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Saturday 24 August 2019

IFTA and BAFTA award-winning Irish director Neasa Hardiman wants to see more women behind the camera

Neasa Hardiman
Pic Brian McEvoy
Neasa Hardiman Pic Brian McEvoy
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

IFTA and BAFTA-winning Irish director Neasa Hardiman believes the tide is turning for women behind the camera in film and television, as she has urged all film makers to have belief in their convictions as they look to make a break in the business.

Hardiman has emerged as one of the most respected directors on both sides of the Atlantic after a series of stunning success stories, with Scott and Bailey and Happy Valley among her credits, and she hopes her success as a female director will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.

Hardiman is joined by Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar among a star-studded judging panel for the short film competition Virgin Media Discovers that offers a €35,000 prize to the winner and she is hoping her success serves as an example of what is possible.

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Adrian Dunbar (PA)

"The statistics are pretty damning in the role I do, which is making film and TV drams with budgets of more than $3million-an-hour," Hardiman told Independent.ie. "At that level, the number of women in director roles is around four per-cent and that is a pretty low number.

"It's not really a topic I go around thinking about, but I know that when I walk on set, I am often the first female director that a lot of the cast and crew have worked with. They might think this is something new and unusual, but after ten minutes they will appreciate that you are good and then you are just a good director. At that point, it is not an issue any more.

"This is not really an issue among actors and crew at this stage and is more about financiers, who are spending their money and rolling the dice on productions and it is a scary prospect to put your trust in people to ensure you get that money back. Who feels like a safe pair of hands? That is a question financiers ask themselves and down the years, it has generally been men in leading director roles.

"While I still think it is still early days for women in leading director roles, I also feel we shouldn't look to categorise people who are all working in the same field. You want to be judged on the work you do and not your gender or the colour of your skin.

"I won a BAFTA in 2010 and 2016, I've won an IFTA, I've won several international awards and that was all down to financiers putting trust in me and giving me a opportunity. People are putting a lot of money into the projects I work and for that kind of investment, they expect the work to be good and that they will get their money back."

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Grainne Humphreys

Grainne Humphreys (above), Director of the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, Birch Hamilton, Executive Director of the Screen Directors Guild and Bill Malone, Director of Content at Virgin Media Television, will complete the judging panel for the Virgin Media Discovers competition, with Hardiman excited to give fresh Irish talent a chance to make their mark.

"I think it's a terrific initiative," adds Neasa. "There is already a really vibrant and growing film industry in Ireland and the judging panel for this competition want to tap into that and find talent that is waiting to come into the industry. You also need to be given a chance to get out there and do it and that's what this competition is offering.

"We will give you the budget and the opportunity to go out there and make something interesting and that is exciting. The €35,000 is a nice amount of money to make a good short film. You can make something unusual and special and it is such a thrill to be involved with Virgin on this.

"It can be horror, it can be comedy, it can a real life story, but the key is that it comes from the heart and it's something only you can make. I'm so excited to see the entries coming in and we have such a wonderful panel that will make judgement on the best.

"My advice to the entrants would be to be brave, be bold, be different. Get out there and do it. Don't be afraid of what you are doing. Own your work and believe in it and  this could be a great platform for someone to have a wonderful career."

Entrants are invited to submit scripts by Friday 26th July for a proposed 10 minute short film which, if chosen, will feature in next year’s Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival. You can enter here - https://www.virginmedia.ie/discovers

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