Arkle wins at the IFTA’S!!!

On Thursday last, the Arkle documentary I cut won the IFTA for Best Sports at what was a lovely evening in the Burlington (It will always be the Burlo to me). It was such a good day that its taken me this long to write about it!
I was absolutely thrilled for Arkle director Luke McManus and Stephen and Denis from Touchline Media who produced the film.

Stephen, Luke and Denis with their little friend
Stephen, Luke and Denis with their little friend

Despite coming from a place a few years ago where Luke, by his own admission, knew damn all about horses, he has now directed several superb horse related documentaries. A few years back he was IFTA nominated for Jump Boys which showed the harsh realities of being a top level jump jockey and then last year he made a 4 part series on the Galway races. In between these two was Arkle: The Legend Lives On which was made for TG4 and Channel 4 and as you might imagine told the story of Irelands legendary wonder-horse Arkle.

The documentary has achieved a Bill Nicholson like double, winning the Celtic Media Award and now the IFTA and all done with a certain panache! For me personally, this marked the third year in a row that I’ve cut the winner in the Best Sport’s Documentary IFTA category. I’m not entirely sure how that happened but I’m obviously thrilled with it.

The IFTA’s themselves were a great laugh and it was great to catch up with so many friends and I was delighted on the night that my buddies Mark Henry, Mick Mahon, Colm Bairéad, Cleona Ni Chrualaoi, James Ryan, Tracy O’Hanlon, Gemma O’Shaughnessy all got their hands on an IFTA.


It was also pretty cool that I got to go to the show with my brother, even if he and his boys did end up on the receiving end of a paddling from Arkle.

Ifta Nominations for Arkle and GAA USA

I was delighted this morning to see that 2 shows I edited were among the Nominees for the IFTA Television awards to be held in Dublin in 3 weeks time. Unfortunately both Arkle: The Legend Lives On and GAA USA are up against each other in the sports category. To further complicate the matter my brother and my office mates the Second Captains also received a nomination in the same category. So its safe to say I have some divided loyalties. One way or another as long as the Conor McGregor documentary doesn’t win I’ll be happy!

Arkle: The Legend Lives On was a Touchline Media production for Channel 4 and TG4. The film was a look back at the legendary race horse Arkle. The documentary was wonderfully directed by Luke McManus and produced by Denis Kirwin and Stephen Cullinane. I had a terrific time editing the doc with Luke over 4 frantic weeks last year in Highwire. The film already won the Best Sports Award at the Celtic Media Festival earlier this year and I’m sure you could get could good odds on Luke taking home another trophy in a few weeks. Personally I also really enjoyed writing about it here and calling the post ‘Blogging a Dead Horse’ which was a punning highlight of this blogs output.

GAA USA was produced by Sonta Films for TG4 and aired earlier this year. The series looks at the oft forgotten history of Gaelic Games in the United States and is presented by All-Ireland winning captain Dara Ó Cinnéide. The series was directed by Seán Ó Cualáín and produced by his brother Eamonn, Raemonn Mac Donnacha shot it and Darragh Dukes did the music. I spent the best part of last winter working on the series and I’m incredibly proud of it. This series marked my fourth time working with Seán (we are currently on number five) and its proved to be a really fruitful collaboration. An Godfather:Bryan Rooney, Rás Tailteann:Rothaí an tSaoil and Mar A Cheile Muid are all very diverse films that I’m thrilled to have played a part in. These films added with Seán’s previous work I think position him as one of the premier chroniclers of both rural Irish life and the Irish immigrant experience and he’ll kill me for saying it but I think he may well be this generations Bob Quinn.

Like I said complicating the matter is that the boys in Second Captains have been nominated for Second Captains Live. The live sports show is quite frankly outrageous in its ability to not only set new standards in sports broadcasting but maintain them too. I think this clip of them interviewing Ciaran McDonald exemplifies pretty well the work they do.

The show also features a weekly opportunity for my brother Ciaran to demean himself and his journalism degree by dressing up in humiliating costumes. Whats not to love about that?

