Shack love: bothies built in the spirit of art and adventure
A team of mainly non-builders has constructed four shacks in unspecified locations in Ireland, each with a specific purpose. In the remote Library, for instance, adventurers who find it can place books they love
The Gallery on Inishark
A bag on the beach during the construction of The Studio
A bothy is a rudimentary, weatherproof shelter, often an abandoned dwelling that has been patched up and left unlocked as a refuge for travellers and those working the land. Most often associated with the Scottish Highlands, bothies can also be found much farther afield, including Ireland. Not that long ago, Luke Franklin, a film-maker working in advertising who is based mainly in London and occasionally in Dublin, was working on a job for TG4. It involved many visits to Glencolumcille in Donegal.
Plying the roads back and forth, one day he registered an extensive tract of forestry in the distance. You could build a shack in there, he thought, and no one would ever know, unless you told them. “At that stage,” he recalls. “I’d never really heard of a bothy and didn’t know what it was.”
That fleeting thought was the beginning of what became a gruelling, lengthy project involving him and four friends and collaborators in the creation of 4 Bothies (4bothies.com) in various far-flung corners of Ireland and, in one case, off the west coast.
Franklin is originally from Lucan, and he studied at Dún Laoghaire IADT. By the time of his graduation, he had expanded from one aspect of film production to encompass every role in the process. He’s still relatively young, and there is a sense of contained energy about him.
He was drawn to film, he says, “because it’s creatively, technically and physically demanding”. His final-year assessor prompted him to gather the different strands together and aim for directing. Contacts in the advertising industry advised him that London was the place to be, so off he went.
There he set about learning the business from the ground up. “I was the runner: I made tea and coffee, I answered the phones.” But gradually, working for Moxie Pictures, he gained experience of every aspect of production. There came a point where he was caught between two worlds.
“I’d get calls and put them through to myself.” He was told they’d have to let him go, but then they immediately took him back on as a director. His breakthrough was doing the McDonald’s ads for the London Olympics, a big assignment given his relative inexperience, which was extremely well received. That, he recalls, “legitimised me massively”.
He is not precious about the distinction between commercial and personal work. “I feel I have the best job in the world,” he says sincerely. “I mean, if I won the Lotto tomorrow, I’d still do what I’m doing.”
When people ask him if the courses at IADT were that good, he has a ready reply. “I always say, well, are you good? It really does depend what you bring to it and what you take from it, the use you make of it.”