Alex, it’s so good to have you with us! For those of us who have not had the good fortune of meeting you before, please introduce yourself…
Thank you for the very kind words, Chris.
I’m Alex, and I’m a filmmaker. I live just outside Dublin with my wife Rachel and my daughter Ember. They are two of the finest humans you could ever hope to meet. I enjoy lots of things – music, film, sport, travel and reading to name a few. I’m very fortunate to have many great friends in my life. Lately I bought a set of golf clubs and I don’t know yet if this is a good thing.
I’m a co-founder of Tiny Ark – a company that began life 6 years ago when myself and three friends decided to try and make a living from making motion picture. Tiny Ark is now a creative video agency, based in central Dublin, with a team of about 12 people. My role in Tiny Ark is Creative Director. I lead projects, direct, edit, brainstorm concepts, pitch for work and help to shape what the company is and what it’s becoming.
Why do you do what you do?
Although I didn’t always plan on being a filmmaker (I had no idea what I wanted to do) I’ve always loved cinema. I studied film in college for this reason. I wasn’t sure where it would lead.
I began working with Tiny Ark because starting a business with friends was something that sounded like it would be a fun thing to do. It was and still is. My favourite thing about the last few years of my working life has been doing what I do with the people I do it with. What keeps me motivated and excited is the challenge of building Tiny Ark into something that is truly excellent, not just in the work it creates, but in the way that it treats its team and the people and organisations that it comes into contact with. At the moment, this makes me more excited than any particular piece of work we are creating or have created.
Of all that you have done in creating film and story, what moments has/have stuck with you?
There have been a number of moments from the past few years that have felt extraordinary. Most of the moments that have stuck in my mind are about sharing the experience of creating with others, rather than the creation itself. Here are two that come to mind.
One of our first big jobs with Tiny Ark was to cover a music festival in Ireland in 2011. I remember being down in front of the main stage, surrounded by 80,000 people, filming Coldplay close the festival. I remember being there with the other guys, looking around us and just the innocence of feeling like we’d made it. It didn’t matter that we weren’t being paid!
I had the privilege of working on a project in Israel and Palestine last year. I remember finishing a hard day’s filming at the Sea of Galilee in Israel. We swam in the lake at sunset, and I remember thinking about what a privilege and blessing it was to be there with the people I was with, doing something I thoroughly enjoy.
As co-founder of Tiny Ark, what would you say has been the biggest challenge in establishing yourselves in the television & film industry?
As younger newcomers in an established industry, with our own way of doing things, it was, and still often is difficult to win trust and have people allow you to run with ideas and resource them properly. Equally, it’s difficult to believe in ourselves enough to keep taking risks in creating. It’s difficult to keep having good, fresh ideas, and it’s difficult to stay sharp, happy, fulfilled and to bring all of this to the work that we create.
I’ve found growing our team both rewarding and challenging. I’ve loved bringing new faces in to become part of the Tiny Ark family. Each new person has brought something wonderful and new to the table, and has helped us shape what we’ve become. But being a leader, organiser and motivator doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me and continues to challenge me everyday.
Who and what are you inspired by?
My wife, Rachel, is a full time mother of a 20 month old. She has created a graphic and web design business from scratch, and is now a well respected designer and has created some amazing work. All of this in the last four years. This inspires me.
I recently read East of Eden by John Steinbeck and it somehow gave me new energy for work and life. It’s a really great book that everyone should read.
My friend Joseph showed me this video a while ago. It’s some of the philosopher Alan Watts’ words set to a collage of video. I found many of the thoughts in it inspiring, moving and thought provoking.
Lately I’ve found the work of Irish poet Stephen James Smith very powerful. “Inspiring” barely does his work justice. This video featuring him reading his poem My Ireland is just heartbreakingly beautiful. It captures Ireland as a country in a way that only art can – it brings you straight to it’s heart.
Personally, what has been your biggest challenge in your pursuit of your dream to create motion picture?
Believing that I’m good enough, and that I have what it takes to create excellent work and an excellent company. This is the biggest challenge.
You’re a musician. A very gifted one. How are you engaging with music these days?
I love music and will always love music. Honestly, though, I feel that this part of my life has got a bit stale recently. I can’t remember the last new thing that I listened to that blew me away. The Spotify daily-mix playlists are a bit of a crutch. I’d love to get back to exploring new music. I’m going to see Radiohead in June. They are a band that I’ve wanted to see for about 15 years, so I’m very much looking forward to that.
Looking ahead, let’s say 10 years time, what would you like to have done and be in the middle of doing?
I have no idea, but here are some thoughts that come to mind.
In ten years I’d like to have created and put out to the world some original art or content that isn’t for a client. I’d love to have built a house. I’d love Tiny Ark to be thriving and to feel fresh, relevant and life-giving to whoever is involved in it. I’d love to have, in person, seen Ireland win a game at a world cup.
But as long as me, my family and friends are together, healthy and creating great memories, I’ll be happy.