‘You are always trying to scrape together the funding to make a film’

Wild Geese: Dr Enda Murray, founder of Irish Film Festival Australia

Dr Enda Murray: ‘Artists are much more respected and appreciated in Ireland than in Australia’

Dr Enda Murray: ‘Artists are much more respected and appreciated in Ireland than in Australia’

 

Running any enterprise in the time of Covid is difficult, but more so if your business involves hundreds of people in close proximity sitting down for a couple of hours and all facing the same way.

But Irish Film Festival Australia founder Dr Enda Murray has one advantage. He did it last year too.

Originally from Drogheda, Murray is an award-winning film-maker whose work has featured in international festivals and on RTÉ, BBC, Australian and New Zealand channels and many other broadcasters. He also teaches communications at Sydney’s Macquarie University.

One of 14 children, visiting an older sibling in 1977 helped shape his passion for film. “I was up in Dublin, visiting my sister and we went to this screening of a film called Down the Corner in the junior common room in Trinity College, made by a guy called Joe Comerford.

“It was about young lads in Ballyfermot who weren’t professional actors. I’d never seen guys like me on the screen before. It was me up there, it wasn’t Hollywood and it wasn’t something you were aspiring to, it was solely about real people.”

Murray later graduated in science from Trinity, but realised it was not for him and moved to London in the early 1980s where, after doing some courses on video, he did a master’s degree in film at St Martins college. After working with ITV franchise Central Television, Murray changed country again, moving to Australia in the mid-1990s and getting a doctorate in creative arts at Western Sydney University.

Film festival idea

The idea of presenting an Irish film festival had been germinating for a few years before he started it in 2014. “In 2010 I was thinking about a film festival and I went to Culture Ireland in Dublin and told them about my plans,” he said.

“Then in 2013 I went to the Film Fleadh in Galway and there was an event with Irish film festival organisers from around the world. I spoke to a bunch of those guys while trying to make up my mind about whether to go ahead. They said there’s no money in it and it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s rewarding, it’s a good thing to do and they enjoyed it and kept doing it. I decided to go for it.”

The Irish Film Festival was growing every year, but then Covid-19 hit. His company name, Virus Media, immediately has the potential of taking on an unintended meaning, but he laughs when asked if he regrets the name. “God, no, I was way ahead of my time. I was always very interested in tactical media and still am.”

My daughter works at KFC and she gets more than what I get for running the film festival

But name problems or not, organising a film festival when cinemas are shut must be hard?

“The main difficulty last year was it was our first time doing it online. The skills you need for an online film festival are very different. You need very good social media people and digital video people, I mean top end. All of those skills are people who can earn a buck in the real world, so it’s very hard.

“Within your team you have to have a whole new skillset and they are all expensive, and of course it’s all done on the smell of an oily rag, it’s all a love job for everybody. My daughter works at KFC and she gets more than what I get for running the film festival.”

Moving online also created difficulties with distributors, but these have been resolved by way of learning a lot of new acronyms, such as TVOD (transactional video on demand). “So yes, it is hard putting a festival online, but we did it last year and we’ll do it again,” he said.

Supports

Murray is very grateful for the support he has got from Irish government sources. “Up until last year we were getting four grants from Ireland and nothing from Australia. We were getting support from the Irish Film Institute, Culture Ireland, Screen Ireland and the Irish Consulate in Sydney.” An Australian funding body, Create New South Wales, has been added to the list of sponsors this year, as has Ireland’s Emigrant Support Programme. “We’ve also had great sponsorship from the Irish business community [in Australia]. People have been generous and supportive,” he said.

“You are always just trying to scrape together the funding to make a film. In moving from country to country, the networks you have built up in one country, once you’ve moved, you lose them and have to start again. There are similar structures in Ireland and England for funding film, but a lot depends on your networks.”

Murray says artists are “much more respected and appreciated” in Ireland than in Australia. “That’s partly through my own experience, through the support I’ve had, and it’s partly through observing other people who are my contemporaries who stayed in Ireland. None of them are driving Beamers, but they do seem to get acknowledged and respected for the work they do. It is [more] difficult trying to get arts projects off the ground in Australia.”

The Irish Film Festival Australia runs from September 3rd-12th

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.