened, the theme worked because the car played a big part of my life during lockdown”.

Lynch narrates the documentary as he drives a beige 2008 Renault Scenic. His father’s old car has a great emotional attachment, but it also guided Lynch as he navigated life from Cork to Dublin.

“The car was a godsend for my partner and me; it got us to Dublin to study in the middle of lockdown. We were looking for places to stay, so we would get up early in the morning and drive from Cork up to Dublin to spend the entire day looking at viewings.

“It was my first time driving around Dublin, which was terrifying, to be honest. The car was a base of operations for us, but it was also a safe spot. As long as I had the car, I knew I’d be okay, that my dad was watching over me.

“Even though I was moving away from Cork and my family, I brought a connection with me.”

Lynch says he was determined to make the film, but it was challenging.

“I was delighted to make the film; I wanted to share who my dad was with people, but it meant that I had to face grief all the time.

“The editing process was very tough because I saw my dad’s images and heard his voice. I was constantly in a zone of grief. My partner helped me through the editing process; she was a great support.”

Lynch’s partner, Maiya Rice, a fellow film student, shot the film and her brother, Luca, an animation student, composed the score.

“Maiya is amazing with the camera,” says Mark. “She studied at St. John’s Central College, that’s where we met, and then we got into Dun Laoghaire together. The film wouldn’t have looked half as good without her camerawork. I’m extremely grateful.

“Her brother, Luca, has just finished studying animation, but he’s also a great musician. I just reached out to him to see if he could help me out. The music really fits the piece.”

Lynch says that seeing people’s responses to the film has given him a sense of reassurance, knowing that they can connect on a personal level, but he admits that he hadn’t quite thought about how much time he would have to spend talking about his father and seeing the film over and over.

“I wanted to make it, but I don’t think I prepared myself for showing it to the lecturers and getting feedback on something so personal. 

"It has been amazing to bring it to festivals, but I wasn’t mentally prepared for sitting in a room with the film on the big screen and having other people watch it.

“It certainly affected me, but it is all part of the process.”

The young filmmaker is grateful to have won awards, but says he won’t be resting on his laurels.

“It is so strange to win things and have kind words said; I am so appreciative, but it wasn’t my goal. You could get set on winning prizes, but for me, it is about the work and how I feel about it.”

Lynch says his father was a great storyteller who influenced his love of acting and filmmaking.

“He was always telling stories about his childhood, and he used to tell them very theatrically. He introduced me to his favourite films, and we’d talk about them.

“My older brother Steve had a huge DVD collection, and he used to recommend films to me, but he also said to watch the behind-the-scenes interviews.

“That’s where I started to fall in love with the idea of directing and producing. They were a gateway.”

Lynch did speech and drama as a youth, and after secondary school went to St John’s to study film.

“St John’s was absolutely fantastic. They helped ignite my love of film. The lectures are extremely practical and hands-on, and the lecturers really nurture students. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Cork has a fine filmmaking tradition, and Lynch thinks it might be down to how Corkonians look at things.

 “We use humour. Even with dad’s passing, which was so sudden and shocking, we were cracking jokes. We look at things in a funny way, and I think it makes us great at telling stories.”

Lynch says he enjoys many film styles, but if he had to pick one genre to watch all the time, it would be science fiction.

“I always gravitate towards sci-fi. I adored Dune. I love Denis Villeneuve’s work. Once I hear he is attached to a film, I want to see it.”

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