Dublin in a Day
We get to see a steady stream of films on and about Dublin but every so often one rises to the top and this video, by Al Hooi and Al Kennington, does just that.
Why does it work so well? It tips along at a quick pace provided by New Jackson’s track ‘Having a Coke with You’, with scene after scene of Dubliner’s frozen in a brief moment of their day. A mixture of wide and close shots linger long enough to give you an intimate sense of who this person might be as the video moves steadily from day to night.
It’s simple, it’s timeless and with no plans for the video after the initial screening event, it was nearly lost to the archives so we contacted The Als and asked if we could give it a home.
"No second guessing"
Where did the idea for this film come from?
Al Kennington (AK): The video was part of a show I organised with Dylan Higgins called ‘Cities Breathing’ as part of St Patrick’s Festival in Dublin. The idea was that a videographer would shoot a piece which would be soundtracked by a Dublin act (New Jackson). Kind of like a reverse music video.
We would host a screening and the score would be performed live. The theme of the festival program that year was 'I Love My City' so that became our theme and we chose to focus on the people of Dublin.
Al Hooi & I had already worked together making a promo video loop of moving portraits for Emmet Kirwan's play 'Dublin Oldschool’. The loops worked really well and I was looking for an excuse to do more like this so we decided that would work together again and this would be our approach for this project - moving portraits of Dubliners showing a snapshot of their day.
We wanted to get as much variety of people and scenes together as possible but with the same framing. This helps link the diverse shots and subjects together. It also really helps you when it comes to stopping people in the street. You only have a few seconds so you need to know the shot you want before you even stop someone, no second guessing.
We operated in a constant panic about the daylight running out
What was your experience making it?
Al Hooi (AH): We filmed for 6 days around Ash Wednesday in March 2015. As far as I can remember, we were shooting right up to the deadline and only left ourselves with two days to edit, we stayed up the whole night before the show finishing the video.
I had a bit of a freakout and thought we weren't going to get it finished and was about to give up. Al talked me out of it, kept up the positive vibes, got me coffee and reassured me that we could do it.
AK: We operated in a constant panic about the daylight running out. We thought beforehand that we could shoot whatever during the day then edit them together afterwards but the difference in daylight at different times of day was really obvious in the first edits so there was constant anxiety about making sure we got what we needed during the different stages of the day
That said, stopping strangers and shooting them was great. There was a mix of fear, shame and feeling special to be asked onto camera and we worked out a few techniques to get the most natural realistic reflection of someone
The shot at the end with the kids and the burning bin was total chance meeting. We were heading to the football cages in Irishtown and in the centre circle of one of the unlit football pitches was a flaming wheely bin.
We approached straight away and all the kids scarpered roaring "Sketch PIGS”. I remember running after them in the dark shouting “WE’RE NOT THE GUARDS!”. They stopped, and when we explained what we were doing they were absolutely delighted to be in the shots. They posed like pros and were off into the night.
Hopefully this helps it find its way around
How has the feedback been?
AH: Everyone who has seen it seems to love it, which is an amazing feeling. We never really did anything with it after the screening so it's a pleasure to finally get it out to the world
AK: As we made it 2 years ago most of the people in it had forgotten about it. My friend Steve McCarthy was watching it online and still didn't remember taking part until his face popped up!
There’s also a friend's baby in there that is now grown up and unrecognisable and even one of our cast, my good friend Eileen, has sadly passed away since, which for me cements the idea of the set of portraits being its own little time capsule of the city at that moment.
We also never got the contact details for a lot of the people who we shot so hopefully this helps it find its way around.