Tuesday 23 January 2018

'You shouldn't invest more than you can bear to lose - just like any film project'

Money talks: Neasa Hardiman

Neasa Hardiman. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Neasa Hardiman. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

Neasa Hardiman is the Irish TV and film director behind the hit BBC1 crime television drama Happy Valley. The second series of this drama, which achieved record ratings, aired during the spring.

Hardiman has previously directed popular BBC1 shows including Casualty and Holby City. In her early career, she worked at RTE - producing and directing documentaries, a number of entertainment shows and the Eurovision Song Contest. She is currently writing a feature film on the life of the Irish-New Yorker writer, Maeve Brennan.

What is the most important lesson about money which your career has taught you?

The money aspect of film and television is all about persuading investors to take a risk on your idea. It's like creating a new start-up every time you start a new project. You try to minimise the investor's risk by planning the best screen story you can, hiring the best collaborators you can, and making the best drama you can - all in the hope that you will connect with an audience.

It's not a science though, there are lots of horror stories about 'sure bet' screen stories that flopped. What lesson can you learn from this? Maybe that you shouldn't invest more than you can bear to lose.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

Probably education for my children. Creche fees, school fees and all the extra-curricular stuff like music, sports. But they say you should invest in experiences and not objects.

What was your worst job?

I was a waitress in Berlin. I was really terrible at it. And a lot of people are very rude to waitresses, I discovered.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Buying an expensive dress I wore once before leaving it in my wardrobe to gather dust.

What was your best financial killing?

Buying a house before the property boom hit.

Do you use any money saving apps?


Do you have an Android or iPhone?

I started out as a designer in the Nineties, when I set up Language Communications with my husband. Apple had much better design programmes at that time, so we were all using Mac, even though 90pc of the world had PCs. So for that reason, I have an iPhone.

Do you know what's in your current account?

Yes - not enough!

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

Thankfully, I've never had to.

Have you ever switched utility provider?

I compare offers when it comes time to renew. It's time-consuming, but worth it.

What was the last thing you bought online?

Books, books and more books. It's just too tempting.

Do you have a mortgage? Is it fixed, variable or tracker?

We are at the tail end of a variable mortgage.

Do you use iTunes or Spotify?

I use both. I'm old enough to want offline access to my own music library, but I'm curious enough to want instant access to new music.

Would you buy Irish property now?

Yes, but it's hard to find an affordable house - especially around Dublin's city centre.

Do you pay in cash or card?

Card. I travel quite a bit for work, so I can end up with multiple currencies in my wallet.

Do you ever haggle?

Oh yes. I love haggling.

Are you better off than your parents?

I don't think so. My parents made a great success of their working lives. They began with very little and earned enough to provide us with a comfortable home full of interesting books, music and art. We all got to go to university. They also gave us a good grounding in the value of money, but sadly I don't think I'm quite as thrifty as they were.

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