I share an office with the boys and I can safely say that they along with Aideen, Karen, Rebecca, Pat and Collie are the hardest working motherfuckers in the business and if they do end up taking home the gong it’ll be richly deserved. They also, as I’m frequently and embarrassingly reminded, play a mean game of table tennis.

I was also thrilled to see my buddies Mark Henry, Colm Bairéad, Cleona Ni Chrualaoi, Katie Holly, Mick Mahon and David Power get richly deserved nominations in other categories. Best of luck to them and to all the other nominations. Overall the standard of work last year was incredible, heres the full list of nominees

Blogging A Dead Horse

So I’ve only been waiting about 3 weeks to write that headline.
Anyway the reason for the headline is to say that over the past few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to be working on a documentary with Luke McManus about the Irish wonderhorse Arkle.

The show debuts this week on TG4 on Wednesday 12th of March (tonight) and is shown again on Thursday on Channel 4 at 11:00.

I’m really excited to have something on Channel 4 as I’ve never had anything that I’ve cut broadcast in the UK before. So make sure to tune in on one of the nights.

Here’s a little taster of what to expect.

The documentary was written and directed by Luke McManus and produced by Denis Kirwan & Stephen Cullinane of Touchline Media.

Also returning tonight to RTE is the second series of Second Captains featuring the brother and the rest of the lads.Its on after the Champions League on RTE2 at 10:15. So once you’re finished watching Arkle make sure to switch over. Or you could just record it…

Here’s the press release for Arkle

To mark the 50th anniversary of the legendary Cheltenham Gold Cup clash between Arkle and Mill House in 1964, Channel 4 is broadcast a one-hour documentary ‘Arkle – The Legend Lives On’.
Broadcast on the night before Channel 4′s live coverage of the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup, the documentary narrated by Alastair Down takes a look at that momentous occasion and reflects on a golden era when Arkle changed the face of jump racing.
It also examines how the legend of Arkle has grown over the past half century and draws upon comparisons with today’s great chasers.
All surviving connections associated with the great horse are featured within the documentary from his work rider Paddy Woods; to head lad Johnny Lumley, Jim Dreaper – son of trainer Tom Dreaper – Cath Walwyn, wife of the late Fulke Walwyn and Stan Mellor, one of the few jockeys ever to have beaten Arkle.
The documentary also features 96-year-old broadcasting legend Sir Peter O’Sullevan, whose evocative commentaries on Arkle’s three successive Gold Cups from 1964-1966 perfectly captured those thrilling occasions.
Other contributors to the documentary include Brough Scott, Hugh McIlvanney, Ted Walsh, Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls, racing analyst Donn McClean and senior Irish National Hunt handicapper Noel O’Brien.
The documentary has been produced for Channel 4 by Touchline Media, makers of the Jump Boys documentary which was shown on Channel 4 last year.
Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for Sport, says: “This documentary is a wonderful addition to our vast Cheltenham Festival broadcast and compliments a tremendous week of top class sport on 4 that includes the Paralympic Winter Games.
Denis Kirwan, producer at Touchline Media, said: “Arkle is considered the greatest National Hunt horse of all-time.
“we are delighted to have been commissioned to take a look back at that golden period when the Arkle and Mill House rivalry thrilled racing fans on both sides of the Irish Sea.
“The documentary features many of the great moments in Arkle’s glittering career and it is appropriate that Channel 4 viewers can relive that great era on the 50th anniversary.”
Luke McManus, director of ‘Arkle – The Legend Lives On’, says: “Never before or since has a horse so powerfully captured the public imagination and become a symbol, not just of success, but of hope.
“The story of Arkle is uniquely fascinating. He came to prominence in the 1960, at the time of JFK, the Beatles, George Best & Muhammad Ali.
“Just like them, Arkle was sublimely talented, charismatic and ultimately, iconic. In Ireland, Arkle still inspires devotion.
“As Brough Scott says in the film ‘It’s much more than just a racing story…it’s about a nation yearning for something’.”
Arkle – The Legend Lives On will be broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday, March 13 at 11.00pm and will also be available to view online via Channel 4′s catch-up service 4OD.
The documentary supports Channel 4′s extensive coverage of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, which runs from March 11-14.

