Barry Monaghan, Niamh O’Malley and Liam Hall Walshe, organiser and producer/actor, at the Westmeath Filmmakers collective event in Columbia Bar, Mullingar. Photos: Liam O'Leary

‘Filmmaking not about just you’

Aspiring actors and filmmakers from Westmeath, Meath and Longford gathered recently in the Columbia Bar, Mullingar, for the summer networking party of the Westmeath Filmmakers collective. The event was organised by Rochfortbridge short filmmaker and actor, Liam Hall Walshe, and actor/ producer Jemma Curran from Mullingar.

Liam was delighted with the success of the evening. At present, he is making a film in Westmeath – ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ – and he is looking for as many local crew and actors as he can get. He hopes that will be the start of many more short films and he invites anyone who wants to be involved to get in touch.

Jemma was equally pleased with the success of the evening. Jemma, who moved to Mullingar, home of her grandmother, Doris Creevy, when she was 10, is overwhelmed by the amount of talent in Westmeath and is determined to get that talent working locally, especially with Hammerlake Studios expected to open in Mullingar.

Guest speakers were Jaro Waldeck, award winning cinematographer, director and stills photographer, Patrick O’Brien, and Phillip Kidd of KINO D, and Lorna Fitzsimons, photographer and film-maker and recent winner of the Offaly film bursary. Compère was Don Mortell, the creator of MullingART, a podcast dedicated to grassroots art in Mullingar and Westmeath.

Among those who attended the recent Westmeath Filmmakers collective gathering in Columbia Bar, Mullingar, were, from left, Stephen Lynch, Jack Donlon and Pamela Hall.

Ms Waldeck advised those present to “park your ego, film making is never just about you”.

Patrick and Phillip said the easiest way to make a film was to go to a KINO D event and announced that they are hosting a 10-day international event in Dublin in August.

Lorna Fitzsimons confessed that filmmaking has been a constant source of disappointment and upset for her, but it has also been her “heroin”. She advised aspiring actors to make their headshots look interesting, not pretty.

There followed performances by comedians Alex J Byrne, who did his first ever stand-up gig in the Columbia Bar in 2016, and Jack McKenna, whose day job is serving “Ireland’s richest customers” at Brown Thomas. The two are hoping to perform at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Alex and Jack stayed on after the show to mingle and enchant members of the audience with their jokes, impersonations and magic tricks.

Anna Pendred, a graduate of Performing Arts at NUI Galway, felt inspired by the night.

She had taken a step back from acting since leaving college and never expected to find such possibilities in drama and filmmaking in her home county.

Anna, who is from Milltown, Rathconrath, said she looks forward to exploring the future with the new contacts she has made through the Westmeath Filmmakers collective.

Tracy Monaghan from The Downs points out that Mullingar has a wealth of acting and musical talent and applauds Sean Lynch and Paul Doolin of Mullingar Arts Centre for fostering it. She said that venues such as Columbia and Smiddy’s which hold regular “Jamming Jars” have been hugely instrumental in giving performers a start.

Marcus Doran travelled from Longford. He has worked on many film sets as an extra and is hoping to produce a documentary on the Viking chief Turgesius and his links to Collinstown. He thinks the collective is a wonderful way in which to bring people together.

The photographer at the event was Liam O'Leary.

Anyone interested filmmaking is invited to contact the collective at or on Instagram @westmeathfilmmakerscollective where they highlight local talent.