An aspiring actor and director from Co Down encourages others to chase their dreams and don’t let anyone tarnish your shine with his award-winning 18-minute short.
eclan Curran, of Atticall in Morne, wrote, directed and starred in his first film and, after showing it at the Underground Cinema Film Festival in Dublin two weeks ago, returned home winning the award for Best short film online.
It is now due to air at a festival in Cannes next year.
The Co Down man said the film, titled Shine, had no funding and earlier this month was his first visit to a film festival.
I just got a few favors from friends, family and people I know in the film industry to help make this dream come true and I couldn’t believe it won a price so quickly, he said.
Originally, I had decided to make the film in order to have a performance tape to give to future directors for future roles.
Declan, whose day job is a property manager, is well versed in the performing arts circles and has been on stage for two years, but wanted to make it to the movies.
The problem was, I didn’t have anything to show the directors because all of my work was on stage and live, he said.
It was just part-time, something I did in the evenings and weekends for fun.
So when I had nothing to give them, I thought I might as well take the footage myself and try directing and scriptwriting and now here we are!
The 18-minute short begins with lead protagonist Nick Connor, played by Declan, giving a dramatic speech in front of a shed full of cows on his family farm.
This slapstick first scene sets the pace for the rest of the intelligently written and professionally shot film, which sits somewhere between comedy and drama, showing off the diversity of Declans’ acting skills.
He also shows off his stunning singing voice in one of the poignant scenes where he meets a woman from the town he lives in during a spontaneous stopover in a rural church as he goes to get bread for his mother.
Shine tells the story of Nick, a young man who balances a professional life with the heavy responsibility of helping his father as the only child on the family farm.
He secretly longs to be more but lacks the confidence to express his dreams and ambitions to his family and traditional friends.
Throughout the film, audiences are treated to breathtaking views of the Mournes and the pastoral scenes of Co Down, making it visually appealing to both Northern Ireland natives and those who live further afield.
The Belfasts Lyric Theater is also making an appearance.
Declan points out that the story itself is not explicitly based on his life but is based on personal experiences.
I want this to be a motivational story for others, to follow their dreams whatever they are despite what everyone else is thinking, he said.
I think the moral of the story and the film itself has universal meaning with the typical characters of the Irish family like the loving mother and the angry father. Anyone can relate to at least one of the characters and I thought that was very important to include.
The Co Down actor initially sought to find more acting work through his film, but instead landed another directorial role in an independent feature film that is currently filming in Belfast called The Trick Room.
Shine is expected to screen at several upcoming film festivals and has already been shortlisted for one at Cannes.
It’s not the big fantasy with all the celebrities, but it’s still amazing, Declan said.
It’s called the Cannes World Film Festival which will take place in 2022; it’s the closest to a huge film festival any regular old Joe can get, so I’m over the moon.
It’s amazing what an idea with friends has achieved and it just shows that if you don’t let anyone tarnish your shine, you can do it all.
Declan would like to thank the cast and crew of Shine who helped make his dream come true as well as American singer Shawn Jones who provided the music for the soundtrack.
You can keep up to date with the latest news on Shine by searching for @shine_shortfilm on Instagram.
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