...And ACTION: The story of Clara Planelles, an Uruguayan filmmaker in Limerick.
"In Ireland there is a lot of government funding for artists to develop their own projects."
…And ACTION! That’s the magic word that you listen to on a film set before starting shooting. A lot of things have to happen before one can actually say this word. To reach the top of a mountain we must climb it beforehand. In the process, one may feel like drowning or like going through a storm but it's what we ought to do if we want to say the magic word: ACTION!
This is the story of an Uruguayan filmmaker that came to Limerick to pursue her dream of becoming a female film director. Why cross the Atlantic when I come from a country with a strong film industry? While Uruguay is a country with an audio-visual development that is expanding exponentially every month; with companies such as Netflix and HBO using our locations to shoot there are little opportunities for locals to develop in the industry. Whereas in Ireland there is a lot of government funding for artists to develop their own projects.
My first steps into the film industry were in commercials, in the area of production assistance, working for producers and directors from the U.S. and U.K. When I heard that they came from shooting in South Africa, California, or Malta, I realised that I didn't want to assist others doing their films. I wanted to make my own ones, I wanted to tell my own stories. And for that to happen I needed to make a move.
When I started researching where should I go to accomplish my goal, Ireland was a good option thanks to the English language, which would help me reach a broader audience. But also, as my intention was to tell my own stories, I needed time to write, so I couldn’t choose Dublin, being the noisy and huge city that it is. I would be too distracted by the bustle and hustle and It would become impossible to focus on my creative process. That’s why I decided to choose a small city and that is when Limerick came around. Later on, I discovered that a big film studio was also there, and PAM, my new city was found and I landed in the dark winter in January 2020. But then PUM, the Pandemic took the world by storm and my chances of getting into the business were fainter with each passing day.
In December of the same year, I received an email from the "Film in Limerick newsletter" saying that they were launching a new program looking for filmmakers who wanted to make short films. PLING! I was back on track. I applied with my own story. For some reason, I was firmly convinced that I was going to be selected since I felt that my script was fantastic. But it wasn’t and I was devastated. I thought that was my opportunity to get into the industry. Feeling that rejection as an artist was quite demoralizing but it helped me look inside myself and wonder what I really wanted to achieve in life. It took me a while but I answered: photography and film. So I said to myself if you can't do one why just not do the other? That's when I decided to start my own photography project. This time I wanted to do something for and with the community, the pandemic was creating a lot of barriers between people so I felt that art could be a way to bring people together. It was then when I met Maria McSweeney, another photographer, and afterward Jayne Fraser, a musician that helped in the writing of the project. We named it “Women from the inside” (WFTI)
When my creative energy was slowly coming back into me, PLING!, an email from a film in Limerick popped up “Writers are looking for directors'' it was then when I met Aine Ryan, she chose me to direct First Date, a short film that then we had to pitch to a panel that has Ruth Negga as one of its jurors. In the middle of the planning for the pitching, we applied with WFTI (our photography project) for two funds that we didn't get, but we decided to shoot the pictures anyway because we were convinced that they could bring a different perspective to the women in the community.
We still agreed to apply for a third fund and as we say in Uruguay “la tercera es la vencida,” ("third time's the charm.") Against all odds we were chosen, and the Arts Council gave us the money to print our photographs and the Belltable gave us the space to exhibit them.
In June 2021 I got a happy call from Pete Moles,a producer, and that's how First Date became my first short film directed in Ireland. Finally, my dream was in my own hands and for the first time, I was able to say ACTION!