Behind the lens with a Cork filmmaker and photographer

AISLING MEATH catches up with West Cork film maker and photographer Aoise Tutty Jackson - who is a creative force to be reckoned with
Behind the lens with a Cork filmmaker and photographer

Film maker and photographer Aoise Tutty Jackson.

WEST Cork filmmaker and photographer Aoise Tutty Jackson is a creative force of nature whose films have qualities that are at once both powerful and tender.

Through visual storytelling, her work outlines the healing power of the arts, and the importance of providing access for creative expression, which have been proven to actively nurture and sustain positive mental health.

Aoise’s work as an artist facilitator within community hospitals in West Cork has informed her sensitive approach to film making, and her short documentary An Open Door won several awards, including being selected for Best Of Cork programme at the 2018 Cork Film Festival, and it was subsequently screened at numerous mental health conferences around Ireland.

The project came about through Aoise’s collaboration with Kevin O’Shanahan, a health care professional and artistic director of ‘Music Alive’, an initiative aimed at providing access to participative-based creative programmes in mental health care.

Also in tandem with ‘Music Alive’, Aoise made a piece entitled Listen which was screened at the Uillinn West Cork Arts centre in Skibbereen as part of the West Cork Feel Good festival in October. This film explores the importance of listening with full attention, surely worth a reminder in our increasingly fast paced world full of the distractions of smart phones.

“I want to continue working with and around mental health and wellbeing, and it certainly has been eye-opening for me to explore these themes in recent years.

“Whenever I embark on a project, the subject of that project is often the biggest teacher for me.

“Telling women’s stories is also something which I feel passionate about pursuing through my work,” she said.

Aoise also premiered her new work Anua in October, another collaboration with Music Alive. This experimental film and sonic journey exploring our relationship to land, language, sound, mythology and the ‘Otherworld’ was inspired by the work of writer Manchán Magan. The film explores the concept of ‘Dinnseanchas’, which is the lore of place names, and Manchán narrates the film, examining how sound, and particularly the sound of words spoken in Irish, can alter the way we experience the landscape.

“ I worked with Kevin McNally of Gamelan Spréacha Geala, and Kevin O’Shanahan on Anua and it really helps when you collaborate with people who have a similar creative sensitivity and ideas which ultimately resonate with the visuals,” explained Aoise.

“Capturing a sense of the unseen and the mystical is definitely something I endeavour to do in my work. I try to find and emphasise that sense of magic which I feel exists in the world, but which we sometimes miss as we move through our daily lives.

“In terms of editing, I am drawn to working with a more cyclical style of editing, where energy rises and falls, emotions arise and dissipate. I feel that this is more accurate to life than a lot of the more linear style of editing which we see on TV and in film. It may not be as ‘prettily packaged’ but I feel it captures the landscape of being human in a more true way.”

Her style of filmaking where there is a sense of an inner world unfolding in tandem with outer events lends a very special quality to Aoise’s work, and has a lingering impact upon the viewer long after the film ends.

Learning the art of filmmaking, from directing to editing, has been a steady trajectory for Aoise, who found her calling when she was quite young, and for the past 18 years she has continued to make documentaries, art house films, and narrative dramas.

“I studied Media Arts in DIT when I was 19. I had taken a year out and was torn between the media course and some sort of Art/Graphic design course, at that stage I was a bit unclear about what I wanted to do, but I decided to give it a shot.

“Within the first few months of the course, I got the opportunity to direct my first short film. I absolutely loved it, and knew straight away that this was the path I wanted to follow.

“I moved to London after college and then I was keen to have some adventures and live a nomadic life, so I set off with my camera to Asia where I had some beautiful experiences led by my curiosity and eagerness to learn about other lifestyles.

“I spent a few days living and photographing an indigenous family in northern Thailand, then in Sumatra in Indonesia I stayed with another local family, and later I connected with an indigenous family in Malaysia, the Orag Asli Semai people. These experiences were very rich for me, capturing a sense of ‘home’ through photographing the small details which make up people’s lives.

“My life as a film maker hasn’t been a straightforward path for me. It’s a difficult industry to crack, and staying true to your creative self, while at the same time making a living, can be difficult at times.

“In recent years, I’ve often joked about why I didn’t choose a form of creative expression that was less expensive to carry out. The issue with film is that it really does cost a lot, and needs a huge amount of energy and input from others, which can sometimes make it a slow process.”

However, despite the setbacks, Aoise has persevered with her passion for capturing the world from behind the lens, and a musical piece. Go Home. by Stuart Wilde and Dogtail Soup. which she directed. has been recently released.

She has also directed a number of other beautiful music videos for the Love Colin project in commemoration of the late musician Colin Vearncombe, aka Black, a resident of Schull and known globally for his hit song Wonderful Life, but who tragically lost his life in a car accident in 2016.

Aoise Tutty Jackson directing 'Love Colin'.
Aoise Tutty Jackson directing 'Love Colin'.

Aoise’s video collaborations pay homage to his life and legacy, and can be seen on the Facebook page Love Colin.

She also recently launched her photography site, another aspect of her work which she really enjoys.

“I’m really excited about my new photography business ‘Sacred Soul Sessions’ where I offer people a space to explore what makes them shine and sets them alight in front of the camera.

“It is my hope to support healing around the collective trauma which so many of us have around our self-image.

“I love working with people in wild and natural settings, and although our world is saturated with photography these days, I absolutely believe in the power of a photograph to truly transmit something deeper and capture that special essence which lies within each person.”

Aoise is offering a 25% discount on any bookings made between now and the end of January.

For more about Aoise and her work, check out her website at www.aoisetuttyjackson.com

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