I used to live around the corner from Ardmore Studios. I used to walk past it nearly every day thinking maybe someone would see me and say “you are perfect for the role, come on in”. Of course, that never happened.
Every single time, the same thoughts ran through my head, with the same outcome.
I was raised to work. Everyone I know works. They don’t run their own businesses, they are EMPLOYED. My Dad was in the army for 35 years. He went to work every day. He was ranked as private when he went in and he was ranked as a private when he left. He was employed.
I left school. I studied. I became an employee. It’s what you do innit?
My daughter was born in 2001. I am a single father. I was employed at different times by a plastic injection factory, a painter/decorator, a furniture shop, a cleaner, a bin man, a landscaper, a maintenance man, a supermarket worker. The list goes on.
In 2014, at 35, I had been working as a gardener for 10 years. My back was sore, my knees were sore but I was employed.
At the time, my daughter was 13 and I was helping her choose subjects for secondary school, setting her on her own path, her own potential career. She loved writing stories. Her imagination, her enthusiasm, was everything to me.
It was like an epiphany. What example do I want to set for my daughter? How can I tell her that she can be whatever she wants, do whatever she feels passionate about when she sees me every day, working without feeling, growing sore and bitter.
I quit my job. I was no longer working. I was no longer an employee. I was an actor!
I was stressed about money but no more so than when I was employed. At least now I had the joy of finally showing people what I always knew I could do and I had the freedom to pursue it. This was down to my daughter and partner who understood and supported me in every way including showing me an ad from a photographer looking to break into the headshot market. I sent them a message and now had headshots! I applied for every student film, every independent film I could find. These were mostly unpaid. They were mostly unfinished or disappeared into the ether. But by hook or by crook, I had a showreel and gained valuable experience.
I had the paraphernalia of an actor. It was a hustle but I knew I could do it.
I was an employee for so long, it’s hard to shake off the nine to fiveness butthis actually stood me in good stead. I didn’t wait for the phone to ring, I didn’t know any different. I got up every day. I wrote parts for myself to play. I wrote scripts for me to make. I produced films to show what I could do. I made friends with directors, camera ops, sound ops, art department workers, editors. We helped each other, we made films together.
I had found my people.You can find your people too. They are out there, looking for their people!
Being an artist can be a solitary life but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Talking to people who have done it, who
are doing it is essential. Wherever you grew up, whatever your circumstances, there is support there.
I am a film-maker but I didn’t feel like an artist. I felt that those grants aren’t for me. They are for artists but I'm not one of them. That wasn’t my world.
Here’s the thing though, they are for me, and they’re for you too. I came to realise that the only difference between me and all those artists getting funded is that they apply, they fail, they apply again and again. They get a little money, they prove that they know what to do with it.
As Beckett said ‘Ever tried. Ever failed, no matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better’. If you wanna win you gotta buy a ticket. You gotta back yourself.
You may not feel it now but if you are doing it, at whatever level, at whatever scale, YOU ARE AN ARTIST. Find your support. Connect in with your local groups. I know it’s easier said than done but do your thing and keep on doing your thing for as long as it makes you happy.
Brian Matthews Murphy is an actor and film maker from Wicklow. He has acted in features and TV shows such as The Lost City of Z, Spa Weekend, Last Journey of The Vikings and has also written, produced and directed short films which have been selected for numerous festivals around the world and in Ireland.
In 2019 he received a JCI young person of the year award in the category of Arts and Culture. He also started and runs North Wicklow Filmmakers (known as No WiFi), a local community group.
North Wicklow Filmmakers | Wicklow Creative Network