Young in years, but wise in words, filmmaker Michael Antonio Keane is a character of Cork worth seeking out for a chat.
The half Spanish, half Irish young man finished his Leaving Certificate this summer and has his sights set on a few years of living, studying, and working in the big smoke.
“The pressure was mental,” Michael, 18, said of the Leaving Certificate. “I’m glad to have it behind me now. I’m very excited about moving to Dublin. I am a little anxious, but it’s good to take risks.”
Michael said the worst part of the exams was getting started.
“The anticipation was worse than the tests! I had so many doubts, but as I completed them, I became more and more confident throughout the weeks.”
Making movies since his midteens, Michael is a dab hand at shooting, directing, and editing.
“It’s challenging, with school and homework, but I really enjoy it.”
Making waves during the lockdown, Michael’s Covid Éire video went viral. The short story centres around a young Irish person with coronavirus who reflects on how life has changed dramatically and quickly due to the pandemic.
The video clocked up 4m views on TikTok and over 100,000 views on YouTube. Overnight, Michael was on TV and radio chatting about his film.
“I love working with film, it’s my passion, I find it very rewarding.”
In Covid Éire, Michael said he wanted to share the message of how young people were processing the pandemic and highlight the difficulties for them.
“It was a challenging film to make, I wanted to address isolation and loneliness,” Michael said. Michael has won three major awards, most notably the Spirit Award for performance in the Amazon Prime drama at the IndieCork Film Festival in 2020.
Michael said he has grown up a lot in the past few years, maturing in the limelight that his filmmaking brought his way.
One of the things he is trying to leave in the past is overthinking decisions.
“I regret overthinking things when I was younger, I wish I hadn’t let people discourage me. Making films, on my own, there is not a lot of support, but I have learned to stay independent.”
Continuing the philosophy of life according to Michael, the young filmmaker said a big lesson is not to take constructive criticism personally.
“I’m never going to be a professional or an expert, I am always going to be learning and getting better all the time.”
Michael said he likes to try new things, and push himself to overcome challenges, but he is humble despite his charisma.
“I think a character is someone who has insight and is generous with their time, advice, or wisdom,” Michael said. “Someone who is able to open up and share is very attractive, I think.”
As well as making films, Michael likes to stay fit by running a few times a week.
“I love it, it clears my head. Living in Cobh, there is loads of hills and it keeps it interesting.”
Thanks to his Spanish blood from his mother, Michael is also fluent in Spanish, and speaks it daily. “I took the Spanish test for the Leaving Certificate. It wasn’t one of my subjects, but it was an easy one for me. I didn’t have to study it.”
Michael is going to relax and enjoy another summer in Cork.
“I’ll make a short film or two, but mostly I will relax and take a breather.”
Offering advice to anyone who might be interested in something, but scared to give it a go, Michael was encouraging.
“Just do it, don’t overthink it, take the risk.”