CREW PROFILE: Niall Owens, Writer/ Director and 1st Assistant Director

Writer/ Director and 1st Assistant Director, Niall Owens shares his career story with us for this Crew Profile…


Can you give us a brief synopsis of your career so far?

I started working in the film business in 2006. My first job was as a Trainee Assistant Director (AD) on Strength and Honor. Throughout the course of the following years I kept working away in the AD department working on features like The Other Side of Sleep, Love Eternal, and Treasure Island. While working on bigger budget productions as a 3rd AD I applied what I had learned to working as a 1st AD on short films. In 2013 I was the 1st AD on my first feature film Shem the Penman Sings Again, which was produced by Rossa Mullin. This was a big step up for me and a challenge I relished. I followed that with the six part TV series Fir Bolg for TG4. And in September just gone I was the 1st AD on Bridget and Eamon for RTE which was a lot of fun. In July I will start work on Bridget and Eamon, series 2 which I am very much looking forward to.


How did you end up ‘in da biz’ in the first place?

Since about the age of 14 I wanted to write and direct movies. I attended St John’s in 2000 and studied Filmmaking there for three years. Once out of college I had no idea of how to get into the film industry. In 2006 Catherine Murray, who ran the course in St John’s, put my name forward for a Trainee AD job on Strength and Honor, which I subsequently got, and the rest as they say is history.


What have been the highlights of your career so far?

Winning the 2011 RTE/ Cork Film Centre script award for my short film script, Torn. I went on to produce and direct Torn, which has shown at the Galway Film Fleadh, Indie Cork, The Boston Irish Film Festival, and broadcast on RTE; so I would say that would definitely be a high point. My latest short film, Animal, which is in its final stages of production would also be a significant moment for me. It’s a story I am very attached to, and a film I am immensely proud of.


What challenges have you faced on the way?

There have been a few, the main one would be questioning my career path in moments of uncertainty. No work, no money, and no end to the drought in sight. But if you truly love what you do then you stay the course, you take the rough with the smooth, and when the ink has dried, you can look back on what you have achieved as something well earned.


Any advice for young aspiring talent?

Before getting into film be sure it’s what you want to do and that you are willing to sacrifice. Time away from home, time away from friends, and working long hard hours. It is not an easy line of work, but if you love it and it’s what you want to do, then you stay at it. If you want to be good at what you do, then know your craft; if you walk in thinking you know it all then you are in for a surprise. Being able to acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers is very freeing and it will aid you when it comes to learning your craft.


And what’s the next project ahead for you?

All going well with Animal, I have one or two things in mind. From an AD point of view, it would be Bridget and Eamon, series 2, and from there who knows what the future holds but I am looking forward to it, whatever it may be!


What are your 3 favourite things about Cork?

  1. My coffee shop, Cork Coffee Roasters (a shameless plug), I love walking in town for a good cup of coffee, and maybe doing some writing or thinking.
  2. It’s not Dublin.
  3. Just like one can’t put a finger on what attraction is, what that spark is between two people, be it chemical, psychological or plain animal – it’s the same with Cork, I can’t tell why I love it here, all I can say is I do!


Pic: Marcin Lewandowski