Cork woman’s hopes for an Irish ‘Oscar’

Ahead of the Irish Film and Television Awards this weekend, CHRIS DUNNE talks to East Cork native Sharon Cronin, who produced the movie ‘Lily’, about LGTB teen bullying, starring Timoleague native, Clara Harte, which is up for a gong
Cork woman’s hopes for an Irish ‘Oscar’

Clara Harte, who stars in Lily

AS A star-struck little girl growing up beside the sea in East Cork, Sharon Cronin dreamed big. She dreamed of becoming part of the magical world of movies and saying the words “Lights, camera, action!”

“When I was a young girl growing up, there weren’t very many people may age around, so I just watched a lot of films and I guess I fell in love with film,” says Sharon.

“I never really considered doing anything else. Seeing something on the big screen that you helped create is monumental and sharing it with an audience is ineffable.”

The Garryvoe producer’s childhood dream came true and now a short film that she worked on, Lily, written and directed by Graham Cantwell, is up for an Irish Film and Television Award (IFTA) this Saturday at the Mansion House, Dublin. The awards are a glittering, glitzy glamorous affair, honouring the biggest stars in film and drama.

“The whole crew and cast can be proud of what we have achieved,” says Sharon, who produced Lily.

The film centres on the issue of LGBT teens in a school environment. Lily stars actress Clara Harte, from Timoleague, who graduated from The Gaiety School of Acting.

“The cast and crew have done the storyline justice and focused on getting the best film possible,” says Sharon.

MAIN STARS: Clara Harte and Dean Quinn in the leading roles of Lily and Simon, in the film Lily.
MAIN STARS: Clara Harte and Dean Quinn in the leading roles of Lily and Simon, in the film Lily.

“The film gives out a strong message and it has received a massive response. Everyone knows somebody who is affected by bullying.”

Lily has been in the spotlight before.

“The success of Lily, which won awards at the Galway Film Fleadh, 2016, and the Santa Fe Film Festival, is testament to the ferociously hard work of cast and crew who showed up each morning and contributed to the making of the film,” says Sharon.

What is she showing up in on the big night, when she will be rubbing shoulders with Irish film stars like Colin Farrell and Limerick’s Oscar-nominated Ruth Negga?

“I’m in a bit of a panic,” admits Sharon. “I haven’t found The Dress yet. It has to be something really special for such a big occasion.

“The IFTAS are the Irish Oscars. The dress has to be amazing.”

So she still hasn’t found what she’s looking for?

Sharon laughs.

“No. I did buy a fabulous dress online but it wasn’t suitable when I tried it on at home.”

It didn’t have the X factor? “Definitely not,” says Sharon. “Lots of dresses I tried on are more suited to debs and bridesmaids. The dress has to be red carpet style,” says Sharon.

“We’ll be looking at the photographs forever. It must have the ‘wow’ factor. So hopefully I’ll find a classic dress and magnificent accessories in a Cork boutique. The accessories are key.”

Sharon did find the career path that she was looking for when she studied film-making in St John’s College, Cork, which eventually led her to Filmbase in Dublin where she completed her Masters in feature filmmaking.

Sharon Cronin
Sharon Cronin

“I worked for the Cork Film Festival and I still do,” says Sharon.

“That showed me a whole other side to films and how the whole process works in terms of getting your work screened. I’ve been really lucky to get such a rounded view of the film industry.”

She never dreamed of being in front of the camera.

“I wanted to be behind the scenes and get involved in the making of the film,” says Sharon.

“The film world and the people associated with it completely appealed to me, especially their passion and their determination in showcasing their work. I found that so inspiring. I had to follow my heart and continue to press on with my dreams.”

The film world is a hard one to break into and become a part of.

“It is highly competitive,” agrees Sharon. “I never wanted to be a film star; production and organisation is more my thing.”

What does the producer do?

“Lots of organising!” says Sharon with a smile. “It gives you a taste of all aspects to do with the film. And it gives you a great grounding.”

POWERFUL: Actress Clara Harte, from Timoleague, in a scene from Lily, a film about LGBT teens in a school environment.
POWERFUL: Actress Clara Harte, from Timoleague, in a scene from Lily, a film about LGBT teens in a school environment.

She is often chief cook and bottle-washer on set as well.

“I make sure that the people involved in the film are all fed!”, says Sharon.

Her roles are many and varied.

“I am involved in the logistics, the casting, the auditions and making sure we come in at budget.

Lily, which is 22 minutes long, cost €3,000 to make. The budget for costumes was very tight. We never expected such success. €10,000 is considered a small budget to make a film.”

Does she have to deal with the drama kings and queens?

“We all hang out together,” says Sharon. “The film world is not as dazzling or tinselled a world as is perceived. We can all be on set at dawn for hours on end; often filming in the wind and the rain in 5 degrees”

How does Sharon feel this Saturday about rubbing shoulders with the cast and writer/director, Peter Foott of The Young Offenders? The film, based on the infamous 2007 cocaine haul of the coast of Cork, is up for a record seven awards.

“It will be brilliant to be in the same company as them,” says Sharon.

Is she expecting any OMG! moments?

“You know, most of the film-stars that I was lucky to meet are really ordinary and down to earth,” says Sharon.

“They have a laugh and a joke with you like anybody else. I worked with Tim Vaughan- Lawlor in The Maze, which was shot in Cork jail. He is better known as Nidge from the RTÉ series, Love Hate. He is really nice and you’d never imagine that he is a big film star.”

Sharon must continue with her quest. To find the dress of her dreams for the biggest gig of her life so far.

“Time is running out,” she says.

No doubt she will turn up at the IFTAS looking just like a film-star. Whether she wants to be one or not.

The Irish Film and Television Awards take place in the Round Room, Mansion House Dublin, Saturday April 8.

More in this section

Sponsored Content