Once Upon A Time I Went to the EuroVision

The Eurovision grand final is on today and for the people of Azerbaijan it presents a great opportunity for them to promote themselves and their country not just as a tourist destination but as a means to assert their country’s identity. For the first time all of Europe and some of the world is looking towards Baku. 125 million people are expected to watch tonight so its important that the host country doesn’t fluff its lines. Seems like a good idea for a documentary, right?
Well thats what we thought 10 years ago, when Estonia was faced with the same situation. At the time Estonia was trying to join the EU and assert its independence which was barely a decade old. So a bunch of recently graduated film students from Ireland decided to head off to Estonia and make a film about it. We were more then a little naive when it came to making documentaries, let alone making one in a foreign country about a well oiled, stage managed machine like the Eurovision. Yet, we pulled it off. We made the film and sold it to RTE, no-one made any money on it whatsoever but it was a great learning experience and we had a blast for ten days in Talinn.
The idea to make the film was hatched by the director Niall Bryne and plans were made around the table of the Dew Drop Inn in Galway where we met once or twice a week to watch soccer. So perhaps its apt that the abiding memory of the shoot is that of myself and Niall learning of Saipan (read Malachy Clerkin’s excellent piece on that collective madness here) from watching Euronews in Russian. For the next few days as we went about the business of shooting the documentary, every spare moment we had was spent trying to find out more info on what was happening in Korea and in Dublin.
Still, we made the film and we got to experience the Eurovision up close, which is an experience I will never forget.

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