Bliain in Árainn Mhór nominated for an Oireachtas award

Earlier this year “Bliain in Árainn Mhór”, the 4 part series I cut for Power Pictures and TG4 was broadcast to strong ratings and positive reviews. Everyone involved in the show was delighted with this and was absolutely thrilled when the series was nominated for the prestigious Oireachtas awards last week.

Organised by Oireachtas na Gaeilge, the Oireachtas Media Awards look to celebrate the TV and Radio presenters, actors, journalists and programme makers who have excelled in their contribution to Irish language media in the past year. This year the nominations feature a very broad range of programmes that reflect the high quality work being done through Irish.

Its possible for members of the public to have a say in the voting process by following the link here and casting their votes.

Don’t be put off by the first page (they are looking for your name, organisation and email, you do not need to enter your phone number) or the fact thats it’s all in Irish its actually quite straightforward. If you do decide to vote, why not throw a vote in the other categories to my buddies and their entries “Lon sa Speir”, “Seo Sport” and “BBC Blas” but the most important one is to vote for “Bliain in Árainn Mhór”. It would be great if it could win the award and with your help you never know…

The entire series was uploaded to youtube should you wish to remind yourself of the show, the links are all on this page.

In other award news, Traolach O’Murchu has informed me from his wintery den in Canada that the short we did together, Kara, has picked up another award on its travels. This time for lead actress Laura Erangey at the Bootleg Film Festival in Edinburgh a few weekends ago. Well done to her and to Traolach, whose mantlepiece must now be buckling under the weight of all those awards he’s picked up over the years!

Best Actress - Laura Erangey - Bootleg Film Festival Edinburgh 2013
Best Actress – Laura Erangey – Bootleg Film Festival Edinburgh 2013

The Celtic Media Festival takes place at the end of this month in Swansea and I’m delighted that Rás Tailteann is among the nominations. Its up for the sports gong and its in a tough competitive field (which also includes the excellent Jump Boys by Luke McManus) but it would be great if it won. The CMF from what I hear is always a great weekend and i’d love to be heading over, my schedule doesn’t suit but the film’s producer and director will be there and hopefully they will bring home the torc!

Luke McManus Coming Up

Congratulations to Irish director Luke McManus (Psych Ward) who has been selected to take part in Channel 4’s Coming Up scheme. The scheme offers a platform to emerging writers and directors to produce a season of original half hour dramas, which will be shown on Channel 4.
Luke McManus was shortlisted as one of 14 directors, after sending his showreel to the Coming Up panel. The Irish director then took part in a two day workshop alongside the shortlisted writers in London, where they got to work with talent and meet industry professionals including head of Warp Films Robin Gutch and DOP of ‘Hurt Locker’ and ‘United 93’ Barry Ackroyd.

McManus has previously worked as a freelance director on television shows including ‘Room To Improve’, ‘No Place Like Home’ and ‘The Eleventh Hour’ and has made short films including ‘Danger High Voltage’ and ‘Monitor’, the latter of which was made through the RTÉ/Arts Council Dance On The Box Scheme. McManus was also behind the RTÉ Storyland competitor ‘Psych Ward’, starring Hugh O’Conor (Killing Bono, Your Bad Self) in 2009.

Directors in the Coming up Scheme are now paired with a writer, and will go on to film the short in 2012, before the final half an hour programme will be aired on Channel 4 in Autumn of next year.

Last year Channel 4/Touchpaper Television Coming Up Scheme saw IFTA winning filmmaker Cathy Brady (Small Change) direct ‘Rough Skin’. ‘Rough Skin’ stars BAFTA winning actress Vicky McClure (This is England) and Lorraine Ashbourne (Oranges and Sunshine) and follows a young woman on her release from prison as she if forced to confront a painful past.