Top filmakers for Irish film school

Photo of John Boorman, seated on left, courtesy of the Irish Film School.

By David Prendeville

There are some exciting forthcoming courses in the recently launched Irish Film School, based in The Lir on Pearse Street. Iconic producer-director Roger Corman is set to land at the school in July (exact date to be confirmed). He will be providing a one-day course on how to be cost-effective when making a film. While the Irish Film School is based in Fitzwilliam Place, these forthcoming classes will take place in Bow Street in Smithfield. 

Roger Corman is a bona-fide legend of the film business. He is known predominantly as the producer of cheap, schlocky fare in the 1960s and 1970s. Why then such reverence, you may ask?

Corman’s business model gave many of the most talented film-makers of that generation the chance to cut their teeth in the industry. Martin Scorsese made the crime movie Boxcar Bertha for Corman in 1972 before going on to become the world-famous director he is today.

Francis Ford Coppola started out with Corman’s Dementia 13, which was shot in Ireland in 1963. Corman also gave Jack Nicholson his first opportunities in the industry, though as a writer, rather than an actor.

When working as director on The Masque of the Red Death (1964), Corman gave the great Nicolas Roeg one of his first jobs as a cinematographer. Roeg would go on to be a director of wonderfully eccentric cult classics such as Performance, Don’t Look Now and The Man Who Fell to Earth. Other major directors who came through the Corman school, one way or another, included Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard and James Cameron. 

Perhaps less well documented about Corman is a curious little business venture he had on these isles in the 1990s. Corman set up a studio in Connemara, Concorde Anois, from where he turned out B-movie style films. The company made a large number of films in this period and hopped through a variety of exploitation genres. It allowed many people in the area to gain valuable experience working in film, which they would not otherwise have had.

However, Concorde Anois, was not without its critics. A screening of one of its films, Criminal Affairs, at the 1997 Galway Film Fleadh, led to complaints from the Sunday Times that the Irish government were helping fund pornography.

In any case, this curious and strangely under-documented chapter in Irish film-making was not to last long. Corman cited many reasons for this, chief among them the decline in theatrical exhibition for exploitation films at the turn of the century. A place where Corman’s adventure in Connemara is chronicled is the 2014 documentary It Came from Connemara!

The new Irish Film School is co-founded by film-making titan John Boorman and producer Kieran Corrigan. Boorman’s continued passion for the medium of film can be seen in his comments about what drove him to set up the school: “Filmmaking is the process of turning money into light and then back into money again. In the past, I have often been asked to help out and teach this concept by the film industry and I really do what I can. Young film-makers often come to me to ask for advice and I try to give it to them. I have fifty years of experience in film-making and I founded the Irish Film School in order to help young film-makers to avoid all of the mistakes that I have made during my life in film. Also, to communicate my thoughts about film and the kind of film that can be made in the future, using the most modern technologies and equipment.” 

Boorman himself will be passing on his expertise to young film-makers, on a five-day course set for September. The British-born director, who has lived in Ireland for many years, is best known for his dark 1970s thriller Deliverance, starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight. Other notable credits of his include the stylish 1960s crime film Point Blank, which starred Lee Marvin and the eccentric science fiction film Zardoz, starring Sean Connery.

In the last couple of decades, he has also made some films in Ireland. Most famously, he directed the Martin Cahill biopic The General, which starred Brendan Gleeson as the eponymous anti-hero. He collaborated with Gleeson once more on the less successful Celtic Tiger satire The Tiger’s Tail.

Corrigan, who produced The General for Boorman and also worked with Corman on Concorde Anois has a long and successful history in the industry and will also provide a Business of Film course in September.

Irish Film School have partnered with leading industry advisory groups: Merlin Films, Great Point Media, DNEG, New Horizons, China Film and Kilroy’s College to ensure that the training programmes deliver the most up-to-date skills and best experience.

While discussing the training programme, Lisa Wright, Director of Education at Irish Film School said, “This is a new way for students to upskill and gain relevant and valuable experience studying with experienced film professionals. The methodology we use is based on an apprenticeship approach. It is a unique opportunity to build contacts in the industry and work with some of the best filmmakers in the world today”. 

Other upcoming courses in the Irish Film School include: The Future of Television & Cross Platform Study-Telling with John Lynch (Head of Production at Amazon) which is a two-day course on the 6th and 7th of June and Visual FX with DNG on June 8th.

Other courses in the pipeline for 2019 but without fixed dates as of yet are: The Future of Television & Cross Platform Study-Telling with John Lynch (Head of Production at Amazon) (two days)Young Filmmakers (14-18 years) (four days), Summer Portfolio Filmmaking Course (five days), Hair & Make-Up for TV & Film (one-day), Scriptwriting (three days).

These courses, along with the Boorman and Corman ones, will take place in Bow Street in Smithfield. There is also a twenty per cent discount available for these courses by using the online coupon 20PERCENT.

For more information on all of these check out