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“Half of film-making is fire-fighting” – Leeds-born Oscar nominee lists the skills needed to be a successful director.

By Jamie Heron

A Leeds-born film and TV director who constructed sheds to fund his Oscar-nominated short film has spoken about his experience of being a director.

Jamie Donoughue started off filming music videos for local bands in Leeds before he was stranded in Kosovo following a volcano eruption in 2010.

Jamie Donoughue at Leeds Trinity Journalism and Media week.

After initially being stuck in Kosovo for five weeks, Donoughue explored the area and become drawn to the local history and culture.

Donoughue then spent the next four years almost entirely self-funding his trips back and forth to Kosovo in order to make his Oscar-nominated short film, Shok.

Speaking at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week, Donoughue said he then ran up against constant rejections from production companies who would not fund his film.

Donoughue said: “Looking back I understand why because I’d turn up and they’d say ‘You want to go and shoot a film in a war-torn country who speak a language you don’t really speak? No.’

“So just to survive and pay for the film I had to build garden sheds.”

After completing the film in 2015, Donoughue and his crew attended 22 film festivals and won all three awards in Aspen – the first film to ever do this.

When questioned on his role as a director and how he directs he said: “Everybody directs in a different way and it’s quite a lonely thing.

“There’s no one way to direct and nobody knows the correct way to direct, we all have our own ways.” he added.

“Half of film-working is fire-fighting.”

Since writing and directing Shok, Donoughue has worked on The Lost Kingdom and The Innocents.

When asked the key skills major companies look for in a director, Donoughue said: “There’s a lot of people out there who can direct, but the skill is to be able to direct within a budget and within a time-frame as well.”

“On top of that, a key skill is finding the time to put your creativity in there. I’d love to make every scene look amazing but I have to look at my day and say – how am I going to separate my time? Then I’ll know which scene or scenes to concentrate on,” Donoughue added.

Donoughue doesn’t recommend any particular way up the ladder into directing as everyone has a different story – but encouraged the idea of working through the industry via different roles.

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