Eleanor McSherry is currently the mid-west correspondent for Film Ireland Magazine online content and is a producer and scriptwriter with Sidhe Film and Theatre. She also teaches a six-week short script course, script-doctor workshops, a play-writing course at the Limerick Writers Centre and gives guest lectures at Limerick Institute of Technology on Radio Advertising Scripts.
Eleanor has been shortlisted for the Galway Film Centre / RTE’s Short Script Award (in 2009 and in 2010) For Filmbase / RTE’s Short Script Award in 2010 and for the Waterford Film Festival’s Short Script Award 2012. She worked as co-producer on the short films Skew-whiff and Stamp, with Sidhe Film and was production assistant on the short film Captured with Fresh Film Festival’s Hothouse film. She did PR for Concy Ryan’s RTE’s 2011 Storyland entry, The Outlaw.
Eleanor works on the committee for the PRO for LIT Film Festival 2012 and is the International Short Films co-ordinator for the Fresh Film Festival. She also works at PR for Dóchas: Hope for People with Autism, the Mid West Special Needs Parents Association and co-ordinates the World Autism Day campaign in Limerick.
Great bio, Eleanor, and welcome to the series! Let’s begin by telling us how and why you got started in the film business.
As a child I used to watch all the 1950’s musicals and films on RTE on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon. I love film and wanted to write my own. At night, I used to tell my sister, when we were very young, the plots of sequels of my favourite films.
At this stage my script-writing is not full-time, as I am finishing my masters is philosophy. I didn’t go straight into college after school. I went out and worked. I got married and had three kids. So I didn’t start writing until later. When I hit thirty I went back to college and got my degree. The first short script I entered into a competition for funding got me shortlisted with the Galway Film Centre. I haven’t looked back since.
So, in terms of your script-writing skills, are you self-taught?
I have a couple of script courses under my belt and I have a 2nd class honours in Media and Communications and Philosophy. It didn’t incentivise me to write…I think no matter what qualifications you have, if you haven’t got talent, how it looks won’t make a jot of difference.
What and/or whom have been your seminal influences?
My seminal influences have been Martin Scorsese, Richard Harris, Ken Loach and Maureen O’Hara. All are independent thinkers and go-getters who are not afraid to make the films that they want. They also all have made me feel something when I either watch their films or see them act. This is talent pure and simple.
Living or dead, name six people you would love to have as guests around your fantasy dinner table.
All of the above four people, Steven Spielberg and Michel Foucault (Philosopher).
What is your opinion of the current Irish film scene?
I think it is very vibrant and full of talent. It is still very much who you know, not what you know and that is a great pity. Funding is hard to come by and even then when you get it, there are too much strings attached. This is why a lot of our talent is leaving and going elsewhere.
And the highlight of your career so far?
My highlight so far is getting my first script shortlisted, ‘twas cool. I’m not finished yet and there will be plenty more to come!
So have you decided what your ultimate goal is yet?
Just to make films that evoke emotion in my audience. I love when you come out of a good film or watch one on TV and you feel fantastic or sad or disturbed or like you can take on the world. I want to do that! I want people to come out of my films and be moved.
Any advice to offer newbies coming into the business?
Don’t worry about money, just make films. Then hopefully if you’re any good the money will come later! Be realistic about what you can do. No one gets that Hollywood blockbuster first go. And remember when writing a short film, that shorts win Oscars!