The Monthly discusses film-making with local film-maker, Éanna Mac Cana

How do you get interested in making films?

I think I really got interested in filmmaking by watching YouTube as a teenager. I discovered YouTube and I became quite obsessed with what I was seeing. I absorbed so many different visual styles which in turn informed my editing style and experimental short film work as well.

I did Moving Image Arts at school and that was really useful and enjoyable. I would make comedy films with my friends. I really enjoyed making Stop Motion Animation in Art class too. I made my first film in my parent’s studio space on Donegall Street when I was probably 13. After secondary school I went on to do Filmmaking in Manchester Metropolitan University.

Photograph by Mark Ferris

What do you do then?

I went to Manchester Metropolitan University and completed first year but when I returned that summer, I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. I was in hospital for a good few months, and then when I got out I started to make videos in response to my situation. They were different in many ways to what I was making before hospital. It felt like a creative restart.

Are you part of a movement or a grouping of film-makers who are trying to look at a particular way of making films or addressing particular questions?

There are small groups of people in the fine arts community who are trying to look at things in a different way from what usually defines Northern Ireland.
I’m not part of a collective; I feel I am quite independent. I am not really interested in making major commercial films. I tended to be influenced by my Mum and my Dad, both of whom are visual artists. They certainly influenced me.

Do you have any other influences?

I think when I was growing up, I might have been impacted by Scorsese and Tarantino. At the start of 2018 I watched a documentary by Mark Cousins which opened my eyes up to the history of cinema and that certainly had an impact.

I like an Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami; I like Ingmar Bergman, I certainly would go and see his films when they were shown at the QFT in 2018. I like what the Safdie Brothers are doing too. I am a big fan of Adam Curtis and beyond that I would be influenced by music artists like Interpol, Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean. Recently I have been getting into David Lynch’s work as well.

I think that individual paintings and other pieces of art influence me as well, such as, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.

What are you doing now?

I am working on a documentary the idea of which came about through researching my documentary, Yellowstone. Yellowstone was about the changing face of the City Hospital in Belfast which is a pretty iconic building and has a pretty incredible history.

The research for that documentary led me to looking into something specific and personal within epidemiology and aetiology. This new film will likely be finished in 2022. In the meantime people can watch my documentary on the City Hospital and many of my short films on my website.

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