News and Views
UCC celebrates its alum in the arts
As we celebrate the designation by the EU of Cork as an ‘ideal’ city for culture we feature UCC alum working in the arts in Cork.
Jason Keane, film-maker describes his career path below while underneath his text theatre director, Julie Kelleher, writes about her path. Underneath that again singer song-writer John Spillane shares his journey with us and his song for UCC.
Jason Keane, film-maker
"On leaving school, I went to study science in UCC. After completing my Bachelor of Science degree I went on to complete a Master's degree in Petroleum Geology. During these years, when not attending lectures and practicals, I continued to indulge my passion in film, exploring the classics of world cinema in the video library in the Boole. After completing my Master's degree, I entertained thoughts on attending film school but unfortunately, I couldn't afford it.
On leaving university, I worked for a while as a geologist but soon jumped ship to the booming and more lucrative IT Industry; having studied Maths and Computer Science as part of my Bachelor's degree, I was soon able to make the transition to work as a software engineer. I worked in Microsoft for about seven years, until I had saved enough money to realise my long-held dream of attending film school. It was a calling that I couldn't shake off.
In what many considered an early mid-life crisis, I packed in my job in I.T. and enrolled in film school in New York. I attended the New York Film Academy in a highly-intensive, full-time one-year programme. When the year was up, I was able to extend my visa for another year and gained much experience working mainly as a camera assistant. After two years, I returned to my native Cork, where I now work as a freelance cinematographer and editor, working on films, documentaries, music videos and promos.
If I was to offer advice to my younger self, or any other young person, it would be to follow your passion as early as possible and not be distracted or get side-tracked by other peoples' ambitions for your career. You got maximum points in your Leaving Cert and your parents want you to study Medicine, but you love History, Archaeology, or Philosophy? Great, go for it! At the end of the day, it's not the money that'll make you happy but what you do, make or create."
Julie Kelleher, Artistic Director, The Everyman
"I’m doing this job just over three years, since April 2014. It’s busy and challenging but also varied and exciting.
I graduated with my BA in 2004 – it was clear to me when I finished that I wanted to make a living working in the theatre. In the 15 months between my BA finals and starting my masters, I worked with as many Cork theatre and arts companies as I could – in most cases I volunteered, though there were several paid roles as an actor at that time too. In that year, I worked under producer extraordinaire Maura O’Keeffe. I went on to apprentice with Maura in 2007 when I moved to Dublin after completing my masters. Working as Maura’s assistant producer, I built up a great network of contacts in the theatre industry, as well as a wealth of valuable experience.
Returning to Cork in 2008, I worked in various paid roles for theatre companies and festivals, ranging from general management and producing to PR and marketing. Between 2011 and 2013, I returned to acting for a time, directed my first show at BrokenCrow and adapted Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter for the stage with my former colleagues at Conflicted Theatre.
I also worked part-time in the Everyman’s marketing department, as well as performing in the building during these years, so I knew the building and its operations intimately. My predecessor encouraged me to apply for the role when he announced he was moving on – I’m not sure I would have applied without that encouragement.
My work mainly revolves around choosing what shows go into the programme. This week, I’ve mostly been watching shows at Dublin Fringe Festival, scouting for shows to programme and networking with artists, producers and presenters from other venues. We’ve also just launched our new season of events which runs from now right through to next April. We offer the most competitively priced student theatre tickets in the country across almost all of our programme, which you can check out on www.everymancork.com.
Ordinarily, a day might involve at least one internal meeting, with the marketing or technical departments for example. We’ll reflect on the successes or failures of recent shows to inform future decision-making for the programme, or set tasks/troubleshoot for shows that are about to happen. I’ll usually have at least two other meetings with artists or producers/promoters who are seeking to present a show at the Everyman and working out the possibilities there. The remainder of the day will be taken up with emails to various colleagues internally and externally about all of the above, and quite often, I’ll finish out the day by seeing a show either in-house or at another venue. Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do, especially when producing our own shows. Much of the work of putting together the programme is done by me alone, but the execution wouldn’t happen without everyone else!
The best bit about my job is the feeling in the auditorium when an audience is completely rapt by the action on stage – it is close to transcendental when that happens.
My advice to current students is to work hard, and be a pleasure to work with! Those qualities will take you anywhere."
John Spillane, Singer-songwriter
"My advice to my younger self, as I was in 1981 when I walked through the College Gates and went to UCC, is "You're on the exact right track John, keep doing exactly what you're doing." Writing songs all the time, I've written a song about UCC."
A Song For UCC
On the road west out of the enchanted city, at the gates of the college, stands an ancient lonesome weeping willow tree, weeping, weeping silently down into the dark waters of the river Lee. Oh willow tree, you have no need to weep for me. A little swallow returning from the burning sands of Arabia lands in the arms of the ancient willow tree, "Fly into my arms little bird, and where have you been and what have you seen? I've seen a great army of people drowning in a sea of troubles, and you o willow o great ancient and silent weeping willow tree, how have you been and what have you seen? I've seen an army of poets marching by moonlight through the gates of the college, storming a golden tower in a dream, returning at dawn. For all their great knowledge what wouldn't I give for one little word of kindness? One word, little bird, little bird, one word. On the road west out of the enchanted city stands a lonesome ancient weeping willow tree, weeping, weeping constantly down into the dark and silent waters of the river Lee.